Monday, January 15, 2007

So this is the...

...first anniversary of Isoceleria! (And you thought I was going to go for the Death Cab reference.) I'd like to commemorate by talking about music: the worst of 2006 and the hopeful best of 2007.

First, there were decent and good things happening in 2006 in music. The American releases of Rosenrot and Eye to the Telescope marked the best in old music that recently made it to the States; Light Grenades, Sam's Town, and Under the Iron Sea, three albums that I didn't necessarily like so much but that sort of grew on me as I listened to them more; the over-rated (but still appreciated) appearance of The Fray; and of course the (mostly) brilliance of The Crane Wife and Ganging Up on the Sun. Oh, and Lordi wins Eurovision, proving that guys playing hard rock in monster costumes are freaking awesome (as if we needed any proof). Now on to the not-so-decent parts.

Did we really need sexy to be brought back? Moreover, did we need it to be brought back by Justin Timberlake? I think there are about twenty words in this song, sixteen of which are a thinly veiled S&M fantasy. Timberlake was often praised as being having the best voice of whichever boy band he hailed from (because that's high praise). And this monstrosity of a song makes it so you can't understand what the hell he's saying anyway. This is one of the most vapid, hideous songs I've ever heard, and somehow it became one of the best-known and most widely played songs of the year.

I didn't really have anything against Nelly Furtado until that "Promiscuous" piece of crap appeared halfway through the year. Great. You're a ho. That means you have a good song?

The Black Eyed Peas need to be stopped. Now. What kind of a title is "My Humps" for a song? I know that "Let's Get it Started" was not from 2006, but people still play it in commercials and other high-visibility locations. And give me a legitimate definition of "phunk" as a verb, and I'll pay you five bucks. Interestingly, the one factor that might contribute the most to the Black Eyes Peas' downfall is Fergie's solo career. Ever heard the phrase "out of the frying pan, into the fire"? I don't know what's worse: "Don't Phunk with my Heart" or "Fergalicious." Why anyone would willingly submit himself/herself to listening to anything involving Fergie is completely beyond me.

Okay, so everybody knows how much all those other bands suck; here's a more controversial nomination. I think one of the worst "alternative rock" songs that received commercial publicity this year was "I Write Sins Not Tragedies" by Panic! at the Disco. The first time I heard this song, my initial reaction was something like "oh, wow! These guys sure know big words!" In the same way that Nelly Furtado's unabashed prostitutitude does not make her song good, Panic's cramming words like "rationality" into their chorus does not make their song good. To be fair, I've never seen Panic live, nor have I seen an interview with any of their musicians. But I have a funny feeling that Panic's vocabulary (and their unnecessarily long song titles) is an outgrowth of their arrogance; not the intentional grandiloquence of the Decemberists or my playful pass at elitism, but rather the egomania akin to Red Jumpsuit Apparatus.

The preponderance of rap on the singles charts need not be mentioned. The rap culture is so fleeting that artists popular now are not necessarily worth formulating an argument against because they'll be gone in a few years anyway.

So we're in pretty bad shape for the next year, right? Maybe not.

Singularity by Mae. Enough said. April 2007.

Coldplay has an album coming out in October. Popular opinion about X&Y was sharply divided; I rather liked it, but I know a whole lot of people who didn't. Hopefully the new one will be more universally seen as good.

Something Corporate is a band I believe to be vastly underrated. Jimmy Eat World is one that a lot of people recognize is good. Motion City Soundtrack is somewhere in the middle, not vastly popular but appreciated. And all three of bands are rumored to have something coming out this year. I'm looking forward to those.

And finally, if you're interested in pursuing this further (perhaps because your musical tastes are slightly off from mine) you can check a much more comprehensive list at

Currently listening: Transatlanticism, Death Cab for Cutie


Gina said...

Hmm... I might have to refute your opinion on "I Write Sins, not Tragedies," or at least bring a little perspective to it.

I agree with you that this isn't really the best song in the world, but there are certainly worse songs that one could pick for incredible popularity. Two songs that come immediately to mind that were immensely popular are "Hey Ya!" by Outkast and "Semi-Charmed kind of life" by Third Eye Blind.

Both are popular, and for that matter, so is "Tragedies," for their catchy tune. But comparing the nature of the first two's lyrics with the third, there is a huge disparity there. Hey Ya and Semi-charmed are both exceedingly vulgar songs, centered around sex and love, two topics which a) shoved at us daily and b) revolve around a microscopic portion of the human experience. They're useless songs that are fun to dance to, and that's about it.

Panic!'s song, in contrast, actually talks about something: how humans treat one another, and how we treat common things like promiscuity so lightly. It's questioning, what happened to the time when things like that were said behind closed doors, where we had a sense of poise and rationality when dealing with such issues?

It's true, very few people choose that song for popularity for those reasons, but when looks at somethng that achieves massive popularity, I think among those songs this is one of the better ones.

And besides, I think it takes an extra sliver of talent to write lyrics to longer words (Come on, "Supercalafragalisticexpialidocious") is a classic). Most artists today can't do it, for they don't have the vocabulary to do so, but that's something I'd want to reward Panic!'s writer for, not condemn him.

BUT that's about all I have to say.

Anonymous said...

Interestingly, the "song" "My Humps" was the inspiration for me to purchase an Ipod so that I wouldn't have to hear "My Humps" at the gym ever again. Yes, there were others, but this particular "song" grated on my nerves so much that I went out and spent $179 plus tax. It worked so well that I haven't heard this monstrosity since.