Ordinary language is all right.
One could divide humanity into two classes:
those who master a metaphor, and those who hold by a formula.
Those with a bent for both are too few, they do not comprise a class.
I'm not sure whether I have to retract my fuck the Village Voice now that I got a ballot, since I had to bother them and spend a day arguing with Chuck Eddy to get one. Either way, I've submitted it now, and changed my old lists substantially.
1. Sonic Youth - Murray Street - 20 (DGC)
2. Herbert - Secondhand Sounds: Herbert Remixes - 20 (Peacefrog)
3. Dave Holland Big Band - What Goes Around - 10 (ECM)
4. Jay-Z - The Blueprint 2: The Gift and the Curse - 5 (Roc-A-Fella)
5. Tom Waits - Alice - 5 (Anti)
6. Cee-Lo - Cee-Lo Green and His Perfect Imperfections - 15 (Arista)
7. No Doubt - Rock Steady - 10 (Interscope)
8. Bobby Hutcherson - Dialogue - 5 (Blue Note)
9. Eminem - The Eminem Show - 5 (Aftermath)
10. V/A - Total 4 - 5 (Kompakt)
1. No Doubt feat. Lady Saw - "Underneath It All" (Interscope)
2. Eminem - "Without Me" (Aftermath)
3. No Doubt - "Hella Good" (Interscope)
4. Louie Austen - "Hoping (Herbert's High Dub)" (Peacefrog)
5. Cee-Lo - "Gettin' Grown" (Arista)
6. Nappy Roots - "Po' Folks" (Atlantic)
7. LL Cool J - "Lollipop" (Def Jam)
8. Nelly feat. Kelly Rowland - "Dilemma" (Universal)
9. Clipse feat. Sean Paul, Bless & Kardinal Offishall - "Grindin' (Selector Remix)" (Star Trak)
10. Freiland - "Frei" (Kompakt)
Each entry on the albums list also gives the number of points, minimum of 5, maximum of 30, assigned to the record, as per the Voice's requirement to split up to 100 points among up to 10 records. Singles don't get points (I'm not sure why).
If I can come up with anything, I hope to write something about everything here that I haven't already written about. At the moment I can say something about the trouble I had making lists, though. Not the general trouble that I always have, but some particular trouble with these lists, in this year.
I didn't listen to as much new indie (or as much old indie really) in 2002. Lots of my old favorite bands didn't release new albums, which probably would've had a good chance of showing up in this list. (But, note that Low and Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - I think - released new records that I didn't even buy, so it's not guaranteed.) But at the same time, I didn't really care to try out anything new, either really new (like all this garage rock crap or post-punk revivalism), or stylistically familiar to me (like, uh, whatever it is I didn't try). My limited energies were directed elsewhere.
I should say that there were a few albums that kind of fit into this category, "old favorite bands". I loved the Mekons' last album, though I haven't really enjoyed their older ones that I've heard. The new one seemed good at spots but I didn't often feel like listning to it. I wanted the wisely-resigned-and-wearied sound and feel of the last one, and was disappointed. I enjoyed the last two Wilco albums quite a bit, but aside from a couple of spots the new one put me off. I love Sleater-Kinney, but found myself, frustratingly, unable to listen to One Beat. It took me quite a while to really like their last three albums; I hope this one opens up for me eventually. At the moment whenever I play it, I hear bad parts of rock (the style, the monstrous historical entity) that I enjoyed the absence of (implicitly) on the older records.
But, like I said, my energies were mostly directed elsewhere. Limited energies - more on that later. I haven't counted, but I'm pretty sure well over half of the records I bought this year were rap records, old or new. That's a lot more than I've ever bought before. There's more to say about this, but for the moment I'll just note that I bought lots of albums that I found uneven, but enjoyed or found interesting in all kinds of different ways. The problem is that I still tend to judge my album list using consistency of some sort (consistency in quality, tone, my response, etc.), and this left me unsure of what to do with all these records that I had been playing but wouldn't normally put on an albums list. (By way of comparison, aside from the Stereolab which I have turned considerably on, I think everything on my 2001 list is at least still pretty tight as an album, even if I think differently of it now for other reasons.)
So, there are both flawed albums (in the above sense) on this year's list, and a number of flawed ones I left off but still enjoyed somehow. The Jay-Z is flawed in some typical double album ways, sadly. I'm not sure if the Cee-Lo is flawed in first solo album ways, overreaching ways, or typical contemporary black pop album ways. The Eminem is flawed in typical contemporary chart rap ways. And then there are the ones I left off: Scarface, Missy, LL, Clipse, N.E.R.D., the 8 Mile soundtrack, the other Tom Waits, and others.
I am sure this is all quite interesting to you.
The record is Ella and Louis. There is a quiz.
Ella is Missy. Who is Louis?
a. Meth? b. Jay? c. Luda? d. Tim?
Oops, problem, Ella is not Missy. Oh well.
Yes, all these other songs should have the stutter right at 2:45. Trust me, I know what I'm doing. If I had meant that all songs should just have a stutter, I could've said so.
It will be kind of like a holiday. You have them on the same day every year so that everyone knows when they are, so they can get ready for the excitement, and all observe the holiday together.
I find it interesting that the Nas spot on the new Scarface record seems to me kind of like a guest-from-another-genre spot, even though the song has a beat and Scarface does a verse on it too. It must be because of the structure and the music: in the middle, after Nas and before Face, there's a very long (relative to the rest of the song) section with singing and a devastating, delicate guitar part. Just by its presence it transforms the raps on the song.
I might say that what makes these guest spots so wonderful is that they're not just performers guesting, but styles. I say that despite Lady Saw's spot on Underneath It All being in some sense (I can't make claims about ultimate appropriateness since I don't really know the style) in the style of the song. Maybe Bounty Killer's too, though that I am even less sure about. But. The talk of rap below means something; I want, like, Redman and Nas and Missy doing guest spots on rock records. There is a trick to this, of course; I only want them doing it if they can do it in some cool way that sounds good, not in some guy-from-Rush-decides-to-do-a-rap-song way. But what is definitely ruled out as unacceptable in my futuristic guest star pop paradise (in which incidentally we will all be housed in cities encased in giant plastiform bubbles, all the better the keep in the future pop music which will be publically broadcast in the streets and idyllic nature preserves) is rock people guest starring on other rock people's records. Rap is so much about style that rappers carry their styles around with them; you might make a grouchy case in favor of the same being true of rock-style singing, but at the moment I think the performer's individual style just isn't as modular in the sense that it's not as resilient and substitutable in new contexts. This might have something to do with the way individualism and style interact in different genres, but just noting so will satisfy me for the moment.
Now, "Hey Baby" I like too, just not as much. But there is one thing about it that "Hella Good" missed out on, which as per my last post every song ever could benefit from, and that is a guest spot by some reggae dude. Yeah, maybe he's more properly dancehall, or I should call him a toaster, or whatever, I don't know that stuff. The song possibly also being more properly part of one particular genre or another might matter, too. I mean, it is significant that the reggae guests are here and on "Underneath it All" and not, say, "Detective" or "Waiting Room". I remain steadfast, though. All songs ever could benefit from guest spots from toasters. Here, Bounty Killer sounds a bit arbitrarily placed, which is part of the charm. And as we know, more arbitrary = more fun = more pop = more aphoristic = more equals signs = more more more! Despite the star producers (Sly & Robbie on this track, not that I know what they sound like, but it's typical that big outside producers imprint their own sound onto what they produce, so I still will pretend like I can tell what their distinctive touch is here), No Doubt retains their identity here and on the rest of the album, as far as I'm concerned. (I have hated every other single they have released, and have not heard their other albums, but I'm not worried.) That means that a guest vocalist's identity is put into greater contrast, unlike on say certain kinds of rap tracks, the ones where the producers of the music for the artist vary enough that the artist's identity comes from just their raps, and some harder-to-pin-down things about their music than just the sound of it from track to track (unlike rock-pop bands, usually). So it's like readymade arbitrary fun. Plus reggae guys sound like more fun, by default, than Gwen Stefani. Who, to be fair, does put some effort into "fun" I suppose. I reckon that if my plan for all future music is implemented, eventually the proliferation of guest spots will upset the balance between rock-pop where band identity is dominant and the euphorically wonderful music of my utopian vision, and then all of my arbitrary-contrast fun would evaporate, or at least be placed in jeopardy. However, I am willing to take that chance. Too much is at stake.
The verses on "Hella Good" sound, as far as I care to pay attention to them, boring-to-lame. This is irrelevant. If I so desired, I would justify its awesomeness with a list of things that are in this song that are not in other songs, but should be. (This is different from but related to a list of things about this song which are awesome.) In fact, let's see:
beepy noises (reminiscent of the Neptunes sound but not the Neptunes sound, appropriate I guess since they have writing credits but no production credits), square wave bass synths in addition to a bass guitar part, drum machines or something in addition to live drums (and live drums played with a machinelike dedication to dancing no less), panting, the multipurpose word "hella", a girl, other beepy noises, and a little stutter at 2:45
There is also a list of things I do not advise there being more of in other songs, although they work in this one. It is a shorter list:
80s guitar solo
This is telling, because overall the record sounds like it is in love with the 80s. I personally do not love the 80s, so I find my reaction to the record surprising. Rock Steady, I mean, not just the single. I would like more 80s like this.
And more 90s, and more 00s. There was obviously a lot of money spent on the record, but it seems like some of its charms are not out of the reach of lots of other bands. The guitars and future-retro space synths here give the song this unbelievable chunkiness, but not just in terms of (spatial) volume, it's textured way the fuck up. In this it sounds way better at what most mainstream rock and metal songs I hear seem to want to do than those songs themselves are. So I decree MORE SYNTHS FOR EVERYONE!
Maybe in this, my year of pop infatuation, I don't really need to explain how I came to love this song. But I really used to hate No Doubt. There are still some songs on the album I have doubts about. That was unintentional, that there, but it was accurate. Well, I missed the single when it came out, but eventually I heard it in a bar. Which is more or less like hearing it on the radio - it comes out of nowhere, it's a surprise like a song on a record you had to seek out and buy never is. It seems I will be linking to that single review ("review") a lot in the near future.