Tag: Pop

1963, Music

Surfer Girl (1963) by The Beach Boys

Like every early Beach Boys album, this is a short collection of an incredibly inconsistent set of songs which, on the one hand, show off Brian Wilson’s increasingly elaborate vocal arrangements and increasing compositional sophistication and, on the other, pad things out with songs so inane or derivative you want to burn the record. The …

1983, Music

An Innocent Man (1983) by Billy Joel

On this album Billy Joel makes me think he’s the pop version of Aaron Copland (in his most Americana phase) – an eminently talented musician who thinks that the best music is the music the people like, not the music he is fully capable of writing if he were more of a snob. I side …

1968

Aerial Ballet (1968) by Nilsson

Nilsson is just one of those guys I don’t get. I have listened to a few of his records now and every time my reaction is “This is what Nilsson sounds like?” You see, I am not really a fan of pop, and though this music is relatively adventurous – I stress the “relatively” as …

1963, Music

In Dreams (1963) by Roy Orbison

If there was one artist I grew up with from the ’50s and early ’60s, it was Johnny Rivers. But if there were two artists I grew up from the ’50s and early ’60s it was Roy Orbison. You see, we listened to oldies radio. But when we didn’t listen to oldies stations, we either …

1993, Music

janet. (1993) by Janet Jackson

As I say all the damn time, coming at an artist backwards is a bad idea. And yet here I am doing it again. This is only the second Janet Jackson album I’ve ever heard, but the first one I heard was the sequel to this one. The problem for me is that the sequel …

1978, Music

Grease Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1978)

When I was young, I absolutely hated nostalgia. I saw it as the enemy of creativity. Time, and particularly age, has softened that approach; I now understand nostalgia and even sometimes like it despite myself. But the thing is, when I do like nostalgia, it’s nostalgia for something I experienced. So I can understand why …

1967, Music

Wild Honey (1967) by The Beach Boys

I am not sure anything could have prepared me for this record, a bizarre left turn from Pet Sounds and Smiley Smile (and Smile presumably) in terms of ambition and overall sound, but also in some ways a logical follow up to Smiley Smile‘s bizarre lo-fi aesthetic. The first record the rest of the band …

1997, Music

Come On Over [Original Version] (1997) by Shania Twain

In Canada we have “Canadian Content” rules that necessitates radio DJs (and music video VJs!) play 35% Canadian music. As a Canadian alive in 1997, I have heard at least 7 of these songs ad nauseum. This album was gigantic in the US, yes, but I’m not sure it was as omnipresent as it was …

1982, Music

Thriller (1982) by Michael Jackson

Much like Bad, so many of the songs from Thriller were hits when I was a little kid that I know more of this record than I could have ever imagined. That knowledge once again puts me in a weird position, having the memory of what some of these songs sounded like to me as …

1997, Music

The Velvet Rope (1997) by Janet Jackson

I had a very, very fixed idea of Janet Jackson before listening to that record. It was an idea essentially created by music videos (Janet Jackson is attractive) and the odd accidental radio exposure, but also created by the music industrial complex, which has generally marketed female performers in a particular way for quite a …

1982, Music

1999 (1982) by Prince

Listening to this record immediately after Marvin Gaye’s Midnight Love is instructive: Prince shows how cutting edge musical technology can be used without permanently dating a record. Hint: it helps if you write good songs and it helps if you’re idiosyncratic. Prince has written a bunch of really catchy songs – even the songs he …

1982, Music

Lionel Richie (1982)

I do not like Lionel Richie’s aesthetic: he is slick and sappy at the same time. That is a recipe for disaster, in my eyes (ears). But Richie has a rather incredible knack for melody. These songs are catchy, but it’s not just that. Some of his melodies for the ballads are super compelling, they …

1997, Music

Fantasma (1997) by Cornelius

I have heard Fantasm described as ‘the Japanese Beck.’ It’s a comparison that sounds kind of ridiculous but is also kind of appropriate. It’s inappropriate inasmuch as Cornelius had been releasing music with Flipper’s Guitar well before Beck was known to most of us (is Beck, therefore, the American Cornelius?) but it is appropriate inasmuch …

1967, Music

Smiley Smile (1967) by The Beach Boys

If you read a lot of music criticism about the ’60s, like I used to, you have heard about Smile ad nauseum. If you read a lot of indiependent music criticism at the turn of the century, like I used to, you have also heard about Smile ad nauseum. You’ve heard about Smile to the …

1987, Music

Bad (1987) by Michael Jackson

I grew up with “Fat” and have a hard time separating the real song, the title track of this record, from its parody. But I haven’t listened to “Fat” in so long. Listening to Bad for the first time (and to the remaster, no less), I can’t help but wonder, “does “Fat” sound this terrible …

1997, 1998, Music

Backstreet Boys (1997, 1998 Re-Issue)

I am listening to this for my podcast. (Well, not exactly this album, but close. I’ll get into that.) But I don’t know what to do with it for a number of reasons. I don’t like pop music like this and I don’t spend time listening to it. Here are some reasons why:

1977, Music

Pacific Ocean Blue (1977) by Dennis Wilson

Full disclosure: I did not want to listen to this. I don’t love The Beach Boys and have generally been annoyed by the Brian Wilson-worship that has bubbled to the surface over the last few decades. Of all the likely listeners of this record, one would expect me to be among the least fair.

1982, Music

Imperial Bedroom (1982) by Elvis Costello and the Attractions

Though I haven’t heard the couple previous albums to this one, this still feels like a pretty big stylistic left turn for Costello. The production and arrangements are both noticeably different from the first Attractions record (or his first few solo albums). It’s a brave move (if it is indeed a move) as he could …

1957, Music

Loving You Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1957) by Elvis Presley

Elvis’s third album, which functions in part as the soundtrack to his first major film, is fraught with the same issues as his second record, it feels like an attempt to capitalize on Elvis’ stardom while pleasing as many people as possible.