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We covered a lot of music ground in 2012. You loved all of it. But some stories were more read than others. Here now, our 20 most popular posts of the year. Thanks for reading.
Only a handful of pop-chart-related phrases have entered the universal lexicon. “Number one with a bullet” has infiltrated the brains of people who don’t even know who Casey Kasem is, or what “bullets” in Billboard are (briefly: little circles around numbers on the chart that show a record is gaining points). And of course, “Top 40” is universally understood, not just as a list of hit songs, but also a radio format and an entire strain of hegemonic pop. But no chart-related phrase seems to have struck the general public’s fancy like “one-hit wonder.” It’s catchy–not unlike the songs it denotes–and it’s adaptable. We’ve seen it applied to politics and business.
… this caused the doctor to diagnose him with “being a cynical asshole.” Which is a common condition in cultural commentary these days, and not just because music’s a bigger wider world these days–as anyone who’s ever looked at a Google Analytics report knows, saying something sucks can get pageviews, laughter, and “right on, man”s more easily than honestly engaging with things and looking at them from a holistic, honest perspective.
Well, you hit the nail on the head. [Cobain] had to disown it because of his punk rock roots, tried to keep some of that authenticity. When he finished that record, he loved it. They loved it, they wanted to be ambitious. Like I said, they rehearsed for months. They wanted to make a tight, great-sounding, really well-focused album. He would make these lists of things he would do when he was a millionaire and famous. So it was that conundrum of wanting it and not wanting it at the same time.
[Andre 3000] could’ve been on any song he wanted to. I gave the motherfucker about five songs, but I guess he was just too busy. He said he had to do some Gillette shit [room erupts in laughter]. No for real. He said he had some contractual obligations.
Today we’ve been listening to a lot of the Beatles. I’m much more into the mid-period and later period–from Rubber Soul on. You can’t go wrong with the Beatles. Never trust anybody that says they don’t like the Beatles. If they say they don’t like the Beatles, that’s how you know they are a fucking idiot.
They’re the musical equivalent of midterm elections; the absence of the people who can’t be bothered to send 50 text messages to a special phone number or drive out to the elementary school at lunch increases the value of the determined few who would swear a blood oath to get Justin Bieber’s name over One Direction’s on a commemorative package of deli meat.
Today, Psychopathic Records launched JuggalosFightBack.com, a web site where Juggalos who believe their legal rights have been violated can submit their stories for the label’s legal team to review at no cost. The company has also set up a booth at the Gathering where Juggalos could share their experiences with the Detroit lawyer who’d be building the case against the government.
Like a lot of people, the first time I heard him sing, I had no idea how much I needed to. It was late–1969 and I couldn’t decide what was troubling me more. The fact that I was the “new kid” at a boarding school packed, seemingly, with a cadre of rich, feckless jerks, or this ever-increasing nightmare that America was investing in called Vietnam. Actually, the two things, in my paranoid nature, seemed somehow intertwined. For music, during those troubled times, we had, essentially, two choices: Snarling or jokey protest songs about the War (courtesy of Steppenwolf and Country Joe), or simpleminded, whip-stupid paeans to how great the USA was like “The Ballad Of The Green Berets.”
Live, L’Arc are significantly weirder than on record. First of all, hyde has to be the single most androgynous frontman I’ve ever seen–he makes Antony Hegarty look like Henry Rollins. He wore a waist-length black blazer with shoulder pads over a black tank top, pants baggy enough to hold a spare microphone or two, and his hair was in blond cornrows, dangling loose for better whipping. His primary stage move (other than sticking his tongue out at the audience) is a version of Axl Rose’s snake-hips dance, but with added twirls and what can only be described as flouncing. Oh, and five songs or so into the set, he donned a floppy, wide-brimmed hat Alicia Keys would envy, making him look like a ’90s R&B diva having a rock moment.
A diagnosed manic-depressive, Brad Jordan has mentioned in interviews how weed helped him deal with his illness. Here then is a tribute to his “girl” Mary Jane, whose name alone makes him happy. In his rap, ‘Face highlights how she’s better than cigarettes and alcohol for relieving stress.
One of the many things experimenting with acid taught me was how to listen to music differently. Long before I heard Merzbow or Wolf Eyes, I tripped and listened closely to the droning ovens and hissing dishwashers at the Pizza Hut where I worked as a lunch cook. Six years later, when a friend turned me on to proper “noise,” it wasn’t too shocking. I also learned that some albums and some songs contain particular moments that can totally shatter and terrify; my whole world can be flipped upside down, turned inside out and burnt down to the ground with a single lyric or guitar squall or cymbal crash.
Nicki Minaj’s “Stupid Hoe” is supposed to be a diss track aimed at Lil Kim, but in the tradition of diss tracks, it’s pretty weak. Something like Jay-Z’s “Takeover” uses specific, personal information about the people involved, going so far as to propose a mathematical equation at one point. Even Lil Kim’s diss of Nicki, “Black Friday,” gathers together evidence about Nicki (she is weird, she has a large butt) and Kim (she is real, she has been around for a long time) to make its case. The diss track is a lawyerly form, accumulating exhibits and summarizing with a killer closing statement to produce a unanimous jury decision.
But anyways, as for the New York scene, there are a handful of bands that I have liked over the years. I like Warzone, Agnostic Front, the Cro-Mags. I’ve just only recently gotten into the Cro-Mags. Another thing that you have to take into consideration here is that we live in a time where you stand on the corner and all of a sudden there’s twenty other people on the corner standing there waiting to cross the street with you and they’re all in bands! Or they’re all gonna start a band. And then you gotta cross that corner to the next corner and there’s gonna be another twenty people waiting at that corner. So everybody is in a band or everybody’s playing music or waiting on tables and bussing tables to become the next Brad Pitt or the next George Clooney or what have you. So we have more and more and it’s just difficult to keep up with everybody.
7. The little running dance the kid who follows Dame does on the playground in the video at the end of Dame’s verse is perfect.
Maybe it’s all that misguided Year of the Woman chatter that dominated year-end roundups, or the slow, agonizing creep of Fashion Week, or the coming apocalypse, but hoo boy has there been a lot of terrible writing about female musicians in the past few weeks. The latest offender is the New York Times style magazine T’s cover-worthy profile of Lana Del Rey, which manages to be offensive from its first sentence and somehow gets worse from there. (There are even photos by the terminally icky Terry Richardson.) This piece inspired me to put forth four questions that writers, whether they’re male or female, whether they’re people with Tumblrs or those important enough to score offices at the New York Times building, should ask themselves before hitting “send” on their next piece about a woman making music.