Tuesday, December 31, 2002

it was a mini-"super tuesday" (it was new year's eve, after all), but there was still some damned fine ball played. clemson will start the year undefeated, but creighton won't. indiana won't, either - but they're 9-2 after winning without head coach mike davis. and I already told you about pittsburgh.

what a nice way to start the new year, by learning that my beloved boilers won on the gridiron to close out 2002, winning the sun bowl 34-24 over washington. ahhh.

film buffs, rejoice: the village voice has a lovely new year's gift for you, take 4: the fourth annual voice film critics poll.

and the unbeatens just keep on falling: ladies and gentlemen, georgia 79, pittsburgh 67. only three, and maybe four, teams in division one will enter the new year with spotless records: duke, wake forest, connecticut, and maybe creighton. ingame updates on creighton-xavier here. postgame update later tonight/tomorrow, if I'm still conscious then.

happy new year, readers. here's to 2003! [and go boilers!]

dammit, is there nothing the "bloke from watford" can't do?! go home productions kick off the new year (it's 2003 already on the other side of the pond) with "justin loves blondes," a mashup of "like I love you" and blondie's "heart of glass." he says j.t. works just as well with scritti politti's "absolute," which I would fucking love to hear (hint, not-so-subtle-hint). I also must give ghp mad love for the love I've gotten from him on his site. what a way to start the '03!

"big monday" recap:
and the undefeateds keep falling... monday's victims? alabama and butler. marquette and michigan state were bitten by the upset bug, as well, while notre dame, mississippi state, and arizona all proved their top-10 rankings. there was a cost for the 'cats, however, who likely lost luke walton for saturday's pac-10 opener against oregon.

Monday, December 30, 2002

creighton at xavier? arizona at oregon? mmm, what a tasty week of college hoops on tap. make mine a double, please.

gene keady celebrated his first ever win as purdue head coach (23 years ago) tonight, by doing what he did back then: beating colorado state. we're 6-0 at mackey, folks; that's called good home cookin'.

getting the rock-crit party started: ivan kreilkamp on christgau (link via rockcritics).

the green[e]house effect is back from holiday hiatus, with this outstanding post on the illogic of most confederate flag supporters.

as if you need another reason to visit fluxblog, this week he's got a download of soft cell's "tainted dub" available. so get to it, people!

the rub's list of great 2002 albums: likely the only place you'll see kylie rubbing shoulders with danzig. clear, concise, very fine writing, as always.

lord, not another u.s. olympic committee scandal! who do these people think they are, politicians?

serena's thrown down the gauntlet. who's gonna pick it up? anyone? I've said it before, and I'll keep saying it: the williams sisters (though not their boorish father) are good for tennis. their dominance is tiger-like, and they're lifting their sport up with them (just look at the tv ratings for the last couple of grand slam finals, women's vs. men's). the women's tour right now has an energy sorely missing from the men's - and who would've ever guessed that the best rivalry in tennis right now, regardless of gender, would be between sisters? let's hope they keep playing for a while.

the big ten got it right, thank goodness. I thought from the start that the conference's proposed six-game suspension for mike davis was ridiculous. the man apologized to the ref, for pete's sake. joe pa, meanwhile, is given free reign, apparently. maybe jim delaney (big ten commish) forgot that it's not bobby running the show in bloomington?

and for those wondering, yes, I'm still true-blue to my black-and-gold boilermakers. but I think the conference was about to give davis a very raw deal, and I can't help but love this year's hoosiers. yeah, they've lost two in a row (including one they had no reason to, their saturday meltdown at temple), but I still firmly believe this is a potential final-four team come march. and a big ten championship team as well. that bracey wright is a stud on the court. and... well, y'all already know my thoughts on tom coverdale...

addendum: dickie v agrees with me. so there.

Sunday, December 29, 2002

perpetual.motion: from indiana (woo!), has fine taste in tunage (woo woo!) and writes gorgeously (and is funny) (woo woo woo!). read it, love it.

at spizzazzz: lil missy mack's top spizzongs of 2002, and e crunk's holiday spizzongs, which would make a damned fine party mix (which I think is the point).

"[the] time we feel most stable/is the time we're coming off the wall": does anyone else remember saga's progressive-pop nugget "on the loose" (#26, 1983)? holla.

"I'm 'bout to show y'all how ta pimp this shit!": ladies and gentlemen, trina. trina's best when she's rapping about one thing: sex. she's unstoppable on the topic. just listen to the first exposure (pun intended) most of us had to the diamond princess, ludacris' "what's your fantasy (remix)." she sounds so deliciously dirty - but somehow, not sleazy. her wordplay ("havin' sex in lear jets/menage a trois/gettin' buck wild no matter where we are") is nimble and clever, while foxy brown's verse on the same record just makes me think of a whore on the corner. [foxy, what went wrong?] trina's teamed back up with 'cris (who should be the clyde to her bonnie instead of that ig'nant mofo trick daddy) for her new single, "b r right." what initially sounds like another trend-hopping indian sitar-ish sample is actually a lone violin mourning while the dynamic duo trade sex raps. not only do you get a cooing femme backing chorus, you also get a perfect effect on ludacris' voice, where it sounds like the tape's slowing at the end of each of his lines. trina is, as ever, the baddest bitch on the block, flippin' scripts and men with equal ease. lil' kim, the gauntlet's been thrown down. can you handle this bitch?

fuck, I wish I knew my hip-hop samples (a/k/a old-school diggin'-in-the-crates soul) better, so I could tell ya where the "even though what we do is wrong" lick in "what we do," the smashin' debut from freeway featuring jay-z & beanie siegel. freeway's part of the state property crew, which is an adjunct (as I understand it) of jigga's roc-a-fella crew. this single reminds me why I fell in love with hip-hop in the first place: its urgency. it sounds like freeway's rapping as fast as he can, spitting rhymes 'cause it might be his only shot - and "what we do" benefits greatly from that. it doesn't hurt that he's got the ever-lovely flow of jay-hova and the incredibly underrated beanie siegel on the track, but they're not the main attractions here. freeway wants to succeed like eminem does - he's got the hunger implicit in all great hip-hoppers, and he's not counting on anything other than his own raw skills to get that paper. some of jay-z's posse could be accused of coat-tailing, but not freeway. the backing track, all cymbal crashes, a simple synth-snare, and that sampled "wrong" looped ad infinitum, pushes and shoves the trio along (not that they need the extra propulsion, but it sounds so nice). I've gotta agree with mtv2 - freeway's one to watch in the '03.

the line "I smoke like the hippies did back in the '70s," from styles' "good times," is a marvelous hip-hop error up there in the hall of fame with run-d.m.c.'s "there's three of us but we're not the beatles." it's funny. it also just so happens that (and yes, I recognize that I'm the last person to realize this) "good times" is a motherfucker of a single. styles might just be as good a lyricist (or at least rhyme-flipper) as his cohort jadakiss, and the "I get high" sample he uses isn't quite what it appears to be. the full line is actually "I get high off your memory," giving the track an almost sad, nostalgic quality. plus, the track itself has a bouncy, spongy quality to it, like an india rubber ball or sponge cake, moist and chewy. and to think that none of this hit me until I saw styles performing on bet's 106th and park this weekend. *doh!*

Saturday, December 28, 2002

now playing: a make-your-own musicmatch playlist of the jesus & mary chain, cocteau twins, lush, curve, the velvet underground, my bloody valentine, and a few others. good for the soul and ears. I love love love dreampop/shoegaze/whatever you want to call it. nothing like getting knocked over by waves of guitar surrounding chewy pop centers.

are you ready for some women's college basketball? the first week of 2003 should be hellacious.

bleh. I have my first cold of the cold-and-flu season. things that help: nyquil (I prefer cherry), cough drops, orange juice (with calcium!), instant oatmeal, and the televisual comfort food, cmt. and my kinda-bf, who puts up with my whining and makes me feel better.

Friday, December 27, 2002

more listmania: cmt's chet flippo weighs in with his country favorites from the last 12 months.

I'm pretty happy with my review of shania twain's up!; I think it's probably one of the best things I wrote this year. but then I had to read glenn mcdonald's review. damn, he's good. [link via freezing to death....]

and btw, after repeated listenings, I've got some revisions/amendments to my original take on up!; they'll be up soon. this now might be my #2 album of the year.

espn's outside the lines has an eye-opening set of pieces online titled "blood on the rings" - about the horrors perpetrated by the head of iraq's national olympic committee, who just happens to be saddam hussein's son, uday. an impressive must-read.

you can still see herb ritts' work exhibit online. thanks to popjustice for the link.

Thursday, December 26, 2002

wasn't planning on posting again this evening, but this is news. photographer herb ritts has died at the age of 50. ritts did some of the most iconic work of the last 20 years - think madonna's true blue cover, think chris isaak's "wicked game" video" - and some of the sexiest, as well. his passing is a huge loss to the art world.

went back to work today (as jenn said, today's monday - but tomorrow's friday!), and have been posting so much lately that I need a break. back tomorrow, or the next day at the latest. hey, I blogged on christmas day - what more do you want?!

awwright! not only has matos returned, he's brought with him his year-end lists, and some excellent writing to boot ("rockisback" is so christgau - and I mean that as very very high praise, not derivative, more like son-of). as an added bonus, you can read matos' reviews & articles of almost every album on his a-list - they're all linked up. praise be!

Wednesday, December 25, 2002

and a few more year-end-wrap-up-type things...
+video of the year: "fell in love with a girl," the white stripes. lego-riffic.
+album of the year: home, dixie chicks. sometimes, pure and simple is the way to go.
+tour of the year: down from the mountain, featuring ralph stanley, patty loveless, ricky skaggs, alison krauss + union station, emmylou harris, and others. bluegrass, outdoors on the riverfront, with 7,000 close friends. my musical moment of the year was stanley leading all of the performers and the entire audience in an a capella version of "amazing grace"; it honestly did give me chills.
+discoveries of the year: winmx and vhs or beta.

and to the likely surprise of absolutely no one, my number one single of 2002:
1. "work it," missy elliot
it's all about the chocha. production of the year (proving that the neptunes don't have the world completely locked down), lyrics of the year (absurdist to the point of making wayne coyne seem perfectly milquetoast), performance of the year (no one but no one could've pulled this off besides missy), maybe even sample of the year (bob james-via-run-d.m.c. isn't so shocking in and of itself, but after jam master jay's death, it took on a surprising resonance - and don't forget that "heart of glass" sample buried in the mix). yes, this is better than "get ur freak on," or anything else missy or timbaland has ever had a hand in. this might even be the single of the decade. unless, of course, missy and tim top themselves yet again, which I certainly wouldn't rule out at this point. the word is masterpiece.

2. "angel boy," tim mcgraw
the most thoughtful, questioning-where-you-are-in-the-world, verging on crisis-of-faith song of 2002 came from a most unexpected source. at the start of the year, I found tim to be a fair-to-middlin' artist (albeit incredibly hot). at year's end, I have a new, delighted respect for his artistry and performance. it all started with "angel boy," a track never officially sent to country radio - perhaps because his label feared it was too rockish? it is, and is all the better for it. "angel boy" asks questions, hard ones, and makes you think about your answers. tim never gives his. simply deep, and simply gorgeous.

not only has jody beth rosen returned, but so has her southside callbox. her top 10 singles of the year is some of the best music writing I've read in months - no offense to anyone else I've read (or complimented, natch), but this is splendid stuff. brava!

Tuesday, December 24, 2002

happy christmas, everyone. pray for peace - now more than ever.

"Happy Xmas (War Is Over)"
Yoko Ono & John Lennon

(Happy Xmas Kyoko
Happy Xmas Julian)

So this is Xmas
And what have you done
Another year over
And a new one just begun
And so this is Xmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear ones
The old and the young

Have a very Merry Xmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear

And so this is Xmas
For weak and for strong
For rich and the poor ones
The world is so wrong
And so happy Xmas
For black and for white
For yellow and red ones
Let's stop all the fight

Have a very Merry Xmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear

And so this is Xmas
And what have we done
Another year over
A new one just begun
And so happy Xmas
We hope you have fun
The near and the dear ones
The old and the young

A very Merry Xmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear
War is over, if you want it
War is over now

Happy Xmas

this just in: "how you remind me" is a bigger hit than "don't be cruel"/"hound dog." america, we've got some explaining to do...

okayplayer.com not only hosts sites for common, the roots, me'shell ndegeocello, and many other right-on artists, but they also post aaron mcgruder's the boondocks, my favorite current comicstrip, every weekday. yo!

#1 previously released song I only discovered in 2002: "I feel love (masters at work remix)," donna summer
there's probably no song I listened to more in 2002 than this one, and every single time I listened for its pure joy. masters at work did this rerub back in '95, but it's utterly timeless. summer's almost-30-year-old single is stripped and rebuilt from the ground up, all centering around her stunning vocal performance (something moroder apparently forgot about, so enamored was he of his own [admittedly pop-revolutionary] sonics). kenny and louie concentrate, of course, on the keys; every one of their greatest tracks (whether remixes for others or their own productions) is based on classic house piano riffs, and this is certainly no exception. frequently they drop almost everything else out, just to spotlight the eerie, warm cooing of summer. this doesn't build to a thundering climax; that's not their style. they keep the track slow-burning on and on (over 11:00), simmering just shy of boiling over. I never knew just how tender summer sounds singing "I got you, I got you, I got you" until this remix entered my life. she wasn't just moroder's robot queen, all ice and artifice - there's a lot of emotion buried in his tracks, and maw took it upon themselves to excavate it in glorious fashion. sing hallelujah!

3. "mendocino county line," willie nelson featuring lee ann womack
who knew - who knew?! - that one of 2002's finest country singles would be written by elton's bitch bernie taupin and matchbox 20's bitch matt serletic? nearly every time I spin "mendocino," something else grabs me: the pedal steel and fiddle in the bridge, the swelling string section and owen bradley-esque backing chorus, the magnificent interplay of willie and lee ann's voices. but what it all comes down to are the lyrics, which tell a tremendous tale of the end of a love. it's a classic willie theme, but he hasn't told it like this in at least 20 years. well-chosen duets (i.e. not with julio iglesias), suit willie's craggy-smooth tone well, and lee ann's clear-as-a-bell vocals fit willie like his own shambolic presence. sad yet somehow drenched in uplift, this is an utter triumph for both parties involved, and deservedly won the country music association award for vocal event of the year. that it is.

programming notes:
+the regular edition of "the hitlist" is back, in case you're wondering. to the surprise of absolutely none of my regular readers, j.t.'s "cry me a river" is tops.
+yes, I know that darwin porter's blood moon has been listed on "current reading" for nigh on a month. that's because a) it's over 800 pages, b) I've been simultaneously reading other things. porter's novel is - well, it's interesting, I'll say that. it's packed with a disturbing amount of sex, and a less-than-thoroughly-sturdy plot (late'-70s florida, the rise of conservative christians as a political force, the newspaper biz, family ties, and more sex). but it's perversely entertaining; I'm just not certain yet that it's any good.
+my top two singles of 2002 will be revealed tomorrow, on christmas day. what better way to celebrate?
+some interesting new blogs for you to peruse under "blogs: the rest." they're labelled as such.

and now, back to our regular programming.

eve went for the "let me blow ya mind" brass ring a second time with "gangsta lovin,'" her collabo with alicia keys. commercially, she succeeded, but artistically, it was a total failure. the song was entirely flaccid and lifeless, featuring keys at her most annoyingly cloying and eve just being - well, average, which is not what we expect. she rights those wrongs, however, on the terrific followup, "satisfaction." the track's built around a phatter-than-phat bassline sounding like it was stolen from early-'80s mtume or shalamar; this was produced by the good dr. dre, but doesn't sound like it, which is a testament to his talent. the chorus is a heaping platter of femme vocals - is that eve singing? and the meat of the song is eve layin' down the law, just like you like it: "never let you motherfuckers put out my flame." g'on, girl. "satisfaction" is the definition of head-nodder.

suge knight has been arrested. again. to that I say, "good." I think he's a beast, nothing more than a common thug, and should be behind bars. but what I find truly amazing is this statement from his lawyer:

"knight's attorney said his client has done nothing wrong, adding that if he did come into contact with any gang members it would only have been in connection with his responsibilities as a record company executive."

so his responsibilities as a record exec caused him to "come into contact" with gang members?! what is this, crips-and-bloods records? what a fucking idiot. I strongly believe he knows who killed 2pac - and probably biggie, too - but for some reason, someone doesn't want the truth out (whatcha wanna bet it's got something to do with the sleazebags of the lapd?). happy fucking christmas, suge. may you rot in hell.

4. "I'm gonna getcha good!," shania twain
she's interplanet janet, she's a galaxy dream. country by way of max martin and the neptunes, hookier than abba, better than anything else her husband (mutt lange)'s ever put his hands on, this is perfect country-pop like we haven't seen since the glory days of dolly. she should take that next step and create a band out of robots.

5. "I'm a slave 4 daft britney," go home productions
with the news that brit's been taking meetings with daft punk, this bootleg suddenly becomes eerily prescient. my favorite boot of the year, "I'm a slave" is a mashup of epic proportions, mixing "slave 4 u" with daft's "voyager," creating in the process a massive stormer of a track, giving britney the funk she's always needed (wanted?), and turning daft punk into pop geniuses. if ghp ever start making original productions, the world had best watch out, 'cause based on their incredible string of successes in '02, I don't think we're ready for their jelly...

an extra consumer guide from christgau (in this week's voice) is a great christmas gift indeed.

Monday, December 23, 2002

as a fine companion to the art of the mix, I offer the automatic mixtape generator from tiny mixtapes gone to heaven. a little too indie-rockish for my tastes, but otherwise fine stuff.

you need to read gavin mueller on the return of bobby brown. I couldn't agree more; the song itself is standard-issue murder inc., but for bobby, who sounds as perfect as ever.

I've already blogged briefly about justin timberlake's "cry me a river," yes. but this song impresses me more with each listen - and yesterday I saw the vid, which enhances it in a completely unexpected way. firstly, we see something in j.t.'s countenance I'd wondered if we eventually would, 'cause he's got the face for it: malevolence. this video is creepy, justin breaking into his ex's house (and btw, as opposed to what's been reported by some, the actress playing said ex looks nothing like britney) and making out with his hot, slutty girlfriend while taping it with the ex's camcorder. meanwhile, tim sits waiting in the car for justin, with his nice-'n-nasty what-is-he-thinking? grin going on. [the fact that tim's bridge rap consists of "the damage is done/so I guess I'll be leaving" only ups the ante.] justin's fucking (kinda) stalking her, people. this is not your little sister's *nsync-er. in essence, the video ends up adding an element of the sinister to the track, giving it added bite.

and I keep wondering if this is the kind of record/production tim might've given to aaliyah; had he, (more) people would've certainly stood up and took notice. you can draw a direct line from "are you that somebody" to "cry me a river" - it's that good.

it's a guilty pleasure, though I'm not sure why: I love reading about the pretty things that make time's best design list each year. the rest of their "best and worst" package is pretty solid, too.

also, their choice for "person of the year" for 2002 is an interesting one: the whistleblowers at the fbi, enron, and worldcom. I think it's a very excellent and enlightened choice. great article package, too.

don't forget to check out their person of the year covers gallery, either - most fascinating and entertaining, and you can read every single "person of the year" cover story, as well. [can you tell I'm enjoying a 5-day weekend?]

my roommate has spent much of the past 3 days (along with his best friend) doing holiday baking. not only does this result in a wonderful-smelling apartment, but his cookies and such kick ass. have I mentioned recently how much he rules?!

6. "a stroke of genius," freelance hellraiser
by many accounts, this is the record which brought the bootleg phenomenon to spontaneous combustion, and rightfully so. to me, the whole key to a great bootleg is that it completely recontextualizes both songs involved, and none does so more than "genius." when I hear "genie in a bottle" now, I expect to hear the strokes backing xtina up. in the 6th freaky trigger pop music focus group, I suggested that aguilera + strokes - julian = blondie II: electric boogaloo. I still stand by that, especially in light of her new stripped full-length. when I played this for a friend recently, he didn't know what song ("bottle") the vocals were from, until the chorus kicked in - that's how much this boot discombobulated him. a stroke of genius is fucking right.

7. "u don't have to call"/"u don't have to call (remix)," usher/usher featuring ludacris
usher, much moreso than justin, is the closest thing we've got to prime-period (i.e. '82-'84) jacko these days: he sings! he dances! and he oozes personality, in a mostly-suave manner! "u don't have to call" is a tidy "I'm not waiting home" clarion call to all would-be ladyfriends. I'm not a playa, he says, I just play one in videos. it's much akin to the ross-rachel "we were on a break" debate on friends, and usher wins, 'cause he's out with his boys while you're at home, presumably alone. ludacris is his own man, unique as hell with a marvelous tongue-tripping flow; sadly, most of his own records don't do his vast talent justice. but on the "call" remix, he nails what might be the line of the year: "yeah, I graduated at the top of the class/and yeah, I'll strap a harness to the top of yo' ass." plus, he calls usher "ursher." now that's dirrty south.

shit, shit, shit. joe strummer has died. he was 50. today sucks.

Sunday, December 22, 2002

mike davis is learning that being a head coach means admitting when you're wrong. color me impressed.

talk about yer pop justice! woo hoo! as radio 1's sara cox said, presenting this week's chart, "sorry, boys." the girls have this year's uk christmas #1 with "sound of the underground"! killer pop tunage beats lame boy-band balladry!

8. "s'washyawart," dj lance lockarm
lockarm's another bootlegger to watch, 'cause he's been smoking in 2002. his peak came on this, the closest thing we've gotten in a decade to a new my bloody valentine track. "s'wash" mashes up mbv's "I only said" with the beasties' "so whatcha want" and a bit of schooly d's "saturday night" to stunning effect, backing up the b-boys with heavy echo f/x and wave upon wave of guitar wash from kevin shields and company. everyone involved is recontextualized beyond belief, not just the beasties (who thought you'd ever hear mbv with a breakbeat?!).

9. "die another day (from die another day)," madonna
to hell with anything off ray of light and music, this is not only the best thing maddie's done in the last ten years (please don't bring up evita's soundtrack. please), but it's where she finally delivers on her promise of boosting her records with techno/electronica/whatever you want to call it this week. truly, "die" is to my ears a killer tech-house stormer with glitchtronica flourishes all over it, just what we were promised when she first hooked up with orbit and mirwais. the bond theme, dragged by its hair kicking and screaming into the oughties, its only last vestiges the string section cut-ups. she's still got it, folks, she's still got it.

10. "more than a woman (masters at work alternate mix)," aaliyah
back in august, I mentioned this remix's "guitar licks that catch on your clothes," and that's still my favorite feature of this, maw's crowning moment of '02. they get aaliyah all relaxed and stretched out, smoothing out the bumps in "woman"'s original production (which, honestly, I don't care much for). this is house music to sway to, not for wild pogoing. utterly gorgeous. and to think of what babygirl could've done...


from the ever-on-top-of-things paul, of the rub:

there was actually one album before principle of moments that was
called pictures at eleven that, if I remember correctly, was very similar in
composition and tone (I think phil collins even drummed on a couple
tracks). pick it up if you see it around.


Saturday, December 21, 2002

as a nice contrast to the mostly homogenized crap on billboard's year-end charts, here's what college radio was spinning in '02, courtesy of cmj.

just in case you need further proof that mtv sucks goat balls...

what a day in college basketball... lsu 66, arizona 65 for starters, setting up dueling #1 in the polls next week: alabama's #2 in the ap poll, while duke (good, yes, but overrated) will top the coaches poll. I would've told you that indiana should be the new poll-leader, until the hoosiers lost 70-64 to kentucky. meanwhile, in another matchup of two ranked teams, illinois takes the braggin' rights game, 85-70 over mizzou (and why did no one tell me what a hottie illinois' sean harrington is? yum!). on the women's side, in quite the coaching battle, jody conradt's lady longhorns topped pat summitt's lady vols 63-62. whew! screw the nfl - this is where the excitement is, folks.

was very happy today to find a copy of robert plant's the principle of moments, his 1983 solo debut, on cassette for $0.50 at goodwill today. I've never owned this record, and only know two songs, the singles "big log" and "in the mood" (I'll get to the rest of it soon). but what singles! I still remember hearing both tracks ad infinitum on q95 back in '83 and into '84. "in the mood" has an almost mechanical-sounding drum track - especially near the end, when they slap on the reverb & echo - combined with a lot of synth, something we weren't so accustomed to hearing from plant at the time. his lyrics, however, were as quizzical as ever. take "big log"'s line "my love is in league with the freeway" - what the fuck?! the song's guitar work, by coproducer and cowriter robbie blunt, is miles away from jimmy page's work, all strategically picked, nice and staccato leads which sound best late at night under cover of darkness. but these aren't zepellin-eque rockers; this is much more subtle work, with more concern given to atmosphere than bombast (of which there's precious little to be found, in fact). it's the move plant needed to make, veering into a solo career (i.e. doing something which wouldn't remind listeners of his old band), and he made it well.

#1 "without me" bootleg: "aerodynamic me" [sic], jjrob
no artist, I think, was bootlegged more than eminem in '02, and no song was mashed up more than his ubiquitous smash "without me." the best of those boots is this one, which I found via boomselection. I know nothing of jjrob other than his rinse-out of "without me," which was labeled as "eminem v. daft punk"; I retitled it "aerodynamic me" 'cause it sounds catchier. "aerodynamic" is one of daft punk's best songs, my second-fave from their discovery opus of last year. its fast-and-furious tenor sits nicely as a backdrop for em's raps (and makes his "nobody listens to techno" boast sound like the facile farce it is). let's push things forward, you say? fresher than "without me" itself, "aerodynamic me" does the justice.

11. "I need a girl (part 1)," p. diddy featuring usher and loon
upon seeing this on my list, a coworker incredulously asked, "you like p. diddy?" "sometimes," I responded, "but as an r-and-b artist, not as a rapper." save one or two late-'90s works of hip-hop genius (it really is all about "the benjamins"), the artist formerly known as puff daddy is absolute crap as a rap artist. however, the man certainly knows his way around a hook - and part 1 of "girl" is one giant fucking hook, largely spinning around the axis which is usher's "ride, ride, ride" crooning (more on him in the top 10). loon is, simply, mase, mark two - the switzerland of hip-hop, just existing, not really doing anything. as marc anthony once sang, I wanna ride on the rhythm and I never wanna stop.

the top 10 awaits...

12. "love at first sight (us radio remix)," kylie minogue
four singles, four entries on my year-end top 50 - she makes it look so effortless, doesn't she? no one made better pop records, consistently, as la kylie did in the '02; "love" is the foremost of these. the album mix is alright, but the us radio remix beefs up the bass and keybs (if they were a little deeper still, this'd be daft punk making a pop single), giving kylie a bit of added "oomph." and kylie with more oomph is never a bad thing. but the true brilliance of this record comes in the lyrics, which are in fact about love at first sight - with a dj: "the music you were playin' really blew my mind/it was love at first sight." kylie gives the turntablists some!

Friday, December 20, 2002

chart geeks, start your engines: billboard's year-in-music issue is online.

the church of me is now on hiatus until sometime early in 2003. but in the meantime, read marcello's year-end wrap(s). essential.

also make certain to read his buddy simon's year-end singles list at blissblog. always fascinating, never boring, and I always learn new things about music from reynolds, one of the greatest writers on music alive.

vitale on the boilers (fifth question down).

about damned time.

13. "come into my world (fischerspooner mix)," kylie minogue
fischerspooner save themselves and kylie's single in the process, transforming "world" from a standard dance-pop ditty into a multi-orgasmic sextoy from outer space. oh, wait, that's kylie already. pure pop for robot people.

Thursday, December 19, 2002

usa today on how the oscar race looks at the moment... and how 'bout those 8 golden globe nods for chicago? can't wait to see that one - and I don't like musicals, nor do I care for richard gere.

for fuck's sake, doesn't disney own enough of the world already?! now, it appears, they intend to buy the muppets. I loathe disney more than you know.

I disagree with what e-crunk says about styles and the lox (agreed re: "we gonna make it," though - ace!), but I so love the way he says it.

more new records I'm spinning 'round these days:
+justin timberlake's "cry me a river" is, while not as immediate, even better than "like I love you." apparently, this is what timbaland did with the future shit he didn't use on missy's album. I'm nearly intimidated by all of the sounds on "river," from operatic crooning to j.t.'s beatboxing (mixed in so appallingly well, it takes a while to separate it from the rhythm track) to all sorts of odd synth tones (is that a crow noise in the chorus??). say what you might about justin relying on superproducers, but he knows exactly what he's doing. and what he's doing is breaking away from the pelloton, and showing the rest how it's done.
+"hit the freeway," I'd feared, was going to be toni braxton doing another ill-advised r-and-b-with-rap-interlude track. I needn't've worried. sly and slinky, this is one gorgeous mother of a kiss-off. "freeway," featuring loon and pharrell - who actually accent rather than detract (all pharrell has to do is sing "so hit the freeway!" in his nasty falsetto and play puffy here and there) - is a herky-jerky neptunes track (what isn't these days?), in which the rhythm is usurped by a cut-up string snatch. toni sounds as lovely as she looks, which is to say, halle watch your back. quite yummy.
+billy's back! zwan's "honestly" isn't earth-shattering - but it's quite good. it honestly (sorry) sounds kinda like prime pumpkins, circa melon collie and the infinite sadness, with a bit of gish thrown in on the triple-guitar threat. if that's not good enough for you, I'd suggest you look elsewhere for your guitar-bass-drums fix. zwan's album promises some surprises, and I look forward to unwrapping 'em.

for those of you out there (and, amazingly, I hear there are still a few) who haven't yet made vain, selfish & lazy a daily read, I give you this, from fred's review of his #3 single of 2002: "for his part, timbaland foregos the role of traditional hip-hop producer (a.k.a. beat-maker) to instead play the gil evans to her miles, the nelson riddle to her sinatra." sterling. coltrane, ali, fred solinger. now go read it!

lott, 61, has said he believes he has enough support from his colleagues to retain his job and has vowed to fight for it. apparently, we've underestimated his stupidity. can't you smell what's cooking, trent? it's your political career. stop the carnage. go now, humbly. you're hurting your own party (which, granted, I'm thoroughly enjoying watching).

from espn.com's college basketball midwest regional notebook with jeff shelman:

"not surprisingly, purdue coach gene keady doesn't think much of his latest milestone -- coaching in his 700th game. it certainly is a feat, though. only former indiana and current texas tech coach bob knight has coached more games at one school than keady. how long has keady been in west lafayette? he's been there 15 years longer than any other current big ten coach has had their job."

and this, ladies and gents, is one of the many reasons we boiler fans love gene keady, worst-hair-in-coaching and all.

also of note: the absolute best website for boiler basketball is, surprisingly, the official site. just check out the absurd amount of stats (and absurd stats) in this preview of saturday's game vs. arizona state.

14. "intro-inspection (extended version)," osymyso
really, even with all of the other genres littered across my top 50, for me 2002 was the year of the bootleg. the first one to truly knock the air out of me was this one; it still does. osymyso links together over 100 songs by only using and looping their introductory moments, from "eye of the tiger" to "the end" to "wannabe." so many of the sections here amaze. numerous bloggers and crits have made note of the "stayin' alive"/"teen spirit" mashup already. I'm particularly fond of the "praise you"/"pump up the volume"/"I heard it through the grapevine"/"relax" section, leading into the shockingly stunning "don't you want me"/"I will always love you"/"I will survive"/"theme from shaft"/"theme from the pink panther"/"is there something I should know?" sequence. the song really takes off from that point, getting a boost of adrenaline and steamrolling its way into eurythmics, yello, blur, the kinks, and guns 'n roses - and then ever onward and upward. "intro-inspection" is essential, especially in its extended version - more bang for your buck, as it were.

15. "hot night," me'shell ndegeocello featuring talib kweli
and from one to watch to one I've been watching for nigh on a decade, now. ndegeocello's soulful funk, her sheer sense of the groove, is so effortless as to practically render comparisons irrelevant. she's her own artist now, aping no one - but you can pick up influences, and they're a funk/soul dream team encompassing prince, clinton, fela kuti, roy ayers, and gil scott-heron. I can't imagine that another major-label artist sampled angela davis this year, either. and where most artists working in the r-and-b idiom today would insert kweli as just another rapper doing a cameo, ndegeocello works and twists him into her mix, making him part of the, well, groove of it all. she's one of the finest, and most consistent, artists of the last decade.

16. "wish I didn't miss you," angie stone
stone's a fine retro-r-and-b singer whose singles and albums thus far had failed to overly impress - until early this year, when she dropped this bomb of a second single from mahogany soul. she makes quite a fine use of sampling the o'jays' "back stabbers," making it the backbone of "miss you" without making it the focal point of the song. the sample fits glove-like, as well, matching the laidback groove and lyrical statements. this isn't a diva exclamation of loss; it's nearly a resigned kind of missing (i.e. you're gone, and I wish I didn't miss you, but I do, and that's that), and understatement serves stone well. combined with her prior single "brotha," this makes me eager to hear her next album - one to watch now.

more bad news, politics-and-law version: now cooped-up is on holiday hiatus, as well.

yeah, I'm cutting it a little close, but since I don't have an amazon.com wishlist, would someone please get me this for christmas? it'd be, like, pretty cool and stuff. heh-heh, heh-heh.

I'm humbled. the church of me just called this blog "excellent." wow. I know it's so uncool to quote things like this on your own blog, but marcello writes like I could only dream. thank you, marcello. [he writes for uncut, too, which I love.]

I've been digging through my hundreds of cassettes, pulling out some '80s gems, such as my dub of gene loves jezebel's the house of dolls and promise. also spinning some christmas mixes (a/k/a/ mixmas volumes 3 and 4) at work today, frankie goes to hollywood's welcome to the pleasuredome (expect a piece on this, compared-and-contrasted with abc's the lexicon of love, soon), and a.r. kane's 69 (a pre-shoegazer dreampop gem).

17. "can't get you out of my head"/"can't get blue monday out of my head," kylie minogue
yeah, it's kinda cheating, but it's my list. if the sugababes' "freak like me" didn't show how much bootleg culture was impacting the pop world in '02, then this sure as hell did. kylie performed "can't get blue monday" at the brit awards after hearing freelance hellraiser's boot mashing her smash up with new order's classic "blue monday." it breathes new life into the "la, la, la" song, underpinning it with something at once so familiar and yet, in this context, somewhat foreign. the clincher is when kylie starts singing "how does it feel?" near the song's end. she gets it. like getting chocolate in your peanut butter, this is a match made in heaven. [btw, this is the first of three kylie tracks in the top 20.]

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

18. "landslide," dixie chicks
such a natural fit it's amazing they hadn't done it before. one of steve nicks' finest moments as a songwriter, "landslide" gets a semi-radical overhaul at the hands of the chicks, replacing its gauzy '70s production with stripped-down guitar, mandolin, dobro, banjo, and bass. their perfect vocal harmonies work better than stevie being multi-tracked, as well. a rare cover version which exceeds the original.

19. "heaven," vhs or beta
joy, pure unadulterated joy. simply put, the best chic song they never recorded. that good.

I am listening to a few currents these days, in the midst of all my year-end mania. these include:
+go home productions' "ain't no sunshine in my closet" and their new christmas offering, "christmas on the block," which absurdly - but whimsically, as befits the season - mashes up j-lo's "jenny from the block" and macca's "wonderful christmastime" (along with a nice, sly sample at the beginning and end, all the more notable due to the current mccartney-ono public spat).
+the keni burke-sampling "paradise" by l.l. cool j featuring amerie. pinned around the eminently funky bassline of "rising to the top," l.l. talks love and devotion with a nice vocal assist from amerie. and damn, does this man have an 8-pack? fine as hell. sounds like he's rapping in a slightly lower register than usual, too, which I like. yessir, I like it.
+have finally got a copy of "danger! high voltage!" by electric six featuring jack white. wow. I'd add to what fred said that it's the best disco-rock single since the stones' "miss you." nasty, sleazy, with such a downtown-nyc feel. so of course it's from detroit.
+and liam lynch's "united states of whatever," a recent freak top-tenner in the u.k., is 1:30 of perfect trash-rock, like a cross between "fell in love with a girl" and "surfin' bird."

yay! not one but two reviews of shania's up! in this week's voice. I agree with, and enjoy, dark's review (the first) until she actually starts talking about up!, on which she's just plain wrong.

double yay! new consumer guide from christgau, too.

superb joke today on the popjustice advent calendar. I couldn't agree more...

more good news: my actual, flesh-and-blood (as opposed to online) friends jenn, mike, bob, and ronnie are also not on hiatus.

more bad news: also largely on hiatus till after 12/25 are matos (a/k/a you can't wear nail polish to a surgery) and jbr (a/k/a freezing to death in the nuclear bunker).

more good news: ernie (a/k/a mr. little. yellow. different.) is posting nearly every day of late, with a gorgeous piece up today about christmas, as it were.

the good news: over at vain, selfish & lazy, fred's year-end countdown is now in the top 5.

the bad news: tmftml and xrrf are on holiday hiatus.

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

sadly, hickory husker, which was the place to go for indiana highschool roundball news, has become a pay site. and you know what I say to pay sites? fuck 'em. it's gone from my links.

gaz's website v.2.0 is up. still not much new in the way of content, however, motherfucker...

just when lott might've thought it couldn't get worse, he's proved wrong. again.

20. "music gets the best of me," sophie ellis-bextor
ah, sophie, she-who-would-be-kylie - the understudy, the one with a wee bit more grit under her perfectly-manicured nails. she may be number two, but she tries harder. "music" feels like a breezy throw-off, which is its charm. this isn't as raucous as "murder on the dancefloor" or as sexed-up as "take me home," but a lovely, easy declaration of love (ironically, it's a "you're my number two - but a strong number two" song). the best line is the damning with faint praise one: "if someone held you with a gun/you know I'd make you number one." well, thanks for that ringing endorsement, soph. but as she adds, she "can't help it, baby." sass, class, and ass make for a proper british dance-pop diva-in-training.

21. "luv u better," l.l. cool j
there's a reason james todd smith's been a force in the rap game for over 15 years, folks, and it's borne out quite nicely on this smash from his tenth album, 10. "luv u better" is simultaneously current and still true to cool j's own aesthetic; the neptunes provide nothing shock-of-the-new, but sturdy-and-dependable, a sinuous, shiny-smoove bump track. l.l. sticks to one of his tried-and-true lyrical themes, that of apologizing to his girl (what other rapper can do that - let alone repeatedly - and makes you believe it? none. that's another key). he's not the hardest, but he might be one of the hardest-working, and it shows. and pays off.

22. "lose yourself (from 8 mile)," eminem
more than "the way I am," more than "stan" even, this is eminem's most driving, urgent, downright intense single, and thus his best. when em raps "success is my only motherfuckin' option/failure's not," you believe it, you know it. the persona of rabbit, em's character in 8 mile, fits him perfectly; it seems to liberate the great blonde hope from having to "do" slim shady or marshall mathers and focus on someone else - someone we know is, in many ways, eminem himself.

"there's only on thing on this earth more powerful than evil. and that's us. any questions?"
sarah michelle gellar continues to amazes as buffy the vampire slayer. her final speech in tonight's episode was stunning, total emmy-winning material from anyone else, but since the emmys continue to refuse to see the brilliance of buffy, year after fucking year she's not even nominated. morons. you can take away the fights, the blood, the ass-kicking; they're not the point. this is the finest dramatic hour on television week after week.

23. "out of control raging fire," patty loveless duet with travis tritt
a classic gossamer and gunnysack pairing, two of the most pure country voices around duet on this ballad that sounds sad but is actually about to burst (back) into flames. raw, raw ache, and it hurts so good.

24. "7am," dirty vegas
dirty vegas made quite an impression with the mournful "days go by" in '02, but topped it with this album track, a peak-hour anthem about coming down. like underworld without the rough edges and with a more pop sense and sensibility.

"hi, I'm allen iverson. I haven't been in the news much lately, so I guess I'd better find something else to whine about. don't you feel sorry for me?"

Monday, December 16, 2002

#1 bootleg under 60 seconds: "I'm every windowlicker," freelance hellraiser
whitney gets thrown into the shredder, only to fall to the outstretched arms and waiting lips of aphex twin on the other end. then she gets tongue-kissed.

25. "freak like me," sugababes
the unlikeliest #1 hit anywhere in the world in '02 (let alone the u.k.), which is the perfectly nice (and previously, somewhat bland) femme pop trio sugababes covering a bootleg - that's covering a bootleg, folks. the boot in question is richard x/girls on top's "we don't give a damn about 'are friends,'" a masterstroke matching/mashing up gary numan's "are friends electric" and adina fucking howard's "freak like me": dodgy in theory, genius in practice. suddenly, the 'babes go from sub-tlc popsters to evil mutant robot spawn (that's a compliment, mind you) and deservedly conquer most of the world in the process, except of course for the states, 'cause we apparently just don't get it. our loss. if timbabland and aaliyah were digital, this is what their records would've sounded like.

particularly in the wake of newsweek's article on google, the 2002 year-end google zeitgeist is utterly fascinating. but since when is las ketchup a news story??

I just saw something completely jaw-dropping on espn. they're rerunning "brian boitano's skating spectacular 2001," which my roomie's watching. he called me in to see vladamir besedin & oleksiy polishchuk, billed as "acrobatic champions on ice." apparently, at least besedin is straight, which I find utterly amazing, because here's what I saw: 2 men wearing pvc hazmat bib overalls and rubber t-shirts doing lots and lots of homoerotic dance/acrobatic/skating moves whilst thumping germanic techno was playing. a couple of times during their routine, I really thought they were going to kiss. and besedin is fine as hell, in case you're wondering. just downright bizarre.

backpedal as fast as you can, trent. does this sound like a man feeling certain of his future, political or otherwise?

meanwhile, with gore pulling out of the 2004 presidential race, where does this leave the democratic party? usa today's susan page weighs in. as does cooped-up.

personally, I think the dems are now, officially, a party without a paddle, or something. say what you will about gore, but he actually (in these last couple of months, at least) stuck his neck out and spoke his mind, ignoring the pollsters and pundits (healthcare, anyone?). daschle and gephardt are ass-kissers, not much more or less. lieberman is thisclose to being a republican, anyway, and loathes free speech if he doesn't like it. very scary. edwards is too untested; he's serving his first term in elected office. something about kerry rubs me the wrong way, and I can't put my finger on it. as this point, I like former vermont governor howard dean, though I haven't heard enough of his policy views to know for certain - I do know that he put his ass on the line to support civil unions for gays, which speaks rather loudly (to me, at least). as susan page says, he has almost a bruce babbitt quality to him (had I not been 17 at the time, I would've voted for babbitt in '88). bush can be defeated, I know that. if he will or not is another matter entirely. I hope sen. clinton runs in '08...

26. "foggy mountain breakdown," earl scruggs and friends
the most unexpected joy I had watching cmt this year was seeing 78-year-old earl scruggs doing just what he does best, pickin' and grinnin' - at #3 on cmt's top 20 countdown. and not only can scruggs, as pure as bluegrass gets, keep up with the young'uns, he can outplay most of 'em. this jam session on a scruggs classic features everyone from leon russell to vince gill to paul shaffer to steve martin (yup, that steve martin - scruggs taught him to play the banjo in the '70s), but it's earl who holds it all together (and taught most of the artists on the track a thing or two). fresh as the day it was born.

27. "two months off," underworld
we were born slippy, perhaps, but then we burned out on ibiza and went back to the cold and damp of england, "off" says, where we can stay indoors and properly get down. thrusting, forcing, this is the sound of machine(s in) love, and the best thing underworld've done since their trainspotting anthem.

28. "teenage dancefloor (live)," vhs or beta
one of the finds of '02, vhs or beta make what's essentially disco music with guitar-bass-drums. not as up-to-date as new order, but not as gloomy as joy division (but with the same relative tenor on their more downcast numbers), vhs are more an indie-rock chic, or albini with happy feet. "dancefloor" builds and percolates, slowly sucking you in with its taut tension, until at the 2:38 mark, the lead guitar suddenly gets tired of waiting and bursts out a peal of joy, the rhythm section behind nodding an "oh yeah!" then it's into the bridge, where the rhythm guitar finally catches up with the lead, before the lead takes off again, boogieing down. not a vocal to be found here, and just to prove they can, this track (from their debut ep, on) is live, baby. what's in the louisville water? ship some of that mojo my way.

29. "let me touch you for a while," alison krauss + union station
delicate, nearly-erotic bluegrass from the genre's queen. "don't hardly know you/but I'd be willing to show you/I know a way to make you smile/let me touch you for a while": alison krauss is singing a song about a one-night stand?! its unexpectedness, and further, the fact that she makes it sound like a coo rather than a come-on, is what gets this record across and makes it succeed. dan tyminski's gorgeous harmonies don't hurt, either.

my new trivia question is up at waking ear. get it right, and you can win a personally-made hall and oates comp. but no cheating!

lots to post, since blogger was down last night and prevented me from doing so. but before I say anything else, please read this piece by jeff cooper. I'm not a dog person, and never have been; for most of my life, I wasn't even a pet person (until my parents got their kitty, kincaid. my roomie has a cat as well, phoebe, on whom we both dote). but I actually teared up reading cooper today.

Sunday, December 15, 2002

30. "losing my edge," lcd soundsystem
a burst of guitar squall gives way to a stripped-down casio drumbeat and a man saying "I'm losing my edge/I'm losing my edge/the kids are coming up from behind." he then tells you that he "was there, in 1968/at the first can show," and you know that this is no ordinary record. one of the most piss-taking tracks I've ever heard, "edge" recounts every major event is music crit/geekdom to an ever-swelling arrangement (add a bassline, cymbal crashes, keep going). it's dance music for rockers and rock for dancers. if it doesn't make you laugh, you're probably not supposed to. if it does, just lay back and enjoy it.

31. "you'll never leave harlan alive," patty loveless
patty loveless was born and raised in eastern kentucky, and born and raised on bluegrass, so it only made sense that she'd eventually record it. in the wake of the o brother phenom, her record company gave her the freedom to do just that, and damned if she didn't take full advantage. this is the music patty was meant to do; her supple voice is made for the genre. seeing her this past summer on the down from the mountain tour, "you'll never leave harlan alive," a tale of kentucky coal miners, was a highlight. largely performed acapella, loveless' performance of "harlan" gave me chills. the album version (from her triumphant mountain soul is just as strong, just as sad. here's hoping patty turns her back on contempo country and sticks with bluegrass; it'd be a loss if she didn't.

Saturday, December 14, 2002

the flood of year-end lists has begun; here's the onion's.

good for him! for once, I got it right: usc's carson palmer deservedly wins the heisman. and he's humble, too - how refreshing. be sure to watch chris fowler's interview with him.

well, we gave 'em a game, but there's a reason the hoosiers are ranked #6 in the nation: indiana 66, purdue 63.

"cleanin' out my closet" is eminem's least track of '02 because its production is so leaden and dull. like with pink's "party," however, bootleg versions breathe a completely new life into this "closet." jacknife lee upped the anger quotient earlier this year with his remodel/remix. the ever-genius go home productions, however, go in the opposite direction: "ain't no sunshine in my closet" pairs em's confessional with bill withers' sad, slow '70s soul, and brings out "closet"'s poignancy. their winning streak continues as their productions continue to amaze.

the greatest comic strip of all time, now online. ladies and gentlemen, I give you snoopy.com.

32. "a little less conversation," elvis vs. jxl
could someone please explain to me why the fuck this wasn't a #1 single in the u.s., as it was in the rest of the free world? 3:31 of sheer, sugary, shiny happy pop marvelousness. junkie xl revamps elvis' minor '68 single into a globe-stomping, nike-used anthem which retains its swinging, '60s feel whilst giving it a new, cherry-red corvette-with-a-v8 rev in its engine. if this song can't somehow bring a smile to your face, you officially have no soul.

pop-culture junkies, start your engines: entertainment weekly has their say on the best (and worst) of 2002. and whether you agree or disagree with their picks, their "entertainers of the year" list usually nails the pop-cult zeitgeist squarely on the head.

I never watched american idol, and find kelly clarkson's single utterly boring and a bit bathetic. but simon cowell is delicious - and deliciously nasty - and this photo made me laugh out loud.

next stop on the incredible, improbable ride of my big fat greek wedding: the oscars? it's already the highest-grossing romantic comedy, and the 38th highest-grossing film, ever in the u.s.

ellis-bextor or no, this new blur album is sounding increasingly interesting...
and if you visit paul, you can download "don't bomb when you're the bomb" and hear for yourself just how un-blur-like it is.

if you, like me, have spent sleepless nights thinking "damn, I wish I could hear big uk pop hits played on a casio keyboard in a tin can," well, now you can.

#1 contender for the uk christmas #1: "sound of the underground," girls aloud
pretty much any reason I could give is summed up by popjustice (ace! ace! ace!), who offer "100 reasons to buy girls [aloud]" (it makes more sense if you're british, but you should read this no matter where you live; this is a fucking sensational pop record).

here are some fine ideas in case you're stumped as to what to get me for christmas...

33. "thoughtless," korn
as opposed to a lot of bloggers (and other music geeks/lovers) I know, I think 2002 was a bad year for the traditional guitar-bass-drums rock'n'roll 4x4. by that definition, only three rock tracks made my top 50, by far an all-time low. this is the highest-ranked of those three, and it comes as a bit of a surprise. korn is a band I've always admired more than enjoyed; I understand what they're trying to do, and feel that they're honestly trying to push the parameters of the whole nu-rock school, but that they don't succeed as often as they think. and "thoughtless" certainly isn't some bold musical step forward; it's fairly standard korn - but in this case, the music perfectly pairs up with its lyrics. and where this stands out is lyrically. while the whole nickelback/staind school sit and moan about how shitty their teen years were, korn take a different tack on "thoughtless," coming across almost more (marilyn) manson-like than anything else (think "the fight song"). jonathan davis sounds like he got inside the heads of the columbine shooters: "I will not be drowned by your thoughtless scheming," he sings. and they weren't; sadly, they drowned themselves. when I was a teen, my soundtrack of alienation was the smiths; were I a teen today, it might well be this. more valuable than the entire recorded output of the strokes, this is a total triumph.

34. "earth (ben watt lazy dog remix)," me'shell ndegeocello
in its album version, "earth" sits somewhat limply, surrounded by better songs on an outstanding full-length. liberated from its original arrangement by watt's down-in-the-depths-deep remix, however, it glistens like a freshly polished diamond. ndegeocello's sultry vocal fits like legos with watt's subtly uplifting groove, full of harmonica riffs and chicken-scratch guitar. ben watt has become a masterful house remixer, his reworkings bathed in soul - and he doesn't forget the vocals. his sade and maxwell remixes were two of last year's best, and this is one of 2002's finest.

35. "red rag top," tim mcgraw
one of the best songs I've heard in a long, long time about lost innocence. "rag top" is a sad song, song beautifully by mcgraw, who's finally sounding like he understands, and is playing with, his vocal range - which is pretty damned fine. plus, when was the last time you heard "cabriolet" in any record?

oh, gaz...

Take the Which NHL Star Are You? Quiz

link via off-wing opinion, the best sports blog ever. also via off-wing is this story about cranky billy packer. I happen to agree with packer, by and large - there's something that just doesn't feel right about seeing high school roundballers on espn. [and being from indiana, I really really love high school basketball, trust me.] packer's a fine voice for march madness; the man has a nearly unrivaled passion for college basketball (I said "almost"). but for the love of dick, billy, do you have to start picking fights with vitale - in the press - in december?! we'd all appreciate it if you'd find something new to bitch about from your soapbox. vitale, like it or not, loves, promotes, and I'd argue, helps lift the profile of ncaa hoops. so billy, shut up.

36. "like I love you," justin timberlake featuring clipse
on which justin gets down with his bad (who's bad?) self, the neptunes do some tricky things with an acoustic guitar, and justin gives the drummer some ("drums."). the more I hear of justified, the more I like, and the more I'm convinced that j.t. may have some say in the direction in which pop is heading.

37. "backfired," masters at work featuring india
I never have gotten around to that very-long-ago promised piece on masters at work, the masters of deep house - which I really should get to one of these days. there's not much they do which doesn't thrill me, but their '02 album our time is coming was sadly one of those things: it seemed so unfocused, so cobbled-together (plus nearly half of its tracks had been previously released to us vinyl junkies on 12"s). but "backfired" is quite a highlight: working again with their muse india, kenny and louie created a soaring house anthem, simmering just below boiling, on which india again plays her born role, that of the jilted lover getting revenge. it's an utter triumph, and proof that after nearly 20 years in the game, maw have still got it in spades.

38. "oh boy," cam'ron featuring juelz santana
another hip-hop single that gets over in spite of, not because of, its rappers. just as the production is the key to "grindin'" (see below), cam'ron's not the draw here. it's the greatest gulping-orgasm sample since candyman knocked boots with lyn collins back in 1990: "boy/boy/boy/oh boy" is this single. I shudder to even imagine mariah's reworking on her new album. and as for cam'ron? he's no star, he's just one lucky motherfucker.

39. "grindin'," clipse
the sickest, most absurd production of the year comes of course from the neptunes. "grindin'" comes down to a bass drum and snare track playing almost exactly the same thing with the clipse rapping over top of it (plus some keyboard trills thrown in haphazardly). it's my favorite neptunes track of the year - which is not the same as my favorite song they produced (there's a couple of those further up the chart). the only reason "grindin'" is this low is because the clipse themselves are fairly boring. but this production? completely avant-garde.

the folks at splendidezine have some ideas as to, following tommy stinson's lead, which indie rockers should next join guns 'n roses.

yet another reason why marcello's the church of me is so blindingly brilliant:
"suffice it to say that [foo fighters' one by one] plays like an extended, angstier equivalent of george michael's "fastlove"... ."

as I prepare to plunge back in to my top 50, I hasten to note that the crew of the splendid bothsidesnow have not only posted a superb christmas issue, but have posted an even more superb 2002 music list, which is genius if only for this line, regarding pink: "if she continues to drift [into ever-darker rock - cf. "family portrait" - from her r-and-b past] at this rate, she'll be to the left of nine inch nails by easter. we can't wait."

also at espn.com, the ever-sharp andy katz reviews the first thirty days of the college basketball season.

remember casey martin? espn.com's adrian wojnarowski argues that you should, and I agree.

Friday, December 13, 2002

and now, ronnie has a blog. this is getting out of control.

#1 commercial of the year: "rbk a5," jadakiss
I tacked on a couple of special categories to my top 50 this year; this is the first. as I've previously discussed, I love jadakiss but dislike most of his songs. this is his best solo joint, 1:11 of 'kiss rapping about reebok's latest basketball shoes and allen iverson. the lyrics just trip off his tongue with so much love to give, but the track is the killer. every sound is from a basketball court: balls hitting the floor, swooshing through nets, sneakers squeaking as their wearers (presumably a.i.) pivot. "rbk a5" is one of the most truly original "records" of 2002.

Thursday, December 12, 2002

is someone at iowa paying off associated press voters? brad banks as ap's player of the year is fine. but kirk ferentz as coach of the year? over ty willingham? uh, no. ferentz has done a great job at iowa, molding together a slew of largely unheralded players into one of the nation's best teams. but willingham took a team, and program, in disarray and had a lot to do with bringing them back to (near) where they once stood. does he, overall, have more blue-chippers to play than ferentz? sure. but that doesn't lessen his achievement any, and neither should nd's nasty tenderization at the hands of usc. willingham is undoubtedly the coach of the year in my mind.

I do so love dissent and crankiness in the lakers' lockerroom. shame that phil'll find a way to squelch it come february or so.

40. "this side," nickel creek
nickel creek are kids (they're all younger than 25), and kids at their best are ambitious - which means that sometimes they try to reach a little further than they're able. but it also means they take glorious risks, such as covering pavement songs on their sophomore albums ("spit on a stranger," which came close to this list). but these kids are also smart, which means they know what their strengths are. those include really pretty - that's the only word for it - interplay between their dobro, guitar, and fiddle, and soaring vocal harmonies amongst all three of 'em. those also include the songs which all three of 'em write, such as sean watkins' "this side," a very primo sunny-day sway-along with a fiddle solo in its bridge. modern/contemporary bluegrass is not a contradiction in terms.

41. "party hard," andrew w.k.
he's either your best fantasy or worst nightmare of an '80s revival. andrew w.k. mixmasters the volume of hair metal, meatloaf-esque judicious use of keyboards, a vocal style best described as shouting, and some of the most utterly silly lyrics this side of licensed to ill (three of his album's twelve tracks include "party" in their titles) with pure, golden, pop smarts. "party hard" is a chemistry class experiment gone awry, bubbling over and leaving burnt black goo all over your shoes. if I'd had more fun in high school, I would've killed for this when I was 16.

fred, what's with all this yu-gi-oh! crap on your wishlist? please tell me it's to give as gifts...

42. "oops (oh my)," tweet
timbaland can still surprise you. so can missy. the proof is in "oops," the first single from missy's latest protege. it's a song about masturbation (see fred's treatise on why "female masturbation songs [are] so damn sexy"), but it doesn't really sound like it's about it - i.e., tweet's no christina amphlett. it just sounds sexy, but not as much about sex, kind of like those victoria's secret television commercials which somehow pull off the feat of actually being sexy whilst asking "what is sexy?" and the tim-and-missy production is utterly ridiculous. [also worth noting: tweet can surprise you, as well. a couple of songs on her album southern hummingbird are actually based around acoustic guitar, with no typically r-and-b production. she out-india.aries india.arie, meaning she's better.]

very funny: the six beer theory.

jason gross, the editor of perfect sound forever, on the year in rock criticism (from rockcritics.com).

drake 162, d-III grinnell 110.

43. "long time gone," dixie chicks
as downhome and country as homemade cornbread with syrup. with fiddles, banjos, no drums, and breathtaking three-part harmonies, the chicks take country back to the future.

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

I haven't mentioned recently how cool my friends are. among other fabulous prizes and merchandise, for my 32nd last week they got me an epson stylus cx32000 all-in-one printer/scanner/copier. it's quite impressive. and it's so big!

goodness, I'd love to see this grinnell team play. maybe if they beat drake, it'll make sportscenter.

the heisman trophy finalists were announced today, and it looks like they're basically right. I would've loved to see marshall's byron leftwich slip in there, but he'll have a fine, long nfl career as a consolation prize. if I were voting, I'd be torn between the late-season up-and-comers, but would likely have to go long - west-coast long - and give my vote to usc's carson palmer. palmer did what a great college football player is supposed to do: he stepped up when he had to, strapped his team on his back a couple of times, and decimated notre dame on the gridiron.

and for the record, I think dorsey has been more vital to miami's success than mcgahee; another really good tailback might have done as much as mcgahee (I said "might"), but dorsey's been the axis on which that team has spun.

44. "2months in a disco," go home productions
in a right and just (and riaa-free) world, ghp would've had about 4 international chart-toppers in '02. they're unquestionably one of my artists of the year; just check out some of their other "hits" that didn't make my chart:

"turn out the light slave! and gimme some rhythm"
"backstab me one more time"
"I dream of pussy"

but their second-best track this year was clearly "2months," which bizarrely and beautifully pairs the trammps' "disco inferno" and underworld's "two months off" in a soundclash with patricia arquette dialogue from true romance. it sounds like such an out-there pairing until you hear it; then it's stomach-kickingly obvious. suddenly, the trammps sound contemporary, and underworld has soul. not to mention that the cowbell from "two months" is blinding backing up "inferno"'s chorus. they're so cool...

45. "I would die 4 u," the space cowboy
this is what electroclash should sound like, but it's instead just good, squelchy house. as jumped-up as prince's original is, the space cowboy somehow makes "die 4 u" sound more driving, more sheerly, giddily propulsive. and he repeats the marvelous bridge ("you're just a sinner I am told," et cetera) three times. high point: the so, so white-boy "ooh-ooh-ooh!" at the 4:18 mark.

46. "she's my kind of rain," tim mcgraw
no, this is better than kenny loggins, as loggins had no soul nor rock in him. maybe if elton were american, or james taylor had balls. wait, wait, I've got it - if joni mitchell were a man (stop snickering). finally using his (commercial) powers for good rather than evil, tim sounds all '70s folk/rock/soul on his latest single, drenching his not-so-stellar (but certainly unique, i.e. odd: what the fuck does "she's my kind of rain" mean, anyway?!) lyrics in strings, piano, a slowly-picked guitar, and his own voice, taking on an unusually plaintive quality. he's singing in a higher register than normal, too, which fits the song and suits his delivery. gorgeously elegiac.

I had my 5,000th hit today - in just two months and one day! thanks, whoever you are. additional thanks to everyone who's linked me. [cheesy grin]

in this post on jenn's blog, everytime she mentioned "p.di" (princess diana), for some reason I thought of "p. diddy." I wonder if that was intentional...

this can only be a good thing. and wasn't it r. kelly who recently also said "the truth will be shown"?

things you don't expect to see: if you go real quick, i.e. right now, there's a photo of shania twain on the mtv news frontpage. directly related: four of billboard's top 10 albums next week are country (shania, tim, chicks, faith).

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

47. "fell in love with a girl," the white stripes
short, sharp, shock. 1:50 of some of the best true garage rock you've ever heard, and the best video of the year to boot.

the new york times and the village voice pick their favorite books of 2002. hurry, download and print the nyt list - it's only available for free until sunday the 15th.

the continually fucking ace popjustice, in the spirit of year-end lists, have posted their top 212 singles of 2002. gooey and delicious, but fat-free.

48. "dead nigga blvd. (pt. 1)," me'shell ndegeocello
"you sell your soul like you sell a piece of ass ... just 'cause civil rights is law doesn't mean that we all are fine/tell me, are you free?" leave it to me'shell to drop science when we need it most. on her fourth, most challenging, and finest full-length, the brilliant cookie: the anthropological mixtape, ndegeocello makes the personal political and the reverse as well. "blvd." takes her fellow persons of color to task, sampling dick gregory, and asking the questions that it seems no one in popular music is these days. that she does it all to a hellaciously funky slowburn of her own bassline (along with someone credited as "b." on "chocolate spaceship keys") just makes it all the more impressive. increasingly, with her combination of politics and sex and funk like two-week-old gym socks, it's looking like it might be me'shell who's this generation's george clinton. think about that for a hot minute, y'all.

49. "in your eyes," kylie minogue
well, she sure showed us, didn't she? back in the u.s. charts for the first time in over a decade - she never left 'em in the rest of the civilized world - and making the most of every moment, kylie gets my vote for queen of 2002. single after single of shimmering dance-pop simply nailed it, eventually forming a collection looking like so many gorgeous baubles on a christmas tree. apart from a few vocal effects, the majority of her fever album sounds simultaneously of-the-moment and timeless. "in your eyes" is example number one: simple relationship lyrics paired with a satin-smooth dancefloor production equals pop nirvana.

50. "somebody like you," keith urban
the first aussie country singer to make it big here since - olivia (I mean bigger than jamie o'neal)? - gets over on two things: his lovely looks (and locks), and his personality. urban's got an electric smile, and a voice to match, one which makes you believe every word he's singing. he's also an accomplished picker of both the guitar and the banjo, and it's his banjo which opens the song. thoroughly refreshing in these days of somewhat whitewashed nashville country, especially in a single that spent 6 weeks topping billboard's hot country singles & tracks chart. the song itself is a blissful declaration of love and devotion, the kind you only hear in songs and movies anymore - but with a sincerity that sucks you in.

my top 50 of 2002 is finally done. you'll get a smattering of the songs each day, till I'm at the top. as I reveal 'em, I'll add 'em to my "special yr-end edition" of the hitlist (to your left, people, to your left, right above justin).

and so it continues... first jenn, then bob, and today, my beloved roomate michael has started his own blog. [they're all personal blogs, as opposed to my music etc. blog, in case you're wondering.]

Monday, December 09, 2002

props like crazy to spizzazzz for blogging me. especially e-crunk, who rocks my hizzouse. I just wish more people remembered camp lo!

personal to lil missy: of course he's mad, he's now guesting on crap like celebrity fear factor and wb shows!

and then rod bleedin' stewart gave artist of the year to nelly. talk about a comedown.
in case you're curious for a rundown of the awards, it's here.

I missed some stuff. the show got boring, until the jam master jay tribute, introduced by chuck d. he pointed out the obvious - but that doesn't mean we still don't need to be reminded - that "run-d.m.c. is hip-hop's beatles ... every single rap act since owes them a debt of gratitude ... jam master jay was the battery of run-d.m.c." the tribute itself included nelly and his st. lunatics (who, truth be told, acquitted themselves nicely), queen latifah (doing "queen of rock"), naughty by nature, ja rule (who not only needed a fucking teleprompter, but slid in a pain is love reference - I suppose we should be happy he didn't mention that his new album is in stores now), busta rhymes, and of course steven tyler and joe perry. funny, isn't it, how "walk this way" for the most part isn't their song anymore, but run-d.m.c.'s (akin to aretha ripping "respect" from otis)? what I observed more than anything was the sheer joie de vivre of the perf/tribute, which really is the best way you could honor jmj anyway. well, well done. interesting note from dmc afterwards, too: that run-d.m.c. was "70% love and 30% talent." I'd disagree with him on the talent - that was always 110% - but the love of what they did always shone through where run, dmc, and jmj were concerned.

chris tucker just gave some presumably made-up we-feel-sorry-for-you award to michael jackson. he doesn't even look human anymore.

having steven tyler unexpectedly present the artist achievement award to cher was a nice touch, notably his like "she's reinvented herself so many times, she's got 19 patents on her ass." my roommate said, "it looks like she pulled out all of her old outfits, and wore them all at once" (apparently it was one her old bob mackies, looking circa-"half breed"). and it would seem that fox is running the show without a seven-second delay, since cher got away with saying "I've also had critics for the last 40 years saying I was on my way out. [pause] so fuck 'em."

it's not bad enough for fred durst to make the world listen to his own shitty band - he had to inflict puddle of mudd on us, too?

moby won electronic album of the year, for 18 - undoubtedly the only such award he'll take home this year. then he introduced a short piece on annie lennox, the recipient of the century award. yay.

I thought it'd be a highlight, and I wasn't wrong: justin timberlake gave the performance he should've at the vmas tonight, of his new single "cry me a river." wow. what gets me about justin, and the reason I keep saying he might be george michael without the men's room arrest, is the way he so effortlessly crosses over between pop to r-and-b and back again. any song which includes what sounds like a tuba sample (in its intro), a string section, a gospel choir, a sousa march snare tattoo, and j.t. beatboxing (the second single on which he's done that, for those keeping score at home, alongside *nsync's "pop") and somehow comes off even more soulful than g.m.'s "father figure" is a can't-lose proposition. and I like the goatee, too. it may not be justified (haven't heard it all, yet), but he's got a faith in him.

ashanti won seven or eight awards for having a tiny waist, I think.

the last five songs to get cut on the cusp of my top 50 of 2002:
"it's in our hands," bjork
"the lighthouse's tale," nickel creek
"sweetness," jimmy eat world
"freeek!," george michael
"murder on the dancefloor," sophie ellis-bextor

creed are performing atop a las vegas building. would it be so much to hope for a very strong gust of wind?

hot 100 single of the year: "how you remind me" by nickelback over nelly's "hot in herre" and "dilemma," and ashanti's "foolish." "remind" and "herre" are two of my five worst singles of the year, along with enrique's "hero," jennifer love-hewitt's "barenaked," and anything by pink (I suppose if I have to single one out, it'd be "just like a pill").

country singles artist: tim mcgraw, alan jackson, garth brooks (because he released so many singles this year?!) the also-rans, toby keith the winner. well, he certainly had a helluva year, though this will be the first year since '99 without him placing a song on my top 50. I'm sure he's devastated.

rap artist of the year: fat joe, ja rule, ludacris, and your winner, nelly, who then performed "hot in herrrrrrrre" by coming out of an oven. should've just turned up the heat in therre. though I will admit I'm with fred on the "ass is bodacious" line.

duo/group of the year: not linkin park, nickelback, or puddle of fucking mudddddd, but creed, whose human clay is also the best-selling catalog album of the year (i.e. older records). really, what can I say that hasn't been said before, apart from the fact that scott stapp appears to be packing on the poundage?

this evening, I'm going to blog the 2002 billboard music awards, a fine opportunity to piss and moan about the state of pop(ular) music this past year. first of all, apart from the show-opening performance by avril lavigne - shock! horror! she owns more than that one damned necktie-and-wifebeater outfit! - they've announced the ten finalists for artist of the year, which combines album and singles success in the ought-two. the finalists: ashanti, creed, eminem, ja rule, avril lavigne, linkin park, nelly, nickelback, pink, and usher. if this is truly how the year in music goes down, please kill me now.

p.s. two of those ten are on my year-end top 50. guess who?
p.s.2 the main reason I'm watching is for the big annie lennox salute.

speaking of, fred, here's another reason he's one of my daily reads: he describes keyboards as humid.

fyi, I'm almost ready to start posting my top 50 of 2002; I've whittled the master list down to 59 selections. are you ready, fred? [and in case fred, or anyone else, is wondering, there will be no appearances by nelly.]

what have I done? started a blogwar, apparently. it wasn't enough for jenn to have a blog; now bob has one. before I know it, the whole damned bowling league'll have 'em...

gene wojciechowski recounts the 2002 college football season using nothing but other peoples' words. required reading. and yes, there will be a quiz later.

oh, axl...

Sunday, December 08, 2002

jbr has a great piece up about the intersection of hair metal and mariah carey (that's the very shorthand version) over at the nuclear bunker.

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