It starts with 1968’s Beggar’s Banquet, then 1969’s Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers in 1971, and finally Exile On Main St. in 1972. Five years, four stone-cold classic albums featuring some of the most indelible rock music ever recorded.
Sting gets a bad rap for being both too middle-of-the-road and too pretentious. He has earned that criticism to a degree (the man released a lute album, for crying out loud!) but any sensible music fan would be silly to dismiss him.
Even setting aside his groundbreaking work with The Police, you need look no farther than his sophomore release, 1987’s …Nothing Like the Sun, for evidence of his greatness.
In this week’s Childish Gambino post, a commenter brought up the dilemma of having an under-appreciated favorite artist hit it big. You’re happy for his or her success, but you kind of liked being in on a secret.
I have two such favorite artists, both of whom I’ve adored for a decade and a half. And as much as I enjoy belonging to their exclusive fan bases, I have to say I’m ready for the world to give them the attention they deserve. One is Tift Merritt; the other is Josh Rouse.
But if she has an heir apparent, it could well be Kacey Musgraves, who just released Golden Hour, her third straight album of delightful country pop and appears to be on a similar critical and commercial trajectory.
Multi-hyphenate Janelle Monáe took five years off between albums, following 2013’s The Electric Lady, during which she exercised her acting chops in the Oscar-nominated films Hidden Figures and Moonlight.
Her third album, Dirty Computer, dropped in February and it was worth the wait. It’s filled with sexy funk and soul filtered through the ‘alien visiting Earth’ vibe she has honed since 2010’s The ArchAndroid. This time around it comes with a large helping of bisexuality, and an accompanying film that features Tessa Thompson as her lover. Alert next year’s Pulitzer Prize jury!
‘No Tears Left to Cry’ doesn’t address that incident specifically, but it is about moving on from a negative experience and finding your salvation in sweet dance pop. So just about the perfect comeback tune for the pint-sized diva.
Childish Gambino dropped the video of the year right before he debuted his new song on Saturday Night Live last week. ‘This is America,’ a jarring but somehow catchy blend of gospel and trap, is a good song but a fantastic short film, one that has blown up the internet to the tune of 50 million views as of this writing.
Tackling gun violence, police brutality, Jim Crow, social media, black culture and a hundred other things, this is the video that launched a thousand think pieces, and I can’t pretend to be qualified to come up with one of my own. I’d rather let the video speak for itself.