...he co-wrote four songs on the Backstreet Boys’ self-titled 1996 debut album, one of which, “Quit Playing Games With My Heart,” went to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. And with that, his career took off. You probably know most of what comes next. For instance, you probably know that, to date, Martin has co-written 19 songs that went to #1 on the Hot 100, and another 36 that charted in the top 10 but didn't manage to hit #1. You probably know that many of those songs were recorded by Katy Perry (who has recorded 10 top-10 songs with Martin), Taylor Swift (six top-10 songs with Martin), Britney Spears (also six), P!nk (five), and the Backstreet Boys (five). You might also know that Martin’s 19 chart-toppers put him at third place on the all-time list behind Paul McCartney (32) and John Lennon (26). Stereogum's Michael Nelson on superproducer/songwriter Max Martin, complete with a list of 30 Essential Max Martin Songs.
The Magician was initially a mysterious mixer who released Magic Tapes, mixes of disco, house and pop without tracklists, challenging listeners to compile tracklists themselves, and they did. But he stepped out from behind the curtain, remixing Lykke Li's "I Follow Rivers" and later his debut single, "I Don't Know What To Do" feat. Jeppe. In 2013, he signed with Parlophone, but has continued making his Magic Tapes. Last month, he celebrated his 50th mix with Mixmag TV and Arches. [more inside]
Noted computer program and pop singer Hatsune Miku performs on The Late Show with David Letterman. What's a Miku!? you ask, and Buzzfeed answers in list form. Previously on Metafilter.
The Perfect Beat is an article by The New Yorker's music critic Sasha Frere Jones where he lays out the reasoning behind his "Perfect Recordings" project, essentially a list of 200 songs that fit his personal criteria for perfection. The lists are available as Twitter timelines (volumes 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5), Spotify playlists (volumes 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5) or as one 200 song Rdio playlist. Frere-Jones answered some questions about the project and spoke about a few individual songs in The Guardian.
In 1983 a man who called himself Lewis recorded and self-released an album called L'amour. No one much noticed at the time but his album was rediscovered in 2007 and slowly became a cult classic. It was rereleased by Light in the Attic Records earlier this year and has been received very well by the music press. When the record label and other people went looking for the artist, a former stockbroker from Calgary whose real name is Randall Aldon Wulff, they drew a blank. Some think he is deceased but others are looking for him all over Canada. And now another Lewis album from 1985 has been found and rereleased, and apparently he recorded many more. The ethereal quality of the music and the attendant mystery compels people to search within the music for some kind of answer to this riddle of a man. [more inside]
Lana Del Rey: Why a Death-Obsessed Pop Siren Is Perfect for Late-Stage Capitalist America (mirrored at Salon.com)
Lana Del Rey is pushing the envelope, and here's her message, delivered with a languid pout: 21st-century America is a rotting corpse, deadlocked culturally, economically, and politically. Since there's nothing we can do about it, let's enjoy ourselves as the body-politic disintegrates, perhaps by savoring some toothsome bites of the past: candy-colored Super 8 films, juicy jazz tunes and clips of sultry screen sirens. The future is a retrospective.
All of this echoes the ancient danse macabre, the dance of death, the motif that sprang out of the medieval horrors of war and the plague. It's a plea for fevered amusement while you've still got time.
Has pop music criticism really devolved into lifestyle reporting as alleged by this Daily Beast article? The response by Slate reviewing Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream". [more inside]
The People's Songs: The Story of Modern Britain in 50 Records is a radio series on BBC written and narrated by Stuart Maconie. Each episode focuses on one particular pop song and tells the story of the song as well as what social trends it mirrored, for instance the episode on Telstar by The Tornadoes focuses on the technological progress, especially in space travel and music, and the story of songwriter and record producer Joe Meek. 25 episodes have been broadcast, including ones on Dizzee Rascal's Bonkers and 21st Century Britain, Cornershop's Brimful of Asha and the British-Asian experience , and Serge Gainsbourg's Je T'aime and sex. There are 25 more to come. There is also a blog and profiles of the songs already discussed. [Previously on MeFi]
The 'About' page of UK music website Popjustice also doubles as a pop fan manifesto.
The story of the ABBA sound. 8 minute Swedish documentary. Click the "CC" button for subtitles.
Poet and poetry/film/music/culture critic Joshua Clover has been posting excerpts from his upcoming book 1989: Bob Dylan Didn't Have This to Sing About over at his blog. [more inside]
Of all the pretenders to the throne of "British Elvis" in the pre-Beatles UK music scene, none had the swagger or moves quite like Vince Taylor. [more inside]
Perfume, a three-girl Japanese technopop sensation formed in 2001 now consisting of Nocchi, Kashikuya and A~chan, is about to release their ninth single, "Dream Fighter". Perfume's July 2008 single "Love the World" was the first technopop song ever to debut at #1 on the Oricon sales chart. The previous highest debut for techno was Yellow Magic Orchestra's "Kimi ni, Munekyun" 25 years ago in 1983. (original article citing #1 record translated via Google translator) [more inside]
Classic tracks: Can't seem to face up to the facts? Searching for the heart of Heart of Gold? Mix Online delves deep into your favorite jams, to find out what was in the air when they were conceived. Know what I mean? via
"Radiodiffusion Internasionaal is devoted to the evolution of popular music from Africa, the Middle East, India and Asia and the proliferation of Western influences on these non-Western cultures. The focus is primarily the music from the mid 60's to the mid 70's." (Description from the front page of the site.) Slightly differently formatted version of the website here. Nice set of links, too (scroll down to the Words and Pictures section).
Chief Justice Roberts (mis)quotes Bob Dylan* in his dissent on Sprint Communications Co. v. APCC Services, Inc., making this the first known time that a Supreme Court Opinion has used a "rock song to buttress legal opinion," according to Alex B. Long of the University of Tennessee. Mr. Long knows a thing or two about this**, having authored [Insert Song Lyrics Here]***, a Washington & Lee Law review Article on the subject of Pop Music in legal writing. The article is funny†, insightful, comprehensive in its musical background††, and surprisingly knowledgeable about good taste in writing.††† [more inside]
One of the great virtues of the internet is the manifold ways in which it has revolutionised the arts. The postmodern works of contemporary artists Pomme & Kelly (Google Video), when viewed together in context, form a striking example of a well-placed critique of popular culture, and modern living at large. The zeitgeisty meta-irony of their seemingly content-free interpretations of popular songs are only enhanced by the fact that, in a clever keeping with style, they blog about it as well.
Pop Vultures, perhaps the freshest show to grace our radio airwaves in recent years has been cancelled. Host Kate Sullivan and a collection of friends mused on pop music and associated pop culture with passion, a strong does of "um" and "uh, like" and an always great soundtrack. You can listen (for the moment anyway) to the archives . R.I.P.
break/doWn: translating the hits for the masses. Spent any sleepless nights wondering what those pop songs stuck in your head are really all about? Well, music-critic.com has done the work for you. For instance, did you know that when Britney sings "I know I may come off quiet, I may come off shy/But I feel like talking, feel like dancing when I see this guy" she's saying "I've spent the last three years carefully crafting a "good girl" image of myself for the public/But I'm ready to throw it all away for a one night stand with that guy over there." break/doWn has 13 "hits" translated just for you! (scroll down the the bottom of the page for other songs)