10. Ticket Prices-I know this controversey has been around for 20 years, but it’s finally starting to really bother me. I get into a lot of shows for free, so maybe the high cost of tickets is just more shocking to me now. I know if I go see Springsteen it’s gonna cost me a pretty penny, but he’s also going to play for at least 3 hours and it’s all gonna be hits. Same with guys like McCartney. Certain entertainers can demand that high price tag. But $70 to see J. Cole? Are you kidding me? That’s not even counting the $8 in “Service Fees” I’m gonna get charged. I went to see Jay Z and Justin Timberlake do their mini-tour together at Soldier Field, and tickets were $250 each. And I paid because I’m an idiot, but that’s freaking insanity. For a lot of people in this country, that’s food on the table for their family for a month. I went and saw Neutral Milk Hotel, a band that hadn’t toured in 15 years with a rabid fanbase who would have paid a ridiculous amount to see them live again, and they charged $35. And part of that went to charity.
9. It’s Miley!-I really couldn’t care less about Miley Cyrus, and I assume 90% of people my age feel the same way. Unfortunately for us, she’s constantly doing something that music and news websites deem worthy of airtime/bandwidth. Usually this includes some form of “twerking” or sticking her tongue out like a modern-day Gene Simmons. A bit like Michael Jackson, here’s a person whose childhood was spent working and now that she’s old enough to do what she wants, she’s getting all that teenage reckless abandon out of her system. It’s normal, not news. Leave her alone and let her do her thing. Then maybe you can actually, I don’t know, report news.
8. The 20/20 Experience pt 2-Timbaland is another producer who can be out of control at times. I love Justin Timberlake, and everybody knows that already. The 20/20 Experience pt 1 is an amazing example of pop music crossing genres and appealing to a huge audience. On part 2, Timbaland’s production moves to the front and completely ruins any chance most of these songs had of being good. “Take Back The Night” is a fun riff on Off The Wall-era MJ, and “Drink You Away” is a great change of pace track that stands head and shoulders above those around it. Overall, though, part 2 is a footnote, an also-ran, when it could have been so much more.
7. The National’s Complacency-Remember those first three records by The National? Three great albums that catapulted The National into the mainstream with “Fake Empire” and “Mistaken For Strangers.” With High Violet they took their previous work and distilled it all into one sound that they’ve been trading on ever since. Trouble Will Find Me won high praise from critics and fans alike, and I suppose that makes sense because if you liked their last album you should like this one-it’s the same album. I know when you reach a certain level of success it becomes a lot harder to take chances, but come on.
6. The Rapid Decline Of Indie Rock-Indie Rock is dead. I think we all knew that it would happen, we just wanted to hold on to that period of time a little bit longer. But it’s over now, and we shouldn’t feel too bad about it. Music runs in cycles, so it’s only a matter of time before something new comes along to save rock and roll again. Who knows, maybe you’re listening to it right now. I wouldn’t be bothered at all by this death if it didn’t seem so lame. If Indie Rock had gone out in a blaze of glory, I’d be happy for it, but instead it just made a decision one day to appeal to tweens and college kids who grew up with Hannah Montana and Britney. So now Indie Rock is just pop music with guitars (sometimes).
5. Blurred Lines-At one point “Blurred Lines” was the biggest hit of the summer. You couldn’t flip on the radio or walk down the street without hearing it blaring out of someone’s car. Something funny happened as summer started to wind down, though. A huge backlash against the song started getting more attention than the song did. Whether the argument was that the song was misogynist or that it was a blatant rip off of a Marvin Gaye tune, people loved to give Robin Thicke a hard time. For me, I listened to it a bunch over the summer and then just stopped one day without thinking about it. I went back and listened again in October, and it was weird. I didn’t like it anymore-in fact I kind of hated it. A weird phenomena I don’t remember ever happening before.
4. Rap Icons Poor Albums-It was a pretty good year over all for hip/hop and rap. I think more albums in this genre made my Top 50 Albums than ever before. However, the guys at the top of the food chain dropped the ball with their 2013 releases: Yeezus has received a lot of year-end love, and I find it impossible to explain. The album has two really good, hell, EXCELLENT songs on it and the rest are all tracks that wouldn’t make the cut on Dark Twisted Fantasy. But the critics and the albums they choose are another problem all together. Jay Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail had a shot to be good, but he’s so far removed from the life that gave us Reasonable Doubt and The Blueprint that I don’t think he knows what to do with himself. Should he write a song about owning a part of the Brooklyn Nets, or how he’s a sports agent now and has all his clients over to the 40/40 Club (which he also owns). He’s not the only one out of touch, though. Eminem’s new record is a laughable attempt to reclaim the top spot in the rap world. Unfortunately for Em, the 40-something angry white man act doesn’t play that well. Speaking of angry white men, don’t all three of these records have something (or someone) in common?
3. Rick Rubin-He helped make rap music mainstream in the 80’s, bringing Run DM-C and Aerosmith together for “Walk This Way” and getting Beastie Boys their start, then he resurrected the career of Johnny Cash and made him cool to a whole new generation. Now, for some reason, he’s decided to destroy the great reputation he’s spent years building. And it wouldn’t bother me so much if he didn’t make himself such a huge part of everything he does nowadays. He’s in the “99 Problems” video, he’s in Jay Z’s Samsung commercials promoting Magna Carta, he’s in that Eminem video for “Berzerk.” He also heard a sample of Billy Squire’s “Stroke” and thought, “Yeah that’s gonna be killer.” Rubin’s career is over, and it looks like he’s trying to take as many guys down with him as possible.
2. Garth Brooks, Live From Las Vegas-Oh my God did you watch this thing? It was a trainwreck so bad I had to keep flipping to it during commercials of other things just to see what was happening. Billed as an evening of music and memories, Brooks spent 2 hours rambling on about his childhood, using these stories as an excuse to charge people to watch him play covers. That wasn’t the worst part though. The worst part was that he never finished a song-he’d play the first verse, or sometimes just the chorus, and then go right back to talking for ten minutes. He was out of breath most of the time, and sweating all over the place. It was a disgusting cash grab from a guy who sold more records than any other country artists (and more than Aerosmith, Springsteen, The Eagles, etc.).
1. The Reflektors-I thought it was pretty cool that Arcade Fire was playing secret shows as a band called The Reflektors where they would play their new album live for some lucky fans who were smart enough to get tickets. I was less amused when I saw The Reflektors on The Colbert Report being interviewed like it was a real thing. I liked Arcade Fire better when they were critical darlings instead of a stupid ad campaign. Reflektor has been hitting a lot of Top 50 lists, but everyone that I know has been knocking it pretty hard for James Murphy’s horrible production. (For the record I really like the song “Here Comes The Night Time.”