Wednesday, February 01, 2006

2005 Continues... More dead horses to flog

The fact that I haven't done a music list for 2005 rests in part with the fact that I was waiting for the Village Voice Pazz and Jop list and because music has fallen below TV and Tech for me.

Don't even mention movies to me. I'm not even doing a list for that. For me, 2005's sole cinematic achievement was Batman Begins.

Back to music.
Some off the top info:

The Year's Top Albums in Sales
Here are the top-selling albums of 2005 as tabulated by Nielsen SoundScan:

1. Mariah Carey ''The Emancipation of Mimi'' (Island), 4.97 million copies.
2. 50 Cent ''The Massacre'' (Shady/Aftermath/Interscope), 4.85 million copies.
3. Kelly Clarkson ''Breakaway'' (RCA), 3.5 million copies.
4. Green Day ''American Idiot'' (Reprise), 3.4 million copies.
5. Black Eyed Peas ''Monkey Business'' (A&M), 3 million copies.
6. Coldplay ''X&Y'' (Capitol), 2.6 million copies.
7. Rascal Flatts ''Feels Like Today'' (Lyric Street/Hollywood), 2.5 million copies.
8. Gwen Stefani ''Love.Angel.Music.Baby.'' (Interscope), 2.5 million copies.
9. Kanye West ''Late Registration'' (Roc-a-Fella/Def Jam), 2.4 million copies.
10. The Game ''The Documentary'' (Aftermath/G-Unit/Interscope), 2.3 million copies.

Maybe two of these albums can be called good. Maybe.
And the fact that the #1 album didn't even do 5 million and that 4 of these albums came out in 2004, shows how much the record industry is hurting.
The album is dying, and the single has been resurrected.
If this was '92, Mariah's album would have easily gone diamond (10 million copies.)
Instead everyone just got "We Belong Together" off of iTunes, or other places... ahem.

And here is the VV: Pazz and Jop tally

1West, Kanye Late Registration
2M.I.A. Arular
3Stevens, Sufjan Illinois
Asthmatic Kitty
4Sleater-Kinney The Woods
Sub Pop
5Apple, Fiona Extraordinary Machine
Epic/Clean Slate
6White Stripes, The Get Behind Me Satan
7Antony and the Johnsons I Am a Bird Now
Secretly Canadian
8Hold Steady, The Separation Sunday
9New Pornographers, The Twin Cinema
10My Morning Jacket Z

This list reflects the indie bias of the mainstream music criticism as well as and the need for the fetishizing one Negro per year. Kanye's album was the most overrated, repetitively vainglorious album I have heard since, well "College Dropout."
Indie fav Jon Brion produced much of the album so it has the instrumentation and quirkiness that makes people go, "Ohh, instrumental quirkiness in rap!! Yeaaa!!!)
While I love Jon Brion, but he turned an album I was looking forward to, into easy-listening rap. This shit could fit in on your Lite-FM station with ease.
Is that an accomplishment? Maybe, but not when the lyrical content and songwriting is so similar to the first album. Family drama, grave-robbing samples, Kanye's typical blend of cocky modesty and 3rd grade social commentary mixed with Maroon 5.
To you Kanye, I say nah. Shame on all of music intelligentsia for inflating this album's standings and Kanye's ego.

2-6 are all incredibly solid albums that are mostly on my list.
7-10 are inaccessible and obtuse indie music that varies in quality, none of which make my list.

My list reflects that I was trying to have fun this year. Most of this music is uptempo, celebratory and nonsensical.

10. Electrocute: Troublesome Bubblegum
From the name you should know what to expect. Fluffy dance pop. I think a song from this was even used in the Spongebob Squarepants movie. But who gives a damn, this was the jubilant 80's pop record that Gwen Stefani tried to make this year. It's now OK jump on your bed and eat cotton candy.

9. DangerDoom: The Mouse and the Mask
MF Doom and Ghostface Killa are the two most fun MC's in the game right now. Why listen to Kanye and Talib rap about chopped up Africans in diamond mines or Common rapping about love when these two MC's capture the joyful spirit of early Pharcyde, De La Soul and Tribe Called Quest like no one else. When they release their collaborative album next year, the Internet may explode.
But in the meantime we have this solid collabo between Doom and Danger Mouse, the man behind 2004's Grey Album. Based on characters from Cartoon Network's Adult Swim, this shit was as surreal as it comes.
And Talib was rapping about Saturday morning cartoons, he may have a chance.

8. Fiona Apple; Extraordinary Machine
This is the kind of thing music dorks eat up. A mystical Jon Brion produced album that was shelved by evil record executives, released only after the vigilance insistence of fans. Except the leaked Jon Brion version was nowhere as good as the retail version that was finally released with hip-hop producer, Mike Elizondo (50 cent, Eminem) retouches.
It's ironic that the indie king Brion, made Kanye's rap album worse, yet rap producer Elizondo made indie queen Fiona Apple's better.

7. The Go Team!: Thunder, Lightning, Strike
This record was finally released in our fair Union of States in 2005, so that's why it makes the list.
Filled with TV theme songs, cheerleader chants, big beat guitars and other ridiculous samples, this record brings back your most pleasant childhood memories. Period. Just listen.

6.. Spoon: Gimme Fiction
Good old indie rock. Catchy, melodic, minimalist and experimental. Five albums strong and Spoon's still not treading water.
A good indie template to help you if you get lost in 2006.

5. White Stripes: Get Behind Me Satan
It's the White Stripes. Jack White is a Rita Hayworth obsessed weirdo as well as a guitar god who is not afraid to bust out a guitar solo in 2006. Meg White is not a good drummer. These are basics.
What wasn't basic was a bluegrassy/country styled, percussion heavy album that was pretty different from their other efforts.
It worked. The White Stripes survived the great "Garage Rock Revival." The Strokes did not.

4. Run the Road: Various Artists
Dizziee Rascal may be the poster boy of Britsh grime and garage music but there are some other Brits spitting fire as evinced by this mixtape. Laugh at the accents and then be marveled by the intensity of music. Quality shit.

3. John Coltrane: Live at the Half Note/ Carnegie Hall
I'm cheating with this one. These albums were recording decades ago and these are two entirely different albums.
And it's cheesy to throw one jazz record in the middle of all of this pop music. And I'm more of a jazz snob than a true fan. I only listen and know the old/classic shit. But god damn these records rock.
It's always fun when bootlegged posthumous underground records get a proper release.
Tupac and Big, take note.

2. MIA: Arular
The more I listen to her the more I think she's a terrorist. Her dad was one, and she says some mighty suspicious things...
Regardless, immigrant chic and pidgin Engrish was never hotter.
Fusing dancehall, hip-hop, Rio Baile Funk and whatever else she learned from her itinerant childhood, she put together one of the most mainstream, subversive and enjoyable album of the year.

1. Sufjan Stevens: Illinois
What can I say about Sufjan?
His brand of secular religious music has captured the hearts of the older NPR/NY Times crowd with shows at Lincoln Center, the Pitchfork indie community and anyone else who listens for more than five minutes.
His preposterous idea of a creating a concept album for every state, is proven to be genius with each release.
He made me like Michigan with his first album and has got me thinking there is more to Illinois than deep dish pizza with his second effort.
He's the Oprah of indie.

Honorable Mention:

Common: Be
The Game: The Documentary
Mariah Carey: The Emancipation of Mimi

Two other lists worth checking

Oh Word' 2005 list's 2005 list

Last, but not least.
The Worst Songs of 2005 List

5) D4L: Laffy Taffy

4) Black Eyed Peas: My Humps

3) Anything American Idol related

2) D4L: Laffy Taffy

1) Black Eyed Peas: My Humps

Spot on?
Dead wrong?
Granted, I wasn't as into music this year as others, but nonetheless, let me know.


  1. I think the worst song of the year should have been Laffy Taffy. Say what you will about My humps (I agree it sucks) but at the very least it sounds like it was made with modern sound equipment. Laffy Taffy sounds like it was produced with an Atari 2600. SAD, REALLY, REALLY SAD! Everyone involved with that song should be take out on the street and shot. BAM ride this world of stupidity. Or maybe just castrate them so they don’t procreate.

  2. Nice try but wrong on Kanye. It's music, not a Black Panther rally. Socialism lite or whatever else you want to call it, the man at least spits from the heart, something that's been missing from hip hop for a very long time. The album that Kanye gets me thinking about is Doggystyle, an album in which the content is less important than the spirit. You hear Snoop on that album and all you have is the stuff that's important to this 20 year old (or whatever age he was then) kid, same with Kanye. And the fact that he puts these rhymes over some pretty alright beats doesn't hurt. I still prefer College Dropout, but Kanye at least is the first rapper in a long ass time to break the formula and just do his own thing, and if that doesn't help you enjoy the album, I don't know what will.

    Arular - boring, particularly compared with the Diplo mixtape that preceeded it
    Common - boring

    Good calls on most of the rest though. Nice blog you got here.

  3. I agree with most of the sentiments. But really, at least Kanye is trying, which is more than I can say for most other folks in hip-hop. And yes, Sufjan's album is the most indelible work of 2005. But c' know and I know that M.I.A. is garbage and the Spoon album is a big disappointment considering what they accomplished on their last two joints. Get in with that My Morning Jacket. I guarantee you'll dig it.

  4. What makes "Humps' worse is that it came from a band with all that money.
    As well as a band that used to be good. I actually used to like the BEP when they made Native Tongue-esque music.
    And then they sold out harder than Clarence Thomas on Soul Train.

    Kanye's album was a good to decent album. Out of my 5 star system I would have given it a 3 or 3.5. But to say it was the overwhelming best album of the year, especially when Kanye thinks all his music is sacred, is a lie.

    Why is everyone hating on Arular? The previous Diplo mixtape was hot, maybe even better than Arular, but Arular was pretty damn solid.

    I stand by Spoon. I saw them live and they backed up that album.

    Morning Jacket is on my list. I'll check it out soon.

  5. I think the list is pretty spot on, though I admittedly am unfamiliar with many of the favorites. I too am a fan of Kanye, so I will say that his album may not have deserved some of the comments you gave it. But I do think that he jocks his own D a little too hard sometimes.

    As for the worst songs, definitely spot on. And your comments about BEP selling out, yup. That's what's harder to take. Oh, and that ol' banged up Fergie sings it is what makes it worse than Laffy Taffy as well.

  6. I like that you sid vainglorious


  7. 1) How can you call the New P's inaccessible. I assumed they called themselves pornagraphers because they pander to our inate proclivities for catchy hooks. I'm not convinced you listened to the album.

    2) A while ago, I heard that one of the lost boys of sudan is now a rapper in Kenya. Apparently he was fighting in wars and running through minefields when he was like 8. Hopefully he's only half fluent in english, and hopefully he considers himself above displaying any semblance of wit. Hopefully he can become the next MIA. I read about that in The Times. There was no word on if he's fuckable yet not quite hot, which would lend cultural/intellectual cache to the idea of considering him attractive.

    3) DangerDoom is borderline unlistenable. Too many goddamn skits, but if they hadn't thrown all that crap on there, the album would have only been like 15 minutes long. They were clearly pretending to be kidding when they said something like "I can't believe you bought this album" in one of the skits. This is just like on V2, where Doom says "dub it off your man, don't spend that ten bucks", and again, he was not kidding. Doom is great, he's just let out a few turds. Also, talib's verse was patronizing and nonmusical. It was annoying hearing him try to identify with cartoon watchers. I can imagine Armani saying "shut up dad, youre such a dork". Also, he needs to stop writing rhymes without listening to the beat.

    4) I thought Kanye's album was pretty good. I agree that Jon Brion's touches were a little corny, but I guess I'm just a sucker. I thought the album could have been a "classic" if Kanye'd kept it to like 9 songs, just like he could be a cool guy if he learned to shut his mouth every now and then. I remember seeing on MTV, Jon Brion saying to Kanye something like "Don't ever hesitate to edit yourself".

    5) And I disagree with your calling indie bias on the critics. Is macdonalds the best restaurant? Is Jay Leno the funniest talk show host? The mainstream is comprised of people with undeveloped palates (pilates?). I know that these days the hip/contrarian thing to do is to side with the mainstream as a rebellion against the whole indie spirit. This just means that im ahead of my time.

    I would talk more shit, but i didn't have a very musical year myself. I feel like I no longer have the energy for music. People who are into music also like shopping at vintage clothing stores because they don't mind picking through heaps of shit. I just came up with that now.

  8. Mubic P,
    Leave an email address or Blog URL man.

    Id like to hear what you listen to.

    1) The New P's are pop as hell. I was just saying in general the voice likes the outre.
    2) Good rip on MIA. She became the PC indie cause of the week. Its annoying to fetishize her 4rd world pop but the songs are still undeniably danceable and good to me.
    3) Dangerdooom only got on there bc it was a weak year. Way too many damn skits. Doom drops crap but it had enough enjoyable moments for me.
    4) The thing with Kanye is that it is a generally good music. But people extol his albums as the best of the year, no matter what else comes out that year.
    His albums are top 15 - 20 at best. And hes not a good rapper.
    5) Im not into embracing the mainstream like all of music intelligensia, in repudiation of the indie ethos. If I was I would have Kelly Clarkson as #1 like everyone else. Im just saying sometimes people go toooo indie. Antony and the Johnsons?

    Cmon man.