The Billboard Wayback Machine is an interactive that lets you explore the Billboard charts spanning from 1964 to 2011
"[Punk] in itself is comedy. The whole thing is ludicrous. They were taking themselves so seriously—" he laughs—"and the great message you want to tell people forty years later is 'Put butter on your crumpets'? What they were saying they stood for, which was sort of anti-greed, anti-establishment... At the end, they all want the check. That's the truth." Pop biographer Chris Heath - who's written some rather fascinating books on Robbie Williams and the Pet Shop Boys - meets Simon Cowell.
In Defense of Pop Music -- New York Magazine takes a look at the rise of pop and dance music and the death of rock in the charts.
It was music to be heard, not listened to. It was the soundtrack to the relaxed, sophisticated, mature vision of the good life. It was music for lovers. It was upbeat, elaborately arranged, chart-toppingly popular, and yet has been almost written out of the popular music history books, dismissed as “elevator music”; soulless, toned-down, pre-chewed, limp cover-versions of popular songs for old people. So sit back, put aside the politics and angst, slip into something comfortable (preferably with someone of similar description), and allow yourself to experience The Joy of Easy Listening [2, 3, 4, 5, 6]
Smash Hits! was a UK music magazine, first published at the end of 1978. It charted the progress of pop styles, including the rise of 2-Tone, and included a number of freebie discs, first as flexi discs, and later on CDs. The magazine faltered in the 1990s, and closed shop in 2006. Since then there have been a few one-off "special editions," first a 2009 tribute to Michael Jackson, and then a Lady Gaga special in 2010. 30 years after the first issue went on sale, a fan posted the first issue online. So far, new scans have been posted fort-nightly, following the original release schedule. 73 issues are online to date, each three decades after they first were sold. (via MetaChat)
Rebecca Black's Friday is a video single from an artist you may have never heard of, yet it's spawned animated gifs and in-depth lyrical analysis, raised speculation over possible album tracklists, garnered numerous covers, it's received the super-slow treatment (similar to Justin Bieber), and a short movie mash-up. Where did this all start? A magical place called Ark Music Factory.
Today in 1966, Brian Wilson starting laying down instrumental tracks for "#1 Untitled." Eight months, 90 hours of tape, and $50,000 later, he released his "pocket symphony." [more inside]
"Pop music is old. Whether you consider it started with jazz, swing or rock and roll in the 50s, it's old. There is nowhere new go to. Seriously! There are new bands who have their own voice and style but in terms of the type of music they're making....it's just recombinations of other historical styles. There is nowhere new to go. There just isn't, I'm sorry to say, and it's not because I'm old." Orchestral Manoeuvres In the Dark's Andy McCluskey on pop music, not getting any respect, and reforming the band. They've got a new album out; the title track (and forthcoming single) "History of Modern" is a jaunty ode to the inevitable death of everyone & everything. [more inside]
Bored of Ke$ha, Fergie, and their various American contemporaries performing "hip-hop"-"tinged" "pop"? Say "alo" to apple-cheeked Romanian-German star Miss Platnum. Maybe start with Mercedes-Benz and She Moved In, before moving on to her earliest and biggest hit, Give Me the Food. [more inside]
The Music of Jacques Brel is an article by music journalist Amy Hanson about the career of pop music legend Jacques Brel and his effect on popular music in the English language. A lot of songs and covers are mentioned in the article, below the cut are links to the songs that I could find videos of online. [more inside]
I maintain that only an encyclopedic-archaeological turn can save an aging person's attachment to popular culture from descending into ridiculousness. Against Eighties Music by Justin E.H. Smith
Janelle Monae has been busy since the release of The Chase EP, the first of four "suites" that make up her genre-bending epic set in the distant future. She's been "discovered" by Diddy, continued to find inspiration in unexpected places, founded an artists' collective in her adopted hometown of Atlanta, and found time to speak to Vogue about her singular sense of style. Somewhere in there, she's also recorded the next two parts of the Metropolis Suite, titled The Archandroid (which is out today), put out a teaser for the album, and also the video for the first single, Tightrope. [more inside]
Christopher Bird at Mighty God King has written some corkers in the past - from his ejection from Livejournal owing to his review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows to his frequent conversations with Flapjacks and Photoshopping of Final Fantasy Covers (previously). He's really outdone himself this time, with Scenes From An Alternate Universe Where The Beatles Accepted Lorne Michaels’ Generous Offer. Read it, and, quite possibly, weep. Bonus points to the first person who constructs a Primer-level explanation of what happened.
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]
Gyrations atop a giant Rubik’s cube? Check. Uber groiny, hardbodied ballet dancers in metallic bowler shoes? Check. Intimated BJ three-way with male Moschino models? Check. Glittering Mickey Mouse butt cleavage? OKAY NOW THAT’S JUST GOING TOO FAR. Coilhouse is awesome.
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]
"It did feel a little isolating at the time, having atheist parents who thought skiing was a pretentious extravagance, believed America should stay out of Vietnam and regarded Valentine's Day and Mother's Day as 'meretricious, capitalist flim-flam.' " Daniel Grafton Hill IV (better known as this guy) remembers growing up with Daniel Grafton Hill III in a progressive, over-achieving, mixed-raced family. Meanwhile, the Hill father-son saga takes an ominous turn in the next generation.
The Mellotron features prominently on the 1968 album, The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society, more commonly referred to as The Village Green Preservation Society. The weird, eerie quality of this electronic keyboard, which uses pre-recorded tapes of individual sounds such as strings and woodwind instruments, worked well with singer/songwriter Ray Davies' nostalgic, backwards looking sensibility. [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]
Tourists black out reflective retinas in snapshots before printing them, and millions of people refer to strangers they’ve never spoken to as friends, because they’ve connected through a social-networking platform. [...] It should come as no surprise, then, that singers sometimes choose to correct recorded flaws in pitch with modern software, like Antares’s Auto-Tune.
Sasha Frere-Jones on auto-tuning, in The New Yorker. [more inside]
Sasha Frere-Jones on auto-tuning, in The New Yorker. [more inside]
Songwriter and producer Bob Crewe is one of those behind the scenes guys who was seemingly everywhere during the rock era. Records written and/or produced by Crewe charted over a twenty year period, including My Eyes Adored You and Lady Marmalade, both in 1975. [more inside]
The best/worst in Lithuanian music: the catchy Otter in Love, DJ Dago's rave music, Suopis ir Rambynas' folk music and Mr Valdas Karklelis and his creepy and [NSFW] pervy writhing . [more inside]
The 25 Best Pop Song Opening Lyrics, like EVER - a spinner.com 'hit list', complete with wry commentary and abruptly cut-off audio clips. Bonus: 25 more, suggested by people who don't work for the webside. [more inside]
Five For Fighting (John Ondrasik) is pretty cool and has some good music (enbedded audio). This video, created by school kids, really rocks. You can watch and submit your own home vids for in support of some good charitable causes.
“We consider the 'primitive' music of blues singers such as Leadbelly to be more authentic than that of the Monkees. But all pop musicians are fakes . . . Hugh Barker and Yuval Taylor . . . have turned out their personal record collections to produce a persuasive defence of inauthenticity as the defining characteristic of great popular music[.]” (via)
Waaaaaah! was an early 90's indie label of with an ever-changing number of a's in it's name. The owner of the label has put the entire catalog onto his site for download in mp3 format. He indicates which songs he likes the best by putting a very, very tiny picture of a kitten next to the songs. Artists include The Field Mice, White Town, They Go Boom, BMX Bandits, Dufflecoats, The Bedfloweres and Strawberry Story. You can see pictures of the bands on the site. If you spent your youth saying things like "this is pure, perfect pop music, why isn't this on the radio" then you've probably already clicked the link.
Salegy is Malagasy pop music. Upbeat and lively. Sometimes dramatic. Jaojoby is the legend and Wawa are the young guns!
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.
He was the patriarch of the British Invasion. In 1962, he released Britain's first blues album. Before they hit it big, the Rolling Stones opened for him. He was on the Beatles first television special. Later, he was in the memorably-named band The Hoochie Coochie Men with Rod Stewart on lead vocals. His next band, Bluesology, featured one Reginald Dwight, who later changed his name to honour his mentor. Moving to Canada in the 1970s he eventually settled in Vancouver, where he died today after suffering from a chest infection. Ladies and gentlemen: "Long John" Baldry has passed.
Can Ashlee Simpson get any worse? Who knows? But it appears that at least one critic has had it with her lack of talent. Because this is America, we have dueling petitions seeking to encourage her to continue or push her off the stage for good.
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.
A Bigger Splash: What Sunny California Did To Miserable Manchester Man Morrissey. His new album, "You Are The Quarry", is released on May 17th in the U.K. and the next day in the U.S. But the problem is: does anyone still care? I do! [More inside.]
onehitwondercentral.com I just discovered a song that I haven't heard in twenty years over there: pac-man fever, by Buckner and Garcia. What long-lost tune do you need to remember?
Every American #1 pop hit since 1950, reviewed, in order. (Start at the bottom of the page and work up.) Great blog project! (blogject?)
Take off your shoes. Look out folks, we have a new candidate for worst song of the summer.
Guillermo, it was really nada. Back in my day, Morrissey's fans were closeted gay boys, the girls who loved them, and oddly, Mormons. Now, he's the idol of Latinos, especially in LA. Is it a cultural connection with melodramatic poetry or artistic narcissism? Is it identification with Morrissey's lyrics of disenfranchisement, or a rebellion against traditional Latin machismo? Is it the hair?
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)
For the first time in forty years, there is not a single UK act on the Billboard top 100 singles chart. A lot of people argue that it's because manfactured crap is interchangable, so there's no need to import it, but plenty of American artists still make it in the UK, so I'm inclined to believe there's something else at work here. Any ideas as to what that something might be?
Tiffany goes Topless 80's teen pop sensation Tiffany will appear in a photo spread in an upcoming issue of Playboy. She says "it's time the world realizes she's no longer 18 but a wife and mother."
oasis i was listening to morning glory this morning :) and was wondering what was up with oasis. i knew they'd toured with the black crowes, but hadn't really heard much about it. so did a little searching and i dunno, this review made me feel pretty good. anyone going to the glasgow concert this weekend?