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The Big Hurt: The year in not really giving a shit

Maybe next year, music
By DAVID THORPE  |  December 24, 2008


In the annals of American pop history, 2008 will surely go down as a year when our nation had more-important shit to worry about. Music usually hovers around #1 in the stuff-I-care-about charts, but amid all the year's panic, turmoil, Hope®, and high-def widescreen YouTube videos of cats falling off things, it managed to slip down into the low #30s, somewhere around birdwatching and maritime law.

(If you were a critical thinker — and for both our sakes, let's hope you're not — you might be wondering how a dude who barely paid attention to music all year could honorably sustain a weekly pop-music column in a reputable paper. If you figure it out, please let me know.)

I gather that this is some kind of year-end edition and that I'm supposed to reflect on the music of the past year. Hey, what the hell? Let's do this thing. I now present a brief overview of artists we were maybe supposed to care about this year:

FLEET FOXES | I saw this album for sale at Starbucks, and I'm sure as hell not going to break the cultural embargo by listening to it. Willingly hearing or reviewing any album sold at Starbucks would be no less a political transgression than Elton John's playing Sun City during apartheid. It's unconscionable. You just don't do it.

AMADOU & MARIAM | Their latest, Welcome to Mali, currently holds the #1 spot for '08 on the review aggregator, and it's really no wonder: Amadou & Mariam hail from Mali, one of the poorest nations in the world. They're also blind. You would have to be a total dick to give their album a bad review. If you give Kid Rock a shitty review and his album tanks, he can just go back to Michigan and fix cars or whatever. If these guys don't make it, they have to go back to a place where they're already past their life expectancy. Buy two copies, you heartless bastard.

An interesting sidenote: when looking up Mali on Wikipedia for life-expectancy numbers, I came across a sentence that illustrates the beauty of collaborative knowledge: "Mali gained independence in 1959 with Senegal, as the Mali Federation in stick ur dick in matts butt 1959."

M.I.A. | Everyone already knows about M.I.A., so this shit is a freebie: "Paper Planes" is the lazy man's single of the year because it was easily accessible and musically unimpeachable. And I'm the lazy man, so whatever, I'll take it. Probably the laziest part about this whole affair is that we've been listening to this track since 2007, when Kala came out, but it wasn't released as a single till this year. Which means we get to squeak by on a technicality and hitch our wagon to a relic from back when we gave a shit.

TV ON THE RADIO | I'm sure these guys are pretty rad, and I'm hearing that they pulled out a barnburner this year, but I'm just never going to trust them. Pitchfork Media likes them too much, and Pitchfork is that guy from high school who just became "cool" two years ago and now he rides up to you at school on his fixed-gear bike and tries to shove his grimy iPod bud in your ear canal because you're a "music guy" and, hey, now he's a "music guy" too, and he just heard about this really dope new band on Pitchfork, and — shit, that just looped back on itself.

Speaking of infinite Pitchfork recursion: be sure to take a glance at its patently hilarious "Top 100 Tracks of the Year" list and take note of how pretty much all of them sound like exactly the kind of shit Pitchfork likes.

VAMPIRE WEEKEND | I'm not entirely sure what to make of these immaculately calculated Ivy Leaguers, aside from a subconscious desire to impress my mom by dating them. Their biography, their mode of dress, their unctuous lyrics, and their Paul Simon–esque African whiteboyism all seem calculated to provoke unlimited punches to the face, but they confuse the hell out of me by not setting off my bullshit alarm. It's as if the singer (who has the audacity to call himself Ezra Koenig) were smirking at me through pure earnestness, daring me to get mad at him for being an unprecedented tit, but I can't and I hate it. I think not knowing quite what to make of them is part of the point. They're like Marcel Duchamp's Fountain: I don't know whether to laud them as some kind of brilliant conceptual masterpiece or just pee on them.

A final thought: it's telling that "Vampire Weekend" + "boat shoes" returns more than 1000 results on Google, whereas "Vampire Weekend" + "mad pussy" brings up fewer than 50.

Related: Review: Vampire Weekend and Black Kids live, The Year of the Nerd, Photos: Miracle just off of Tremont Street, More more >
  Topics: Music Features , Vampire Weekend, M.I.A. (Musician), Swearing and Invective,  More more >
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Re: The Big Hurt: The year in not really giving a shit
 Regarding your comments about TV On The Radio & this article in general: Your stubborn stance to not even listen to TVOTR and make up your own mind soley because Pitchfork likes them makes you just as bad as the people who listen only to music branded with the Pfork "Best New Music" emblem.  This is a sad, lazy stance for any music fan but it is utterly pathetic for one who gets paid to write about music. Reading your comments about certain elements in this year's music that upset you it became 100% clear to me that you are just as guilty, if not more so, of all the music trends you lined up inside your unimaginative rock-critic-rifle-scope.  One of the biggest ironies of the anti-Pitchfork folks is the self perpetuating cycle they doubtlessly generate with their gripes.  By mentioning them again and again in pieces about music you will only increase their standing as today's tastemakers.  So, again, you are the problem you describe in your piece.
Sadder than this irony is the apparent fact that Pitchfork is more interesting, as a subject to write about, than the music itself.   Has music become so boring and predictable that the only thing interesting thing one might have to say about them is to reference what the top reviewers have already said about them (or in the case of Fleet Foxes - where the album is sold)?  It's as if the indie-music world is inching closely to the stock market.  I can just picture you hosting an indie-equivalent to Jim Cramer's Mad Money tv show in which you list hot bands, who has endorsed them, and whether you should jump on or off the band wagon. I would've loved if you tore these bands apart with some intelligent discussion of their lyrics, their melodies, or their artistic bent.  But I can only surmise that you are incable of such free thought.  How about this for an unfair deal?  I'll never read anything you write for the Phoenix again based soley on your impressively stupid stances presented in this article?  Deal?  Deal.
By Fats Doorer on 12/26/2008 at 7:06:13
Re: The Big Hurt: The year in not really giving a shit
 Haha, check out how much I made this tit write.
By davidthorpe on 12/27/2008 at 6:26:09
Re: The Big Hurt: The year in not really giving a shit
Thorpe, the whole "I don't give a shit about anything!" routine is admirably consistent but ultimately hollow.  It's boring and you know it.  No matter how many bands, er, rather websites who talk about bands (lol), you trash it won't erase the memories of the bullies who pantsed you on the playground or whatever unresolved bologna it is that makes you write such angry, unimaginative crap. 
By Fats Doorer on 12/27/2008 at 10:21:20
Re: The Big Hurt: The year in not really giving a shit
 Great counterpoint, Thorpe. I agree.
By Nick Curran on 12/28/2008 at 4:52:35
Damn You, David Thorpe. Damn You To Hell!
 I only wish I could piss so many people off in five hundred words or less.
By rigmarock on 12/28/2008 at 11:25:48
Damn You, David Thorpe. Damn You To Hell!
 I only wish I could piss so many people off in a thousand words or less.
By rigmarock on 12/28/2008 at 11:27:40
Re: The Big Hurt: The year in not really giving a shit
 Thorpe, I see you've called in your bros to hoist up your opinion here.  I can just imagine your high fives later when you all grab some brews.  Radical.  Let me know when you finally get an article published in Chunklet.
By Fats Doorer on 12/29/2008 at 10:21:12

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