Productive Ways Not to Like Music

“Over the past two decades, the impulse to talk shit about bands and the people who like them—the impulse, that is, to delegitimize other people’s pleasure (yeah, you know me)—has largely, though not entirely, disappeared from my critical consciousness. So has the anger I used to feel rise up into my mouth like thrush when unworthy artists got a free ride on the respect wagon. … Continue reading Productive Ways Not to Like Music

In Defense of Schlock

In a 166-word blurb in the 1983 edition of the Rolling Stone Record Guide, Dave Marsh, the Bruce Springsteen biographer and guardian of rock-critical orthodoxy, gave one-star reviews to all of Journey’s albums while emptying his rucksack of insults: “Stepford Wives rock,” “calculated,” “nitwit,” “plodding,” “banality,” “utter triviality,” “exploitative cynicism,” and worst of all, surely, by Marsh’s lights, “Paul Anka and Pat Boone.” Rolling Stone’s regular magazine … Continue reading In Defense of Schlock

Epic Tuesday Reads #4: Five Years, Two Million Words

In the last five years, there have been nearly 3400 songs covered from over 60 countries, with about 30,000 individual paragraph-long reviews from us adding up to about 2,000,000 (two million) words. It’d take you a week solid to read the site from front to back. We don’t recommend you do that, so here are some highlights from our first five years. Feel free to … Continue reading Epic Tuesday Reads #4: Five Years, Two Million Words

Epic Tuesday Reads #2: The Trouble With Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop Chart

Ideally, any effective genre chart—be it R&B, Latin, country, even alt-rock—doesn’t just track a particular strain of music, which can be marked by ever-changing boundaries and ultimately impossible to define. It’s meant to track an audience. This is a subtle but vital difference. If an R&B chart tries to cover whatever might be termed R&B music, you get into the subjective, slippery business of determining what, or who, … Continue reading Epic Tuesday Reads #2: The Trouble With Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop Chart

Epic Tuesday Reads #1: Geeshie & Elvis

The Ballad of Geeshie and Elvie: On the trail of the phantom women who changed American music and then vanished without a trace. By John Jeremiah Sullivan N THE WORLD of early-20th-century African-American music and people obsessed by it, who can appear from one angle like a clique of pale and misanthropic scholar-gatherers and from another like a sizable chunk of the human population, there … Continue reading Epic Tuesday Reads #1: Geeshie & Elvis

Singles Jukebox Comment Competition

The Singles Jukebox turned five this week, and to celebrate this achievement, they’re having a contest: “So for the next three weeks, we’re having a comment competition! The best comment on any entry posted this year will win a $30 iTunes voucher, or equivalent… The competition closes at 11.59pm Friday April 4, U.S. Eastern time. So think long and hard, put fingers to keyboard and … Continue reading Singles Jukebox Comment Competition

Sweet, Green Icing

“MacArthur Park” (not “MacArthur’s”, as [Richard] Harris insisted on singing) is a dreamy, musically complex, highly impressionistic song about Webb’s break-up with his girlfriend. The lyrics contain some unforgettable metaphors for loneliness and shattered dreams, including a cake left out in the rain — an image that a lot of people seem to find either hilarious or bewildering. In 1992, columnist Dave Barry asked his … Continue reading Sweet, Green Icing