It’s end-of-year list-making time, and right on cue, the first bunch of Best-of-2013 lists are starting to appear on various blogs and in magazines. And, as ever, there’s a certain orthodoxy about them, a pattern whereby you see the same record appear on list after list, and find yourself scratching your head and saying, “But, wait, that album sucked!” Well, if it’s any consolation, it’s not just you. Here are ten records to which your correspondent has had the same reaction — albums that seem to have gotten universal love despite being at best flawed and at worst… Read More
You already know what I’m going to say, don’t you? Marshall Mathers, 41 this year, gave an interview to Rolling Stone this week, wherein he spoke about the controversy surrounding his repeated use of homophobic language in his recent single “Rap God.” To the surprise of precisely no one, Eminem was unrepentant about the whole thing, arguing that hey, he’s not homophobic, and he doesn’t mean the word “faggot” badly, and if people are offended, well, that’s their problem.
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SNL wants you to know they messed up. The lack of diversity amongst the cast was addressed in last night’s cold open — due to the appearance of Kerry Washington, who not only contributed a great energy to the episode, but also played Michelle Obama for the first time since 2007 (when Maya Rudolph took on the role of the First Lady). SNL has always been Captain Obvious when it comes to their African-American hosts. Race is always at the forefront of the sketches — if not in subject, then in terms of which players the writers feature (last night was the most we’ll probably see of Jay Pharoah all season). It’s usually uncomfortable, heavy-handed (someone is patting themselves on the back for inviting Eminem and Al Sharpton to last night’s show), and unfortunately, nothing ever changes. But hey, SNL is great at underlining the show’s limited scope. There will be umpteen more episodes of Kenan Thompson in drag, featuring four of the six new cast members (all male and white) hogging the spotlight, and exhausting jokes about women being hormonal and crazy. If last night’s semi-lame cold opener actually leads to something, we’ll be surprised — but we’d like to believe that SNL will one day join the real world and expand its horizons. … Read More
It’s getting toward the end of the year, which in the music industry means two things: big commercial releases and a precipitous drop-off in quality as the “festive” season draws closer. It’s not all bad, though. In amongst the stocking stuffers and superfluous best-ofs, there are still some quality releases, and as we do at the start of every month, we’ve pored over the release schedules to pick out ten of the… Read More
Look, I have nothing against Eminem. I really don’t. (And no, I’m not just saying that because his
insane devoted fans stormed our comments section the last time I said something remotely uncomplimentary about him.) For all that aspects of his work — namely, his not-especially-latent misogyny — have always bothered me, I found the way he lived out his crises in public, turning them into powerful and conflicted art, compelling and perversely fascinating. What we’ve heard of his new record so far has been a curious and diverse array of sounds: old-school pseudo-Run DMC (“Berzerk”), reflective power balladry (“The Monster”), raging against the dying of the light (“Rap God”), and… well, now there’s new single “Love Game,” co-starring Kendrick Lamar. To which my reaction was the same as many people’s: what the actual fuck is this?!
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If you happen to be a Spiritualized überfan like me — or even just someone who has any sort of cursory familiarity with Jason Pierce and his oeuvre — you might have been rather taken aback to find that Australian electro plodders Cut Copy somehow convinced him to do a remix of their song “Free Your Mind.” The remix, it must be said, is a pretty fine piece of work, and it got us thinking about other unlikely remixes from over the years that have somehow worked a treat. We’ve put together a playlist of such unexpected gems — click through and check out our choices (and, y’know, feel free to add to the list if so inclined). … Read More
The first rule of relevance is: you don’t talk about relevance. And you certainly don’t release a single talking about how relevant you are (especially if its immediate predecessor sounded like it was made in 1988). Oh, Eminem — how did it come to this? 2013 is the year of the hip-hop midlife crisis, but even so, there’s something particularly unedifying about “Rap God,” Eminem’s new single, wherein he spends six minutes and a lot of words talking about the fact that he is still, yes, a rap god. … Read More
Justin Timberlake’s new single “TKO” dropped last week, and because we are professionals, we forced ourselves to listen to it despite the fact that it starts with the refrain, “She killed me with that coochie-coochie-coo.” The song doesn’t get a whole lot better, to be honest, but that particular line is surely the least appetizing sex-related lyric of the year (honestly, who uses the word “cooch” outside of high school?!), and it started an intra-office conversation about where it rates in the pantheon of hilariously awful sex lyrics. Here are the results of our highly scientific discussion: a giggle-inducing survey of the worst of the worst. You’re welcome. … Read More
The controversy over Robin Thicke’s odious “Blurred Lines” is going to be one of those stories that just runs and runs, by the looks of it — just when everyone had started to forget about it, there was the whole VMAs debacle to remind everyone of the song’s unpleasant lyrics and general air of rapeyness. Apparently a student union in Edinburgh has banned the song completely, a move that raises all sorts of questions over the efficacy and ethics of censorship, but whether or not you support expunging it from the airwaves entirely, there’s no doubt that its take on sexual politics is thoroughly questionable. Still, there’s a whole lot of other songs you hear almost as often that are even more troubling. Like these ones, for instance. … Read More