As students of the internet are by now aware, America’s unofficial king and queen, Jay-Z and Beyoncé, are about to pack up their solid-gold baby toys and vegan energy bars and move to Los Angeles, where they will drink kale smoothies (maybe while wearing KALE sweatshirts) and perform ancient blood rites with their Illuminati sister Gwyneth Paltrow until they bring about the New World Order.
I wish I could say I’m surprised, but they’re just the latest in a long line of musicians who’ve fled this concrete jungle for the relative comforts of the Left Coast. From Courtney to Mykki, here are five other artists who’ve made the journey from our fair city to the land of mild winters and plastic surgery. Oh, well. At least we still have Taylor Swift.
5. The National
Given that they’re basically the poster band for the giant, terrifying Whole Foods that all of Brooklyn is rapidly becoming, it’s a little surprising that (some of) the National would defect to L.A., but that’s late-stage capitalism for you: Even the gentrifiers get gentrified.
4. Mykki Blanco
Just a handful of years after running away to New York as an angsty North Carolina teen, genderfucking rapper Mykki Blanco has left us for sunnier climes. (Thankfully, we had the chance to put him on the cover before he did.) It’s true that L.A. is a great place to show off those legs, but if you ask me, Blanco’s dark imagery and scathing cultural analysis are as Gotham as it gets. Check out his “Wavvy” video, co-starring the NYPD.
3. Ryan Adams
Once upon a time, Ryan Adams was a volatile and exciting (if wildly uneven) singer-songwriter who could often be found enjoying a speedball and “telling stories” at one of New York’s many fine drinking establishments. Then he got sober, moved to L.A., and married Mandy Moore. (The two have since parted ways.) Since then, he’s pumped out a steady stream of records, but I do miss the old Ryan just a tad. Here’s the video for his unintentional 9-11 anthem “New York, New York,” which was filmed on September 7, 2001, and prominently features the Twin Towers.
If New York is not even cool enough for Moby anymore, we’re all in trouble. As he explains in this long op-ed that makes him sound lonely, everyone’s favorite bald, bespectacled icon of the Aughts fled the coop in 2010 for the extremely Moby-ish reason that “creativity requires the freedom to fail.” He, too, has a song called “New York, New York.” It features Debbie Harry, who has yet to scab on us.
1. Courtney Love
The infamous rock ‘n’ roll lightning rod has flitted to and fro between New York, L.A., and various other cities quite a bit since first coming here in the mid-Eighties to try to make it as an actress while moonlighting as a Times Square peep show girl and squatting in the basement of ABC No Rio. (Fun fact: Lady Bunny used to throw fish at her as part of her act.) But her most significant westward move was that which occurred on Hole’s 1998 album Celebrity Skin, which, haters be damned, remains a near-perfect paean to the California sound.