Where I am today: the best of Brad Paisley

Until 2013 Brad Paisley was the most liked male country star by critics who didn’t write about country. His politics were right. He was easy on the eyes. No one disputed his guitar prowess. He wrote songs whose jokes didn’t put pathos on the curb. “And then he wrote that stupid song about racism,” asContinue reading “Where I am today: the best of Brad Paisley”

Taking the Electoral College to school

My man James Madison explained in 1787 why we’ve got an Electoral College: The right of suffrage was much more diffusive in the Northern than the Southern States; and the latter could have no influence in the election on the score of Negroes. In twentieth century English, Madison meant to say that to counter theContinue reading “Taking the Electoral College to school”

We live as we dream: the best greatest hits

Below are the greatest hits and compilations that have most shaped my listening. By no means is it complete. Several of the Essential and Gold entries supersede much fêted predecessors in breadth and, less often, cohesion. 1. Stevie Wonder – Stevie Wonder’s Original Musicquarium Vol. 1 2. De La Soul – Timeless: The Collection 3.Continue reading “We live as we dream: the best greatest hits”

You’re so gorgeous I’ll do anything: The best of The Cure

Although Robert and the Smiths scored only two American pop hits, ubiquity has given them the profile of a Foreigner or Coldplay. I saw this myself at a June live show. We’ll be hearing “Boys Don’t Cry until Robert Smith hobbles on stage with his black-painted walker. 1. A Night Like This 2. Boys Don’tContinue reading “You’re so gorgeous I’ll do anything: The best of The Cure”

America, we’re in for it

Ezra Klein on the president-elect’s hysterical tweets last night (to which I won’t link): I’ve noticed a lot of people on Twitter seem to think Trump’s tweet is scary because it’s false, but the actually scary interpretation is that he believes it’s true, which he probably does. It seems likely that Trump got his “information”Continue reading “America, we’re in for it”

Our life together: The best of John Lennon

I’m far enough away from December 1980 to say that John Lennon, like his misbegotten mate George Harrison, peaked in the early seventies and spend the rest of the decade recording albums because he had to, in the same way that a janitor has to take out the trash before clocking out. Even Double Fantasy,Continue reading “Our life together: The best of John Lennon”

Singles 11/25

Swede Sabina Ddumba earns my highest score this week in part by showing up every would-be dance track I’ve heard in the last month, including an even worse than I thought Charli XCX track, also reviewed. It’s the sort of week when Keith Urban making like Chris Isaak sounds good over turkey. Click on linksContinue reading “Singles 11/25”

‘I’m so confused’ — Colonel Abrams RIP

Although it never crossed over pop, “Trapped” was a fixture on Miami airwaves, a part of that 1985 sweet spot in which Italo disco (Nolan Thomas’ “Yo Little Brother,” Baltimora’s “Tarzan Boy”) and freestyle (Shannon’s “Do You Wanna Get Away?”, any early Lisa Lisa) converged on Madonna. Nevertheless, Colonel Abrams could smile: “Trapped” was massiveContinue reading “‘I’m so confused’ — Colonel Abrams RIP”

Get high like planes: the best albums of 2007

My favorite Kanye album (or at least the one I still listen to; same thing), favorite Arctic Monkeys (the only essential one), forgotten Public Enemy, rather good Tim McGraw and — get this — a Robert Wyatt album whose fragility refuses to dissipate into mere vaporousness. In 2007, I wanted an album that could’ve beenContinue reading “Get high like planes: the best albums of 2007”

Cuba and America: what Fidel Castro got wrong — and right

Gore Vidal in Empire: The black eyes were as quick as the wit; and the swift smile was both frank and agreeably murderous. “If you really want the Philippines,” said Hay, “you can have them. I’ve got too much time on my hands as it is.” “I don’t want them, dear fellow. I’ve got enoughContinue reading “Cuba and America: what Fidel Castro got wrong — and right”

Best films of 1958

1. Touch of Evil (Orson Welles) 2. Bonjour Tristesse (Otto Preminger) 3. The Horse’s Mouth (Ronald Neame) 4. The Tarnished Angels (Douglas Sirk) 5. Some Came Running (Vincente Minnelli) 6. Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock) 7. The Hidden Fortress (Akira Kurosawa) 8. Nazarin (Luis Bunuel) 9. The Music Room (Satyajit Ray) 10. Equinox Flower (Yasujiro Ozu) RUNNERS-UP:Continue reading “Best films of 1958”

Have I got a little story for you: The best of Pearl Jam

Watching Cameron Crowe’s Pearl Jam Twenty, I couldn’t escape the conclusion, based on Eddie Vedder, Jeff Ament, and Stone Gossard’s remarks, that the band thinks, “So, like, one of our best friends OD’d, we sent a tape to a surfer dude with a great voice, we jammed, and suddenly topless chicks at Lollapalooza were screamingContinue reading “Have I got a little story for you: The best of Pearl Jam”