Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Is pop doomed to be the sound of a regional party?

Catherine, Tommy, and Yglesias complain that Pitchfork's year-end best-of leaves them high and dry. Oldsters!

I didn't quite realize until I read over p-fork's 50, but for the nu prog enthusiast, it's been an amazing year. I loved releases by The Knife, Mastodon (Mastodon!), Man Man, Destroyer (Destroyer!), Brightblack Morning Light, and Boris (Boris!). The Sunn O))) + Boris collaboration featured Kim Thayil, and therefore it is unimpeachable. I was also pleased with Joanna Newsom and TV on the Radio. I didn't spend too much time on the Grizzly Bear, Xiu Xiu, or Fiery Furnaces releases, in part because I had so many other topical entrees to sample. Some comets complete a tour around the sun in the time it takes Scott Walker to release an album, so The Drift alone makes 2006 a banner year.

So, not so strong on the pop front. Yet I don't think it was so grim as the gang's making it out to be. No whisper campaign–generating groups like Arcade Fire or Wolf Parade broke out, but pop mainstays like Cat Power, Rainer Maria, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs put out good discs. I kept expecting my friends to rally around both Lupe Fiasco and Be Your Own Pet; either my assessment of their tastes is off or some economic failure prevented BYOP from popping up on area radars. And how did everyone forget that great Final Fantasy record?

Matt thinks Pitchfork's to blame for burying pop; Tom cites a breakdown in the U.S./Canadian import–export dynamic; Catherine thinks she hasn't looked around hard enough. Ryan just really hates the Hold Steady. (Man, me too.) I'm sure dance rock will regain its footing (snicker), but for the moment it seems that popular rock musicians are fairly intent on writing songs as long as their beards. Exit polls among critics suggested that sectarian violence on the dance floor and dismal American Idol turnout also played a part in pop's poor showing.

Look on the brightside—at least you're not the jerk who agrees with Pitchfork.

MORE: Oh yeah, Clipse. Damn it all if Hell Hath No Fury isn't as good as everyone says—the best hip-hop album since Enter the 36 Chambers. "Ain't Cha" (featuring the Re-Up Gang) is required listening for fans of The Wire. Unsurprising—or perhaps a minimum bar for quality?—that a record about selling crack should appeal to fans of television dramas about selling crack. Crackheads probably just go nuts over these guys.

EVEN MORE: What about the Native Americana mini-meme (exhibits A, B, C)?