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.”
This Is….NRA Country, Vol. 1
For the moment, ignore the dreary anthems to self-sufficiency and race war making up this year-old compilation whose proceeds go directly to funding our most reactionary and violent lobbying powerhouse. Focus instead on the mission statement embedded within the advertisements, which serves as a reminder of how the language of division and use of false dichotomies helps split the electorate. “The heart” of NRA Country? “Support of our U.S. military,” despite the fact that most active duty military prefer hip-hop and metal to Craig Morgan and Justin Moore, even while all the guest appearances and product placements in the world won’t help slow the suicide epidemic depleting the ranks. “Appreciation for the great outdoors,” as if the vast majority of country music fans and gun enthusiasts don’t dwell within a suburban / exurban environment that has ravaged mother nature as surely as Le Corbusier or Robert Moses. Plus, “love of family,” as insidious an example of codespeak as Paul Ryan’s dire warning that the “urban vote” shortchanged the past election. Then consider the implications of a Trace Adkins line like “there’s more of us than there are of them” on a song about “the people who hate my God,” Josh Thompson sneering at welfare recipients while pledging to greet with a loaded weapon anybody “not welcome” in his zip code, and Rodney Adkins good-naturedly detailing the ways his daughter’s potential suitors get introduced to his well-stocked arsenal. “Now it’s all for show/Ain’t nobody gonna get hurt,” he smiles, and one doesn’t need to question the Constitution’s guarantee to keep and bear arms to know that’s a deadly line of cornpone bullshit right there.
“The situation described in the opening blurb of Complex’s list (she knows Lil Wayne songs. Cool! She knows too much. I’m scared!) is a classic set-up for “negging,” the totally despicable “Pickup Artist” strategy of undermining a woman’s ego in order to make her more vulnerable to your advances. Restricting women’s role in rap consumption to “girl who tacitly obliges your personal tastes but doesn’t assert her own too much” is pretty much Rap Game Negging—you’re cool, but wait, sit down, you’re not that cool. And equally toxic is going so far as to call women “groupies” for paying attention to (and, yes, favoriting the tweets of) the same rap internet thought leaders as you do is so un-selfaware it’s laughable (and may I inject a hearty #HAUHAUHAU at the very suggestion that you nerds have “groupies”). And it serves only to perpetuate a flattening of a potentially very robust discussion—the critical equivalent of the pallid death that is a RapGenius lyrics page, every stone one could possibly unturn and examine beneath affixed solidly to the ground. Exclude women from meaningful participation in the discourse, and you’re left in a virtual Chief Keef video—a barren room full of shirtless bros shaking their dreads back and forth, forever.”