The peril of singing in character and wearing a headband: ‘Money for Nothing’

“’Money For Nothing’ was a sort of satirical broadside against MTV that also worked as an advertisement for MTV,” Tom Breihan observes in his post on Dire Straits’ only American #1. “It’s complicated. Everything about it is complicated.” Well, possibly. Breihan: There are a lot of divides at work in “Money For Nothing” — betweenContinue reading “The peril of singing in character and wearing a headband: ‘Money for Nothing’”

Stinkin’ thinking: A Rolling Stone albums ballot

When asked to contribute at the dawn of quarantine to Rolling Stone’s first update of 500 Albums Guaranteed to Piss You Off, I leapt at the chance to fuck with the proceedings. The editors didn’t need another voter with three Beatles, two Stones, and one Kind of Blue, no?

The drama that you’re craving: Sleater-Kinney

Rob Sheffield’s nine or ten out of ten review in Details published in the spring of 1997 introduced me to Sleater-Kinney. Unacquainted with Liliput, Essential Logic, Public Image Ltd, and the most violent aspects of post punk, I had no programmed responses to Dig Me Out. The indissoluble unit that was Corin Tucker’s vocals, CarrieContinue reading “The drama that you’re craving: Sleater-Kinney”

Weightless, semi-erotic: Interpol in 2007

As nostalgia objects, Interpol are more fun than when they fooled a lot of us into thinking they were going to be a great band. Few kids of either sex took Duran Duran seriously — those sassy boys with impeccable makeup and two-finger synth hooks. Turns out I was the one who took Interpol tooContinue reading “Weightless, semi-erotic: Interpol in 2007”

‘You know I could never be alone’

Distorted by a middle section that chews on the blues without swallowing it, Sticky Fingers is the least of the great albums the Stones released Beggars Banquet in 1968 and Exile on Main Street in 1972, but you’d have to be a churl to end that clause at “1972.” On Exile, Mick Taylor would demonstrateContinue reading “‘You know I could never be alone’”

The danger of gender-based criticism

One of my longstanding biases, shared with other male critics, is a tendency to align gender and analogies. I’m working on it. Liz Phair must come up when reviewing Speedy Ortiz — why not Luna, particularly the Luna of Penthouse, telling smart stories about romance over drinks in riverfront studios? I mentioned Sheryl Crow whenContinue reading “The danger of gender-based criticism”

On poptimism, ubiquity, and Rod McKuen: EMP Pop Conference 2015

Flying home from another EMP Pop Conference while my seat companion laughs aloud reading David Baldacci provides a good chance to think about the opening keynote panel on Thursday, April 15, often the conference’s intellectual ballast. This year’s opening night subject was the rockism vs poptimism debate. A comment by Joshua Clover two days laterContinue reading “On poptimism, ubiquity, and Rod McKuen: EMP Pop Conference 2015”

‘It all dies in the room’

Rob Tannenbaum had fun reporting what Jann Wenner told him about how induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame doesn’t work. No surprises, just details. The pullquote is in a paragraph noting the exclusion of Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, “and other recent pop stars”: “It was easy enough in the beginning,” says JannContinue reading “‘It all dies in the room’”

The derision of the fangirl

Thanks, Sandra Song, for reminding me of afternoons spent around crying men wracked with sobs over a home run: The continual derision of the “fangirl” is damaging, it perpetuates the idea that girls act one way, and boys another. Within all of this, there are intrinsically sexist and ageist tropes at play, an all-too-derisive viewContinue reading “The derision of the fangirl”

“Boys don’t sing Madonna”

Tonight, after I dream of dancing with someone else, I remember what I wrote eight years ago about Like a Virgin and The Immaculate Collection: Since my parents didn’t get cable until 1999 I never dismissed Madonna as a videos-yes-songs-meh Camille Paglia-promoted pleasure as lots of frivolous people did too long into her career. IContinue reading ““Boys don’t sing Madonna””