Top 10 Albums of 2014 (in no particular order)

2014 might have been kind of blah for pop music (I MISS U RIHANNA PLEASE RELEASE NEW MUSIC) except for the kween of pop Taylor Swift who released a synthpop lite record that turned out to be quite great (except SHAKE IT OFF, I legit do not fuck with that song).

2014 was killer for r&b and dance music, including surprising releases from D’Angelo and Aphex Twin, who maybe only tru 90s kids remember (ie: us old people). Mainstream rock music was boring as ever, and the indie releases that were hyped up didn’t really do much for me other that put me to sleep, so uh, I will be over here bopping to “Get On Your Knees” by Nicki Minaj and Ariana Grande while male music critics continue to pretend that indie rock is going to save the world or whatever.

THE LIST:

  1. Caribou- Our Love
  2. The Juan Maclean- In a Dream
  3. FKA Twigs- LP1
  4. Aphex Twin- Syro
  5. Freddie Gibbs and Madlib- Pinata
  6. Run The Jewels- Run The Jewels 2
  7. Katy B- Little Red
  8. D’Angelo- The Black Messiah
  9. Taylor Swift- 1989
  10. Tinashe- Aquarius

Honorable Mentions: Nicki Minaj- The Pinkprint, Charli XCX- Sucker, One Direction- Four, YG- My Krazy Life, White Lung- Deep Fantasy

10 Underrated Michael Jackson Songs

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[All songs from his solo career only.]

1. Baby Be Mine [Thriller, 1982]

I know what you’re thinking; how can a song from an album that sold 30 million copies in the US alone be underrated? Well in an album with so many iconic songs, “Baby Be Mine” consistently gets overlooked. It is the best jam on that album, no doubt. I play it all the time at my DJ nights and people bop every time.

2. Stranger in Moscow [HIStory, 1995]

One of Michael’s most powerful and emotional songs. It flopped in America and was a moderate hit around the rest of the world. The HIStory period was not well-regarded by the press and most of the songs on the album were greatly overlooked, in my opinion. The melody to this song is beautiful and as usual, Michael’s vocals are transcendent and also very vulnerable. The “how does it feel” part gets me every time, man. Tame Impala recognized the genius and did a rad cover of this song earlier this year.

3. Give In To Me [Dangerous, 1991]

Michael always tried to do one rock song on each album and this is one of his most passionate and filled with sexual tension. Slash from Guns and Roses plays guitar.

4. Girlfriend [Off The Wall, 1979]

Paul McCartney allegedly wrote this song for Michael but ended up recording it with Wings first. Michael’s version is far superior and is a nice mid-tempo breezy number on an album full of dance floor bangers.

5. They Don’t Care About Us [HIStory, 1995]

Another song from this era that was big worldwide but barely made a blip in the US due to some controversial lyrics and bad press at the time. I really like all of MJ’s songs about his haterz and this song in particular always had a killer military inspired dance routine when he performed it live.

6. Another Part of Me [Bad, 1987]

Some people may remember this song from the Captain EO 3D film at Disney World and it’s a jam!! As you can see in the link above, it was a killer song to perform and Michael really got into it. The vocals on this song are flawless.

7. Who Is It [Dangerous, 1991]

A rare song where Michael sings in his lower register, giving it a very sultry energy. The Dangerous album had five Top 20 singles and this was one that was overshadowed by the media hoopla surrounding the others.

8. Dangerous [Dangerous, 1991]

I love that Michael always tried to keep in touch with music trends, and for the Dangerous album he worked with new jack swing producer Teddy Riley to keep things “fresh.” This song is the prime example of MJ incorporating those modern r&b and hip hop elements into his music but still making it “his.”

9. You Rock My World [Invincible, 2001]

This whole era was pretty much written off by the critics, but I think this song is a nod to MJ’s Off The Wall album but modernizing it for what was then the “TRL audience” of the early 2000s. And the chorus is catchy as hell.

10. Dirty Diana [from Bad, 1987]

I just think this is his greatest song ever and should be on ALL THE LISTS EVER.

What do you think are Michael’s most underrated songs?

Kathleen Hanna, on Feminism

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To me, feminism is also about liberating men from the stereotypes that they have to be the breadwinners, that they have to be a certain way, and they can’t explore their feminine sides. That’s crippling men. That’s crippling how fully men can experience their emotional lives and everything. They have to bond with each other by putting women down? That’s sad. What about having real friendships? Wouldn’t that be great?

(via http://katbeee.tumblr.com/post/68193182741/to-me-feminism-is-also-about-liberating-men-from )

Davy Jones is the best teen idol of all time.

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Sure, Ricky Nelson, Frank Sinatra and Elvis predated Davy, and yeah, maybe Leif Garrett and David Cassidy had better hair, and Michael Jackson and Justin Timberlake had more solo success, but Davy is still the best.

Davy Jones represented all that’s great about teen idols. Physically, Davy was all you could ever ask for in a fave rave. Small in stature as to not scare away the young girls, with the prerequisite Beatle haircut (or Prince Valiant do, depending on the year), a youthful face, big doe eyes, and a toothy grin. But he had something that other teen idols of the time didn’t have: a cheeky mischievous sparkle behind those eyes and a rebellious spirit.

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One Direction Helping UK Bands Sell Records in America

I was reading this article today about One Direction’s impact on sales for other artists, and how they essentially broke “Talk Dirty” by Jason Derulo in the US and made Little Mix a top 10 selling album and previously, people like Ed Sheeran and Olly Murs have credited them for making their music more popular in America.

I thought it was really interesting to hear how just a single tweet by one of the band members could have such an impact on sales, or in this case, just featuring that Jason Derulo song in their livestream. I always think it’s nice when popular bands try to give props to lesser known bands in order to make them more popular.

In the 1990s a similar thing happened with Oasis and specifically Noel Gallagher, where he had such an impact that any band he mentioned liking became a huge seller (this subset of Britpop that Noel liked was dubbed “Noelrock” and consisted of bands like Cast and Ocean Colour Scene).

In the 1960s, teen magazines wrote a bunch of articles linking Buffalo Springfield to The Monkees after Peter mentioned how much he enjoyed their music, which gave them more of a national profile. A similar thing happened with Tim Buckley and Frank Zappa appearing on their television show.

Nostalgia and Pastiche in Music: Being Derivative Isn’t Always Bad

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“Now everyone has to be derived from somebody or something. Nothing new is born without parents. Poets stand on the shoulders of earlier poets and musicians, from the long-hair classicists to the long-hair popists, are also links in a chain of influence”

This is one of the best responses I’ve read about the concept of “manufactured” music being inferior to “real music” (what is real music and who decides, I wonder).

A lot of bands are criticized for being manufactured now, but the Monkees got much of the same critique when they came out. I’ve never understood who it was that decided that in order for music to be good and valued it had to completely break from the norms of what went before, so it’s nice to see a music critic in that era say the same thing.

I believe that nostalgia is just as powerful as something totally new. The Monkees obviously borrowed a lot from the Beatles and other successful British Invasion bands, but they also had an undefinable something that made them seem new and fresh, and stand out. That X-Factor, if you will.

A lot of great bands used nostalgia and derivative imagery and sounds in the development of their music and did it with 100% full intent and purpose.

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Davy Jones on the Ed Sullivan Show , Feb. 9, 1964

On February 9, 1964: More than 73 million people watched Davy Jones and the cast of Oliver! on the Ed Sullivan Show. The same show also featured the American TV debut of a band called the Beatles. Maybe you’ve heard of them.

Davy recalled: “I was performing a song from Oliver! on The Ed Sullivan Show when the Beatles made their American debut. I saw this amazing reaction and I thought “I want a bit of this- this is good.” I remember getting into the lift with Ringo Starr. I was always a cheeky little guy. He had a cold at the time and I remember saying, “Let me blow your nose for you, I’m closer than you are.” Ringo said, “I know.”