The Round of 64 for Sound of the City’s own version of March Madness—in which you, the Sound of the City voting public, help determine the quintessential New York musician—continues, and you get to vote on who makes it to Round Two. This face-off pits two evenly matched heavyweights: leading light Glenn Branca (seeded eighth in the Uptown division) against eternal teenager Frankie Lymon (in at nine). Entertain the arguments below, then cast your ballot at the bottom of the page.
Takes a special talent to have John Cage angrily compare your work to fascism–and that’s one of Glenn Branca’s less impressive feats. A staggeringly important avant-garde fixture, the iconoclastic no-wave architect works in proportions so monstrously audacious they’d be one-dimensional stunts in anyone else’s hands. He’s directly responsibility for Sonic Youth’s life-changing de-tuned guitars—it’d be frightening to imagine what seminal records wouldn’t exist without Branca’s 1981 masterpiece, The Ascension—and still conducts an orchestra like Jerry Lee Lewis miming cacophony. And look at that hair!
There’s Frankie, only 13, muscling his way upstage on the Frankie Laine show in 1956. Frankie was a muscler, seizing credit for “Why Do Fools Fall in Love,” seizing the lead vocal with his sweet, high voice. Two years later he’d be addicted to heroin; twelve years later he’d be dead. It’s a classic tragedy. But live fast, die young: t-shirt empires have been built off less. The Teenagers were a doo-wop group, but Frankie was rock ‘n’ roll. Witness “I’m Not a Juvenile Delinquent” and you get premonitions of everyone from the Ramones to Prince. As he brushes the dirt off and clasps his hands in a secretly ironic prayer, the rest of the 20th century gets closer to being born.