OK, so N.A.S.A. actually stands for North America/South America, and the project from Squeak E. Clean (Spike Jonze’s brother; you may also remember him as the guy who created the Karen O song for that Adidas ad) and DJ Zegon certainly has transcontinental goals. Its track listing reads like a lineup card for the Hype Machine Vs. Elbo.ws All-Star Internet Music Blog-Off (Tom Waits! The RZA! Lykke Li!), and the latest song to leak from the album, “Whachadoin,” is more proof of that, what with it featuring M.I.A. and Santogold and Spank Rock and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Nick Zinner. So you have a “banger” beat and M.I.A. shouting, and Spank Rock being filthy, and Santogold… in there somewhere. If anything, it brings to mind the Converse ad where Santogold, Julian Casablancas, and Pharrell do their own schtick without ever cohering. I guess the endless remix culture perpetuated by blogs (LIKE THIS ONE) had to come to a point where the songs were already pre-chewed-up-and-spit-out for people, right? Anyway, another track from the album—with David Byrne! and Chuck D! so eclectic!—is after the jump.
In case you were wondering what acts to watch for… More »
What were the 80 most important musical recordings, artists, trends, events, and performances of 2008? What were the eight things this year that broke our hearts—or, at least, our ears? We’re happy to announce 80 ’08 (and Heartbreak), Idolator’s year-end overview. The list is below the jump.
When 2008 started, I was sure it was going to be awesome. “It’s going to be two-thousand-great,” I told anyone who would listen, ignoring the various signs (MTV ringing in the New Year with Tila Tequila, hints of economic collapse, etc.) that things wouldn’t exactly go as planned. Or even be much good at all. But at least there was music to help the seemingly endless parade of bad news plod along a bit more jauntily, right?
THE GOOD: Getting back into R & B full-throttle thanks to Ne-Yo, Erykah Badu, Estelle, and Solange; Ida Maria’s twitchy “Oh My God,” which I am going to try and have every person I know hear at least once over the course of the coming months; Prince and Jarvis Cocker owning gigantic open spaces; Ne-Yo turning girls into goo.
THE BAD: You don’t want to hear about the bad aspects of my 2008. (And honestly, typing a blow-by-blow out would just depress me all over again.) So instead I’ll note that I often hate making lists because even though they’re supposed to be overviews, they’re inevitably of the specific moment at which the list was made, which means that completely worthy entrants will get slighted, or pushed out by space limitations, etc. Here’s a “sorry” to Black Mountain’s In The Future, the Air Miami demos that were reissued by Teen Beat, Panic At The Disco’s Pretty. Odd., Deastro’s “The Shaded Forests,” The Academy Is…’s Fast Times At Barrington High, Jazmine Sullivan’s “Bust Your Windows,” and the Robin Thicke record that was mysteriously forgotten about by everyone.
THE WHAAAA? Before August, if you had said that I would have put Billy Joel on any list that didn’t count down the reasons my ninth-grade social studies class was completely absurd (hi there, three-day lesson on “We Didn’t Start The Fire”), I would have laughed so, so hard. And yet, his show at Shea Stadium was totally solid, not only because of his undeniable showmanship but for the ways it stoked my nostalgia about growing up on Long Island.
“L.E.S. Artistes” may be the punchy, widely hyped lead track on Santogold’s self-titled debut, but the real gem of the album is “Lights Out.” There’s an effortless appeal about the song that both enhances and downplays its greatness. Singer Santi White’s breezy vocals drift over the hefty bass line, while other hooky background elements—a fuzzy guitar riff, some floating backup harmonies—weave in and out of the track, creating an irresistible, almost maddening pop song.
Paste‘s 2008 best-of isn’t unlike the magazine itself: largely predictable, but with a few surprises seemingly thrown in to confuse or distract. The list hews rather closely to their adult alternative aesthetic, but as likely obligated by law, they threw in Lil Wayne (No. 29). He’s not quite as good as MGMT, in case you were wondering.
THE GOOD: It cheered my heart to see that Ida Maria’s Fortress Round My Heart placed highly (No. 13); the odd, but charming acknowledgment of Torche (No. 34) elicited a similar reaction. For the Christian rock enthusiast portion of my heart, seeing Sandra McCracken buried near the bottom of the list was nice, although almost a wink and a nod to those who wonder if Paste is a undercover Christian rock mag. They may recommend Lil Wayne, but don’t worry, true believers. They still have room for Jesus rock.
THE BAD: Im sure any Idolator reader could pick out a record they don’t particularly care for and go all critically nutzoid, but Girl Talk at No. 7 seems like an odd slap in the face to the parade of “real musicians” who fall afterwards. I like Girl Talk; I downloaded the disc, and it stayed in my car stereo for a few months. But the question ends up being whether these best of lists are really running down the “best” of the year, and that the idea of lasting value and meaning is taken into consideration, or whether a disc’s inclusion just means that it was awesome to hear at parties.
THE WHAAA? Although I was surprised not to see Al Green on the list, and to note that Santogold’s Diplo mixtape outranked her actual album, nothing could top my shock to see She & Him at No. 1. The magazine defends the selection: “Maybe it’s just a sweet little folk record—a tiny, flawless diamond. Or maybe it’s a pristine distillation of harmony and craft; 50 years of songwriting experience served up on a spinning silver platter. Either way, it’s our album of the year.” To my ears, neither assertion is true. Volume One is a cute novelty record that has more preciousness than innovation, skill, or any other sort of metric people tend to judge great albums by. Last year’s number one was the National’s Boxer… this year’s pick is a long slide down in quality.
Downtown Records, home of Justice, Santogold, Kid Sister, and many other bands seemingly designed for the blog era’s express-consumption cycle, is moving its distribution from the largely Warner Music Group-owned ADA (with occasional upstreams over to Atlantic) to a deal with the Fonatana… More »