PAZZ AND JOP RUNDOWN
kanye rules everything around him
The annual Village Voice Pazz and Jop Poll came out today and the #1 album and single belong to ... Kanye West. Just to refresh memories: Pazz and Jop puts together the top album and single picks from hundreds of music critics across the country; it's the closest thing to a "consensus" you can come to but ff course, P&J is also one of the primary pieces of evidence that people introduce when they want to suggest how pitifully out of touch critics are with what people actually listen to: of the top 40 albums on Pazz and Jop, only Kanye West's CD was on the top 10 of best-selling albums for 2005.
This said, it's remarkable (though not surprising) that Kanye, for the second year in a row, is both a critical and commercial darling. This said, he had a slim margin of victory in the album dept. over the #2 artist, M.I.A. I think had Arular dropped in the fall and not the spring, the album might easily have overtaken Kanye's but then again, I also thought the hype around that CD didn't quite match the actual quality of it. In my mind, in a year's time (if not already), M.I.A.'s flash in the pan popularity will seem, um, flash in the pan.
CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE READING...
Anyways, here's the Top 10:
- 1. Kanye West: Late Registration
2. M.I.A.: Arular
3. Surfjan Stevens: Illinois
4. Sleater-Kinney: The Woods
5. Fiona Apple: Extraordinary Machine
6. The White Stripes: Get Behind Me Satan
7. Antony and the Johnsons: I Am a Bird Now
8. The Hold Steady: Separation Sunday
9. The New Pornographers: Twin Cinema
10. Z: My Morning Jacket
Other notable albums:
- 15. Common: Be
I really don't mean to hate but I just don't get this. I really don't...except to say that people must be desperate for some "positivity" in hip-hop to think this was as good as was billed. I liked this album in moments but not as a whole.
21. Gorillaz: Demon Days
Surprised this didn't go higher.
34. Danger Doom: The Mouse and the Mask
Ditto and I wasn't even a huge fan of the CD.
39. Young Jeezy: Let's Get It On
Crack rap might be big but not big enough.
55. The Clipse: We Got It For Cheap Vol. 2
The only mixtape to make the Top 100. Pretty remarkable, all things considered. How hungry are we for Hell Hath No Fury?
The singles chart was far, far more in line with popular tastes (which makes sense). Here's the Top 10 for that:
- 1. Kanye West: Gold Digger
2. Amerie: 1 Thing
3. Kelly Clarkson: Since U Been Gone
4. Gorillaz/De La Soul: Feel Good Inc
5. Damian Marley: Welcome to Jamrock
5. Gwen Stefani: Hollaback Girl
7. Franz Ferdinand: Do You Want To
7. Madonna: Hung Up
9. The White Stripes: My Doorbell
10: Three 6 Mafia Featuring Young Buck & Eightball & MJG: Stay Fly
Personally, I'm surprised #10 wasn't a lot higher but it might be that "Stay Fly" came out too late in the year to have made the same overall impact as something like "1 Thing" which was already in heavy rotation back in January. Also, I never thought "Gold Digger" was that great a single. I liked it fine but overall, I thought both Amerie and Kelly Clarkson had much better pop singles on their hands. I guess the Kanye juggernaught is not to be stopped.
Other notable singles action:
- 11. The Game: Love It or Hate It
I heartily approve of this but I think people were rewarding the hook and beat more than anything else. Not that there's anything wrong with that - see Kelly Clarkson.
13. Mike Jones, Slim Thug, Paul Wall: Still Tippin'
This song came out in 2003 but just goes to show the power of a long burn.
16. The Legendary K.O.: George Bush Doesn't Care About Black People
Awesome to see a fuggin' MP3 rank this high. I think it would have been higher had more people heard it.
18. Ying Yang Twins: Wait
Guilty pleasure of the year?
20. Common: The Corner
21. R. Kelly: Trapped In the Closet
I like "The Corner" but there's something wrong with this order.
- The government left an entire stadium full of black people to die. And it was broadcast on national TV so we could all watch. And we only get one rap song? And it's an MP3? (Christopher Weingarten)
Kanye doing "Jesus Walks" (and bearing down hard on "victims of welfare living in hell here, hell yeah") worked; his triumphant "Touch the Sky" on the next telethon not so much. When David Banner played a Katrina benefit, he reached back to Mississippi: The Album, maybe the most relevant album of 2005. But nothing captured the problem better than the Game performing "Dreams" on the same broadcast: I can't imagine all the homeless in Houston and here in Memphis and scattered all over the region were much interested in his desire to "fuck an r&b bitch." (Chris Herrington)
2005 was the year when popism finally trickled down to the indie kids. When young critics talked about how great the first half of the year was, they not only mean Separation Sunday and Arular, but "Since U Been Gone," "Mr. Brightside," and "Wait (The Whisper Song)." (Alfred Soto)
Kanye West's outburst during the Katrina telethon was the pop mo ment of the year because within the flow of heavily manipulated reality shows, highly choreographed live performances, and strategized blockbusters that make up the mainstream, it was an unscripted assertion of self. Kanye stood in for all of us whose brains were on overdrive as New Orleans fell, unleashing his own flood of guilt, shock, helplessness, and rage. "George Bush doesn't care about black people" may not be a totally true or responsible thing to say, but it's not spin. (Ann Powers)
The most interesting thing about 50 is that like voodoo's Baron Samedi he's the laughing face of death incarnate, a zombie incubus with a sardonic overbite who really did destroy his enemies Supreme and Murder Inc. with the most laconic of spells, chants, and verses. (Greg Tate)
I didn't like this album yet Tate's comments here make me want to go back and listen to it again.
Who cares if the lyrics advocate pussy beating—the track is bangin'. Who cares if the track is bangin'—it advocates pussy beating. (Kevin John)
You know a song is nasty when it has sex terminology you don't understand. How exactly do you "throw it like a boomerang"? I think I need to learn to throw it like a Frisbee first and then maybe I can step my game up to Foxy Brown's level. (Jalylah Burrell)
Pure awesomeness. I saw Burrell give a great paper at EMP last year and I look forward to seeing what she does as a writer and a scholar.
Rap music has slipped through New York's snow-numb fingers. Apart from 50 Cent, and he doesn't count for reasons of mercenary approach to pop, no rap record of national significance came from the five boroughs this year. Juelz and Jim Jones might complain, but Dip Set is about as relevant on Houston's north side as Neil Diamond. AZ is old. Papoose? Maino? They might as well be from Dutchess County. We've been reduced to the category us hard-liners used to viciously malign—regional rap. Everywhere else, they're pointing and making fun. (Jon Caramanica)
The most shocking thing about Kanye's "George Bush doesn't care about black people" is that it was actual political commentary spoken by a prominent hip-hop performer. The silence from the rest of the community typified hip-hop's current strategy: act all tough, but for the love of god, don't dare piss off anybody. (Tim Grierson)
Kelly Clarkson may be viewed as a guilty pleasure, but I don't feel guilty about singing along until she hits that high C. Then, unfortunately, I have to stop. Except that one time at the lesbian karaoke bar. (Trish Bendix)
On May 28, the Billboard Modern Rock Top 20 singles chart included the following bands: Nine Inch Nails, Green Day, Weezer, Foo Fighters, Beck, Oasis, Audioslave, and the Offspring. Garbage, Korn, 311, and the Bloodhound Gang all also had hits this year. And people wonder why modern rock radio is dying! Hello, your top artists all peaked a decade ago. Would you sell more ads if you just changed the format to Greatest Hits or Depressed '90s White People? (Amy Phillips)
Weirdest ad campaign: those Hennessy "Never Blend In" billboards with Marvin Gaye, who could not be here today to collect his royalty check, as he was shot to death by his alcoholic dad. It's like sticking Brian Jones into an ad for swimming pools. (Rob Sheffield)
I started a blog this year. It's been a pretty good experience, though I must say I hardly ever write about music. I find music-critic blogs, even by my friends, to be quite ego-promotional and argumentative in a way that's always made me uncomfortable – that "hipper than thou" way. Instead, I take as my model the world of women's blogs – thinking people's personal explorations of big and small questions from the inside out. Also, I like to post recipes. Unlike opinions about the latest indie release, they have a tangible use. (Ann Powers)
Unless you're functioning on the British model of immediacy, transcendence, and evanescence, then criticism requires an element of rigor: Not just What-does-this-sound-like?, but Who-are-these-people? And blogging is usually an act of immediate consideration, founded more in sensation than sense, and more likely to assume a polar position for the sake of rhetorical commotion and page hits. Plenty of good bloggers are bad writers and worse critics. (Rob Tannenbaum)
I heard a lot of music critics complaining all year about 2005 was the worst year for music since 1986 or whenever, but I don't agree. I do think that 2005 was the worst year for music criticism that I can remember. When did we all turn into this fakey glib putdown artists? I feel like we're all jumping into the same three or four boats, doing our best to punch holes in the bottom, and then bitching about getting wet. I blame the Internet, or Republicans, or something. The crisis is heightened by the fact that many important music venues (coughVILLAGEVOICEcough) have cut space down to haiku size, where all you can do is toss off some amusing bon semi-mots without actually talking about the record. It's almost enough to make a fellow start blogging again. (Matt Cibula)
Kanye West is hip-hop's textbook example of a reduced black public intellectual and that's why the media worships him. He produces an album by longtime homophobe Common in the same year he admonishes hip-hop homophobia on MTV. Then he lambastes George W. for dropping the ball on Katrina, but leaves it to the Legendary K.O. to show what a genius Kanye could be if he actually had an ideological platform. (Jason King)
Not that we shouldn't demand more from our pop stars, but this probably demands too much and it's not like I don't have a lot of issues with Kanye as a pop figure too. If Kanye didn't work with homophobic rappers, he'd pretty much not work for anyone and I'm not saying that as an excuse but as reality. One could call that hypocrisy but given the choice between having someone like Kanye say, "homophobia is wrong" in a public forum and have him work with a homophobe (and seriously, Common isn't a great example to use anymore since he's taken great strides to repudiate his homophobia in the past), vs. not saying anything at all, I'll take the "two steps forward, one step back" option over the "no steps at all." And while I'm sympathetic to the desire for Kanye to have a greater ideological platform (or for all rappers to do so), I think it seems myopic to blast him for not doing more when he seemed like one of the few cats who did anything. Maybe I'm settling but sometimes,you need to after the battles you can win in the short-run while you're busy settling in for the long haul.
The year in trap rap: A bunch of grown adults are genuinely impressed by drug dealer talk. Post-collegiate bloggers argue over what's the funniest way to say "I sell drugs." (Chris Weingarten)
I agree with what Chris is putting across here to a certain extent but I'd also pause and suggest that what makes hip-hop great - stylistically - has very rarely ever been the content. I mean, is bragging about " I sell drugs" in a compelling way any better or worse than bragging about "I rap better than you" in a compelling way? I agree that trap rap's moral failings deserve some discussion (and jesus, the Voice has had THREE essays on this in the last month already) but is it so crazy to understand why anyone (bloggers and non-bloggers included) would find a song like "Go Crazy" or "Oh Yes" a worthy listen in its own right?
M.I.A. was a flop for a major label. No one has ever spun Annie at a high school dance. Hot 97 would play Cowboy Troy before they play grime. How are blogs tastemakers again? (Chris Weingarten)
Fair enough but go back and see my comment above about comparing the Pazz and Jop Top 40 with the Billboard Year-End Top 10. Non-blogging music critics apparently aren't tastemakers either. Except when it comes to Kanye aka The Great Exception.
When are critics going to realize they've become press bitches who traded responsibility for ADD and "I was first!" cred? (Nick Sylvester)
Not that I disagree with the sentiment here either but that happened a lot earlier than 2005. Or 1995. Or...you get the picture.
I love the way Maya Arulpragasam maintains an undercurrent of tunefulness in her raps, as well as her technique of introducing a rhythmic motif and then doubling it up, thus intensifying its impact. A pity that much of the press ignored this, instead focusing on her politics and back story. (J.D. Considine)
From what I saw, Maya was happy playing up those politics and back story as anyone. Sure, the press took the bait, but who was floating it out there to begin with?
At the end of 2005, my favorite used-record store closed its doors after 40 years. Snide online posters gloated that they were glad the store was disappearing because of all the "rude" and "stuck-up" teenagers who worked there. As I saw it, those teenagers were some of the only human beings I knew who actually gave a shit about music. (Tim Grierson)
I assume Tim's talking about the closing of Aron's in Los Angeles. I know many a serious music lover who's endured some shitty ass treatment by staff there who make the Comic Book Guy look like the Dalai Lama. It's fine to mourn the loss of the institution but lionizing a bunch of snotty power trippers is giving too much credit to those who don't deserve it.