Now That's What I Call Club Hits 2/Taylor Swift
Give the Charts Some
Now That's What I Call Club Hits 2 (EMI)
If the Now cartel's records weren't so uniformly patchy I'd think they'd done it on purpose: 10 straight "dynamite" tracks, to borrow Taio Cruz's cutting-edge metaphor before he tries to copyright it, followed by six straight‑-well, not quite duds, but songs to sit down to. What differentiates good from ordinary isn't purity of talent or purpose, though Christina Aguilera and Adam Lambert certainly fulfill their dull destinies. Lady Gaga excepted, it isn't genius either, though Ian Nieman, whoever he is, comes close, expanding and overdriving Jason Derulo's high-generic "Ridin' Solo" into ramalama history. It's just inspired mechanics, as the same sounds and techniques that make it such a chore to dance to most dance music once your adrenalin recedes are propelled from the booming din by one or more extra-clever tricks. A trifecta of synth hooks on David Guetta and Chris Willis's "Gettin' Over You." La Roux's "Bulletproof" goosed with both treated echoes and "natural" crooning‑-and then seguing directly to drum 'n' electrosqueezebox custom-designed to juice the Black Eyed Peas' "Imma Be." Etc. A MINUS
Taylor Swift: Speak Now (Big Machine)
The 14 songs last upwards of 67 minutes, some 4:45 apiece; they're overlong and overworked. And I believe what I read about their origins in the romantic and other feelings of America's Ingenue for identifiable major and minor celebrities, which may thrill her fanbase but means approximately nothing to me. Even in their overwork, however, they evince an effort that bears a remarkable resemblance to care‑-that is, to caring in the best, broadest, and most emotional sense. I even like the one about Kanye West‑-including when I remember that it's about Kanye West, which usually I don't. A MINUS
They have this thing about Saturday.
Listening to Blow Your Head again, this time at window-rattling volume. If some club kid somewhere can figure out a way to combine this kind of techno ice with r&b fire, rock guitar, and lyrics that are about something besides just blowing your head, the result could well be Twenty-First Century Punk Rock, Man.
"I hate hearing anything, rumors or otherwise, about Prince being homophobic or religiously judgemental of gays... his openness gave me a lot of courage when I was young."
I'm straight, but on the gender-fluid side, and I remember that one thing that definitely drew me to his stuff way back when was that fluidity and (seeming) openness and acceptance which, (gosh, what a shock) turned out to have its limits.
OK, done now, thanks for listening.
I don't even want to wade into his well-reported long-tempestuous relationship with Wendy and Lisa, in which at one point in 2000 (as has been reported by W&L, among others) he was urging a press conference at which he would report that the Revolution would be getting back together, but at which Wendy and Lisa would be required to publicly renounce their "lifestyle." RC was right to peg him as "confused," and of course, we all are, to some extent or another. But despite all his talk about finding a ladder, after all this time there seems to be a large part of him that feels just fine swimming around in his same old muddle. I'm certainly pulling for him to find his way through, but as previously stated, I've got little interest in swimming with him any more.
OK, was searching for the quote, and discovered a bit more than that. This first is from the source of the controversy, a 2008 New Yorker article:
"Recently, Prince hosted an executive who works for Philip Anschutz, the Christian businessman whose company owns the Staples Center. “We started talking red and blue,” Prince said. “People with money—money like that—are not affected by the stock market, and they’re not freaking out over anything. They’re just watching. So here’s how it is: you’ve got the Republicans, and basically they want to live according to this.” He pointed to a Bible. “But there’s the problem of interpretation, and you’ve got some churches, some people, basically doing things and saying it comes from here, but it doesn’t. And then on the opposite end of the spectrum you’ve got blue, you’ve got the Democrats, and they’re, like, ‘You can do whatever you want.’ Gay marriage, whatever. But neither of them is right.”
When asked about his perspective on social issues—gay marriage, abortion—Prince tapped his Bible and said, “God came to earth and saw people sticking it wherever and doing it with whatever, and he just cleared it all out. He was, like, ‘Enough.’ ” "
Next, Claire Hoffman, the author of the article:
"I just interviewed Prince and he wouldn’t let me use a tape recorder or my notepad. I walked out and sat in my car and wrote for an hour. I don’t have long chunks of dialogue, but I was able to remember stuff.
Do you normally tape?
For the magazine stuff I normally try to tape. You can have longer dialogue, but for newspapers I don’t, just because you don’t have enough time. I’m a pretty fast writer, just from doing newspapers."
Finally, Ann Powers, from her interview with him:
He did not vote for Proposition 8. In fact, he didn't vote at all. "I didn't vote for Obama either," he explained. "Jehovah's Witnesses haven't voted for their whole inception." The controversy over a recent New Yorker "Talk of the Town" item, which Prince feels implied he supported the gay-marriage ban, has upset him. It's the first thing he wanted to discuss when the Web geeks had gone and we were alone. "I have friends that are gay and we study the Bible together," he said. He added that two sides fighting "only benefit the third person" who instigated the fight."
All that said, where and when did Lil Wayne's child-support stupidity occur? And as it happens, I missed Prince's anti-gay slurs too. I really don't keep up with the gossip these days. Please inform.
SF: Aaaaaah . . . Thanks for the description. Sorry I missed it is way too cliche. More like glad they did it at all. When I heard about it I had assumed it would be one of those two or three original members with friends added in. But not so, happily. Mick Ralphs and Ian Hunter together. Maybe they weren't the greatest band of all time, but they were absolutely my favorite there for a little while. The combination of intelligence, attitude, perspective and big g/b/d is a reason to live all by itself.
And JY: From your previous postings you certainly don't need my help, nonetheless referrencing your Bloodshot compliation (I doubt all of these are on that label so don't know how compulsive you tend to be): I have a Sally Timms Best Of file that I play the crap out of that includes "Toenail Moon" from the Wee Hairy Beasties' Animal Crackers, "Rock Me To Sleep" from the same album as "Cry Cry Cry" (2nd EDIT: Oops, you already had that one listed. Missed it when I scanned your list the first time), plus her and Jon together on "Down to Dover" from Songs of False Hope and High Values and on "The Plans We've Made" from the first Executioner's Last Songs. And "Hearts of Stone" and "Ghosts of American Astronauts" from the Mekons' B+ So Good it Hurts.
Might provide some sonic balance, besides which she's just that good.
EDIT: To second Jmel: Jay-Z's Decoded got high marks from a young rapper acquaintance of mine. I haven't read it yet but it is on my To Do list.
about the blogger
Starting in 1967, Robert Christgau has covered popular music for The Village Voice, Esquire, Blender, Playboy, Rolling Stone, and many other publications. He teaches in New York University's Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music, maintains a comprehensive website at robertchristgau.com, and has published five books based on his journalism. He has written for MSN Music since 2006.