Defend Your Ballot: Rob Sheffield, Pazz and Jop 2012 Contributor
You can't really know where you're headed unless you know where you've been. For that reason, we're taking a look back at Pazz & Jop 2012 to drill down into the ballots of contributors and voters who participated. Maybe amongst the rubble we'll find clues about what lies ahead for music lovers in 2013. Here, music writer Rob Sheffield defends his ballot.
Erik Hess Sheffield on the Japandroids record: "I love how ridiculous and obvious it is."
- Pazz and Jop 2012 Table of Contents
Rob Sheffield. Who are you, how many times have you voted in Pazz & Jop, and WHY CAN WE TRUST YOU?
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Thanks Eric! Who am I?... My name is Rob Sheffield. I write for Rolling Stone. I have a book coming out this summer about karaoke. I have written two other books, Love Is A Mix Tape and Talking To Girls About Duran Duran.
I have been a Pazz & Jop voter since 1988. My first ballot, my top albums were the Pet Shop Boys, Morrissey and Scritti Politti, along with Sonic Youth and Stetsasonic and Public Enemy. My top singles were Lita Ford's "Kiss Me Deadly" and Eric B. & Rakim's "Follow The Leader." So obviously I can't be trusted at all.
I'm not sure if you want to know this, but I was born in 1987. How does that make you feel?
That makes me feel like you are awesome. The day you were born I was probably blasting Pussy Galore or Salt-N-Pepa and feeling a strange disturbance in the force.
Looking at your ballot, there's an unsurprising amount of diversity in your choices. What was your biggest surprise of 2012? When you first heard the Japandroids record, did you know that'd be your number one?
2012 was an insanely great year for music, all over the spectrum. I love how ridiculous and obvious the Japandroids record is. There isn't a single subtle moment on that entire album. The first time I put it on, I thought, "They have to be kidding, right?" It was like hearing the Pet Shop Boys. These guys are to the Hold Steady what the Pet Shop Boys were to New Order.
Did you see them live this year?
I saw them live a couple times this year. I saw them at Webster Hall in December. It was cartoonishly great. The backpack beard-o in front of me yelled all the words to everything and we did the full-on stranger-hug sing-along together in "The Nights of Wine And Roses," right when we were yelling "like hell to the heavens." It was one of my favorite live moments of the year.
They were great this summer at Music Hall of Williamsburg, and right after the show I ran about 20 blocks to see White Lung at Tommy's Tavern, which was a total sweatbox blast. That was one of the muggiest nights of the summer, too.
In their way they're as deeply weird as Future. That combination of total overstatement excess and total brain-as-separate-universe egomania.
By the way, when in 1987 were you born, Eric?
June 18th, 1987. I share the same birthday as Roger Ebert.
OK, you know what's weird? I saw the Replacements the night after you were born. It was June 19, 1987, at Toad's Place in New Haven. Every moment of that show is permanently fried onto my brain. (I'd already seen them with Bob Stinson, but this was my first Replacements show with Slim Dunlap on guitar.) It was one of the mightiest rock shows I've ever seen, actually, the whole masses-of-kids-screaming-"Left of the Dial" bit.
I must have realized on some cosmic level somebody cool was just arriving on this planet.
This is arguably the best compliment I have ever received, and I thank you for it. Let's talk about Taylor Swift. I know you're a Ke$ha fan (your number three album a couple years ago, if I remember correctly), but she didn't break your top 10, and Taylor did. What about Taylor was so appealing this year, and how did she separate herself from the rest of the pop spectrum?
Taylor really made a better Ke$ha record than Ke$ha did this year! Ke$ha's trying to do the sincerity thing and that's cool, she'll get over that.
Taylor is a pop mastermind on the level of Prince. Also, I guess they both really like songs about making out with red cars.