Archive | March, 2017

Certain Songs #830: Kanye West – “POWER”

Album: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Year: 2010

Of course, it’s always been a thing that Kanye West isn’t that great of a singer or even that great of a rapper.

But that’s never bothered me, because he’s always owned his technical limitations, and on a production as large as “POWER” they serve to humanize his otherwise outsized music, and his otherwise outsized public persona.

In fact, it would actually make his music worse if he were better, because there would be nothing to bring him back down to earth and reveal him as not just an insecure, arrogant asshole, but an insecure arrogant asshole who lives to make this music.

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Certain Songs #829: Kanye West – “School Spirit”

Album: The College Dropout
Year: 2004

One of the most polarizing figures in the current musical landscape, it’s almost guaranteed that Kanye West will be remembered by future generations — long after whatever stupid-ass shit he said and did outside of the music that he produced (or, I guess, in his lyrics) — as one of the absolute indisputable musical geniuses of the early 21st century.

To me — and this will probably piss off a lot of the folks who “just don’t like” Kanye — the musical figure he most reminds me of is Jimmy Page.

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Certain Songs #828: Kansas – “Carry On Wayward Son”

Album: Leftoverture
Year: 1976

Did you know that Leftoverture was Kansas’ fourth album? On a major label? And if you did, can you name the three albums that preceded it? I mean, without looking it up on Wikipedia or Discogs? Of course you can’t.

I have no proof of this, of course, but I feel like the “not having a hit until the fourth or fifth (or later) album” was a particularly 1970s thing. Just off of the top of my head: REO Speedwagon, Foghat, KISS, AC/DC, Rush, Peter Frampton, Blue Oyster Cult, the list goes on and on.

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Certain Songs #827: Kacey Musgraves – “Merry Go Round”

Album: Same Trailer, Different Park
Year: 2013

Kacey Musgraves is one of the leading lights of what might be my favorite pop music trend of this decade, female country-adjacent singer-songwriters who write their own songs and plot their own course. Obviously Miranda Lambert, but also Brandy Clark, Sarah Shook, Nikki Lane, Margo Price, the list is way longer than you might thing.

In Kacey Musgraves case, she’s been able to balance what are progressive lyrical viewpoints while remaining within the Nashville machine enough to enjoy a huge amount success with both of her albums (and a well-regarded Christmas record).

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Certain Songs #826: Joy Division – “Dead Souls”

Album: Still
Year: 1980

Still was, of course, a posthumous mop-up operation that was one half odds and sods and one half live album. And as such, it was pretty much, both in terms of sound and style, aimed at completists, as opposed to the casual fan.

(Which raises the question of whether or not there are any casual fans of Joy Division, though I guess that the enduring popularity of “Love Will Tear Us Apart” probably means that there are.)

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