Sound of the City's year-end roundtable, with contributions from Tom Ewing, Eric Harvey, Maura Johnston, Nick Murray, and Katherine St. Asaph, continues. Follow along here.
Thanks Maura! And hello Nick, Katherine and Eric.
Post-megasales megastars? Beyoncé and Gaga fit the bill, for certain. There are convincing post-rationalisations of why sales on those albums were softBeyoncé can do what she likes, and what she likes right now is old-school soul belters; and Gaga's mix of hi-NRG and stadium rock is a maximalist step too far. But nobody would dispute Beyoncé and Gaga's presence. If you look at the top celebs on Facebook, the appetite for musicians is endless: scattered athletes and actors cower in the shadow of pop stars living and dead, G and B among them. So perhaps pop music is becoming like comicsa minor artform, fiercely loved by enthusiasts but nugatory in revenue terms, whose real value lies in powering something else. What comics IP does for the film industry, pop does for the celebrity bizprovide a stream of garish, blockbuster characters and never mind the source material.More »
Welcome to the 2011 edition of the Sound of the City Year-End Critic Roundtable, an epistolary back-and-forth about the year in music between five observers of the medium: Tom Ewing; Eric Harvey; Nick Murray; Katherine St. Asaph, also of Popdust; and me. We'll be discussing the year in pop over the course of the next few days, in hopes that a few healthy arguments (nothing too knock-down, drag-out) ensue, and that even if we don't figure out any answers, we'll pose a couple of new questions as the calendar flips to 2012. As was the case last year, when music editor emeritus Rob Harvilla launched this initiative, we are totally ripping off Slate's Music Club, which is currently ensuing with five different music smarties. (Read 'em all!)
A number one song from 2011. Not really helping the year's case, this.
To start things off, I'll pose the question in the title, which spins off the query Rob posed at the close of 2010. That is to say: Was 2011 the worst year for music ever?More »
via MTV Hive
The Studio At Webster Hall
Tuesday, September 13
Better than: Doing "Rolling In The Deep" at karaoke.
"Everyone has their own little dance," Katy B said near the end of her first proper New York City performance on Tuesday night. "So I wanna see you doing yours." It was a command that was probably unnecessarythe crowd, hand-selected by the MTV bloggy-music offshoot MTV Hive (which was streaming the show live), had been pretty hyped for the bulk of the eveningbut it was appropriate, given the British singer's devotion to depict the club not as a behemoth of bottles and boasting, but as a place for individuals, each with their own baggage and battles to deal with, to sweat out their demons.More »
Monday, June 27
Better than: Whatever David Guetta's up to right now.
Launching British pop stars in the States has been a mostly-miss proposition for labels in the post-Spice Girls era. While retro-soul mashers like Adele and Amy Winehouse have seen success on this side of the Atlantic, those people working in the pop-qua-pop realmsingers with outsized personalities and killer tunes and sometimes a willingness to embrace current trendswere met with either confused blinking or, worse, complete indifference from this country's audience.
It's into this realm that Katy B, who like Winehouse and Leona Lewis and Jessie J is a graduate of the UK performing-arts academy the BRIT School, landed on Monday. She started off her Stateside press run at Le Bain for the kickoff of a Steve Madden-sponsored summer concert series that'll showcase "up-and-coming artists"; her stellar album On A Mission, which dropped in the UK in April and has already received glowing notices from critics over here, will be released Stateside in September. Katy, whose voice brings to mind freestyle divas as much as it does Aaliyah, soars over the fantastic pop amalgam created by her and her producers, which is stuffed with nods to dubstep, UK garage, funky, and other bits scavenged from the fringes of popmany of which, it should be noted, are genres that have been steamrolled on US radio in favor of the Eurohouse blob that's subsumed so many singers worthy and capable of better material.More »