Ranking #2 singles, UK edition: 1995-1996

During one of the most laddish eras in English pop music, I took sides because the young are the audience for music press manipulations. 1994=1996 was peak Select and Q reading for Young Adult Soto, a three-year period when enthusiasms obscured sexual development. In the sorry case of les frères Gallagher the expression of enthusiasmContinue reading “Ranking #2 singles, UK edition: 1995-1996”

Conservatism’s long war against democracy

Families are unhappily alike in many ways, one of which is boasting a relative who will corner you at a dinner to lecture, eyes gleaming with the knowledge he screenshot on Wikipedia, about the United States being a republic, not a democracy. The relative will place the last word in scare quotes or emphasize itContinue reading “Conservatism’s long war against democracy”

Ranking #6 singles, UK edition: 1992-1993

For all the nonsense boomer American critics have cracked since the 1960s about the English’s inattention to rhythm, the number of what we called “techno” top tens suggested producers had solved the problem by programming the rhythm and setting it on “pummel.” The Shamen and Altern-8 (!) share space with pop house classics by RobinContinue reading “Ranking #6 singles, UK edition: 1992-1993”

Ranking #2 singles, UK edition: 1993-1994

Other than “Always On My Mind,” no other Pet Shop Boys cover demonstrates their talent for contemporizing a song for the sake of a ravaged homosexual community looking for the promise of West Side Story‘s “Somewhere” (another PSB cover a few years later): a place where life is peaceful, the air is free, the menContinue reading “Ranking #2 singles, UK edition: 1993-1994”

Live blogging the Oscars 2021

11:16 p.m. Will Smith, after coming after Chris Rock, accepts Best Actor for King Richard, compares himself to the patriarch of the Williams clan defending his family. 11:10 p.m. I’m not a Cumberbatch fan at all — I don’t understand his attraction as an actor — but he’s the best performer in this category, theContinue reading “Live blogging the Oscars 2021”

Soto’s bold Oscar predictions 2021

Believe me, I’ve appreciated the glacial pace at which the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has emboldened its tastes after fifteen years of Slumdog Millionaires, The King’s Speech, The Artist, and Argo (not that it was all The Magnificent Ambersons before 2008). But in a Best Picture category boasting a couple of myContinue reading “Soto’s bold Oscar predictions 2021”

Ranking #6 singles, UK edition: 1972-1973

Because America came to David Bowie late, I like to imagine “The Laughing Gnome” as a sop to the younger listeners who loved him as Tina Turner in Labyrinth. With its chipmunk voices, its ha-ha-ha-hee-hee-hee’s and roasted toadstools, “The Laughing Gnome” is ridiculous as concept and performance, but so was the Bowie of “The WidthContinue reading “Ranking #6 singles, UK edition: 1972-1973”

Ranking Elton John’s American top 40 singles: 1980-2022

A safe distance from the mega stardom he enjoyed during the Nixon-Ford years if not the excesses without which his ambition might not have been enough rocket fuel, Elton John’s consistent and often grand 1980s pop career surprised observers who thought he would ignominiously fade after 1976’s admissions. As the list shows, he scored aContinue reading “Ranking Elton John’s American top 40 singles: 1980-2022”

‘Master’ is a solid campus comedy, not so good at horror

Making a horror film about the collisions between white elites and Black faculty and students looks like a redundancy when the latter live literal horror stories on campuses daily. Master, Mariama Diallo’s writing-directing debut, is strongest when chronicling the embarrassments suffered by minorities in exclusive eastern colleges than as a spook story; deformed portraits andContinue reading “‘Master’ is a solid campus comedy, not so good at horror”

Ranking #4 singles, UK edition: 1968-1969

Richard Harris quavered himself into existential despair over a wet Duncan Hines cake. Simon & Garfunkel doo-doo-doo through a ditty both underwritten and overwritten (“Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you” is the kind of too-perfect sentence that Suzanne Vega would emulate). “One, Two, Three O’Leary,” unknown to me, is another icky narrative aboutContinue reading “Ranking #4 singles, UK edition: 1968-1969”