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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 to chug along, and you get to help choose who makes it to Round Two. This morning’s first match puts the avant-garde leading light Yoko Ono (seeded sixth in the Uptown division) against the prolific pop architects Leiber & Stoller (in at No. 11). Check out the arguments in favor of each contestant below, then cast your ballot at the bottom of the page.
Despite being overshadowed in the popular imagination by her husband’s legacy, Yoko Ono was, and remains, a massively important figure in avant-garde culture. Born in 1933 in Tokyo, Japan, and raised in Japan and the US, Yoko’s peace-loving worldview was informed by traumatic events like the 1945 bombing of Hanoi, which she lived through. By the time she met John Lennon in the mid-’60s, she was already a successful multimedia artist who’d exhibited with the Fluxus movement and collaborated on experimental music with John Cage. Her 1981 single “Walking On Thin Ice” is often credited as an early example of New Wave, and her unabashed interest in feminist themes, modernist composition, and primitive female vocals has influenced everyone from the B-52s to tUnE-yArDs. At 79, she’s still recording and performing with her re-formed Plastic Ono Band and shows no signs of stagnation.
JERRY LEIBER & MIKE STOLLER
“Stand By Me,” “Yakety Yak,” “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Love Potion No. 9″—these songs have existed in the American pop-culture firmament almost since they were committed to wax, and the songwriting and producing team of Leiber & Stoller had tons more where that came from. Their fusing of mid-century R&B with early rock and roll made for pop chart manna, and their hits just kept on coming all the way through the early ’70s, when they helmed “Stuck In The Middle With You” for Stealers’ Wheel. But while they may have stopped producing, the influence of those early hits hung over pop music for years—look no further than former Voice writer Cristina Monet’s transformation of their seen-it-all lament “Is That All There Is?” into a warped anthem for the ersatz-debutante set for proof of just how far their influence reached.