Sometimes Love Ain’t Enough: The Worst Of Village Voice Media’s Music Writing, Part III

dangibs | January 4, 2008 10:45 am

As previously reported on Idolator, you might have noticed that the quality of writing in the music section of your local Village Voice-owned alt-weekly has dipped slightly in the last few years. In partial tribute to the memories of adequate-or-better writing gone by, and partially to make for easy material on a Friday, we again turn the spotlight on everyone’s favorite national alternative media chain. Niki D’Andrea, music editor of the Phoenix New Times, today’s your lucky day!

Although briefly mentioned in the Brian J. Barr installment of this series, Niki really deserves attention all to her Wolfmother-lovin’ self, and this week’s “How Can We Make Year-End Wrap Up Concept Even Less Interesting And Relevant” feature running across several VVM properties makes for a perfect opportunity. It’s possible that some of the blame should go to Luke Y. Thompson, who introduces the concept, declaring:

Over the past few years, the availability of year-end critics lists has multiplied faster than the worry lines on Ben Bernanke’s brow. By mid-December, the Net and the magazine rack at your Barnes & Noble were brimming over with a head-spinning, eye-glazing cornucopia of rankings of such de rigueur albums as The Arcade Fire’s Neon Bible, The National’s Boxer, Spoon’s Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, M.I.A.’s Kala, Radiohead’s In Rainbows, LCD Soundsystem’s Sound of Silver, and Battles’ Mirrored. If you want to parse the exact sequence of those records in your favorite publication or Web site, feel free to do so. We’re going in a different direction. In five cities from Minneapolis to San Francisco, we asked musicians, comedians, athletes (and in one case, a Michael Stipe-impersonating electrician) to tell us what music they loved most this year. It could be albums, songs, or the collected works of an artist, and it need not have come out this year. We just wanted to know what was moving our interviewees right now.

While you have to wonder how many of those “de rigueur albums” will be atop a sister publication’s own rankings in a few weeks, there’s still hope to be held out. Maybe the freedom the premise offers will make for some interesting writing. Minneapolis interviewee Dan Wilson used to be in Trip Shakespeare, surely he heard something good this year while penning new Dixie Chicks songs, right? Right?

Feel free to judge for yourself the quality of the contributions from the four other cities, but leave it to Niki D’Andrea to use the opportunity to continue her in-print fantasy love affair with WNBA star Diana Taurasi. Earlier this year, Niki penned a mind-numbingly extensive cover story on Taurasi while the hometown Mercury were on their way to a WNBA championship. To summarize, the Mercury are awesome, and Taurasi, while apparently straight, is the dreamiest. While there’s no evidence Ms. Taurasi returned the affection, she makes another appearance in the paper, even while unavailable to be interviewed, because she’s somewhere in Russia, apparently. Have you ever wondered which rapper WNBA stars prefer, Kanye or 50 Cent, but didn’t have the opportunity to vaguely cyber-stalk one via her blog to find out? Be sure to thank D’Andrea, because she saved you the trouble!

For basketball star Diana Taurasi, 2007 was a stellar year….The Mercury made it onto the Wheaties box, Taurasi re-signed a half-million dollar deal to play in Russia during the WNBA off-season, and now she’s got one of the most popular athlete blogs on sports site One of the reasons Taurasi’s blog rocks is her candid banter about all sorts of things, but most often music — and the fact that she’ll carry on conversations about music with her fans in the comments section. Because Taurasi’s bundled up and playing b-ball in the former Soviet Union right now, we’ll refer you to some of her Yardbarker commentary on what rocked her world in ’07: Kanye West: (posted September 11): “So here we are, on the eve of 9/11 — still at war — and we’re presented with one of the most important questions of our generation: Kanye or 50? “Really. Kanye. Seriously. I’m buyin’ that one and burnin’ a copy for the car. Is there really a comparison? Fiddy? Are there recording studios at Shady Acres? For real, ‘Stronger’ is the jam of the summer. While you can question the sunglasses indoors, you can’t fight Kanye’s creativity. I won’t venture to say lyrical genius (nobody is touching ‘Pac in my book, most likely ever . . . in life), but the guy has undeniable talent. I like him. In the wasteland of what has become hip-hop (who can even listen to the radio anymore?), Kanye delivers.”

Fascinating! A unique take, especially the part about the indoor sunglasses. You can’t blame Taurasi, largely because she wasn’t involved, but you have the question the judgment of a music editor who finds the two most interesting musical figures in the fifth largest city in the country to be Diana Taurasi and Jordin Sparks–who also addresses the Kanye/50 Cent controversy, thankfully–and when Taurasi wasn’t available just took some offhand remarks about Alicia Keys out of her blog to fill the space. Admittedly, Phoenix might not have had a groundbreaking year for music, but with venues shutting down left and right and a few bands breaking nationally, I have to assume there’s a bigger, better story out there than the crazy night they had a “post-hardcore” show at the church Jordin Sparks goes to. Then again, it spares whoever is picking up the New Times and not skipping straight to the listings of massage parlors and strip clubs the pain of suffering through another profile of Phoenix’s own Nunzilla, who are notable for dressing like nuns, and for…well…nothing else, really, but they made the cover this year, too.

Niki D’Andrea, you were great this year in coming up with profanities to scream at the vending machine that wouldn’t dispense any damn Mountain Dew, but sadly, you make our roll of the worst writers in the Village Voice empire.

Celebrity Playlist [Phoenix New Times] Desert Heat [Phoenix New Times]