Best made-up musical genre (2008)

Upper West Side Soweto

The distinguished gentlemen of Vampire Weekend—purveyors of delightful, intricately arranged indie rock with African pop flourishes and wise-ass twentysomething slacker overtones—have in their short life already amassed a certain keyword-based reputation. Each praiseworthy review hits all the notes: They're all Columbia grads, they sound like Paul Simon, and their first prominent track/mission statement was entitled "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa," a bizarre mix of East Coast opulence and a Congolese dance craze. Their other frequently employed self-descriptor, "Upper West Side Soweto," is even better, fusing Manhattan snootiness to the Johannesburg Afropop that made Paul Simon flip out and sidle off to Graceland in the first place. Best of all, the loopy term fits: Frontman Ezra Koenig's fluid, melodic guitar runs hark back to classic records like The Indestructible Beat of Soweto, but his yelping voice and sharp lyrics have a distinctly Gothamite intellectual edge, particularly on the infectious "Oxford Comma," the catchiest, most danceable rumination on punctuation ticks since . . . pretty much forever. Making up your own genre is usually grounds for execution, but when you can embody the terms as fully and merrily as these guys, no one puts up much of a fight.


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