My musical genome groupings have made for some interesting bedfellows. Take ‘Melancholy Pop,’ where Michael Penn, Fountains of Wayne, The Shins and The Smiths all make their home. I don’t know if those four artists would normally be grouped together, but they make for a plausible pod.
Or ‘Melancholy Folk,’ where it’s Paul Simon, Dar Williams and Beck. Both Beck and Simon have branched off from those sounds, but because I don’t have a real affinity for ‘World Music’ or ‘Hip-Hop,’ they wound up here. And I could make a killer mixtape using only those three artists.
‘Melancholy Piano Pop’ is a strong category, featuring Ben Folds, Rufus Wainwright and Aimee Mann. Fiona Apple could probably be here as well, though I held off from giving her the ‘Pop’ label because she works very much outside those parameters.
‘Melancholy Pop Folk’ is one of my favorite groups, boasting Josh Rouse, Ron Sexsmith, R.E.M. and Belle & Sebastian. Throw in The Beatles (who I held back from the ‘Melancholy’ category) and you’ve got potentially the strongest batch of all.
‘Melancholy Country Folk’ gives you Bob Dylan, Lucinda Williams and Counting Crows, another winner. I’d slide Tift Merritt into that grouping as well (to be honest, I’m not sure why I held the ‘Folk’ label back from her in the first place).
Elsewhere, Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen are well-paired in ‘Folk’ while John Mayer and Shakira (two of the most hit-friendly artists on my list) share space in ‘Pop.’ Elliott Smith sits alone — appropriately — in the ‘Melancholy’ category. Lyle Lovett, Miranda Lambert and Brad Paisley much be having a blast in ‘Country.’
Elvis Costello and Randy Newman are free agents, both covering so many categories that they stand alone. I’d probably lump Newman in with Ben Folds, Rufus Wainwright and Aimee Mann — representing the strongest collection of songwriters of the bunch. Elvis doesn’t really line up well with any of the others… he’s truly a man out of time.
Tomorrow, I’ll try to fill in the blanks with artists who fit into these groupings but, for some reason or other, haven’t managed to win me over.