Welcome to the past: Brad Paisley

In 2009 Brad Paisley wrote a song about the significance of Barack Obama’s election called “Welcome to the Future.” Now that 2011 looks more like  “Hello Past” and the beautiful dreams of post-partisanship melted faster than polar ice caps, Paisley himself looks a little dowdy, as shown by opening his new album This is CountryContinue reading “Welcome to the past: Brad Paisley”

When Donna Summer added prominent rock guitars to her sound, the results were uneven. For every “Hot Stuff” and “Cold Love,” there was a “Nightlife,” on which producers Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellote abandon the experiment at the halfway point and revert to the pre-/post-disco motorik thud they invented. This rejected track from the shelvedContinue reading

“The war with the White House only stirred ratings:” Roger Ailes

I should have posted it last week, thus risking the possibility that anyone who cares has read it, but New York‘s profile of Roger Ailes is a must read. The most salient fact should not surprise: Ailes is the GOP’s kingmaker, to whom every candidate must grovel and offer the proper obeisance. The second pointContinue reading ““The war with the White House only stirred ratings:” Roger Ailes”

Never could learn to love that list and to call it mine

What’s most amusing about TIME’s list of the worst Dylan songs is how they dismiss them with the smug facility the writers used to praise them at the time of their release: “Tight Connection to My Heart,” for example, was in 1985 “a playful bit of lovelorn apocrypha.” My beloved “Tight Connection…”  – one of his bestContinue reading “Never could learn to love that list and to call it mine”

Subtext as text: Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way”

I don’t need the encouragement, but these kids do. My students do too. Until “Born This Way,” Lady GaGa counted as a gay spokesman in both obvious (declaring her support for “marriage equality”) and subtle but proven ways (the by now predictable costume changes, which she confuses for stylistic shifts). If you didn’t watch herContinue reading “Subtext as text: Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way””

Twenty-five years ago today: Pet Shop Boys’ “Please”

To commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of a still unheralded debut, John Freeman gives Pet Shop Boys’ Please another listen. My own take from 2005. Before the video for “Domino Dancing,” before the imperial phase commemorated by the singles from Actually, I want to know how many fans who bought Please in 1986 knew the BoysContinue reading “Twenty-five years ago today: Pet Shop Boys’ “Please””

Rolling awful phrases thread

As prescient as George Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language” continues to be, he could not have foreseen how the language of commerce, sports, and talk radio would sully discourse. I hear or read the following phrases and words more times a week than I can note. In most cases, the Latinates transform unwieldy nounsContinue reading “Rolling awful phrases thread”