By Jeremy Essig
By Jason Robinson
By Hans Morgenstern
By Joseph Hess
By Peter Gilstrap
By Julia Burch
By Jeremy Essig
By Nathan Smith
The end of the year is a time for critics to reflect on the best music they heard in the past twelve months. But such positivity neglects the oboxious tunes, band breakups and otherwise horrible music that they tried all year to forget. Here, the RFT's critics weigh in on the less-rosy side of music.
There is absolutely nothing titillating about Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl." Not the trotting backbeat (which sounds like an electronic rip-off of Grand Funk Railroad's deeply unsexy "Some Kind of Wonderful"). Not Perry's robot-with-a-head-cold vocals, which are sterile instead of seductive. And there's certainly nothing stirring about the song's faux-naughty chorus: "I kissed a girl just to try it/I hope my boyfriend don't mind it/It felt so wrong, it felt so right/Don't mean I'm in love tonight." "I Kissed a Girl" isn't an anthem of sexual liberation for bi-curious babes. It's an anthem for drunk sorority chicks making out in a sports bar after one too many shots.
— Annie Zaleski
Unfortunately in 2008, the saying "what's old is new again" applied to one of the darkest eras music history, when hipsters suddenly got a hard-on for disco. At its very worst, Of Montreal's Skeletal Lamping turned the dumbest dance music of all time into an obnoxious, A.D.D.-riddled blend of erotica and art rock. That being said, the band's show at the Pageant in October was still pretty damn impressive.
— Keegan Hamilton
There I was, happily hating "I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz, like I'd hated Jack Johnson and John Mayer. (And that hatred goes double for the dude's stupid hat.) Then PBS Kids started using it in one of their promos. My sensitive four-year-old daughter would always quiet down and listen, so obviously and adorably affected by the song that it started to evoke Pavlovian goodwill in me. Now I actually find it catchy and engaging. Is nothing beneath the music industry? The bastards used my kid against me!
— Jason Toon
The ravaged vocals and faux-Beach Boys arrangements on Brian Wilson's That Lucky Old Sun are depressing. We should give thanks Brian's alive, well and working, but the sooner we admit that he can't give us any more masterpieces, the sooner we can stop inflating our expectations with each new album. (On the other hand, his proposed next project, Pleasure Island: A Rock Fantasy, has the potential to be a perverse laugh-riot to rival "Smart Girls," his Landy-era "rap" song.)
— Mike Appelstein
This year Michael Stipe announced, unequivocally, that he is gay. Mr. Stipe, you are brave to declare your snuggling preferences and you handled the situation with sincerity and grace. But why did you have to break my heart? As a straight female R.E.M. fan, I've been spending the last fifteen or so years imagining that you were murmuring to me. Your wiggly hips, bright blue eyes and unfathomably long Snuffleupagus eyelashes really do it for me. I'd like you to put your man on my moon. Sigh. I guess I'll have to get over it. Hey — Peter Buck...call me.
— Jaime Lees
The end of a year bookended by the closing of two jazz venues — Finale Music & Dining, which went out on New Year's Eve 2007, and Cookie's Jazz and More, which will end its run later this month — also brought the announcement that the St. Louis Jazz and Heritage Festival will go "on hiatus" in 2009. With these announcements, local jazz fans find themselves with fewer outlets to hear their favorite music.
— Dean C. Minderman
Travesty. That's the first word that comes to mind while listening to Kanye West's new album, 808s and Heartbreak. Urkel. That's the second word that comes to mind, while looking at the album's insert. Although Heartbreak does feature some interesting production, his overuse of the notorious autotune effect is like pulling the string on a See 'n Say for an hour. It makes me long for a simpler time, back when rappers used to rap, and singers used to sing...
— Calvin Cox
Is Weezer in on its own joke at this point? Did the band intentionally sit around and attempt to write some sort of ironic, fame-obsessed, loosely based parody of its 1994 debut effort when it came time to make this year's self-titled disc? Frankly, it doesn't matter, because the music on the so-called red album is irrelevant, boring, unfocused and pretty much says nothing about anything. This writer was driven to the point of threatening to throw the disc out the window of a moving car on I-70. Luckily, cooler heads prevailed, so that the opportunity arose for me to listen again and reaffirm my hatred for this complete waste of Rick Rubin's time. Weezer, please stop making albums. Please.
— Shae Moseley
This year, gimmick rapper Soulja Boy turned eighteen, the age at which he can no longer use his youth as a crutch to justify horrendous lyrics such as "So get up out my face/You doo-doo-head dummy," which comes from the pre-chorus of his 2008 abortion "Yahhh!" Over a crunk-by-numbers Fruity Looped beat, overenthusiastic fans of the rapper are detracted with cries of "Yahh, trick, yahh!" further proving that there is no difference between a Soulja Boy hook and a novelty bumper sticker slogan.
— Ryan Wasoba
This may come as a shock, but listening to local music for a quasi-living isn't all sweetness and light. So it's that much more of a disappointment when some of the best bands in town called it quits at the height of their powers. This fall found Bad Folk, the Rats & People and the Bureau all hanging it up; the latter two released two of the best local CDs of 2007, and Bad Folk was set to release its long-awaited LP right around the time of the split. Here's hoping the scattered band members do something productive with their newfound freedom.
— Christian Schaeffer
Attention, Beyonce's lyrics: If a woman chooses a man who's replaceable, then who's the bigger loser when she replaces him with the same model? If liking it means putting a ring on it, who owns the identity? "Mrs." Sasha Fierce? Bish, please. Depth isn't a personality we assume, it's what becomes us after we learn to live without mommy management. If you were a boy, you'd be Justin Timberlake imitating you in a leotard on SNL, and I'd like you a whole lot more.
— Kristy Wendt
Their live shows are "legendary," an "experience." They "writhe" and "wiggle." They are "all that and a bag of chips." These are quotes from the press kit of buzzed-up Philadelphia band Man Man. Plus — "real mustaches" and "white body paint." Would tunes be too much to ask? Apparently, because "ardent fans," dressed just like their barking, bawling, irony-peddling heroes, "carry the message out to the world." It's all about "rocking out" to the "fucked up dance party." Hipsters will do that when they can't afford Blue Man Group tickets.
— Roy Kasten