By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By RFT Music
By Christian Schaeffer
By Gabriel San Roman
Well, here we are: one year closer to death! A.D. 2003 is hooked to a respirator, rejecting solid foods and waiting for Dick Clark to pull the plug. In case you've been in a cave since January 1, we've dedicated this issue to the best of what you've missed. You can find the opinions of the whole gang in the following pages, but here are some bests, worsts and other notes that I must remark on:
Local Album of the Year: Nadine, Strange Seasons
To borrow an idea from my peerless predecessor, we can't go around judging local music like the Special Olympics. No half-baked, poorly recorded clichéd CD is going to rule in the Lou (or any other self-respecting city). And we won't have to worry about that with Nadine around. Effortlessly pretty, with a firm rock & roll back end to keep it from spiraling away, Seasons is the best reason we've had to not count out the rock scene just yet.
Local Debut Song of the Year: The North Country, "Newark"
The North Country came out of nowhere and quickly captured some ears with their great debut EP, 5 Songs. The leadoff track, "Newark," is a slam-dunk: Catchy and moving, with humming violins and keyboards backing a solid melody and enigmatic but arresting lyrics, "Newark" places the North Country at the head of the pack of local up-and-comers.
Local Music Story of the Year: Hail Hip-Hop!
You know the names. You know the songs. You know that, like it or not, hip-hop is putting St. Louis on the map. (Randall Roberts breaks it down for us later in the section, so I'll let him do the talking.)
Global Music Story of the Year: Bryan Adams Heals the Sick.
West German woman Christine Kittel had been in a coma for seven years when, this March, her mother decided to take her to a Bryan Adams concert. Wait, it gets weirder: She woke up. No news reports specify the exact song Adams was playing when the miracle occurred. My professional pride doesn't allow me to make jokes here; it's too easy. Oh, okay, just one: If you were at a Bryan Adams concert, could you pick out the audience member with serious neurological problems? Me neither.
Hot Trend of the Year: Faux Lesbian Necking
Underage girl-on-girl action moved from your little brother's sock drawer to the pop charts in 2002 with t.A.T.u., the "couple" of teens who stormed the international dance charts by making out in Catholic schoolgirl outfits while slightly damp (there was also a song involved, I think). Of course, you can't call it a trend until Madonna steals it to lift and separate her sagging career, which she did by making out with Britney Spears at the MTV Movie Awards. That anyone in this day and age could get titillated by a leathery harridan lamely sucking face with a past-her-sell-by-date Lolita just goes to show how strong the Puritan streak in this country really is.
Hot Trend of Next Year: Faux Gay Necking
Fair is fair. With the mainstream acceptance of gay culture being "in" right now and the aforementioned lesbo theatrics moving units at Best Buy, surely the time has come for Justin Timberlake and Sting to spread a little man-love around on stage. Oh, wait. Since the current "open-mindedness" about gays is based on minstrel show-level caricatures that seem oblivious to the fact that gay men aren't identified by swishy accents or fashion sense but by the fact that they have sex with other men, maybe this won't be the hot new trend after all. Maybe in 2005.
Best Bet for Worst Album of 2004: I've already mentioned the shitmongers in the Matrix as strong front-runners for worst album of the new year, but it gets worse: Paris Hilton has a record deal.
Hey, want to write for the RFT? I'm giving you a chance to get in the door. It's easy -- just read this issue, disagree with our critics' picks for Best of the Year and write your own annotated list. Send it to me and you could be on your way to becoming one of the elite, sexy cadre of RFTMusic Freelancers. You could rub shoulders with John Goddard! Give a saucy wink to Jess Minnen! Play Twister with Niles Baranowski and Patricia Brooke!
I'm a lot more impressed by the ability to write than by "hip" music taste, so don't just rattle off a list of obscure bands. Here's your chance. Use it.