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—finishes up this week, with the Round of 32 scheduled to kick off Monday. (The schedule and results so far are here; the full, updated bracket is here.) Taking a cue from our neighbors at the Curbed Network, we’re going to have a power hour—new polls every 15 minutes until 4 p.m., at which point we’ll reveal more results. Our final matchup of the hour pits Laurie Anderson against Norah Jones. Check out the arguments in favor of each below, and vote at Facebook for the musician that you think should move on to the next round.
She is the Paris ’68 of experimental music: living proof that the dreams of the avant-garde can, theoretically, resonate with the proles. But it wasn’t the ideology of art-rock that made “O Superman” an international hit, it was Anderson herself. Who else could take an eight-minute minimalist piece about American foreign policy and answering machines and make it appealing to a pop audience? Others in her circle were taking pop and adding art influences, but Anderson found a way to make art about (or with) pop music. And because of that, pop music has never been the same since.
Norah Jones won a fuckton (approximate measure) of Grammys for her debut Come Away With Me, and no small amount of digs about being the soundtrack to mom’s Pinot Grigio Time. But you know who probably wasn’t making fun of the Brooklyn-born songwriter? Andre 3000, Willie Nelson, The Foo Fighters, Ryan Adams, Belle & Sebastian, Dolly Parton, Q-Tip, Will Sheff of Okkervil River and Mike Patton, all of whom have worked with her. (She’s also probably the only thespian alive who can claim to have worked with both Wong Kar Wai and Seth MacFarlane.) Jones is far more adventurous and open-minded than she is often given credit for, and her upcoming album length collaboration with Danger Mouse, Little Broken Hearts, looks like it will be her biggest left-turn yet. (Maybe Danger Mouse talked her in to recording ten Diana Krall covers. You never know with that guy. Outliving the shadow of Away while continuing to grow as an artist—her 2009 album The Fall was filled with confessional lyrics and unexpected indie-—rock tweaks) is no mean feat. What has kept both audiences and artists interested in Jones is her ability to sound elegant and “classic” without scanning as stuffy or stuck-in-the-past, and her good taste to avoid showy belting when a breathy whisper will get the job done.