When I was a tween I went to my first R&B show (I believe it was EnVogue). I had been to oodles of shows so I knew the uniform: comfy jeans, comfy shoes, clever T, and discernible lack of hat. But there was a secret I didn't know about EnVogue fans: they dress up for a show like they are going to the prom. They get their hair styled, they wear suits and not dresses, but actual gowns. Gowns I tell you. They complete the look with the perfect prom accessory, a limousine. Not just one couple or ten, but droves of them. Three R&B shows later I discovered maybe it wasn't just EnVogue after all. Some people get dressed up for shows.
I'm not saying you need to follow a dress code by genre system. I may wear a tutu at any time, and I support your right to do the same. But some people do like to fit in, and might like knowing this stuff. I'm just saying if you are going to a kind of show you've never been to before, it might help to ask a knowledgeable type what people are likely to wear. Because if you show up dressed for the Prince show at the Gwar show you are going to stand out, and ruin your fancy shoes.
So begins at last my list of the finest songs of 2011. Last year I was all upset about the whole idea that one could even begin to honestly determine the very best songs put out in a year. Not because tastes differ too greatly, but because there’s just too much good music.
This year I realized I could have thrown together a list in late December, which is what everyone wants. No one gives a damn about 2011 in February, right? But for some reason I couldn’t stop myself from pouring through everything I’d played on my radio stream, in search of something I’d missed. Some time in January, I realized that I don’t do this for you (sorry, readers). I do it for me, so I can be sure nothing gets lost in the music world’s relentless drive toward newer-better-bolder. So these songs of 2011 may be five minutes ago, but they’re worth looking over twice.
The Best Indie Rock of 2011 PART I
There’s just too much goodness to fit in one post. In no particular order…
If you've been out in the world lately, or even if you haven't, you've probably heard Adele's "Rolling in the Deep." At the mashup night where I like to dance, they are in the habit of playing it two or three times in the same night. But, hey, it's a great song and Adele's fame is much deserved–no doubt the woman can sing.
But at this point, we need some different versions of it because the original is getting tiresome from overplay. Here's a favorite remix, cover and mashup to allow you that Adele fix while escaping monotony.
The music bloggers are all excited about hippity-hopper Childish Gambino and the general consensus seems to be that he just “came out of nowhere.” Strange to me, because he is a well known actor on the hit NBC comedy Community. Sure, he goes by the name Donald Glover, but it’s not like this is all a secret. In his lyrics he talks about having a TV show and writing for 30 Rock when he was under 25. And Donald Glover is not a bit player on the show, he’s consistently the most charming and funny reason to watch Community.So what, he’s a rapper now. But here’s the thing: his rhymes are tight! Those same mad skills he uses writing and acting for NBC come out in the lyrics. It’s unapologetically middle class,with subjects like sex, race and hipster girls making frequent appearances. I’m not wild about his vocal style–it’s very fast, with a nervous energy. But the pop culture references keep me coming back. I was hooked first on the Jamie XX remix of Adele, where his “Freaks and Geeks is sampled, and he says, “Fuck Macaulay Culkin, I’m never going home alone.” All his songs have lines like that, ones that will jump out at you and make you smile for their clever turn of phrase.
The production on his mixtape isn’t top notch but you can certainly hear the promise. My favorite track from the mixtape has little to do with the lyrics and all to do with his choice to rap over Sleigh Bells. The gent has taste I tell you. Just the same it still has choice lyrics like “Only time I’m worried is when I’m the no-fly zone, ‘Cause I’m so fly…”
Because of the low production values on his mixtape and the fact that he raps over low BPM indie rock half the time, I prefer remixes. Like I said, it’s about the rhymes not the beats anyway. Here’s two preferred remixes of “Let Me Dope You.” I especially like the first because that Body Language song (“You Can”) is another of my recent obsessions. The stand-out lyric for me is “I don’t fit in like–my penis in these tiny girls.” Tight indeed.