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 this weekend, with the Round of 32 kicking off Monday. (The schedule and results so far are here; the full, updated bracket is here.) On our last day of first-round battles, we have Carole King matched up with the New York Dolls. 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.
NEW YORK DOLLS
Genre origins are always a little murky, but it’s hard to deny the New York Dolls having more than a little something to do with the genesis of punk, glam and metal. Forming in 1971 and making an initial five-year run before splitting, they reformed in 2004 at the behest of rabid Dolls fan Morrissey (fun fact/ potential sway: he was head of their fan club as a teenager), and are still going strong. Defining the glitz and sleaze of New York in the 70s, the Dolls’ early output (especially their self-titled debut) is reason enough to bet on them. Plus, they have David Johansen on their team, and he’s basically a living master class on how to be a frontman. One more point to consider: They’re the only band in the running with New York in their name.
You want a New Yorker? I got yer New Yorker right here. How many March Madness contenders have three-fifths of the boroughs covered? I give you one Carole Klein a.k.a. King: born in Brooklyn, attendee of Queens College—where she met onetime songwriting and life partner Gerry Goffin—and the most accomplished writer to cut her teeth at the landmark Brill Building in midtown Manhattan. In the ’60s, with Goffin, she exported New York to the rest of America and the top of the charts, writing urban-flavored, flavorfully urbane pop smashes by the likes of the Shirelles (“Will You Love Me Tomorrow?”), Little Eva (“The Loco-Motion”), the Drifters (“Up on the Roof”) and…er, Herman’s Hermits (“I’m into Something Good”—which, give her and Goffin credit, dragged the toothsome Brits behind “I’m Henry VIII, I Am” over to these shores, sonically). And that was just Act I—in the ’70s, our girl became the avatar of homebody singer-songwriter pop with Tapestry. As un-citified as that Billboard-and-Grammy blockbuster seemed, I’d argue it was an even subtler stealth weapon for New York values in heartland homes: What is “I Feel the Earth Move” but an homage to great orgasms disguised as deep-fried, earth-mama, boogie-piano jam? What is “So Far Away” but an ode to Jerry Seinfeld’s dreaded drop-in, an aching for the return of your friends who had the nerve to decamp to the ‘burbs? Embraced by pop fans the world over but still a homegirl bridge-and-tunnel Jew, Carole King may be Gotham’s greatest-ever pop ambassador—the all-around finest Rock Era tunesmith this dear, dirty town ever produced.