Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Popjustice 20 Quid Prize 2014: The Definitive Rankings

Every year since 2003, a panel of judges bestow the Popjustice £20 Music Prize to the artist behind the best British pop single of the year. The debate takes place in a pub in London on the same night as the Mercury Prize, which pompously purports to honor the best album of the year from the UK and Ireland. It’s not unlike the Grammy Award for Album of the Year, except that the UK already has one of those in the BRIT Awards; the Mercury Prize is really more like the Golden Globes of the UK music awards circuit: just another group of music snobs whose opinion matters because it comes with £20,000 and a heck of a jump in album sales. Popjustice’s £20 Music Prize is, in some sense, the Razzie Award, except instead of honoring the worst (see, we do that enough ourselves on the charts) the award goes to the best of an overlooked genre. (The last time a pop album won the Mercury Prize was… ha, fooled you! A pop album has never won the Mercury Prize, come on. There's not even one nominated this year.)

Little Mix Move Video
Little Mix's "Move" is Vertigo Shtick's pick for the 2014 Popjustice 20 Quid Prize

Although I had to sit out this year on Vertigo Shtick's annual rundown of the Popjustice 20 Quid Prize shortlist, that doesn't mean I neglected to become familiar enough with the twelve shortlisted songs to establish a final, authoritative ranking by which this year's crop ought justly to be judged.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Google Is Literally Giving Away Copies of "Prism"

Remember when Amazon, to promote its fledgling digital music service, sold Lady Gaga's sophomore album Born This Way for 99 cents during two days of its debut week, and it broke the Billboard 200? Lady Gaga (or, more accurately, her label) was laughing all the way to the bank,  since Amazon paid full price for every download sold, and Amazon began a habit of digital music-as-loss-leader that it continues to this day. Now Google, to promote its own third-place digital music operation through Google Play, is offering Katy Perry's third album, Prism, for just a click of a mouse and maybe a little piece of your soul.

Katy Perry Prism Google Play
It's all about the price tag

Prism, which came out in 2013, is obviously not the kind of draw Born This Way was, but it's almost certainly going to be a major windfall for Capitol Records, Perry's label, and a boost to Perry's sales record, even if Billboard probably won't count the free "sales" on the Billboard 200 (I've reached out to Billboard for confirmation, and will update if and when I hear back). It's uneasily clear that Perry and her team have little shame when it comes to promoting an album that, perhaps unavoidably but perhaps deservedly hasn't lived up to the enormous and record-breaking success of the smash Teenage Dream.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Best 'New Yorker' Pop Music Articles to Catch Before the Paywall Returns

The New Yorker magazine recently lifted its paywall temporarily, and all articles published since 2007 are available for free until later this year. Since the New Yorker is basically my life force, here are some great pop music-related articles to check out while you can.

New Yorker Factory Girls
K-Pop group Girls Generation from the New Yorker article "Factory Girls"

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Get More of Your Weird Al Fix With the Iggy Azalea Parody "Handy"

Another day, another "Weird Al" Yankovic video (not that I'm complaining!). For today's fourth out of an eight-day video per day release strategy, Yankovic released "Handy," a parody of Iggy Azalea's just-deposed #1 hit and arguable Song of the Summer, "Fancy." With the comedy singer in a blonde wig and mustache and with two hilarious overweight fix-it man backup dancers, "Handy" had me skeptical at first and by the end rolling on the floor. 

"Weird Al" beez in the trap
You'd think the handyman shtick would run cold after a while, but between his impressive array of puns and "glue dat, glue dat, and screw dat, screw dat" rhymes and the uproarious choreography, "Handy" is a real knee-slapper. Yankovic even gets in a sly reference to Azalea's feature verse on Ariana Grande's "Problem" - see if you can find it! Also, what he does with Charli XCX's "ow!" is...I mean, it's all just too much, in the best way.

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