By its very nature, pop is the least underrated genre of music — if you define underrated-ness by commercial success alone. Sure, a pop star may not live up to sales projections and be dubbed a flop for selling hundreds of thousands of copies, but there’s also the critical side of this specific coin. So ‘underrated’ is a complicated idea. All interpretations of it are on display in this list, which focuses on the last 20 years of pop and covers everything from Charli XCX to Matchbox… Read More
Last week we brought you the top 25 albums of 2014 so far, but we couldn’t let the midyear pass without taking a look at the best songs up until this point. This being a singles list, it’s heavy on your Iggys and your Charlis and your Sias, but you’ll also find choice album cuts from some of the year’s best rock LPs, like EMA, The War on Drugs, Against Me!, and more. And finally, we tossed in a few you may not have heard yet, hopefully inspiring you to check out the underrated tunes that haven’t been critical faves or Hot 100… Read More
Although it’s only March, I am almost certain Kylie Minogue’s “Into the Blue” is the best mainstream pop song of 2014. It’s the perfect mix of light and dark: an angelic voice proseletizing positivity and self-sufficiency, a pulsating beat providing a hard undercurrent, and a dramatic string section to boot. And yet, “Into the Blue” is nowhere to be found on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, the industry barometer of America’s most popular songs based on radio play, streaming services, YouTube, and hard-earned downloads. Why? … Read More
Things in the music industry start to wake up come March, what with SXSW and the close of dreaded Q1. This month’s got no shortage of great indie (Real Estate, The Hold Steady, The War On Drugs) and pop (Kylie Minogue, Pharrell, Shakira) releases alike, the latter of which is a little surprising given its distance from bangerz season (i.e., summer). Regardless, it’s nice to see some variety on the… Read More
Insert Birthday Party joke here: today is Nick Cave’s 56th birthday. The Bad Seed was the keynote speaker at BigSound last week. “I’m famously a collaborator. I can’t do what I do without certain musicians around me,” he told audiences. “It’s about having people around me who can bring new things.” Indeed, Cave shares an interesting creative history with fellow misanthropes (or melancholic optimists?), ex-lovers, and indie film directors. We’ve selected some of our favorite Nick Cave collaborations — a few familiar projects and several that tend to be overlooked. … 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
The legend of the Hungarian Suicide Song is one of those things that does the rounds on the blogs every few years, and it surfaced again on io9 over the weekend. The song in question — László Jávor and Rezső Seress’s “Szomorú vasárnap,” which translates into English as “Gloomy Sunday” — is famous for having allegedly catalyzed multiple suicides over the years, including its composer Seress’ in 1968. Quite how much truth there is in all this is forever unclear, but one thing’s for sure: the song’s depressing as hell. Still, it’s not always the obviously downbeat songs that cover disturbing and/or depressing subject matter — sometimes it’s the most deceptively jaunty songs that conceal the saddest lyrics.
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With only days left until the end of 2012, the Internet is full of best-of essays and lists and embeddable Spotify playlists that reaffirm critics’ and tastemakers’ street credit and perpetuate the myth that most people writing about music actually have any kind of significant impact on the way that pop music is created, packaged, and sold. I won’t bore you with such gas. Instead, here are some fun superlatives that summarize the world of pop this year, for those of you who may not have kept up with this realm. These are undeniable touchstones — meaning that should you, as esteemed people with ears, have scruples with this list, it would behoove you to make an appointment with a qualified audiologist post-haste. Otherwise, read! Click! Dance! … Read More
It’s Friday, which means another installment of our regular roundup of downloadable MP3 goodness from around the web. The track you absolutely 100% have to download this week is the new Angel Haze song, which we wrote about earlier this week and which is one of the best (and most harrowing) songs you’ll hear all year. Elsewhere, there’s a track off one of our favorite discoveries of the month — Heathered Pearls’ album Loyal — new stuff from Deerhoof and La Big Vic, an unreleased demo from Daniel Rossen, and… drum roll… the MORODERFEST! Since all this action costs precisely nothing, what are you waiting for? All the download links await after the jump. … Read More
With global warming, political unrest, and a cratered international economy serving as the shaky pillars of today’s world, we need pop music now more than ever. As hopeless headlines continue to paint dark horizons for us, pop is one of the few lights to shine through and inspire whimsy. Even the harshest skeptic has no choice but to relent and give into the genre. So we present Pop For Skeptics, a regular Flavorwire column committed to curating and commenting on the best ear candy from the US and around the world.
Misogyny in music, from rock to pop to hip hop, is a phenomenon so ancient and ubiquitous that it doesn’t even surprise us anymore. Neither, in this post-Madonna era, is it strange to see female pop stars treat men like sex objects. But what happens when these artists, besieged not only by their male counterparts but also a catty entertainment press and constant political threats to women’s rights, forgo the soft blows of easy objectification in favor of mounting a full-on attack on men? It’s not necessarily that some of pop’s brightest stars are giving off misandrist vibes; they’re simply mincing fewer words to put men in their place. Inspired by Christina Aguilera’s recent video for “Your Body,” which kicks off with a cheeky promise that “No men were harmed in the making of this video,” we’re taking a look at some of the most man-hating music videos in pop history. … Read More