profile of TimByron

Music Dump - One Direction Pitchfork's Nicki Minaj's Tupac Jet

A recurring weekly feature where we look at some of the best and most interesting music articles from across the web.

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Meet The New Boss, Worse Than The Old Boss by David Lowery (The Trichordist): David Lowery is no fan of the major labels - he wrote a song dedicated to one called 'It's Not Gonna Suck Itself'. But from his perspective, of someone trying to make money as an independent musician, things are worse now for independent artists than they were pre-Napster. The new boss - iTunes and MegaUpload - is worse than the old boss. Music is fundamentally expensive to make, he argues -- if you're not spending money on a studio and engineers to record your album, you spent a lot of money on an audio engineering degree and getting the right equipment. And so recording budgets have become miniscule recently -- not because costs have gone down, but because musicians no longer expect to make much out of their recordings and can't justify the expense of spending that extra day getting the drums just right. Which sucks for consumers, because if they'd spent that extra day, maybe it would have ended up a great album rather than a good one, you know?

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L.A. Weirdos by Mike Powell (Pitchfork): People like Harry Nilsson and Randy Newman get lumped into that whole LA singer-songwriter scene with Jackson Browne and James Taylor. But this is a mistake - Nilsson and Newman are fundamentally supertalented smart weirdos, and here Powell convincingly explains why they still matter. The record labels they recorded for treated Nilsson and Newman as being like gifted children - their idiosyncrasies were indulged because songs like 'One' (e.g., is the loneliest number) and 'You Can Leave Your Hat On' paid for, say, Nilsson recording a psychedelic children's album or Newman recording a song from the point of view of God laughing at how stupid people are. For Powell (and me), Nilsson and Newman have lasted because they combine both head and heart, making music that moves you without insulting your intelligence. Then again, I'm some sort of smart weirdo (right?!...and Powell probably is too), so it's no surprise that I eventually gravitated to this stuff.

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Teenage Sexuality by Clementine Ford (Daily Life): One Direction just toured Australia! There was screaming! Girls went wild! It was a jungle out there! Etc. Ford argues that part of why people are totally freaked out by the visit was that we're freaked out in general by adolescent female sexuality. After all, teen girls are very interested in sex - I mean, what do you expect with all those hormones - but for quite a lot of reasons (some good, some bad), adults don't want to think about this. So when teen girls hold signs at these One Direction mini-rallies saying things like 'Point your erection in my direction' (an actual sign), it makes adults pretty uncomfortable. That's a shame, because teens are better off getting taught a healthy understanding of sexuality rather than pretending it doesn't exist.

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Tupac's Hologram Asks, 'Remember The 90s?' by Maura Johnston (Village Voice): If the incredibizarromazing "hologram" (actually a 2D projection) of Tupac Shakur means anything, it means that the 1990s are back, baby. If you're 18, you were 5 or 6 in 2000 - you'll have barely any memory of the 1990s. I mean, One Direction are the first proper boy band in ages, and because 14 year old girls were born after the release of, say, 1997's 'Quit Playing Games With My Heart', they think One Direction is new and exciting and awesome! And now we're at this point where the new generation gets fascinated with the past (the same way that, in the 1990s, when I was a teen, I was fascinated with the tackiness and awesomeness of the 70s), the meaning of the 90s will get pushed and pulled in all directions.

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Iggy Pop - 'Lust For Life' by Jonno Seidler (1 Song A Day): It's probably unfair to Jet that people thought that 'Are You Gonna Be My Girl?' was ripping off 'Lust For Life'. I mean, 'Lust For Life' was half 'Touch Me' by the Doors and half 'You Can't Hurry Love' by the Supremes, anyway. But what made people think of 'Lust For Life' when they heard Jet was the sheer energy of 'Lust For Life', which Iggy nailed, and which Jet approximated. As (TheVine contributor) Seidler points out, there's something that's just right about the way that Iggy snarls "a mill-i-on in prizes". (Speaking of nostalgia, 'Lust For Life' - released in 1977 originally - reached #26 in the UK charts in 1996 on the back of being in the movie Trainspotting - we'll find out soon enough if today's teens get confused by the 1990s' nostalgia for the past. But I digress).

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On Ratings by Nate Patrin (natepatrin.tumblr.com): I follow a fair few Pitchfork writers on Tumblr, and they reasonably often make fun of people who give a shit about the ratings they give albums (out of ten) on that site. Here Nate Patrin explains well what's on his mind when he comes to write a review, and his list of things he really cares about doesn't actually include a score out of 10. Personally, I am glad that TheVine's never asked me to rate the number one singles I review out of ten! (for the record, LMFAO's singles would definitely not get 10/10).

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Chris Cester: 'You Become Somewhat Of A Cliche' by Caitlin Welsh (Mess+Noise): I could paint this interview as "Jet drummer Chris Cester dishes the dirt to Caitlin Welsh" - for example, he claims the band had been basically non-functional for 5-6 years before they broke up - but actually this is a thoughtful interview. Cester reflects on Jet in detail, and has some interesting insights into their strange career, in terms of what it was like to meteorically rise on the back of an iTunes commercial, and comes across as refreshingly honest and unpretentious about it all.

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Did Nicki Fail Pop Or Did Pop Fail Nicki? by Jordan Sargent (It's Alive): Nicki Minaj may be living in the wrong era, argues Sargent - at least, she hasn't found a producer who can channel her wilder, more hip-hoppy impulses (which are often her more interesting bits) into chart-topping monsters. Instead, she tops the charts with songs like 'Super Bass' which, while fantastic, only really portray part of her personality. So, asks Sargent, which way does the causality lie - is Nicki unable to/unwilling to turn her crazier stuff into pop, or is there no visionary producer - a Timbaland or Neptunes - out there right now capable of realising her vision?

Tim Byron

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