Welcome to Sound of the City's year-in-review rock-critic roundtable, an amiable ongoing conversation between five prominent Voice critics: Rob Harvilla, Zach Baron, Sean Fennessey, Maura Johnston, and Rich Juzwiak. We'll be here all week!
|Pay Rich Juzwiak what you owe him, Jay Leno. Twitpic by Dave Itzkoff.|
I spent this year trying to be a more empathetic and broad-minded critic, so it hurts me to open with acrimony. But since Zach teed it up so delicately, let's look back by looking to the future: In 2011, someone needs to put Taylor Swift, and her guitar, in a well and seal it shut. Because while the case that 2010 was The Greatest Year For Music Ever is a fun one to make, it cannot be denied that even as others were more acclaimed, no one was more popular or more present than Swift. How quickly she beat back Kanye West's surge to chart glory, by leapfrogging him just a week after his epically anticipated and then slobbered-over My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy's debut. I spent some time in these wintry days trying again with Speak Now, seeking her precocious wisdom, her plaintive but pretty way with melody, her winsome charm. Turns out, she still sings out of key, tramples you with cliché, and grossly overplays the sympathy card. I came away thinking that Swift's "Not her, pick me" brand of songwriting is its own worst enemy. If all these silly boys keep making the wrong decision, at what point do we think maybe something is actually wrong with the girl? (Look dear, you quest for John Mayer, you get John Mayer.) I know, I know, why I gotta be so mean?More »