Songs of the Year—2000 How I learned to stop worrying and love Hip-Hop

Songs of the Year: “Yellow” Coldplay; “The Next Episode” Dr. Dre

Runners-Up: “Get Off”, The Dandy Warhols; “The Real Slim Shady” Eminem

Honorable Mentions: “Boyz N’ the Hood”, Dynamite Hack

The year with big releases by Radiohead and Greenday as well as by tertiary punk bands like Blink-182,  Sum 41 and Good Charlotte saw the charts dominated by acts from the 1980s (U2, Bon Jovi and Madonna) even as other bands released exciting albums ( Bright Eyes’ Fever and Mirrors, The White Stripes’ De Stijl, Coldplay’s Parachute, The Weakerthans’ Left and Leaving, WyClef’s mediocre Ecleftic, The Dandy Warhols’ Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia and Outkast’s Stankonia).

Continue reading

Songs of the Year — 1992

Have you come here for forgiveness
Have you come to raise the dead
Have you come here to play Jesus
To the lepers in your head,
“One” , U2

Songs of the Year: “Smells like Nirvana”, Weird Al Yankovic; “One”, U2

Runners-Up: “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, Nirvana; “Under the Bridge”, Red Hot Chili Peppers

In the year that They Might Be Giants released Apollo 18, Alice in Chains released Dirt, Blind Melon debuted and Dr. Dre changed the world with The Chronic, I was listening to Weird Al Yankovic.

My 1992 was two different years—half of the year capped off a bright and happy boyhood. The other half portended a mopey, angst-ridden adolescence. 1992 was a year of transition whose boundaries can be sensed in the music I listened to and the technology that provided it.

I wore this cassette out

In one half of the year I was still analogue. At the zenith of my boyish geekness, a circle of friends and I (all male, of course) circulated copies of every Monty Python cassette and every Weird Al tape. The last cassette I ever bought was Off the Deep End. I wore that out by copying it, by listening to it while mowing the interminable lawn, and by rewinding and fast forwarding ad nauseam.

So, while the rest of the world was learning about the weather in Seattle and trying on flannel, I was doing my penance for geek heaven. I learned all of Weird Al’s polka medleys by heart. I knew every Monty Python sketch on tape. I think that my friend and I actually performed the “Lumberjack” sketch at a school assembly. Others were wearing Guns N’ Roses shirts and carrying skateboards (ridiculous things in a place with mostly dirt roads…); I sang about suspenders and a bra.

It isn’t that I disliked Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, I just didn’t care much about it. It didn’t mean anything to me (yet). Now, Weird Al’s parody was a different story altogether. The tracks on Off the Deep End were the best produced of his career; the parody sounded like the original. In addition, the lyrics seemed, to me, to be witty and just juvenile enough (animal noises? Check.)

Target(ing) Profitability: Corporate (T-Shirt) Rock Whores

A few months back I was shopping for clothing for my toddler son at Target and I was immediately taken by a pint-sized Pink Floyd t-shirt. I know: I recognized immediately that this was a simple but effective ploy to play upon a combination of adult nostalgia and a parental desire to make children look ‘cool‘ (especially for those Gen Xers and younger who were always too cool to want to appear to try to be cool.)

Welcome to the corporate jungle, Axl. Is this what you were afraid of when you spent a decade working on Chinese Democracy?

My wife mocked me a little. I felt both less and more self-critical when I saw not one but two little boys at day care wearing the same t-shirt. I over-compensated by getting a science officer Star Trek (original series) shirt for my son and trying to squeeze him into a one-year old’s shirt emblazoned with Carthago Delenda Est.

Continue reading