November 11, 2007

81-90: Wish You Were Here to Under My Skin

81. Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here

I liked Pink Floyd much better in high school; however, I still make time for them now, much more so than other former favorites, namely, The Doors and post-Black Album Metallica, staples of a teenage boy’s rock ‘n’ roll diet, at least those post-Black Album boys who watched The Doors and played guitar... and who was I talking about again? Pink Floyd? Perhaps their greatest strength is their music’s versatility. It’s perfect for writing or falling asleep, or any other setting where quietness reigns, but also for driving and testing new speakers – or really whenever you want to hear music.

82. Bjork - Homogenic

Bjork’s bizarre music is hard to describe, other than saying what I just said. I also could’ve said it’s poppy and catchy (at least until later, when it got too, well, Bjork-y), which happens to be the way I describe it. Sure, there are orchestras battling computers, and songs about whales and bachelorettes and blood – and that’s just one song, with its mesmerizing video – and Bjork’s own voice like a baby or a bird, screaming and cooing like no one else on Earth, passionate, powerful, barely controlled, hitting every note like a temple-stabbing icicle, albeit one that warms your heart.

83. Northern State - Dying in Stereo

Three white chicks who pass the mic, Northern State are the female Beastie Boys. Liberally educated, politically liberal, they target those rap fans who vote and volunteer. Despite their three albums being so phenomenal, they’ve only sold eighty-three copies to date – six of them to me and the other K-State Matt. Thus, this group is another that’s mine, one I promote through rantings and mixtapes. I seldom mention our parallel lives, both of us peaking in 2003: The group got profiled (briefly) in Spin, when I was somehow an intern there. I hear these girls; I think of New York.

84. Elton John - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

This album is perfect for pizza-place jukeboxes, late-night walks to all-night diners, a random gift to your piano-playing mom...

I’m struggling here to say something new, to not repeat what I’ve written before, to maybe say something approaching concision, instead of treating every review like a sprawling double album in need of paring down, an action I’m thankful Elton didn’t take, allowing me to mimic his rollicking piano, one of the many that inspired Ben Folds, whose other awesome albums I fear won’t get reviewed, six months after I started writing, and one or two more before you’re going, "What?"

85. Stone Temple Pilots - Tiny Music

Pop Quiz

Word Problems

23) Tuesday morning. New STP! You simply can’t wait – it’s been years since Tiny Music, STP’s third, and third-greatest, album. Your favorite record store opens at 10. The trip takes 15 minutes by bicycle. Your first class starts at 11:30. Considering the store sells new and used CDs, how many minutes can you spend there, browsing?

24) The album you're buying has a number in its title. Multiply this by Tiny Music’s ranking.

25) How many people, besides yourself, actually bought their next and final album?

26) How many people, besides yourself, want them back together?

86. MC Paul Barman - Paullelujah!

Another def choice among tone-deaf English grad students, this guy boasts about having five fans. I’d like to argue here that everyone should hear him, rapping, as he does, about higher education, hot female authors, and, unfortunately, "Burping & Farting," but I realize he’s an acquired taste. For every rapped instruction on how to write a paper, there’s a wannabe zinger on gender relations: "There’s more of the same come where that come came from." There’s also a buttload of sick internal rhyme schemes – and even whole verses rapped in friggin’ palindrome. His flow is ill; the beats are, um, iller?

87. Guns N’ Roses - Use Your Illusion I & II

For sixteen long years, I’ve waited for the followup. Look for more words here in 2023.

88. Missy Elliott - Under Construction

For about two albums, I believed in Missy Elliott. Full of Far East sound effects and onomatopoeia, her songs were pushing envelopes in mailbags on the moon. Missy was fat, and she joked about it, phatly. Backwards rap she did? Yes hell! Sure, her R&B jams were wack. And her spoken-word interludes were clearly unrehearsed. But that was the whole of their ramshackle charm. Missy was throwing a party for everyone – black, white, male, female, old, young, East, Dirty South – anyone willing to giggle a little. She pretty much reinvented the album. So why don’t I buy her albums anymore?

89. Jay-Z - The Black Album

God, this dude’s a cocky bastard, telling you how dope he is in every other line. The new B.I.G., the hip-hop Michael Jordan, a bitch-free dude with ninety-nine problems... Actually, homeboy’s the hip-hop Dizzy Dean, ‘cause it ain’t braggin’ if you rap about rapping. (I’ve got ninety-nine problems, too, but baseball allusions sure ain’t one.) All this dude’s albums are perfect for businessmen; they’re self-help books on tape, with beats: "How to Make Records for Affluent People," "Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (That’s Just Nas)." This one has my favorite beats; thus, it’s my favorite to blast on my commute.

90. Avril Lavigne - Under My Skin

I’ve already written and argued this to death. I don’t care who wrote these songs. I don’t care how "authentic" they’re not. I don’t even care how annoying Avril is. All I care about is how the music sounds: well-played, well-sung, well-written (by whomever); darker in tone and subject than expected; something I love despite myself, for all the previous reasons and more. (Um, I’m a 28-year-old man. Hello?) You shouldn’t judge art for what it’s not. This album, I believe, is great for what it is. Compared to Beethoven, sure, it’s shit. Compared to Britney, it’s solid gold.