Facebook and the death of anonymity has pretty much killed my blogs, but I'm trying to fight it.
A friend presented a challenge not long ago: determine your favorite 100 artists of all time. We're set to get together and compare our lists, probably with a few drinks, in the next few days. My list started out at over 200, but I've narrowed it down to around 120 by now. I still have cuts to make, and will decide how I'll do that, probably on the fly.
Toughest is marrying my two musical lives. In college, I was mostly a singer/songwriter type. I loved folk music and alternative music, especially girls with guitars - Weezer, Juliana Hatfield, Patty Griffin, etc. In the last six or seven years, though, I've developed a love of hip-hop, particularly hip-hop with a political conscience - Common, Mos Def, K'Naan. I still love the old genre, but how can I compare the two? Part of this makes me put both Tracy Chapman and Kanye West in my personal Top 5, and that's pretty easy. But how do compare, say, Lisa Loeb and Kid Cudi? Lisa Loeb's album Tails was one of the first that I loved, and I still think it holds up pretty well - great production, with Loeb's voice out front of crunchy guitars in a CD that rocks a lot more than you'd expect. Her lyrics can be a bit precious, at times, but, sometimes, they perfectly capture the awkwardness of my youth, meshing winsomeness and poetry, as in her mega-hit "Stay" (and I'm still amazed that that song hit #1 when she was un-signed - could that ever happen again with our megaconglomerate radio stations?), as well as "Do You Sleep?", "Waiting for Wednesday", and "Snow Day" - all songs that still hold up today, nearly 15 years later. I have 3 or 4 of her albums, but I haven't bought a Lisa Loeb album in a long time, and didn't go see her when she was at the Recher about two years ago. Still, she still holds a place in my pantheon, at least somewhere in the top 100, right? (She's checking in at around 75.)
And I contrast her with someone like Kid Cudi, the type of artist that the post-25 Mark listens to. I heard his song "Day and Night" over the summer, and it was catchy, smart, and fresh, and I waited for months for his CD to come out. Slightly before that, a pretty great 2nd single, "Make Her Say," came out, and, not only did it feature Kanye rapping again (thanks, we need no more 808s nor Heartbreaks), but a funny verse by Common, and one of the most interesting samples (I'd never heard of Lady Gaga before that) I've heard in a while. So the CD came out a couple of weeks ago, and it hasn't left my CD player since; I love it. For me, it's a musical equivalent of a book like Frankenstein or a film like Magnolia: the word of an audacious, brilliant, and unbridled (and imperfect) young artist. It's bold, soulful, ambitious, and full of pathos and humor. Man on the Moon flawed (some of his pop cultural reference make me roll my eyes... Charles in Charge? Really?), but the flaws make it even more ingratiating; they're the flaws of youth, of ambition, and I like it even more. Cudi is no studio puppet, he's a kid with a clever head on his shoulders, an ear for a good beat, and the guts to pull it all together and not listen to the editors. I love it. Mary Shelley forgot about characters in her debut novel, and was repetitive at times, but that's okay - it almost makes the book better, she had a great idea and just went with it. PT Anderson's film Magnolia is my favorite film for that reason - just so bold and unrestrained, it just grips me like a vice. Same with Kid Cudi; I find there's combinations of wit, love, and grief in almost every song, and discover new songs every couple of days that blow me away.
So, where does Cudi end up on the list? Does he make it, as he only entered my musical consciousness in, say, July? Where does he fit alongside Lisa Loeb, who I've listened to since 1995 but not much in in the last 5 years? (Anyhow, so far, Cudi is checking in at around 83.)
Odd, cool dilemmas I can have with myself over this list. I'm trying to finalize by Friday, where I think we will be comparing our lists over at the Hamilton Tavern, while I eat a veggie burger with a fried egg on top. Perhaps I'll make my list public here on this blog around that time. I'm sure you all are clamoring.
The Right Brain For The Job - Part of an excerpt from Temple Grandin’s new book: If people can consciously recognize the strengths and weaknesses in their ways of thinking, they can the...
54 minutes ago