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Best Albums of 2013

Best Albums of 2013

Inside out, Outside in for year’s Pop music  IMO, the most significant moment in 2013 pop wasn’t a song, album, or music video. It was an unforgettable turn of events embedded in yet another best-forgotten controversy surrounding Miley Cyrus. When Miley responded to Sinead O’Connor’s open letter – which strongly suggested the music industry was...
Pynchon for the Postmodern Soul

Pynchon for the Postmodern Soul

Visionary author takes the modern world to the Bleeding Edge  In his new novel Bleeding Edge, Thomas Pynchon uses the word “postmodern” for the first time in his fiction – a notable event in the career of this supposed American postmodern novelist par excellence. The word crops up in a few places, including a description...
Praise Yeezus

Praise Yeezus

Kanye West’s Idylls of Self-Projection It’s fitting Kanye West kicked off the promotional campaign for his new album Yeezus with a series of 66 projections, many of which were reportedly unsanctioned by authorities, of the New Slaves video onto landmark buildings throughout the world. Yeezus is all about projection. Just ask Lou Reed, whose July...
Knee Deep in 20/20 Experiences

Knee Deep in 20/20 Experiences

Timberlake defines himself and today’s pop Justin Timberlake’s enduring commercial, critical, and street-level success can perhaps best be explained with an insight from Sigmund Freud: There is no “negative” in the unconscious. Ironically, though, in our messed-up culture JT’s shameless lack of negativity must be defined negatively. In other words, JT demands to be known...
Top Ten EPs of 2012

Top Ten EPs of 2012

The Best in Order of Preference 1. “Late,” Florrie 2. “Super Ultra,” Charli XCX 3. “Cold Summer,” CJ Hilton 4. “Warrior,” Queen of Hearts 5. “Skitszo Pt. 1,” Colette Carr 6. “Iconic,” Icona Pop 7. “True,” Solange 8. “Cityswitch,” SRH 9. “Ghost,” Sky Ferreira 10. “Against the Wall,” Kat Graham The release of an EP...
Crying Woolf

Crying Woolf

Tracy Letts Takes on his Mentor Edward Albee in New Production Edward Albee’s classic Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? returns to Broadway in a 50th-anniversary production from Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company. Tracy Letts and Amy Morton will appear in the iconic roles of George and Martha, a middle-aged married couple locked in terminal, tragic combat...
Beatles Fan Fare

Beatles Fan Fare

Photographers Whitaker and Gunther capture Beatles history Most people reading this could look at any given photo of The Beatles from Please Please Me onwards and accurately guess the year it was taken, based on hairstyle alone. Maybe you’d be off by one year. So there’s no pressing need for “Unseen Beatles,” the collection of...
Shine On You Hopeful Pop Star

Shine On You Hopeful Pop Star

Bright Light Bright Light’s Rod Thomas answers our questions and plays NYC Gigs London-based musician Rod Thomas makes pop music under the name Bright Light Bright Light, which is, of course, the exclamation with which gentle mogwai Gizmo expresses his sensitivity to harsh illumination in the movie Gremlins. The name encapsulates the strengths of BLBL’s...
Reclamation Pop

Reclamation Pop

CITYARTS EXCLUSIVE: CULTURAL CONTINUITY IN NEW SAINT ETIENNE CD Saint Etienne Explore Ideas and Tunes on Words and Music My momma said don’t go There’s nothing for you there… - Saint Etienne, “Heading for the Fair” In James Joyce’s “Araby,” the third story in Dubliners, a pubescent boy shows up late to the eponymous fair,...
Tailored Excess

Tailored Excess

Gossip and Xenomania make joyful noise Arkansas-bred indie band Gossip (née The Gossip; like Facebook, they dropped the definite article) came to A Joyful Noise, their fifth studio album, having exhausted the exhortative possibilities of millennial dance-punk. Ahead of the pop culture curve, singer Beth Ditto went the distance—shorter than it seems—from subaltern militant (2006’s...
Soulful Realism and Romance

Soulful Realism and Romance

Womack Shows Steve Harvey How to Think Ben Kessler takes a critical look at Think Like A Man Act Like A Woman, the Steve Harvey-based bestseller and box-office phenomenon that stole the spotlight from The Hunger Games blockbuster and contrasts its musical recording version with the soul music legacy. As demonstrated in The Nutty Professor...
Imelda’s Dancing Shoes

Imelda’s Dancing Shoes

David Byrne mythifies Marcos in ‘Here Lies Love’ The ambivalence provoked by women who wield power is reflected in the current photo-manipulation meme “Texts From Hillary,” in which a half-scowling secretary of state, peering dismissively down at her BlackBerry through sunglasses, fires scathing bits of digital wit at supplicants including Joe Biden, Mark Zuckerberg and...
Mad Mania

Mad Mania

“Smart” TV and the Gray Flannel Ego Mad Men, like The Sopranos and The Wire before it, now enjoys a singular cultural status. Neither pop nor art, it is smart TV. And smart TV, we’re told, is not for analysis or even entertainment; it is to be dutifully let into our lives, much as we’re...
CITYARTS EXCLUSIVE: Mad Mania

CITYARTS EXCLUSIVE: Mad Mania

  Return of the Gray Flannel TV Ego With the premiere of its fifth season imminent, Mad Men is trending hard. Everywhere in the mediasphere, you’ll hear that the return of Matthew Weiner’s dramatic series about the social and professional doings of 1960s advertising pros in New York City is a Cultural Event of Unquestionable...
Coalminer’s Canary

Coalminer’s Canary

Springsteen Plays Politics For Armond White’s “Not-So Brilliant Disguise” article, click here. Bruce Springsteen recently told ABC News, “I genuinely believe an artist [is] supposed to be the canary in the coal mine, and you’re better off with a certain distance from the seat of power.” He has criticized several aspects of the president’s handling...
Something from Nowhere

Something from Nowhere

The Ting Tings’ Pet ‘Sounds’ From the name on down, The Ting Tings’ second album, Sounds from Nowheresville, shows that remarkably little has changed for the pop duo since their platinum-selling debut, We Started Nothing (2008). It took four years for Katie White and Jules de Martino to shake off their success and return to...
Dynamiting Stereotypes: Jared Hess puts TV on blast

Dynamiting Stereotypes: Jared Hess puts TV on blast

Fox TV’s new Napoleon Dynamite cartoon confirms Jared Hess’ step up in status from cult director to protean pop auteur. As co-creator of the show (adapted from his 2004 live-action feature film), he has faithfully guided his vision into a new medium, almost to an entirely new idiom. Even with a good deal of the...
Dancing With Myself

Dancing With Myself

Solo videos go viral Too often, music videos exist solely to maximize a performer’s impact on consumer culture, a branding exercise. But there’s a small subgenre of solo dance performance videos—typified by the recent viral hits “Lonely Boy” and “Call Your Girlfriend”—that inverts consumerist logic, expressing instead the impact of popular culture upon the individual...
Song of the Year

Song of the Year

Saluting Stevie Nicks’ “Soldier’s Angel” Years from now, 2011 may be remembered as the year postfeminism produced poster girls for the status quo. Female-fronted hits such as the movie Bridesmaids and the TV show New Girl were hailed as breakthroughs, despite their unremarkable content. (Bridesmaids even showed up on some confused critics’ year-end best lists.)...
Prophecies to Dance to: How pop can get better

Prophecies to Dance to: How pop can get better

The suicide of 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer on Sept. 18—three days before the first anniversary of the “It Gets Better” online campaign supporting bullied LGBT youth—should give our culture pause. It forces us to recognize that in this era of change, cruelty has at least kept pace with the spread of compassion. Even after Rodemeyer took...
To the Curb: Officer Krupke gets appropriated

To the Curb: Officer Krupke gets appropriated

When baby boomer comedian Larry David incorporated “Gee, Officer Krupke” into a 2009 episode of his TV show Curb Your Enthusiasm, he showed more than his age. David’s “Krupke” renaissance exposed how juvenile delinquency has gone upscale during the five decades following the release of the movie of West Side Story. The song “Gee, Officer...