The best Gene Hackman performances

Like Jeff Bridges and Jack Nicholson, Gene Hackman formed part of a new generation of actors whose coming of age as the studio system collapsed allowed them to flit from lead to supporting performances. And like Bridges, Hackman is an actor without vanity. Without resorting to makeup, costumes, or accents — without changing a noteContinue reading “The best Gene Hackman performances”

Ranking #36 singles, U.S. edition: 1990-1996

Dutifully CTRL-F’ing these small quakes this morning, I thought I’d have to give it up. I remembered “Bad Girl” and Michael Bolton’s blitzkrieg on “Georgia on My Mind” and Tears For Fears’ pensive, leisurely “Woman in Chains,” the latter the most ambitious tune here. I didn’t know Sunscreem’s club monster “Love U More” and, wow,Continue reading “Ranking #36 singles, U.S. edition: 1990-1996”

Ranking #12 singles, U.S. edition: 1990-94

See this man? During an ignoble era, he purloined a bushel of Grammys. I would have preferred Cheap Trick, Nia Peebles, Stevie B, name’em. Not a great period for #12s, as the list shows, but 2 Pac’s is all-time, Tevin Campbell one of Prince’s best contributions to another artist, and Heavy D’s such a solidContinue reading “Ranking #12 singles, U.S. edition: 1990-94”

Songs that peaked at #5: 1985-1989

As we approach the era in which I’ve staked a few thousand words, I see the gap between Actual Radio Hits and songs I never heard on Y-100 Miami (WHYI) yet heard on the Shadoe Stevens-hosted American Top forty: Deon Estus and George Michael’s imperial-era hit “Heaven Help Me,” Madonna’s “Angel,” and Jeff Healey Band’sContinue reading “Songs that peaked at #5: 1985-1989”

Ranking #1 mainstream rock tracks, 1991

Defining the Poppy Bush Interzone as it manifests itself on Billboard’s mainstream rock tracks chart demands a reckoning with Van Hagar. No less than three Hagar horribles hit #1 this year, with the execrable “Poundcake” leading the charge (fattening, fake butter-rich, a stone in the belly). The Black Crowes provided new blood for tired bodies.Continue reading “Ranking #1 mainstream rock tracks, 1991”

Defining the Poppy Bush Interzone

Congressman, ambassador to the United Nations, envoy to China, RNC chair, and CIA director, George Herbert Walker Bush became the first vice president since Martin Van Buren to win the presidency without his predecessor dying on him and so far the last president in forty years to lose reelection. His term could not have goneContinue reading “Defining the Poppy Bush Interzone”

The best films of 1990

For a studio to give writer-director Charles Burnett the dough to make a poetic, sometimes purposely abstracted film about contemporary black life in 1990 strikes me as an act of willful financial sabotage; but years of dwelling in the cultural memory of cineastes resulted in a Criterion release last year. Streaming it in the autumn,Continue reading “The best films of 1990”

You dance to disco and you don’t like rock: Ranking Pazz & Jop’s 1993 singles

At least this chart had diversity; no list can rule governed by consensus, right? So I expect resistance to what I did with Tag Team. I expect Fort Sumter without end for what I did with Radiohead’s whinge. Overall an unimpressive list considering this was PBI’s late Cretaceous Period. Many singles we consider classics areContinue reading “You dance to disco and you don’t like rock: Ranking Pazz & Jop’s 1993 singles”

Marie Fredriksson — RIP

Hello! You fools! I loved you! Roxette’s fluorescence was brief, and their songs offered as many layers as an almond cracker, but during the Poppy Bush Interzone when radio hits were getting dirge-ier singles like “Dangerous” and “Dressed for Success” brought the silliness and the hooks; in the era of Paula Abdul and Maxi PriestContinue reading “Marie Fredriksson — RIP”

Offer up your best defense: Ranking Pazz & Jop 1989

Welcome, boomers! Pull up a chair. VH-1 has videos for you. In this segment, Don Henley will stand in a barley field scowling at the young man he will sullenly deflower. In another, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards ogle each other like a drunk middle-aged couple who remember why they dug each other’s ass cracks.Continue reading “Offer up your best defense: Ranking Pazz & Jop 1989”

Ross Perot — R.I.P.

Goodbye, Weird Plutocrat Guy, one-third responsible for the first exciting presidential race of my lifetime. Empty the pockets of H. Ross Perot, called “H.” Ross Perot by Dave Barry, and the following aphorisms jingle like fresh dimes: If someone is blessed as I am is not willing to clean out the barn, who will? and:Continue reading “Ross Perot — R.I.P.”

Ranking Bryan Adams’ American top forty hits

I knew ranking him would produce fascinating results: here’s a guy with a catalog vast enough to place in every category, and white enough to endure despite its natural redundancy. Resistant to scrutiny, obsequious to a work ethic that encompasses disco boogie, the AOR thud, and pop with an electronic gloss, Bryan Adams can’t helpContinue reading “Ranking Bryan Adams’ American top forty hits”