by carl wilson

Wiping the (Floor with My Adversaries at) Slate!

The Clipse: Consensus picks of the Slate '06 crew.

As forecast, the Slate Music Club - feat. Jody Rosen, Jon Caramanica, Ann Powers and me - begins its annual general meeting today. So far Jody's discussed the "slow-motion collapse of the record business" in 2006, as well as country music and "Morrissey-goes-mall-rat" bands like Panic! at the Disco, while Jon's lauded the Clipse and My Chemical Romance. We've all tacitly agreed not to discuss Gnarls Barkley (will our defences hold?). My first post is up next.

(4 pm: Ah. There it is.)

| Posted by zoilus on Monday, December 18 at 12:40 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (9)



All good points, Graham - just want to compare that I am comparing this year more to, like, 2003 or 2004, rather than 1996. I think pop has gotten way better in this decade than it was ten years ago. I just didn't feel like this year was quite as strong as several of the previous years, that it seems more transitional (which in its own way is a sign of strength). Maybe I'm just getting tired of relying on Timba and the Neptunes to get us through the chart-pop year.

And it's nice that Dylan's album did so well but that's mainly in relative terms - albums by old people sell better than albums by younger people because old people still buy albums.

But as I tried to say in my opening in the Slate discussion, there's no such thing as a bad year for music, and if you look at it from 10 other angles - rather than the pop mainstream, which was kind of our agreed main topic for that conversation - then 2006 was as good or better than any other time.

Posted by zoilus on December 20, 2006 1:44 PM



That's really interesting, Carl. I think I'm the exact opposite. I look at the charts and (selectively) see things like Nelly Furtado and Justin Timberlake (both produced of course by who else Timbaland) on one hand and the reemergence of people like Dylan (nearly double platinum), E-40, Nas (to an extent), and Jay-Z (even if the album wasn't very good) on the other. To me, it seems really positive in that I'd rather have the kids listening to Timbo's futuristic-electro than, say, mindless boy bands and the like (of a decade ago).

If anything, the situation back then was much more dire than it is today: pop sucked, rap was without Pac and BIG (Puff Daddy in the latter's place!), rock was in a rut (if we accept the "Strokes bring back rock" thesis), etc. And we made it through and got to where we are now.

Sure, most if not all the artists I've mentioned have been around for a long time but they've also developed in that time (think about the past 10 years of JT!) into something else. Maybe the pop superstars of tomorrow are churning out absolute crap right now? Maybe the era of the "one big hit" or "one classic debut album" is over? Could this be a good thing in that the expectations built up by those standards (think about Nas' career) hamstring an artist for his entire life...

Of course, I'm an optimist in all this.

Posted by Graham on December 19, 2006 8:52 PM



Is the person posting as "Half" also named John?

I'm enjoying the discussion at Slate very much. Keep on rockin'!

Posted by john on December 19, 2006 2:48 PM



John - all your points are well taken. Kids, as I said later in my entry when talking about teen bands, have access to a wider range of music than they ever did, and they're taking advantage of it. But when I was talking about tweens and Disney pop, I was talking about it in 1998-2001 and saying that many of the nine and ten year old kids of that time, who are now in late high school, say, are part of the demographic that I think put some decisive pressures on the pop market.

Graham - I just feel, when I look at the things from the tops of the charts, and when I look at my own list of best records, that neither are *as* good as they have been in other years. Might this just mean that I don't feel great about 2006 on some personal level that colours my pleasure in all those things? Yes. But I do feel, as I said in the Slate piece, that most of what I liked most this year was just more good stuff by people who've made good stuff for several years - that not so much exciting new territory was broken, although there's promising rustling in the bushes.

Posted by zoilus on December 19, 2006 1:35 PM



I don't really understand why people thought 2006 was generally a "bad year" in music. Putting aside your astute interventions on how there's never a bad week let alone year, the number of great records from this year (I go on about the great albums of the year on my blog) would seem to indicate that this year was a banner campaign for musical quality. If anything, 2006 to me is one of those years that fuels my desire for more music. In other words, 2006 has been a tonic for the music nerd soul.

Posted by Graham on December 19, 2006 12:14 AM



Feel free to analyse, but the sixteen year old next door is neither the son of artists nor an art student and he has variously been into CCR, The Band, Dylan etc. I was just pointing out that there is an active resistance to Disneyfied pop.

Posted by Half on December 18, 2006 9:30 PM



The thing about "the state of music" -- despite our techno-fantasies of instant universal access, so much local culture remains at best semi-visible, which your comment about "some young asshole-genius" acknowledges. In rural Louisiana 7 years ago my spouse and I went to a Friday night Zydeco dance at a parish hall. Everybody from teen-agers to 80-somethings were doing the same dance step, and the band was "cooking like Betty Crocker," as I overheard the owner of my neighborhood mailbox company say to somebody about 25 minutes ago. The small town of Smithers in northern B.C. has a hot fiddle scene. I understand that in a modernist context -- the context of this discussion -- trad. music doesn't even register, but a drummer I heard twice last week in New Orleans sounded like NOBody I'd ever heard before -- wrenching something new out of the same old beats -- and he was playing for tips both nights. Friendly guy too. And those Smithers fiddlers don't sound quite like anything else I've ever heard either.

Like you said, "There's no such thing as a bad year for music. Not even a bad week." Thank you, Carl. And -- even better -- not all the geniuses are chronologically young, or even assholes.

Posted by john on December 18, 2006 6:46 PM



Well, what part of "most kids don't go to art school, don't have artist parents, etc." do we need to analyze there, Half?

Posted by zoilus on December 18, 2006 6:09 PM



Those boomer tweens-into-teens you mentioned don't, in my experience, embrace the Bubble-gum. Maybe it's just that she's in an art school, but my daughter's friends all listen to music from the sixties to nineties.

Posted by Half on December 18, 2006 5:17 PM




Zoilus by Carl Wilson