"Eminem didn’t have sleazy, objectifying party songs; he had furious, murderous meltdowns. His was not a blithe misogyny. “Kim,” was dark, violent, out of control; but the “Kim” in the song is not a prop—she’s a demon. A demon has power….[w]hile the song pissed me off and provoked me, it never objectified or excluded me. Eminem is capable of conveying great humor and joy in his music (see “The Real Slim Shady,” “My Name Is”), but he didn’t write “Kim” to make anyone laugh. He did it to show us what a profoundly fucked-up human he was. He wasn’t bragging—he was confessing. He was daring us to hate him when Jay-Z and Puffy and Snoop were begging us to love them."
—me on why I love Eminem, at Rookie (adapted from the It’s Complicated project). Also, I am obsessed with this art.
The It’s Complicated project was inspired by this Ellen Willis quote.
“I was at this transitional moment in my life where I was leaving Bikini Kill and I’d been really associated with it, and I was like, ‘the militant asshole bitch from Bikini Kill’… but also, I was supposed to be ‘the tough-ass feminist from Bikini Kill,’ which really wasn’t what I was offstage; I was really not very confident," Hanna says in late June at a Williamsburg, Brooklyn, cafe. "It was also so much more personal, in a way. I wasn’t trying to write ‘Rebel Girl’ over and over again. I wasn’t trying to write a feminist anthem. I was writing the shit that was in my diary. I disguised a lot of things. I mean I wrote about an invisible friend that I had who was getting me through this bad time. Well, it was really my cat, but…”
It’s funny — ten years ago, this song was just another eighties oldie to me. I probably heard it all the time, yet never noticed it. I figured I already knew it. But I had never sung it with this woman. And after that, it was a whole new song. Turn around. So I hear it now and it reminds me of this woman I love. It’s just one of the many insane adventures we stumbled into together. Turn around. No matter how many times I hear it, the song will always flood me with memories of all the times we’ve sung it. Next time I hear it, tonight might be one of those memories. Turn around.
The song always starts the same way. Those same four piano notes, over and over. But I can already tell this is just the first shot of a marathon epic karaoke quest. I don’t care how late we have to stay to get our fix. We will torch one great song after another, until they pull the plug and kill the lights and beg us to go home. Turn around.”
In “Guys Do It All the Time,” her only song ever to top the country chart, she turned tables on the dudes by staying out till 4 a.m. having beers with the girls: a rocking boot-scooter, surrounded on the album with other line-dance-ready two-steps about young ladies out on the town, ‘cause it ain’t a party till they get here. Even that hit about demonic temptation sounded totally optimistic, affirming Nashville’s fallback stance that, sure, things might go wrong now and then, but ultimately stuff will work out, because at least if you stick to home and hearth and God and the comfort of your small town, all is right with the world.
McCready probably already knew by then what a crock that is. But she was ambitious — she’d graduated high school early to get her career going — and in the wake of Shania Twain, Nashville had its eyes on photogenic young women. Ten Thousand Angels, which went on to sell 2 million copies, came out just a couple of months before 14-year-old LeAnn Rimes’ Blue, which went on to sell 6 million in the U.S. alone. The idea, it seems, was maybe to build a demographic coalition between suburban tween-girl pop fans and their country-fan moms; Lila McCann (1997), Jessica Andrews (1999), Rebecca Lynn Howard (2000), Alecia Elliott (2000), Cyndi Thompson (2001), and others had all come and gone before Taylor Swift finally hit the jackpot starting in 2006.
Which is to say: the industry is hell.”
“Kevin Shields’ guitar sounds sexual – in a way, his guitar is like the late Luther Vandross’ voice. Both artists have an erotic signature sound that’s so massive, it’s a pure abstraction. Shields’ guitar and Vandross’ voice radiate the helplessness of love, as if they’re letting themselves get totally swallowed up, as if surrendering to the hugeness of the sound is the same thing as surrendering to love. I’ve always liked the title of my favorite Luther record: The Best of Luther Vandross … The Best of Love. Obviously there’s an arrogance in trying to sing in the voice of love itself, but both guys sound ego-free because their identity gets dissolved in the romance of this sound, a romance they share with their audience. (That’s why not even hardcore fans seem to care about these guys’ individual personalities, or their private lives.)”
Kate Beaton: "Nasty"
Jessica Hopper: Fleetwood Mac: Rumours
Maura Johnston, "Post-menopausal antiquing, or: Please, Rick Moody, just quit it"
Allen Lowe, "Keeping the American in African American"
Rachael Maddux, "Do we need a Postal Service reunion?"
Michaelangelo Matos, "Why Grammys put other awards to shame"
Zel McCarthy, "Insomniac’s raves aren’t as bad as the LA Times is saying — they’re worse"
Wesley Morris, "Bow down to the queen: Notes on Beyonce’s halftime show"
Nick Murray, "With "Merry ‘Go Round," Kacey Musgraves starts writing the future of country"
Ned Raggett, My Bloody Valentine: mbv
The Singles Jukebox, Margaret Berger: “I Feed You My Love”
Katherine St Asaph, "The Grammys’ R&B and rap problem"
Oliver Wang, "Bullet points: How hip-hop handles the gun"
Seth Colter Walls, "The ‘one drop rule’ of jazz"
“Concepts depend on the course of a particular, and Womack & Womack’s Love Wars reveled in particulars. The 1983 album, a minor hit on the R&B and British charts, is most famous for the title track and the Larry Levanized mix of “Baby I’m Scared of You,” less for its quiet, rippling grooves and needle-sharp lyrics chronicling a relationship whose experience with discord deepens its intimacy, although they’d trade the discord for the intimacy without blinking. They even transform the most ridiculous Stones ballad into a cry of desolation. Love Wars should be as immense as Shoot Out The Lights, Blood on the Tracks, and Wild Gift as a breakup-to-makeup classic. If renewed interest in “think pieces” on indie attraction to R&B have a point, it’s to stir interest in albums this solid.”
“Watching a performer in her prime, especially in the day of the hundred-forty-character one-liner, is as frustrating as it is thrilling. Beyoncé does nothing wrong live. She sings and dances as if both acts are simply getting easier as she ages, that synchronizing her body and voice to the visual mayhem around her isn’t even something she needs to rehearse. (She rehearsed.)…
Her smiles feel unforced, her high notes unstrained. She’s Beyoncé, the model of a pop star, who retains the right to be our alpha-female performer by never taking it for granted, by visibly loving all of the work the job involves. There’s a difference between being the object of everyone’s gaze and constantly recreating the reason the gaze is there. Who could look at anyone else when Beyoncé is on stage? The game apparently got pretty interesting after the blackout, but that involved some unknown force. (A power outage delayed play for thirty-four minutes right after Beyoncé’s thirteen-minute performance.) Beyoncé is exactly what we know, and it is more remarkable every time she just goes and does it, as if to always obscure the fact that she had to come up with herself first, before we knew her.”
David Bevan, "K-pop’s new style: G-Dragon blazes a cray path"
Amy Blaszyk, "Patty Andrews, leader of the Andrews Sisters, dies"
Jonathan Bogart, Dawn Richard: Goldenheart
Randy Fox, "Love at 33 1/3: Reflections on a year of writing about record stores"
Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, "When the lights shut off: Kendrick Lamar and the decline of the black blues narrative"
Corinna Jentzsch, Death Metal Angola
Alex Macpherson, "Rapper Angel Haze on religion, rape and survival"
Ryan Maffei, "25 45s from the ’50s (as per Christgau)"
Sally O’Rourke, The Supremes: “You Can’t Hurry Love”
Ann Powers, "All the singular ladies: 6 women at the cutting edge of R&B"
Jody Rosen, Les Miserables: Highlights from the Motion Picture Soundtrack
Hank Shteamer, Miles Davis: The Bootleg Series, Volume 2: Live in Europe 1969
Dan Weiss, "Sorry, haters: Kitty Pryde is staying a while"
Scott Woods, "Conversation with Joe Bonomo, editor of Conversations with Greil Marcus”
Jon Young, Tegan and Sara: Heartthrob
Lindsay Zoladz, Marianne Faithfull: Broken English: Deluxe Edition
Once upon a time, country music influences were inherited at childhood, not selected in adulthood. You grew up on Willie, Waylon, Merle, Dolly, George, Johnny and Hank, and even after you put your own little twist on that legacy, your influence was still obvious. The new generation of country artists pays lip service to that past, but it’s obvious those legends aren’t real influences anymore. What artist with commercial ambitions could afford to choose them? Just look at what happened to the artists who did.
Jamey Johnson released Living for a Song — a terrific, very personal tribute to Hank Cochran — and the critics voted it the No. 1 album of 2012. Dwight Yoakam did his Buck Owens-meets-Paul McCartney thing again, and the critics voted 3 Pears the year’s No. 2 album. Kellie Pickler abandoned her previous country-pop compromises and made 100 proof, the updated Loretta Lynn record she’s always wanted to make, and it was voted the No. 4 album. Alan Jackson sang as beautifully as George Jones on Thirty Miles West, voted the No. 8 album.
But here’s the kicker: For all their critic-pleasing artistic achievement, not one of those four albums — all of them released by major labels — yielded a Top 20 country single. Radio shunned these albums as instinctively as the critics embraced them. In other words, if an ambitious young country artist wants to get played on country radio, his or her role model has to be an ’80s rock star rather than a ’70s country star. The choice of which rock star to emulate can reveal the artist’s essential instincts.”