Tuesday, November 27, 2012

You Can (And Should) Stream Ke$ha's New Album 'Warrior' Right Now for Free

Sure, 2012 has been pretty much a bust for pop music. However - and I can't be alone in this - I've been holding onto one last strand of hope, namely that the artist to whom I have (mostly) un-ironically referred on this blog as the Messiah of pop music (I know, it's embarrassingly hyperbolic and, in this blogging climate, almost cliche) might pull off a last-second save and take this dismal year from a gut-wrenching shutout to...well, a moderately close loss. Initial reports from the Ke$ha front haven't been disastrous, but I'd be lying like Ashlee Simpson alleging a case of acid reflux if I said I've been whole-heartedly impressed and encouraged thus far with the impending sophomore LP Warrior. Still, every time I doubt Ke$ha, she bitch-slaps me with a plastic cup of Jack Daniel's while urinating on me and making wild animal calls with her other hand until I regret my lapse in faith and vow never to underestimate her again, and I dislike being covered in piss - even famous, mostly alcoholic piss.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Irony Explained in Eight Easy Music Videos

Another day, another rage-baiting anti-postmodernist culture think piece featured in some major publication (in this case, the New York Times) written by an author who clearly doesn't understand the concept to begin with; it's definitely nice to know who is getting paid for his writing while I continue to search for employment. Today's contestant involves the tricky concept of "irony," in this case used interchangeably with anything "hipster," which itself, to quote music critic Maura Johnston, ultimately seems to denote any "person whose cultural choices make [the author] feel like I'm not the target demo." Basically it's a big hifalutin piece by a professor of French at Princeton University saying "Irony is bad because I don't understand it and this is yet another reason you should continue to not hire these unemployed Millennials" and so forth... ugh, it's gross, whatever.

There are plenty of stellar intellectuals out there in the writing corps who I'm confident will provide thorough rebuttal to this editorial flashpoint-du-jour, and I'm happy to let them work their magic. What I will provide is a crash course cheat sheet on irony demonstrated in music video form. If you're all going to be arguing about irony all day, you ought to make sure you know what the word actually means.

Don'tcha think?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Popologist Panel: Brandy, Icona Pop, Lana Del Rey, Solange, Taylor Swift and More

Maybe it was the election we just lived through here in the States (for which reason the panel was bumped this month by one week), or maybe it's the approaching finales of The Voice and The X Factor (UK and US!), or perhaps I'm not the only one who's sick to death of this godforsaken year and counting impatiently down to the next. Or maybe it's just that winter is approaching and the sun acting like it wants to start seeing other people but it wants us to bring it up. But whatever the reason, it's gotten pretty damn shady around here at the Popologist Panel this month, and after a particularly friendly outing last month our panelists all seem to have the snark turned up a bit higher than usual. That might be trouble (trouble, trouble, trouble) for some of the releases and artists featured this month, including buzzed-about newcomers Icona Pop and Meg Myers; European BMOCs MIKA, Labrinth, and Madeon; veteran R&B hitmakers Brandy and Blu Cantrell and up-and-coming indie-R&B explorer Solange; and two of the most polarizing young players in the game: chronically surprised sales behemoth Taylor Swift, and the controversial-by-design chanteuse known as Lana Del Rey.

With the knives out and our full panel together for the first time since summer, it's a hell of a fun read for you this month, and we hope you enjoy and encourage you to add your thoughts in the comments, where we will continue the arguments as needed. Oh, as you'll see, several panelists had trouble shutting up about one selection in particular, so forgive the passionate lengthiness where it occurs.  As always, there's a good crop of new stuff here you may or may not have heard, so we hope you'll check out anything here you think might interest you. For an extra bit of fun, each panelist has selected one of this month's selections as his or her "Top Pick." What's yours? Enjoy, share and please send your thoughts, whether you think we're right on or full of shit. We're very likely both.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Ten Britney-Related Reasons to Vote for Barack Obama

Today is Election Day here in the United States. Wait, had you heard there was an election coming up? A few people might have mentioned it, or there were a couple ads on television, maybe you missed them. In any event, by 8pm tonight most American citizens have the right to drop by a local polling place and cast a ballot in the latest race for President of the United States, among other federal, state and local races and initiatives. If you live in California you can help decide the fate of the death penalty, while if you live in Los Angeles County, you can vote on whether pornographic performers should be legally required to wear condoms from here on out! (Priorities.) Isn't democracy exciting?

Well, four years ago democracy was exciting. In 2012, democracy is, frankly, a little terrifying. In 2008 we were choosing between this awesome black guy and this not as awesome but still pretty harmless old war vet with a phenomenally entertaining psychopath Alaskan hockey mom for a running mate who looked a lot like Tina Fey and whose teenage daughter was knocked up and would eventually almost win Dancing With the Stars while Kathy Griffin faux-manced her baby daddy-turned-dreadful Playgirl model and we all laughed and laughed. In 2012 our choices are that same awesome black guy, whose awesomeness has, for some, waned in light of his decent-but-not-phenomenal four years so far in office, and on the other side, a not-exactly-universally beloved former governor of Massacusetts whose political views, as displayed over the past year and a half, are about as clear as Anne Heche's sexual preference. Oh, and he has a conservative psycopath for a running mate who really really doesn't like poor people (or women, immigrants, gays, etc.). And he fronts a party that has increasingly gone off the rails over the past decade and would probably be hilarious in its ludicrousness if it weren't so powerful and taken so seriously by so alarmingly many people.

Britney Spears has said some silly things in her time about politics, although (wisely) she hasn't said a whole lot on the subject, but I think we can agree that Britney 2012 is a proven beacon of wisdom far beyond the reach of any comprehension. Therefore, on a day and regarding a subject that has been written on and discussed as nauseum from nearly every angle imaginable, I thought I'd offer my take on this very important if drastically talked to death topic in what I hope is a new and unique way worth a small spot in the digital literature of the 2012 presidential election.

Because at the end of the day, it all really just comes back to Britney, doesn't it?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Popjustice £20 Music Prize: A Guide to the 2012 Shortlist

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 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.

The 2012 Mercury Prize will be handed out this evening in London, which means that, at the same time, 55 pop lovers will be meeting in a pub elsewhere in London to decide the winner of the 2012 Popjustice £20 Music Prize from the twelve meritorious singles below. Last year I offered readers a user-friendly guide to the 2011 shortlist, and it went so well I decided to do it again. Be sure to tune in tonight on Twitter (@vertigo_shtick) because I will hopefully be live-tweeting my second-hand coverage of the event, which is always irreverent, maddening, and exciting as hell.  
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