Defend Your Ballot: Eric Sundermann, Pazz and Jop 2012 Contributor


You can’t really know where you’re headed unless you know where you’ve been. For that reason, we’re taking a look back at Pazz & Jop 2012 to drill down into the ballots of contributors and voters who participated. Maybe amongst the rubble we’ll find clues about lies ahead for music lovers in 2013. Here, Village Voice Editorial Arts Assistant Eric Sundermann defends his ballot.

Eric Sundermann, explain who you are and why anyone should give a shit about what you think about music.

I’m only 25 years old. Let’s be real. Nobody should really give a shit about what I think about music–but somehow I’ve tricked people into paying me to write about it. Oh yeah, and also, I work for the Village Voice.

Pffft. Village Voice. What year is this? In what capacity do you work for the paper?

I’m the Editorial Arts Assistant. I write a bunch of shit, like music, books, theatre, beer, etc. I’m what you would call a renaissance man.

A jack of all trades, master of none. Got it. Looking through your ballot, we see you’ve given equal points to everyone in your top ten. Why is that? Were none of your favorites good enough to be your actual favorite?

Yeah, pretty much. And also I’m afraid of having opinions. Just kidding on that last part. I feel like 2012 was such a diverse and dynamic year for music. I had such a wide variety of favorites, it was pretty hard to pick one. However, I put the Woods record at number one simply because I listened to that and only that for pretty much like three months straight.

What stood out about Woods so much that it dominated 1/4 of your year?

Well, I’ll be real. I got my ass dumped RIGHT when the record came out, and it was pretty much exactly what I needed to hear to get myself out of that fragile emotional state. Also, “Pop That” on repeat for like hours on end, which you’ll see made my Top 10 singles. Also, Woods fucking rule, and I feel like on this record, they really came into their own. They’d done some crazy experimental shit in the past, but once they cleaned themselves up, they landed on this beautiful, catchy sound that I just fucking love.

So your official sound bite on them is they “fucking rule.” Very much in the Village Voice/Robert Christgau mold. Well done.

I’m pretty okay with that being my sound bite.

“Mercy” is your number one single. HOW GOOD IS THAT FUCKING SONG?
IT’S SO FUCKING GOOD. I’m listening to it now. That was my number one song because I feel like no other song defined 2012 more than that. Like, number one, it’s Kanye. Number two, you have a fucking incredible verse from 2 Chainz. Three, Big Sean actually does something of worth. Plus, there was a good six months where my friends and I would tweet or text “swerve” at one another randomly. Has that ever happened before?

Not Kanye’s verse, but what does Pusha T mean when he says “Your Duncan Hines is irrelevant”?

I don’t even know what Pusha T means by that. But it makes sense because I’m not sure who Duncan Hines is. I just Googled him and it looks like he made cakes.

We remember, long ago, Cappadonna had a verse on a Ghostface track that mentioned Duncan Hines and Betty Crocker. Is there some underground rap baking circle we’re not privy to?

Oh fuck. Yeah, probably. Action Bronson probably hosts it in his basement every week. All the rappers show up with their personal recipes and they have cookoffs. This is actually a really great idea for a Bravo television show.

You mentioned Big Sean doing something of worth. You a big fan of ass puns?

I’m mainly talking about the way he says “swerve,” but yeah I do like the ass puns. I know I’m in the minority here, but I laugh every time he says “ass tray.” I’ve definitely used that joke while rolling a joint one too many times this past year. Also if my mom is reading this, I do not roll joints.

Trust us, no one is reading this.

Good point.

You wrote what many would consider the greatest Pazz & Jop article/essay in the history of ever with your Frank Ocean piece (“Frank Ocean’s Sea Change”.) His album Channel Bore-ange is in your top ten. “Thinking “Bout You” made your singles ballot. Tell r&b fans of the Ginuwine, R. Kelly, TTT, Marc “15 Minutes” Nelson mold why they should care about this so called alt-r&b.

Well, what’s so interesting to me about Frank is that he’s so universally appealing to so many people. If we’re looking at the actual music itself, I can understand why people may think it’s “boring,” but there has to be some worth in the fact that, like, everyone has an opinion on it.

But more than that, “Thinkin’ About You” is a beautifully written song. Frank really illustrated his ability as a songwriter on Channel ORANGE, mainly in his lyrical imagery. He’s tapped into the way twenty-somethings think, and has put that into song in a way that’s really identifiable. For example, the tongue-in-cheek verse about how he doesn’t really like the person he’s singing about is exactly in the passive aggressive language in which my generation loves to speak. Plus, he’s crafted songs in such a bizarre, progressive way. The record feels so stitched together, pulling random sounds and noises that you don’t expect (like opening with an iPhone beep and a Playstation startup noise), but those sounds put you in a very specific mood. Frank is so good at crafting emotion in a tangible way. That’s what I love about it.

Well said. You’ve just successfully DEFEND(ED) YOUR BALLOT. But to touch on one last thing, you mention “my generation” and “universally appealing” in the same breath. Do you think the two are mutually ex- … you know what? Never mind. Thanks, Eric!

Dude, I’m 25. Of course I think my generation is the center of the world.