Monday, December 22, 2008

Quinapalus' Honorable Mentions

Rock!! I'm going to start off the year-end list-making season with my honorable mentions. My Top 10 will follow in a couple of days. Happy Holidays everyone, I look forward to your lists. Let the nerdfest begin! (Or given the fact that we now blog all year, let the nerdfest continue!)

The reissue that blew my mind:

The Replacements- Let It Be
It was a real oversight on my part to have never really heard these guys before. Let It Be is a raunchy, angsty, hilarious ride that I wish I'd had the privilege of listening to when I was 10 years younger and felt exactly the way these songs sound.

The album that would've been on my Top 10 if it hadn't been my #1 last year:
Lupe Fiasco- The Cool
Last year this was my top album, and in retrospect it hasn't had the replay value I would have hoped. If I'd waited a year like all the big music publications to rank it (since it came out very late in the year in 2007) it might have dropped a few rungs. Still, I count myself a big Lupe fan, and hope this young MC doesn't carry through on his promise to only release 1 more album before retiring.

Better than I would've guessed, but not in my Top 10:

Guns n' Roses- Chinese Democracy
A mess of an album, though an occasionally glorious mess of an album. I genuinely liked large chunks of it, but it just didn't make it to the Top 10.

The album most likely to be seen by music historians as the touchstone album of our moment, which nonetheless didn't make my personal Top 10:

Girl Talk- Feed the Animals
I don't understand how this even exists given all the sampling involved, but a very talented artist has finally decided to say to hell with all the legal issues that have hamstrung the art of DJing for decades, and showcases a fascinating collage of sound the like of which hasn't been legal since the days of EPMD. In Stephen King's Top 10 list in Entertainment Weekly, he says that the album is "as dense and allusive as James Joyce's Ulysses, only you can dance to it." That's a difficult statement to begin trying to parse, (and I don't much want to try right now), but I will say that in a music-listening age when everybody wants to make their own mixtapes on their iPods, Girl Talk is an artist who takes mixing up disparate pop songs to its logical, dense, allusive, danceable conclusion. For me personally, I just didn't listen to Feed the Animals enough to warrant it cracking my Top 10, but Girl Talk is a fantastic DJ who is making music like nobody else right now, and he's worth checking out.


3 great songs from albums not on my Top Ten:

A fantastic song from a very uneven album:
Gnarls Barkley- Run

I liked GZA's album this year, but in the end it wasn't good enough for the Top 10. But this song kicks ass:
GZA- Life is a Movie

And the song of the year:
Beyonce- Single Ladies


drischord said...

This isn't to take away from Q's views on Girl Talk, but I read the rest of the Stephen King list via your link, and I have to say it might be one of the worst Top 10's I've ever come across. I'm not even going to say who's on there; don't want to spoil the surprise for everyone else. Let's just say I'd be surprised if anything from there makes any of our lists.

Quinapalus said...

Oh yes, indeed it is a weird list...and if it wasn't clear I thought his remarks on Girl Talk were pretty weird themselves. Which is not to take away from King's work performing in The Rock Bottom Remainders, that band he's occasionally in with Dave Berry.

dr. kittybrains said...

I actually think there's a lot of great music on King's list... the Newman is probably making my top 10... the Green album is excellent, and definitely a contender for me... and though I haven't heard the Buckingham yet, I've got a feeling I'd love it.

That said, Buckcherry at #1 sort of of discredits absolutely everything else.

So, um, yeah... nevermind.

drischord said...

Actually, I'd forgotten he'd listed those classic rockers/soulers on there. I was thinking mostly about James, Coldplay, Buckcherry, etc.

texplush said...

Randy Newmans latest is a bonafide classic and the Lindsay Buckingham is totaly great too.
Didn't Questlove produce the Green album? And for what it's worth, AC/DC is one of the best selling artists of all time and I've heard a lot of unpretentious corners touting the new albums return to form....

drischord said...

I'm never gonna like AC/DC as much as I like Mark Kozelek's covers of them.

Eric said...

I think Girl Talk merits a much more in depth, nerdier discussion. I find him (them? it?) fascinating conceptually, and his work touches on my most favoritest issues to discuss (copyright, music industry, originality, post modernism, what is art?) but at the end of the day, when I listen to it (and concededly, I don't own any of the albums- I've just listened on youtube) I just hear a kind of clever DJ mix. But one critic of his wrote about how unlike the early days of sampling, where the power was in taking bits out of context and repackaging them, the entire power in Girl Talk's stuff comes from the original work. (ie, it doesn't take a bit of an old song and use it to make a new hook-- it just takes the hook from the old song!). I think that doesn't quite give him enough credit, but it's a fair point. I guess it's that at the end of the day, I find Girl Talk more useful as a discussion topic than as music to listen to.

Quinapalus said...

You make an interesting point Eric, in that Girl Talk is essentially a great mash-up artist, which is not necessarily the same thing as a DJ in the classic sense. For anyone REALLY interested in a discussion of the early days of hip hop DJing, and the art of making hooks out of different parts of songs, this NPR interview with Grandmaster Flash is pretty fascinating:

On the other hand, as hip hop became pop, lots of famous samples did do something more like a mashup, taking a chorus, or otherwise very recognizable section of a song, and re-using the hook: examples range from NWA's "Express Yourself" to P-uff-D-Diddily-Daddy's "I'll Be Missing You" to Jay-Z's "Hard Knock Life" to Kanye's "Through the Wire". Of course, in those examples there are still new lyrics being rapped over the resulting beat, but Girl Talk just took it the next logical step by sampling old raps as well. And even in that he's not being totally original...the first really famous example I can think of of a similarly critically acclaimed mashup might be Danger Mouse's Grey Album, but I think Girl Talk's work is more dynamic and fluid and interesting.