best music writing 2010-ann powers (guest editors)

“we’re indoctrinating ourselves with our own views”

life truly is about the moments that make us stop what we’re doing and say whoa (shout to black rob). like witnessing a 12-year-old girl aggressively scratch her vagina on national television whilst spelling “neurotic” (i was at the live taping of spelling night in canada). the one that yielded this quote came from the philly free library podcast i was listening to this morning discussing eli pariser‘s the filter bubble. it’s all about how the specialization of the internet by google and facebook et al. is putting a cap on the learning that is possible for us because it’s only steering us towards people/robots that think and search exactly like we do. i was thinking about how i could put this into my arsenal to argue further with the customer that complains about the “freeloaders” at the library, because the physical presence of searchers and materials that you may not know you’re looking for is a valuable experience. it is because of the recent strike that my home branch put out everyone else’s dvds that had been returned there so that we could have access to some different collections and enjoy the longer return date. it is because of that that i saw the whistleblower (dir. larysa kondracki) a necessary film about the UN’s complicity in human trafficking rings that is also absolutely sensationalist for its extreme focus on rape and murder (no, i am not immune-even after all these years). it is the reason that i got back in touch with one of my old women’s studies profs on the west coast. here’s the tie to this book:

“Now it’s not a game of hearing the right records, it’s hearing the leak the fastest. Music websites report on leaks-and they still don’t cover them fast enough ‘cause Twitter people cover the leaks. When Animal Collective’s last album leaked a month ago, everyone was talking about it. So when the reviews came a month later, it was completely pointless. All that a music review does now is reinforce the opinion that somebody already has. And it’s not like music writing on the Internet is especially interesting or good or insightful or worth reading. People have this open maw, this endless abyss and they just write for 3,000 words. And if it doesn’t fit into 140 characters it’s not worth saying. We don’t need 3000 words of twaddle on a record. Sometimes it requires less and editors aren’t there copy-checking it.
So, one of the unfortunate side effects of the lack of critic culture is that people are getting more stratified and separated in their listening habits. If you read Spin or Rolling Stone in ’96, you’d get an article on Nine Inch Nails, an article on Chemical Brothers, an article on Snoop Dogg. And the internet doesn’t work that way. If you’re into rap, you go to rap twitters. If you’re into metal, you got to metal twitters. Bands build audiences for themselves, you just follow the bands you like. You don’t stumble across this stuff. And that’s a problem. It’s harder to get exposed to stuff that’s not in your comfort zone. I have friends that are so deep into indie rock that they don’t know what the fuck Katy Perry is, or Lady Gaga. And these are the most ubiquitous songs in the country. Number one on Billboard for 14 weeks: ‘I don’t know what it is.’
So guys like me, the eclectic music dorks, we’re all looking for new careers because people are going to be the hip-hop expert, the African music expert, the reggaeton expert. And that dude [BusinessWeek.com editor-in-chief] John Byrne was up here saying that Twitter makes it easy to find stuff that pertains to you. And he thinks that’s awesome. That’s the fucking problem. I can always learn about stuff that’s important to me-that’s easy. I want to learn about stuff that isn’t important to me. I want to be exposed to things.
Crowdsourcing killed punk rock. Hands down. Crowdsourcing kills art. Crowdsourcing killed indie rock. It’s bullshit. You wanna know why? Because crowds have terrible taste. People have awful taste. Once people start talking about indie rock on the Internet, it’s all this music that rises to the middle. This boring, bland, white-people guitar music. It fucking sucks! I hate it! This NPR bullshit. And NPR is forced to write about it over and over again because it’s the ‘link economy’ and people are gonna click on it if it says ‘Fleet Foxes.’ Well, Fleet Foxes fucking sucks. It’s not the music that’s the best, it’s the music that the most people can stand. The music that most people can listen to. If you let the people decide then nothing truly adventurous ever gets out, and that’s a problem.” (57, Twitter & The Death of Rock Criticism, Christopher R. Weingarten)

speaking of punk rock-george is looking rested and relaxed in my hometown. bigups to narai for opening one of the shows. the audience turnout/studio setup is quite a bit different from when i first met him all those years ago at the firehall in the downtown eastside.

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4 thoughts on “best music writing 2010-ann powers (guest editors)

  1. beat it:

    “Furthermore, unlike almost everyone in the Apollo Theater pantheon save George Clinton, Michael now seems as important to us as an image-maker-an illusionist and a fantasist at that-as he was a musician/entertainer. And until Hype Williams came on the music video scene in the mid ‘90s, no one else insisted that the visuals supporting r&b and hip-hop be as memorable, eye-popping, and seductive as the music itself. Nor did anyone else spare no expense to ensure that they were. But Michael’s phantasmal, shape-shifting videos, upon reflection, were also, strangely enough, his way of socially and politically engaging the worlds of other real Blackfolk from places like South Central, L.A., Bahia, East Africa, the prison system, Ancient Egypt. He did this sometimes in pursuit of mere spectacle (“Black and White”), sometimes as a critical observer (“The Way You Make Me Feel”), sometimes as a cultural nationalist romantic (“Remember The Time”), even occasionally as a harsh American political commentator (“They Don’t Care About Us”). Looking at those clips again, as millions of us have done this past weekend, is to realize how prophetic Michael was in dropping mad cash to leave behind a visual record of his work that was as state-of-the-art as his musical legacy. As if he knew that one day our musical history would be more valued for what can be seen as for what can be heard.” (32, Michael Jackson-The Man in our Mirror, Greg Tate)

    “The reasons he effected this transmogrification are complex, psychological, and psychosocial. Jackson spent his life in abject fear of being perceived as normal and ordinary. He was, according to reports, by turns humble and megalomaniacal. He surrounded himself with aging legendary celebrity friends like Elizabeth Taylor and Gregory Peck and claimed in interviews that the only artist he wanted to collaborate with was Debussy, who died in 1918. Jackson wanted to be among the greatest of all legends, and he wanted you to know of his elite status. Like a black Willy Loman, he also lived in fear of becoming irrelevant. He had never known a life in which he wasn’t universally relevant. By publicizing his abnormality, whether real or manufactured, Jackson could kill two birds with one stone: he could remain both talked about, and aloof, different than the everyman.” (43 Michael Jackson, An appreciation of His Talent, Jason King)

  2. back in the day (puff):

    “‘Have I read /The Great Gatsby/?’ Combs said to a London newspaper in 2001. ‘I am the Great Gatsby.’
    Yet whereas Gatsby felt the pressure to hide his status as an arriviste, Combs celebrated his position as an outsider-insider-someone who appropriates elements of the culture he seeks to join without attempting to assimilate outright. In a sense, Combs was imitating the old WASP establishment; in another sense, he was subtly provoking it, by over-enunciating its formality and never letting his guests forget that there was something slightly off about his presence. There’s a silent power to throwing parties where the best-dressed man in the room is also the one whose public profile once consisted primarily of dancing in the background of Biggie Smalls videos. (“No one would ever expect a young black man to be coming to a party with the Declaration of Independence, but I got it, and it’s coming with me,’ Combs joked at his 2004 party, as he made the rounds with the document, promising not to spill champagne on it.)
    In this regard, Combs is both a product and a hero of the new cultural mainstream, which prizes diversity above all else, and whose ultimate goal is some vague notion of racial transcendence, rather than subversion or assimilation. Although Combs’s vision is far from representative-not many hip-hop stars vacation in St.Tropez with a parasol-toting manservant shading their ever step-his industry lies at the heart of this new mainstream. Over the past 30 years, few changes in American culture have been as significant as the rise of hip-hop. The genre has radically reshaped the way we listen to and consume music, first by opposing the pop mainstream and then by becoming it. From its constant sampling of past styles and eras-old records, fashions, slang, anything-to its mythologization of the self-made black antihero, hip-hop is more than a musical genre: it’s a philosophy, a political statement, a way of approaching and remaking culture. It’s a lingua franca not just among kids in America, but also among young people worldwide. And its economic impact extends beyond the music industry, to fashion, advertising, and film. (Consider the producer Russell Simmons-the ur-Combs and a music, fashion, and television mogul-or the rapper 50 Cent, who has parlayed his rags-to-riches story line into extracurricular successes that include a clothing line; book, video-game, and film deals; and a startlingly lucrative partnership with the makers of Vitamin Water.)
    But hip-hop’s deepest impact in symbolic. During popular music’s rise in the 20th century, white artists and producers consistently ‘mainstreamed’ African American innovations. Hip-hop’s ascension has been different. Eminem notwithstanding, hip-hop never suffered through anything like an Elvis Presley moment, in which a white artist made a musical form safe for white America. This is no dig at Elvis-the constrictive racial logic of the 1950s demanded the erasure of rock and roll’s black roots, and if it hadn’t been him, it would have been someone else. But hip-hop-the sound of the post-civil-rights, post-soul generation-found a global audience on its own terms.
    Today, hip-hop’s colonization of the global imagination, from fashion runways in Europe to dance competitions in Asia, is Disney-esque. This transformation has bred an unprecedented cultural confidence in its black originators. Whiteness is no longer a threat, or an ideal: it’s kitsch to be appropriated, whether with gestures like Combs’s ‘white parties’ or the trickle-down epidemic of collared shirts and cuff links currently afflicting rappers. And an expansive multiculturalism is replacing the us-against-the-world bunker mentality that lent a thrilling edge to hip-hop’s mid-1990s rise.” (71-2 The End of White America?, Hua Hsu)

  3. gods and other princes:

    “Do he found another way to keep in touch with his most devoted fans, booking 60 solo shows in houses and other noncommercial spaces in houses and other noncommercial spaces. He played intimate acoustic sets to maybe 40 people each night, at $20 a ticket, and took questions between songs-some of them, unsurprisingly, about the tough spiritual questions his new material raises.” (117, The Passion of David Bazan, Jessica Hopper)

    “A few gently bait him, referring to scripture the way gang members throw signs, eager for a response that will reveal where Bazan is really at.” (120, ibid.)

    “/Did you first think Prince was gay?/

    /Lisa/: He was little and kinda prissy and everything. But he’s so not gay.
    /Wendy/: He’s a girl, for sure, but he’s not gay. He looked at me like a gay woman would look at another woman.
    /Lisa/: Totally. He’s like a fancy lesbian.
    /Wendy/: I remember being at that ‘Sexuality’ video shoot and him on stage with that little black jacket and that tie thing around his neck and his black pants with white buttons on the side. And we looked at each other for the first time and I thought, ‘Oh, I could so fall in love with that girl easy.’ It doesn’t matter what sexuality, gender you are. You’re in the room with him and he gives you that look and you’re like, ‘Okay, I’m done. It’s over.’ He’s Cassanova. He’s Valentino.” (175, The Revolution Will Be Harmonized, Barry Walters)

    “By all measures, Drake is the unlikeliest of choices for hip-hop’s rookie of the year. He hails from Canada, a country better known for its bacon and maple syrup than its MCs. The last and only rapper to make it big out of the Great North West was Snow, an early ‘90s one-hit wonder who topped the /Billboard/ charts with the painfully catchy track ‘Informer’.” (200, Drake-Rookie of the Year, Lola Ogunnaike)

    this is the kind of nonsense that incenses me. really? ignoring Michie and Maestro before and Kardi, K-os, K’naan, Shad K, etc. etc. etc. etc. after/currently?! 2010?! WTF?! and she’s a virgo, too. pshaaaw. no excuse. at least make the distinction that you mean ‘big’ by industry standards, not to anyone that actually listens to and/or cares about hip hop.

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