My 2013 recaps are lasting weeks into 2014. Next I’m going to take my annual tour through the Village Voice Pazz & Jop critics poll, as comprehensive a consensus as you’ll find of how the “professionals” saw the last year in music.
I like that the Pazz & Jop poll comes out toward the end of January. So many “year-end” lists show up in mid-December, either missing out on late year releases (Beyoncé, anyone?) or not allowing ample time for everything to sink it. Whether or not you agree with the results, you can’t argue that the critics polled didn’t have time to consider their votes.
These kids today with their viral videos.
The latest “gotta see it” clip I’ve seen circulating is this video by a woman who quit her job at a video news site via a YouTube clip of her dancing to a Kanye West song.
Apparently she didn’t like the fact that her boss (whom she describes as a brilliant, great guy) valued clicks over clever content.
Coming in at #7 and #8 on the Village Voice Pazz & Jop poll are Solange’s ‘Losing You’ and Gotye’s ‘Somebody That I Used to Know.’ As I’ve featured both of those songs on the blog already, I’m jumping ahead to their 9th selection today.
I’m surprised Gotye shows up this far down. I did check last year’s poll and found that the song received 8 votes, so if those voters failed to give it a repeat vote this year, it might be losing a few slots due to the timing of its release.
Clocking in at #5 on the Pazz & Jop poll is ‘Niggas in Paris’ from Watch the Throne, the much-anticipated collaboration between Jay-Z and Kanye West.
Everything I’ve read about this album suggests that these two are more out of touch than Mitt Romney with America in 2012. They rap about their wealth, their fame, their bling, their women — dick-grabbing egotism at its finest.
Perhaps it’s ironic? Does it even matter if it is?
Whether you love Kanye West or hate him — and I can see plenty of reasons to do both — it’s hard to deny that the man has immense talent and that he has done more to change the face of modern hip-hop than any of his peers.
Much has been written about the emergence of so-called emo rap, and Kanye has certainly done his part to introduce themes of heartbreak, romance, depression and self-doubt into his music and therefore into the broader conversation about what makes a good rap record. His tear-soaked 808s & Heartbreak is rap Blood On the Tracks and, whether or not it “works” in any traditional sense, it’s very existence is noteworthy.
Best Songs of 2010 – #4
This is probably the most talked about and praised song on the most talked about and praised album of 2010. And it’s a testament to what Kanye West has done here that he’s able to transcend that tremendous hype.
I do consider My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy overrated, but that’s because it couldn’t possibly have been rated higher than it was. I don’t believe I’ve seen a top ten list yet that didn’t have this album perched at number one.
I read a recent interview with Kanye West in which he expressed delight at the fact that he’s reached the pinnacle of stardom in the music world despite the fact that he “can’t sing, can’t dance and can’t play an instrument.”
Indeed, those would seem like important qualities (the singing and playing instruments, anyway) and 20 years ago it’s hard to imagine a man like West finding a career — as a performer — in the industry. He no doubt would have been a fine producer back then, and he’s one of the finest we have today.
But West is definitely not content to live behind the scenes. He craves the spotlight, despite (or maybe because of) the harsh light in which it paints him. On his messy, brilliant new album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, he spends 70 minutes laying bare his flaws, fears and insecurities and proclaiming himself the greatest artist who ever lived — often at the same time.