November 11, 2007

61-70: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill to Hedwig and the Angry Inch Soundtrack

61. Lauryn Hill - The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

Pop Quiz: Teacher’s Edition


22) Lauryn Hill : rap :: _______ : rock
a) Paul McCartney
b) Axl Rose

Note: Either A or B is acceptable. Like Paul, Lauryn split from a critically acclaimed and universally beloved group for an album of (silly?) love songs that equaled, if not surpassed, the work of said group. (While Paul didn’t accomplish this till Band on the Run, Lauryn accomplished this immediately. She’s bigger than a Beatle, and also, therefore, Jesus.) Also, as deeply as I love Paul, a girl I used to love loves Lauryn.

Like Axl, Lauryn’s probably crazy. I’m waiting for them both.

62. Beach Boys - Pet Sounds

After I mastered the teenage boys’ canon (Zeppelin, Aerosmith, AC/DC...), I wanted to somehow broaden my horizons. (I noticed the chicks weren’t into the Rock.) I started my quest for new and different music, singers who sang instead of screamed, guitarists who strummed instead of soloed, art that expressed a second sweet emotion, not that there’s anything wrong with lust. I also discovered the beauty of the Beach Boys, thanks to college and music magazines. Before, I’d dismissed them as corny and dumb, just because they sang about cars instead of lemons. But now I know they’re sad and brilliant.

63. Moby - Play

The album begins with a bangin’ hip-hop beat and ends in a sort of new-age-y trance, perfect for driving and dinner parties both. Otherwise, I don’t know how to describe it. Not that I need to; you’ve heard it on TV – as well as in the movies, and probably in the mall, and anyplace else where something’s being sold. Around track two, his shtick becomes obvious: sampled bluesmen, tinkling pianos, Moby’s own monotone and inexpressive sing. Around track three, his shtick becomes repetitive: sampled bluesmen, tinkling pianos, Moby’s own monotone and inexpressive singing. Somehow it works, though. Somehow it works.

64. 2Pac - Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z.

I’m not supposed to own this album. Its title expressly forbids me from listening. And yet, I find, whenever I play it, I not only love it, I live it for an hour. A frequently jogged to, top-five classic, it’s louder and faster and angrier (and hotter) than anything else by Tupac, or rappers, or anyone else I’d dare to enjoy, but pointed, and poignant, and sorrowful, too, with violence exposed as a sorry fact of life, caused by a society that segregates and censors, which is why Dan Quayle (!) should "eat a dick up."

Also, ‘Pac predicts his death!

65. U2 - Achtung Baby

I love U2's sound here, especially the guitar, full of their trademark, chime-like reverb, and all those other supercool tricks The Edge pulls out of his stocking cap live, and also on classic records like this, as evidenced by "Until the End of the World," with playing so blistering it’s on their greatest hits, even though I’ve never heard it on the radio. You hear it one time and you know it’s The Edge, and then Bono wails as only Bono can, as confident as Christ himself, singing of love and also betrayal, making the whole world cry with "One."

66. Live - Throwing Copper

Live wins the nostalgia competition, beating Bush (1) as a one-album wonder, Collective Soul (2) as a band I don’t hate, and everyone else from 1994 (3) as the only dudes ever to mention placentas (4). Poppy, polished, possibly perfect, this album piqued my interest as the post-grunge era peaked – and actually matters in my flannel-free life. From its quiet/loud dynamics to its psychobabble lyrics, somehow it transcends itself (5).

1. See also Sponge and Toadies, the
2. See also Silverchair and Offspring, the
3. See also 1995
4. See also Nirvana's "umbilical noose"
5. See also Green Day’s Dookie

67. De La Soul - Buhloone Mind State

If you don’t get – or don’t like – rap, this rap album will buh-low your mind. I’ll bet you a mixtape you’ll laugh at least once, another that your muscles will move involuntarily (head nods, toe taps, and ass shakes all count), and another that you’ll be like, "Matt, gimme more!" It’s socially conscious and sonically adventurous, but best described with one word: fun. There’s nothing to ponder, but nothing to fear. It’s blissfully free of gunshots and ho-downs; it’s bursting with jokes and non sequiturs. Whatever you’re thinking it sounds like, it doesn’t. It’s even better than you can imagine.

68. Simon & Garfunkel - Bridge Over Troubled Water

This album is as timeless as the magazines describe it. Every song is expertly crafted, perfectly played, superbly sung... It means as much to me as it does to your parents. (Also, I crossed a bridge to it once.) It’s almost like Simon issued a challenge: "Find a better writer than me. Exhibit A: ‘The Boxer.’ Booyah! Exhibit B: the title track. I double dare you not to get chills. Here’s ‘Cecilia.’ Play it at a wedding. (And think of your mom, who has the same name.) Find a better singer and hanger-on than Garfunkel. We represent the N.Y.C., muthafuckaz!"

69. Beck - Midnite Vultures

I can’t explain why Beck is a favorite. He’s not the best musician, or singer, or rapper, or sound collagist, whatever that is, but he might be the best at doing it all. He reinvents himself better than most, to the point where not having a sound is his sound. But now I’m, like, rapping in critical jargon, instead of just singing this weird album’s praises. These songs about sexxx are truly freaky-deaky. Their unabashed horniness is goofy, not sexxxy. Their smarm is a major part of their charm. It’s totally, like, the funnest album ever. Maybe that explains it.

70. Hedwig and the Angry Inch Soundtrack

"What’s it about?" my girlfriend asked, after I’d recommended this movie. Well...

Hedwig is the story of a male-to-female tranny, on a quest for love and rock superstardom. "The Angry Inch" is her band – and her penis. Her sex-change operation got botched, you see, inspiring songs about being a freak, as well as her fear of being alone. She dreams of escaping her "Wicked Little Town" while wearing different "Wig(s) in a Box." Also, she sings about sex a lot.

It’s not a film I’d watch with my mom.

"It’s basically a love story," I said.

So it is.