Saturday, February 10, 2018

Academy Award Animated Shorts 2018

I watch the nominees of every year, but the last post I did was in 2015. Pleasingly there was a very good crop of animated shorts this year.

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Could Kobe Bryant win an Oscar? The first short was a very touching love-letter about the game which made Bryant who he is, a thank you for the years of fame and pleasure. I found myself unexpectedly moved, although perhaps a score by John Williams was mostly responsible. The animation admitted;y was very good, but in all the sentiment was a bit... repetitive.

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Second, Negative Space was a pleasing stop-motion animation. It seems as though every year the Academy has to nominate a short with tragic father issues, and this certainly fits that bill. I would not mind if this won, however. It's French and has those vibes, a 'My Life as Zucchini' feel (admittedly I didn't watch that film, but I felt like I didn't have to to get the Frenchness of it.) Besides Dear Basketball, starting with Negative Space, all the others had foreboding and dark themes, and humor.

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Lou follows. It's Pixar's offering, and features the increasingly standardized Disney-Pixar humans, children on a playground this time, and a powerful Eldritch God named Lou, immortal and mighty, who keeps the guise of an assemblage of Lost and Found items, waiting in a bin to lure unsuspecting victims in and devour their souls. Or so I hoped. But instead the lesson is bullying is bad but bullies are broken too, and Lou is more of a Giving Tree type. Pity.

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I was particularly fond of Revolting Rhymes Part One. At 29 minutes it told a long, very funny, updated, Roald Dahl version of Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, and The Three Little Pigs. The voice acting was good, it was genuinely amusing and fresh: an animated short I would want to show my own kids someday. The style was well-done, too, and the BBC talent (Rob Brydon!) was top-tier. Both directors have been up for the Oscar before, for Room on the Broom and The Gruffalo. Maybe this is their year?

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That said, the final installment, Garden Party, was absolutely amazing. It pushed the boundaries of animation into new territories of sophistication, told an excellent story, was provocative as well as laugh-out-loud funny, and had frogs. It is my clear choice for best film and most deserving of the Oscar. It should also win Best Picture.

Even if Lou or Dear Basketball wins, though, it won't be a bad year. Lou is sappy, but it's not a bad film. Dear Basketball is trite, but really very well-animated.

Honorable Mentions:

In between the nominees there were these odd interludes about a blue monster and a yellow monster. They were kind of funny. French, I think... The other Highly Commended selections were:

Lost Property Office. A rather bleak short with a slightly uplifting message at the end. He keeps lost things, the color palette is sepia, you get the idea.

Achoo. A racist and generally awful French short that makes fun of the Chinese and plays to the lowest common denominator and oh my God.

Weeds. So ridiculously, over-the-top, saccharine it almost reaches "so bad it's good" territory. Not very well animated, though.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

2020

So I predicted 2016 would by Hillary vs. Rubio. I knew Clinton would almost definitely be the nominee, but like most pundits, I didn't predict Trump being a serious contender in the field. In a group where the only serious contenders were Cruz, Jeb Bush, and Rubio I still think Rubio probably would've pulled through just to avoid a Clinton/Bush showdown.

Anyway, for 2020 I've learned from my mistakes and I've decided to not predict who I think will get the nod, but merely who my dream team combo is, which is:

Newsom - Duckworth

Gavin Newsom is probably going to become California's governor in a few months, when Jerry Brown retires. That'll bring him to national prominence. Former experience: Lt. Governor / Mayor of San Francisco who legalized gay marriage, and GQ cover model...

Image result for kimberly guilfoyle gavin newsom
No, but seriously...

If. as it seems, all people care about is appearances Newsom looks like a President. A young, handsome man who will look good on a stage next to Trump. And who will wipe the floor with him during debates. He's a brawler and has liberal bona fides for the Bernie-ish part of base. For those who miss the young energy of Obama, for those who wanted a progressive, for those who want more West Coast representation, and for those who for whatever reason need a man to be in charge, he's the guy. For the old guard moneyed Dems, he's one of them. 

Tammy Duckworth is the current junior Senator from Illinois, and soon-to-be first Senator to give birth during her term. She was first elected in 2016 after serving in the House (elected in 2012) and is very popular with her constituents. She also served as the Assistant Secretary of the VA Department, due to her service in Iraq:

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...And this is what inspiration looks like.

Now, I know the Trump base is the definition of 'shameless', for whom any sort of mockery is 'in-bounds', but I suspect a combat veteran who lost her legs in war may just be a bridge too far, especially for some of the military-background conservatives. She's more centrist than Newsom, and more mid-western. She can help with Michigan and Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania. She's the perfect person to have on the ticket for recapturing Obama democrats who went Trump, talking to the dispossessed in town halls, and showing the DNC's commitment to women. Oh, and she's an Asian-American. Which some people may, you know, notice.

In election hierarchies popular sitting Presidents defeat all comers, but then there's more of a toss-up with unpopular Presidents and popular Governors (Consider George HW Bush v. Clinton, or Carter v. Ford). Governors also tend to be likelier Presidents, generally. In the 42 years since 1976 we've only had 14 years under Senators, as opposed to those under Governors (Carter, Reagan, Clinton, and George W. Bush). And this holds up historically: From Grover Cleveland (1885) to FDR (1945) Former governors-turned-Presidents included Cleveland, McKinley, Teddy Roosevelt, Wilson, Coolidge, and Franklin Roosevelt. You want a governor at the top of the ticket.

To balance the knowing, Executive power, at the top of the ticket, you want a Senator VP who can corral the Senate, be the tie vote, and knows D.C. Granted, Duckworth is a bit young for this role, but after Hillary lost I think it's essential we have a (preferably Midwestern) female Senator, and she has the most nationally-visible profile. (Not that there's a lot of competition in that field...) I would love to see her go up against Pence on a debate on values.

Both are youthful, which is critical. We don't want grandparents after 2016. I love Warren, and Bernie, but the Dems are seen as too old. Schumer, Pelosi, Feinstein - they're all so old. Duckworth is 49, Newsom is 50. Both will be the right age to take on Trump and Pence in 2020.

Spoilers / Other Good Candidates:

Corey Booker, Senator from New Jersey
Tammy Baldwin, Senator from Wisconsin
Kamala Harris, Senator from California
Kate Brown, Governor of Oregon
Muriel Bowser, Mayor of D.C.
Joe Kennedy III, Congressman from Massachusetts

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'Cause we Democrats just can't help ourselves...

Monday, January 22, 2018

Albums by Year

A few months ago there was something going around of favorite movies by year since you were born. Here, then, is the musical equivalent. The album's overall rank (according to me) follows in parenthesis.

1986 - Graceland, Paul Simon (76)
1987 - Appetite for Destruction, Guns n Roses (13)
1988 - It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, Public Enemy (201)
1989 - The Stone Roses, The Stone Roses (66)
1990 - I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got, Sinead O'Connor (253)
1991 - The Low End Theory, A Tribe Called Quest (47)
1992 - The Last of the Mohicans Soundtrack, Trevor Jones and Randy Edelman (122)
1993 - A Meeting by the River, Ry Cooder and VM Bhatt (28)
1994 - Illmatic, Nas (20)
1995 - Jagged Little Pill, Alanis Morissette (50)
1996 - Endtroducing....., DJ Shadow (49)
1997 - Dig Your Own Hole, The Chemical Brothers (90)
1998 - Ronroco, Gustavo Santaolalla (60)
1999 - Global Underground 013: Ibiza, Sasha (27)
2000 - Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea, PJ Harvey (12)
2001 - Discovery, Daft Punk (13)
2002 - Sea Change, Beck (55)
2003 - Elephant, The White Stripes (24)
2004 - The College Dropout, Kanye West (130)
2005 - Come On, Feel the Illinoise!, Sufjan Stevens (271)*
2006 - Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, Neko Case (54)
2007 - Neon Bible, Arcade Fire (91)
2008 - No Albums
2009 - No Albums
2010 - Hadestown, Anais Mitchell (34)
2011 - Bastion Original Soundtrack, Darren Korb (283)
2012 - Radio Music Society, Esperanza Spalding (319)*
2013 - The Electric Lady, Janelle Monae (339)
2014 - No Albums
2015 - Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda (35)*
2016 - No Albums
2017 - No Albums

* Only album I own from that year

For the past ten years I've acquired mighty few albums. :( Get on my level, music industry!

Superlatives: Highest rank - 2000, PJ Harvey, at number 12. None of my top ten are from my own lifetime. Indeed the most recent albums to make my top ten are Talking Book and Ziggy Stardust, both from 1972.

2013 - Not a great year, with Monae's concept album the lowest ranked, at 339. Remarkably, though, there is a 2013 album lower on my list: The Unfortunates, by Casey Hurt, ekes out the 443 spot.

There is an album I liked in 2017, but I don't yet own, which is Ism by Steelism. It's good! I enjoyed it. Also for 2014 I may need to check out St. Vincent's self-titled release again. I liked it, but at the time was a bit underwhelmed.

I own at least one album for every year between 2008 all the way back to 1953. Besides those listed above in recent years, I also own no albums from 1952, 1950, 1949, 1948, 1947, 1946, 1944, 1942, 1939. My oldest recording is 1938. The ones I do own between 1953 and 1938, ranked, are:

1951 - A Streetcar Named Desire, Alex North (450)*
1945 - Zodiac Suite, Mary Lou Williams (500)*
1943 - Stormy Weather Soundtrack, Various (157)*
1941 - Songs for John Doe, Almanac Singers (134)
1940 - Dust Bowl Ballads, Woody Guthrie (31)*
1938 - The Famous 1938 Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert, Benny Goodman (352)*

So there you go.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Questionable Content

Questionable Content (QC) is a web comic by Jeph Jacques. It started in 2003, and has been updating M-F for many years now.

The original cast of Western Mass-dwelling 20-somethings were: Martin, indie-rock aficionado, Faye, his curvaceous and geeky roommate and love interest, Steve, his friend, Dora, the girl he eventually ended up with, and Hanners, the girl next door but not in that way. Martin also owned a small robot companion, Pintsize.

As time went on the cast grew, with relatives, relationships, and friends. But a pattern began to emerge which I have come to find very annoying.

Early on the three female leads, Faye, Dora, and Hanners shared equal time. The first two because of a Martin-based love triangle, the third because Hanners was initially mysterious and sort of kooky. But once a steady relationship formed, Jeph started introducing more and more female characters.

There was Marigold, an amime-watching curvy geeky girl. She was accompanied by

Momi, her anthro-PC companion who looks like a Japanese schoolgirl.

Then Tai, bisexual leader of a small crew of library grad students which included characters such as Emily and

Claire, the geeky trans girlfriend Martin ended up with after Dora (who paired with Tai).

Then we had Brun, a geeky curvaceous girl with an interest in clocks and a possible love triangle between two supporting male characters.

Then Bubbles, another, far more curvaceous female android and former combat vet who may be romantically interested in Faye.

And now Tilly, who uses them/they pronouns…

And I’m done.

 I don’t care anymore. No more wacky or woke female characters. Please. Each one gets a story arc that can last a very long time, but then they’re dropped when Jeph gets bored, and we never hear from them again. And I left out some of the secondary female characters who didn’t get big story arcs, like Martin’s dominatrix mom, the curvaceous geeky (see a pattern?) savant Raven, or Penelope, who is secretly Pizza Girl. Nor do I know whatever happened to the leftovers of the original cast, like Steve and his girlfriend whose name I’ve long since forgotten because it has been literally years since we’ve checked up on them.

Examples of what I’m talking about: Marigold’s arc began around strip 1600. (She also had a boy crush, name lost to the ether.) By 2650 she was wrapped and done, hardly seen since. Claire had showed up as a supporting side-character somewhere around 2250, got together with Martin around 2900, and shortly thereafter she (and Martin largely, by extension) started to disappear. Around 3300 Brun showed up, by 3400 Bubbles was the star of the strip, and by 3600 we’re now on to Tilly.

There’s something unsettling in discarding these women. Each has a different woke aspect. Hanners had OCD, Brun is autistic, Bubbles had PTSD from combat, Claire is trans, and now Tilly is some form of gender queer. The original cast successfully carried the strip with minor supports until around the Marigold arc. More worrying still, Jeph made a point that he loved the new focus on Marigold, calling her his favorite character. Then he said the exact same thing about Claire. And then turned to Bubbles…

And I’m done. It was a fun run, but instead of working with what he has it’s clear he’s just going to keep introducing characters and neglecting the women he’s already created.

Friday, December 29, 2017

2017 in Books

This was a very good year in reading - one of the best in a long time. Usually at the end of the year I create a Top 5, with one or two five-star entries, and then the best of the four-stars. This year, for the first time in ages, I have more than five five-star books! So I put them all on, at the end as usual. Didn't read as many pages this year as years past, nor volumes, but very satisfying.

Nonfiction

Dark Money by Jane Mayer

The first portion of the work traces the rise of the Kochs, and others of their type, who have amassed unseemly fortunes for political manipulation. The second section details how unified their spending was based on their business interests – whether greasing up judges for Citizens United, putting the cash into “AstroTurf” (fake grassroots) movements like the Tea Party, lobbying against climate change, or setting up foundations, think tanks, and academic chairs to spread their gospel – a wholesale assault on all branches of American life to convert us to their worldview: the federal government exists solely to protect property rights. The final part handles the moves that have been made since 2010, the back and forth of the billionaire class.

The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir

A book that required I take it in slowly. In the parlance of our times, it is largely responsible for becoming ‘woke’ – even for someone who had identified as a feminist male-ally prior to reading the work. It abolished the model I had been working with, of equivalence, and replaced it with equality. Startling to realize how often our society argues the necessity of the former instead of the latter. A basic understanding of Freud, and Sartre’s existentialism (no surprises there), is useful.

Essays in Idleness by Yoshida Kenko

A fun little gallimaufry of wandering thoughts. Some quirky, some insightful, and yes, some rather pointless – but all in all a fun and intriguing read.

The Anatomy of Melancholy by Robert Burton

Parts of this weird 1620 catalogue of things are real gems, and in general I found the first half to be interesting. But the second half was not. At all. And since that comprises fully 400+ pages, that’s a slog that on balance makes the enterprise not really worthwhile. Excerpts suggested instead.

Philosophy and Existence by Karl Jaspers

Three lectures-as-essays. Jaspers was one of the few significant existentialists I’d not engaged with, but I found his observations to be of little interest.

Crowds and Power by Elias Canetti

A fascinating whirlwind through anthropology, psychology, and politics that focuses on the interaction of crowd dynamics, formation, paranoia, growth, and other facets of power.

Ontogeny and Phylogeny by Stephen Jay Gould

The first 230-or so pages are clear enough for a person with a general science background, but then the jargon comes quickly without explanation, logarithmic tables, etc. Interesting ideas about evolution and embryology, but it’s too technical for most.

Endless Forms Most Beautiful by Sean Carroll

This is a very readable introductory text to ‘evo devo’ – the combination of evolutionary and developmental biology. At times he is a bit folksy, and at times a bit technical, but overall it’s pitched at the right level for a lay reader. Focuses on genetics and makes a strong case for the role they play in how species evolve by activating and deactivating parts of genes.

Fiction

A Coney Island of the Mind by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Not a particularly good set of poems – fine. Feels like one of those collections you have to read, but there is far superior Beat poetry out there (most notably Ginsberg).

Hrafnkel’s Saga and Other Stories

A very short saga indeed – only around forty pages. Of some historical interest is that Hrafnkel becomes an atheist midway after his fortune turns sour. Then, by Icelandic standards, he becomes a better man. (Although still a vengeance-hungry murderer, so, you know. Different values.)

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

The Mahabharata. Pride and Prejudice. War and Peace. …Pippi Longstocking? So decided the Norwegian Nobel Institute when they included the work as one of the 100 greatest works of world literature ever written. I was, needless to say, skeptical. Yet this slim read was so amusing, so fresh, and so frequently laugh-aloud funny I have to concur.

Beloved by Toni Morrison

Truly remarkable – the excellence of the language, the style, the descriptions. Having finished this work I simultaneously wish I had read it sooner, and also felt that it was the perfect work to have read now – and increasingly I find that experience a theme for the books I encounter that are the most valuable.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

ARGH. I loved this book, and couldn’t stop reading it. But honest-to-goodness the last chapter so screwed up the preceding 290 pages, I was very upset. Until that point I was increasingly persuaded that it should replace Orwell in high schools. Still, as dystopias go, I’ll put it as third in the pantheon with Huxley and Orwell – but unfortunately in third place.

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Having encountered Marquez in high school, via ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’, I for what seemed ages had his more famous novel on my “to read” list. It did not disappoint, despite the very high bar, and most impressively it stuck the landing, which I worried over for a good hundred pages. Absolutely worthy of the 20th century canon.

The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu

One of the few culturally important gifts we’ve received from ‘Family Guy’ is Peter Griffin in exasperation saying: “Oh my God! Who. The hell. CARES.” For the first, oh two hundred-ish pages of this thousand-page tome I gamely followed the (dry) account because it was intriguing to get a glimpse into so different a society, and I genuinely found some of the cultural information very interesting, even if the plot and characters left me mostly cold. But then there were another eight-ish hundred pages of late-night rendezvouses, affronted honor, and complex familial ties and obligations which prompted me to have the same vexation as Peter. It took me four years to finally finish this – after even the main character himself has died it just. keeps. going. Get an abridged edition or – better yet – avoid altogether.

The Recognitions by William Gaddis

Another multi-year project. It started off so well, sending-up religion, the art world, academia, middle class values – and then kept on doing that. For about a thousand pages. As challenging to read as Ezra Pound’s Cantos, and equally unrewarding.

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Making a loathsome main character relatable is a very hard task to achieve. And Achebe does not achieve it. But after the introductory ‘Anthropology 101’ chapters it moves quickly and has a tight ending.

Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler

An excellent read, but it does expect a certain intellectual familiarity with dialectical history (and Romaine Rolland would also help). Still, a superbly written work – both gripping and reflective, which is rarely achieved. A fictional counterpart to Camus’ “fastidious assassins” of The Rebel.

Ramayana by Valmiki (Trans. Ramesh Menon)

The epic tale is very enjoyable, and a must-read for those who enjoy Homer, mythology, and the like. The last section, however, the Uttara Kanda, is a problematic years-later addition to the main text, and may safely be avoided.

Poems of Paul Celan (Trans. Michael Hamburger)

I intensely enjoyed the initial poems of the first publications by Celan, but this was followed by a rather uninspired middle (with repetitive focus on certain tired themes like the eye, words, and stones) before refreshing itself, at least partially, towards the end.

Canti by Giacomo Leopardi (Trans. Jonathan Galassi)

This slim volume of 40 works breaks down with an opening on how everything sucks and Italy isn’t, like, cool anymore, at which point he discovers love (which also sucks) – accounting for the first half. Then there’s some reflection, some contemplation on how frequently he used to lament and whether life really sucked that much… But this does not last.

The Piano Teacher by Elfriede Jelinek

It was very difficult to get through the first part of this bitter and cruel work about repression and screwed-up mother-daughter relationships. It slowly improves, but not a great deal.

Quo Vadis by Henryk Sienkiewicz

Imagine ‘A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum’ but it’s too long, too preachy, and not funny.

Ironweed by William Kennedy

A nice little ramble of James Joyce’s ‘The Dead’ meeting Steinbeck’s Joads in Albany, with a gratifying, and Pulitzer-worthy use of language.

Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino

An absorbing work which starts of firmly grounded in Borgesian themes and then expands well beyond them into moving contemplations.

Angels in America: Perestroika by Tony Kushner

A decade after reading Millennium Approaches for school I finally got around to reading the second part of the play. I preferred the first volume, but Perestroika manages to pull it all together near the end to make it as good as Millennium.

Missing Person by Patrick Modiano

A sort-of ur-mystery which kept me turning pages until two in the morning. Modiano’s work sucks you in and compels your attention with his use of language.

Loving by Henry Green

Pleasant-enough upstairs-mostly-downstairs portrait of English servants working in a castle in Ireland during the War. The style is fine, but I wasn’t overly impressed, and sort of surprised that so many people give it high plaudits. Perhaps the market is so saturated these days with this sort of fare it has diluted the enjoyment of the originals.

Sunjata by Bamba Suso and Banna Kanute

Two orally-transmitted Gambian versions of a Malian epic.  The first is tribal, the second post-Islamic. Neither is particularly enjoyable.

Kokoro by Natsume Soseki

For a reader who relishes well-crafted plots, this book will disappoint. Within the first section I knew where it was going, and it unfolded exactly as anticipated. That said, the first two of three sections are very good for character development and capturing a certain time of life when one has just graduated from university and is trying to decide who they are.

The Gods Will Have Blood by Anatole France

Set in the last days of France’s Terror the plot and outcome is already known, allowing the author to focus with very good detail on the psychological cross-section of how Parisians dealt with living in a climate of fear.

The Bridge on the Drina by Ivo Andric

This epic covers the centuries that pass by a bridge with an episodic, almost short-story feel before the final third which settles in on a stable cast of characters. I enjoyed the first two thirds, and it has a great last chapter, but he fumbles the “main” (?) characters fairly badly in the final third.

Winesburg Ohio by Sherwood Anderson

An American classic – frankly psychological and sexual for its time. That said, this milestone pales a bit, now given that such themes are ordinary and commonplace in much literature.

El Senor Presidente by Miguel Asturias

Asturias has a powerful command of language which settled deeply into this nightmarish world. While we in the US tend to refer to “banana republics” derisively ‘El Senor Presidente’ peels back the view for an outsider to reveal a horrific personal set of tragedies caused by such a dictator.

Rock and Hawk: A Selection of Shorter Poems by Robinson Jeffers

Before Steinbeck, Jeffers was the voice of the California Central Coast. His poetry is not very good.

The Moviegoer by Walker Percy

A nice philosophic novel, but it is stained with the ideas and racial descriptors of a worse era.

All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren

All the King’s Men tells the story of a young man, in his early thirties, with a keen interest in politics and history, who needs to know the truth at all costs (even if it takes him to California), has strong principles (and failed relationships), and is living through the rise of an American dictator.

I mean. Come on.

Waiting for the Barbarians by JM Coetzee

A very good allegorical tale of waiting on the frontiers, and the roles and abuses of power – the simple style will probably stick with me for some time.

Graphic Novels

Saga vol. 6+7 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples


After a nearly two-year hiatus I was concerned about picking up the thread where I’d left off. It’s a credit to the team for making it easy to get back into the still-engrossing story.


Top "5" - All five-star books!

All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino
El Senor Presidente by Miguel Asturias
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler
Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Songs of the Last Five Years

2017 to 2012. 

Looking back on music I’ve found the years since 2012 to be kind of… blegch. Which got me thinking, reflecting on this lousy stretch: which tunes will be considered the icons of this weird five-year spread? What will be played at the parties, fill out karaoke playlists, and be the backbone of digital 2010s radio stations ten years (or the 2010s-themed parties in twenty years) from now? Here are my guesses for a Top 40 of Pop.

NOTE: I loathe some/many of these tracks. This is just my prediction for what’s going to last, not my personal endorsements.

NOTE NOTE: The fact that I’m even making this list is rather silly, considering how many of these I only knew in the vaguest terms, and had to look up by lyric or digging. I don’t listen to pop music! So if the song made it through my radio-free bubble, I guess it has to be pretty well-known.

All About That Base – Meghan Trainor, 2014.
Alright – Kendrick Lamar, 2015.
Anaconda – Nicki Minaj, 2014.
Applause – Lady Gaga, 2013.
Bang Bang – Jessie J, Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj, 2014.
Black Beatles – Rae Sremmurd ft. Gucci Mane, 2016.
Chandelier – Sia, 2014.
Counting Stars – One Republic, 2013.
Cranes in the Sky – Solange Knowles, 2016.
Despacito – Luis Fonsi ft. Daddy Yankee, 2017.
Fancy – Iggy Azalea ft. Charli CXC, 2014.
Formation – BeyoncĂ©, 2016.
Gangnam Style – Psy, 2012.
Get Lucky – Daft Punk ft. Pharrell, 2013.
Happy – Pharrell, 2013.
Hello – Adele, 2015.
Hotling Bling – Drake, 2015.
I Love It – Icona Pop ft. Charli XCX, 2012.
Ivy – Frank Ocean, 2016.
Let It Go – Idina Menzel, 2013.
Mask Off – Future, 2017.
Q.U.E.E.N. – Janelle Mona eft. Erykah Badu, 2013.
Radioactive – Imagine Dragons, 2012.
Roar – Katy Perry, 2013.
Royals – Lorde, 2012.
See You Again – Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth, 2015.
Shake It Off – Taylor Swift, 2014.
Shape of You – Ed Sheeran, 2017.
Stay With Me – Sam Smith, 2014.
Sugar – Maroon 5, 2014.
The Fox (What Does the Fox Say) – Ylvis, 2013.
The Sound – The 1975, 2016.
Thrift Shop – Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, 2012.
Timber – Pitbull ft. Kesha, 2013.
Trap Queen – Fetty Wap, 2015.
Turn Down for What – DJ Snake ft. Lil Jon, 2014.
Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars, 2014.
Wagon Wheel – Darius Rucker, 2013.
Work – Rhianna ft. Drake, 2016.
Wrecking Ball – Miley Cyrus, 2013.


Fun Fact: While compiling this list I legitimately wondered, and had to look up, if The Wallflowers’ “One Headlight” (released in 1996) was recorded in the past five years. I am old.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2018?

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2018: And the nominees are…

Nineteen nominees this year, and lots of strong contenders. First thing’s first, here are the essentials who need to get inducted:

Nina Simone
Radiohead
The Cars

This trio is too pivotal, too important, etc. Next, are artists who I really like, or whose musical importance I acknowledge. Any of these would be good to round out the above three, but I’ve gone ahead and put them in the order I would want:

The Zombies
The Meters
The Moody Blues
Dire Straits
Link Wray
Eurythmics
LL Cool J
Judas Priest
Bon Jovi
Depeche Mode
Rage Against the Machine

These would all be fine. If the committee was stupid and lost their mind they could even make a list out of a combo of those second-runners and be okay. (Note: I don't listen to Judas Priest, but I like that they are at least giving a nod to the edgier sounds. Still no Def Leppard, or many other unrecognized pioneers of heavy / metal.)

Of note: Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Should totally be inducted… But if Louis Jordan and Ma Rainey are “Early Influences” she should be too.

Not keen on seeing put in there:

Kate Bush. I don’t like her, but the Hall of Fame is behind on women...
MC5. Again, I just don’t get them. I tried a couple of their albums – not my style.
J. Geils Band. I had to look them up. They aren’t that good. But they’ve been nominated five times, so someone at the Hall really wants them in.
Rufus feat. Chaka Khan. Blegch. I had to look up who they were, and boy was I not impressed.

So I guess my worst list would be these four plus Rage Against the Machine or Depeche Mode. That would be a pretty crappy lineup.


Seriously, though, if Nina Simone isn’t inducted I’m going to be pissed. Regular folk can vote until the 5th and as of now Bon Jovi is way, way in the lead.