Bottom of the Barrel 2009

Confiscate their laptops: the worst writing of the year.

Billboard Staff: "The 5 Worst (and Best) Ad Songs of All Time"

(Ad Week, June 2, 2009)

So, basically, the Buzzcocks and Violent Femmes suck for letting their songs be used for ads, but it's OK for Os Mutante to let McDonald's use a song, or Caesars (who?) to shill for Apple? And it's OK for milquetoast crap like the Seekers to shill for Coke? And the Nike "Revolution" commercial is a great one? (Not for the Beatles or the backlash that Nike got, that's for sure). And maybe it wasn't cool for Dylan or Devo to bend over backwards to make commercials, but that's been a pop tradition since Sonny Boy Williamson shilled for King Biscuit flour, and way before that too. Don't these guys know anything?

Glenn Branca: "The End of Music"

(New York Times, November 24, 2009)

When telling us that nothing important happened in the music world for decades, he was noticeably very skimpy on any specific examples. If anyone who wasn't a noted composer wrote a tired piece like that for The New York Times, they wouldn't be published. It's obvious why they printed it, but the editors there should also realize that just because a name-brand writes something, that doesn't mean it's a good article worth presenting to their audience. Also, if you want to follow his logic that nothing important in the music world has happened in the last 50 years, then we shouldn't pay any attention to Branca himself, right?

Eric Felten: "That Synching Feeling"

(Wall Street Journal, February 5, 2009)

Ideally, we'd all like the performances we see to be live, but Felten is remarkably ignorant about the phenomenon. Does he say a word about the thousands of performers who faked playing on TV shows to give some historic perspective? Nope. When he assails Yo Yo Ma for playing synched music at the inauguration, does he mention how vulnerable stringed instruments are to the chilly weather that occurred that day? Nope. Anything about ghost writers or other parallels to other art forms? Nope. Would you think that a guy like Felten, who happens to be a musician, might know about these things? Yep.

Scott Galupo "Whither the Superstar?"

(Washington Times, July 3rd, 2009)

Have you lost count of how many times Michael Jackson got named as the last music superstar? Well, here's yet another article claiming that and making it a headline. There's nothing about Madonna, Macca, Jay Z, Bono, or Beyonce (though Prince gets name-checked), all of whom haven't had terrible fates. Also, there's nothing to read here about how superstar status is changing (not dying as claimed here) in the Internet age. Then again, what do you expect from a right-wing Moonie rag?

Jeff Heinrich: "Maria with the Long Bare Arms"

(The Gazette, July 2, 2009)

Reader Jennifer Bell: "I am torn as to whether the article is more offensive because of the author's complete lack of knowledge of jazz generally and big bands specifically, or its blatantly sexist, ageist and misogynist tone." To which I'd add that unfortunately, the controversy will probably keep Heinrich employed here or elsewhere since he's causing such a stir.

Jeff Price: "From MTV to YouTube: When the Net Pays Everyone but the Musician"

(Huffington Post, Posted January 6, 2009)

It starts out sounding like a reasonable think piece about musicians getting paid in the digital age, and how MTV used bands and labels to build themselves up. But then it turns into an ad for his own service, to connect musicians with advertisers. A shabby misstep on the part of the Huffington Post.

Reiham Salam: "The Hipster Depression"

(The Atlantic, March 24, 2009)

If you need a very lazy zeitgeist survey that's low on examples and loaded with half-formed thoughts, then this article's for you. Most likely, the editor wanted the scribe to come up with some punchy hook which summed up the whole SXSW festival, but settled on squeezing a few observations from a handful of bands and passing that off as cultural critique. If you need wrong-headed music biz chatter, stick with Bobby "Back in my day" Lefsetz -- he's become a pathetic moron, but at least you can laugh at him.

In Americana music the present is female. Two-thirds of our year-end list is comprised of albums by women. Here, then, are the women (and a few men) who represented the best in Americana in 2017.

If a single moment best illustrates the current divide between Americana music and mainstream country music, it was Sturgill Simpson busking in the street outside the CMA Awards in Nashville. While Simpson played his guitar and sang in a sort of renegade-outsider protest, Garth Brooks was onstage lip-syncindg his way to Entertainer of the Year. Americana music is, of course, a sprawling range of roots genres that incorporates traditional aspects of country, blues, soul, bluegrass, etc., but often represents an amalgamation or reconstitution of those styles. But one common aspect of the music that Simpson appeared to be championing during his bit of street theater is the independence, artistic purity, and authenticity at the heart of Americana music. Clearly, that spirit is alive and well in the hundreds of releases each year that could be filed under Americana's vast umbrella.

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From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.

60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

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This week on our games podcast, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

This week, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

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Which is the draw, the art or the artist? Critic Rachel Corbett examines the intertwined lives of two artists of two different generations and nationalities who worked in two starkly different media.

Artist biographies written for a popular audience necessarily involve compromise. On the one hand, we are only interested in the lives of artists because we are intrigued, engaged, and moved by their work. The confrontation with a work of art is an uncanny experience. We are drawn to, enraptured and entranced by, absorbed in the contemplation of an object. Even the performative arts (music, theater, dance) have an objective quality to them. In watching a play, we are not simply watching people do things; we are attending to the play as a thing that is more than the collection of actions performed. The play seems to have an existence beyond the human endeavor that instantiates it. It is simultaneously more and less than human: more because it's superordinate to human action and less because it's a mere object, lacking the evident subjectivity we prize in the human being.

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Gabin's Maigret lets everyone else emote, sometimes hysterically, until he vents his own anger in the final revelations.

France's most celebrated home-grown detective character is Georges Simenon's Inspector Jules Maigret, an aging Paris homicide detective who, phlegmatically and unflappably, tracks down murderers to their lairs at the center of the human heart. He's invariably icon-ified as a shadowy figure smoking an eternal pipe, less fancy than Sherlock Holmes' curvy calabash but getting the job done in its laconic, unpretentious, middle-class manner.

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