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Wednesday, Jan 29, 2014
There's been a recent trend of pop songs that specifically criticize pop music and pop culture, where pop stars seem to be trying to distance themselves from pop... while still being pop.

Satire has a long history in music. From medieval troubadours to Randy Newman, music has been a great vehicle for political and social criticism. But lately, I’ve noticed a trend of pop songs that specifically criticize pop music and pop culture. Songs that are unabashedly pop while attacking unabashedly pop music. These songs have their cake and eat it too, and maybe that’s another layer of intentional satire. Whether it’s the subtle parody of hedonistic culture of Ke$ha or the direct criticism in Lorde’s “Royals”, pop stars seem to be trying to distance themselves from pop… while still being pop. Call it a symptom of the age of irony or a sign that pop has gotten so vapid that even its practitioners want it to change, it’s an interesting phenomenon either way.


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Wednesday, Jan 22, 2014
With the very fine new album Rave Tapes out this month, PopMatters looks back on Mogwai's rich career by picking 13 of the finest songs from the full span of the post-rock band's work.

Back in the ‘90s some writers started calling a fairly unrelated clutch of bands “post-rock”, a genre name no more or less sensible or grandiose than most of them. While the term was originally intended to refer to any act that was somehow advancing past the boundaries of rock music without, err, becoming some other genre, it quickly calcified into pretty much referring to guitar-based bands that specialized in long, instrumental songs that often built to huge crescendos. Like many minor genres, it described plenty of wonderful music but was as notable for how the notable acts in the field refused to just play, well, post-rock.


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Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014
After the surprise release of quite possibly her best album to date, it's time to have a look at the tracks that propelled this R&B darling into super-stardom.

Beyoncé Knowles has had quite the career. In only 32 years she’s managed to release 10 full-length albums (five with super girl-group Destiny’s Child), toured almost as many times as she released LPs, starred in seven feature-length films, and received all kinds of accolades and awards for her contribution to pop and R&B. She effectively filled the very glaring hole left by Janet Jackson when she decided that she wasn’t going to be cool anymore. Since her departure from the group that skyrocketed her into stardom, Beyoncé has led an almost incomparable solo career all the while maintaining her hotness. She’s been fairly contradictory in her music, simultaneously decrying the need for a man, all the while buying into the heteronormative matrimonial standards. She does it with class and integrity that makes it difficult to find fault in her fairly conservative standards.


Recently, she shocked the Internet with the completely surprise release of her fifth solo album, titled simply BEYONCÉ, which managed to hit number one on the Billboard charts, earning her a place in music history as the first solo artist with five consecutive No. 1 albums! In celebration of this illustrious career, PopMatters gives you the Top 10 Best Beyoncé Singles of All Time.


Tagged as: beyoncé, list this
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Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013
Though this may be the time of year when cloying pop covers of Christmas songs are picked up from far too many supermarket checkout lines, let it not sour you on all covers completely. The ten artists listed herein are laudable exemplars of how to make the cover version an artform all its own.

Though this may be the time of year when cloying pop covers of Christmas songs are picked up from far too many supermarket checkout lines, let it not sour you on all covers completely. Shearwater have a great album full of songs from its tourmates entitled Fellow Travelers, and the band’s Jonathan Meiburg lists all kinds of reasons for playing covers over at the Talkhouse. He lists plenty of reasons (it’s easy; it’s hard; it’s fun), but also touches on some phenomenally simple explanations for what makes great covers tick: “What makes a song a song? Is it the lyric? Is it the melody? How much can you distress a song without injuring its soul?” Shearwater approached many of these questions on Travelers, and the artists listed below used these selfsame queries to make the cover an artform all its own.


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Thursday, Dec 5, 2013
"It was Christmas Eve, babe / In the drunk tank / An old man said to me / 'Won't see another one'" -- "Fairytale of New York" has become a modern holiday standard, and Sound Affects lists five reasons why it deserves that status.

Canadian Thanksgiving, Halloween, American Thanksgiving, Black Friday—whatever date on the calendar you use to mark the start of holiday season preparations, know that that point has arrived. As has the requisite blizzard of season-appropriate music. For those seeking a respite from the Christmas/Hanukkah/etc. traditionals, popular music has proven more than willing to pick up the slack. Need an entire album of yuletide cheer from your favorite superstars? Everyone from Mariah Carey to Justin Bieber has you covered. Want to hear a legend tackle a holiday classic? Hold out for the inevitable yuletide network TV parades available throughout the month, or go online and cue up a vintage chestnut like Bing Crosby and David Bowie’s take on “The Little Drummer Boy”.


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