Top Ten Thursday: In Memory Of …

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in-memory

So maybe Memorial Day is really to honor solely fallen servicemen and servicewomen in the United States.  But we wanted to make a list of the top ten songs memorializing just about anyone to give us a little more to choose from.  So whether it be a fallen loved one, fellow musician, fictional character or national figure, all songs about the deceased are fair game.  So in the words of everyone’s favorite dead collector, “Bring out yer dead”.

Editor’s Note: This list was originally posted in 2012 for Memorial Day.

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The 10 Best Irish Acts

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Best Irish Musicians

Editor’s Note: Thanks to a long-awaited return from the great Damien Rice, we thought it timely to re-post our ten favorite Irish acts.

Being a quarter Irish and from a family that treats St. Patty’s day like Easter, I thought it only appropriate that I would write and advocate for the Celts in the music. So in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, a time of year for Lucky Charms, excessive whiskey drinking, and green ketchup, we offer you up the ten greatest Irish musicians of all time.
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U2 Vs. Thom Yorke: The Surprise Album Shakedown

U2 vs. Thom Yorke: The Surprise Album Shakedown

The last month has brought two high-profile surprise albums in U2’s Songs of Innocence and Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke’s second solo album, Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes. As we all know, there can only be one surprise album champion, so I thought I would go through five rounds of criteria (announcement, distribution, price, reach, and ultimately, the music) to decide who won the September Surprise Shakedown. Two men enter the ring, only one can leave.

Round #1: Announcement

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U2: The Irish lads of U2 have long aimed to be the biggest band in the world (and at times have been), so unsurprisingly they used the most anticipated media event of the fall in Apple’s Summit introducing the iPhone 6 and iWatch, to announce their album. They even came out onstage, performed a couple of the new songs, and had an awkward exchange with Apple CEO Tim Cook. During the presentation, they revealed the album would instantly be in your iTunes upon the announcement, even if it didn’t set up that nicely. It was a big announcement, but a bit botched.

Thom Yorke: On a slow-news Friday, Thom Yorke announced in letter co-authored with long-time Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich that he was experimenting with a new form that would bypass the normal gates of distribution and was experimenting with a way that put the power in the creators’ hands. This was much more low-key, but much more intimate towards fans.

Winner: Thom Yorke

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Round #2: Distribution

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U2: Using the biggest online music store to distribute a free album certainly sounds like a good idea on the surface, but Apple and U2 couldn’t have botched it worse. U2 would have been looked upon honorably if Apple would have just left Songs of Innocence in the iTunes store to be searched for and downloaded. Instead, Apple persisted the music onto every iTunes library and cloud connected Apple device, causing the album to feel more spam than a nice gift on the house.

Thom Yorke: Quite opposite of iTunes, Yorke used BitTorrent, a program notorious for illegally shared and pirated music, for his form of distribution. This definitely has to help his indie cred with such a subversive approach.

Winner: Thom Yorke

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Round #3: Price

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U2: It’s hard to argue with free, but it does seem to take away from the charitable aspect of it when you realize Apple reportedly paid U2 $100 million for the rights to distribute it for free. Regardless of what the band was paid though, free is a clear advantage to the listener.

Thom Yorke: Yorke sold Tomororow’s Modern Boxes for a very reasonable $6, on again a download software notorious for free and illegal music. This is an interesting and no doubt surprising approach.

Winner: U2

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Round #4: Reach

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U2: Through its spammy approach, U2 did reach over half a billion iTunes customers, which is truly mind-blowing. And even though all we are hearing about is the kids who are trying to do whatever they can to remove the stale-old Dad rock from their iPhones, there were clearly tons of people for whom Songs of Innocence was their first experience with U2, they loved it, and wanted more. In fact, 26 of U2 albums (including various greatest hits collections) made the iTunes top #100, which is unprecedented that they owned more than a quarter of the top 100.

Thom Yorke: The biggest downfall of Yorke’s approach is how BitTorrent isn’t owned by half a billion people like iTunes, although there is still close to 150 million users. The average layperson probably doesn’t know what BitTorrent is, but that’s not really who Yorke is targeting his music towards. I would guess that the majority of Yorke’s fans know and use BitTorrent often, so I think he is reaching exactly who he wants to.

Winner: U2

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The Main Event: The Music

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U2: When it comes down to it, you have to believe Apple didn’t listen to Songs of Innocence before offering U2 $100 million because it’s about as mediocre as U2 has been in quite some time. It’s the sound of U2 recycled through modern rock music and then mimicked by U2. Basically U2 replicating U2 Wannabes.  On my favorite podcast of the moment, the hilarious U Talkin’ U2 to Me, Scott Aukerman and Adam Scott actually gushed over the new album for two hours, which shocked me since it was the first truly positive thing I have heard about the album. Regardless of what Scott and Scott think though, beyond Lykke Li’s guest spot on “Troubles”, this is an instantly forgettable album.

Thom Yorke: This is the most definitive winner, as Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes is miles better than Songs of Innocence. It’s tender, dense, and mesmerizing from start to finish. While it falls slightly short of The Eraser (which I love), it instantly deserves to be in end of year consideration.

Winner: Thom Yorke

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Surprise Shakedown Winner: Thom Yorke

Celebration dance.
Celebration dance.

 

Top Ten Thursday: Best Albums of the Third Kind

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In September of 2011, Wes, Austin, and I took a Facebook thread that we used to vent and express our opinions on current music to each other, and transferred it to this music blog. For some reason, people decided to read what we wrote. Now two years later we are still doing it. Typing out our thoughts on albums, describing our favorite songs as of recent, and making these lists on a weekly basis has become a part of our lively routine. So we thank all of you that are actually reading these posts of mindless musical dribble for making our opinions seem as if they actually matter. Now, as is tradition, we will celebrate with a list. In our debut list, we gave you our favorite debut albums. Approaching our second year, we made the sophomore albums list. Now as we approach our third year, we present to you this week’s list: our favorite albums of the third kind. Simply put, this is a list of what we consider to be the best third album put out by any band or artist. Thanks for your continued support, and we hope you enjoy:

10. Modest Mouse – The Moon & Antarctica
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Top Ten Thursday: Arrested Development Characters…In Song!

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We at LxL are all huge Arrested Development fans.  And while the highly-anticipated fourth season resurrection may have come in under expectations, we thought we would still honor the effort with a list.  Before anyone makes a nasty remark in the comments section, yes, Billboard (who did a fantastic job) did a list along the same theme as this, but we eschewed all their song choices except for one.  As for the content of the list, we just attempted to pair each character with a song suiting their character.  A little different than our other lists, we decided it would be pointless to put them in any particular order.  This list more than any other, we would love to hear your suggestions for additional pairings.  Thanks and enjoy.

Michael:  Sly & the Family Stone – “A Family Affair”

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Michael’s goal has always been to “keep the family together”, but if the fourth season of AD is any indication, Michael may just turn out crazier than Sly Stone himself.

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Top Ten Thursday: Worst Grammy “Songs of the Year”

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The Grammy’s are mostly an awful exercise in big record labels congratulating themselves on which records sold the most units.  Sure, so great songs get recognized, because not all top-selling records are terrible.  Amy Winehouse won Song of the Year for “Rehab”, which was very possibly the best song in her given year.  Adele got recognized big time for her work last year, and deservedly so.  But, it seems that for every good song/artist that is recognized, there are two stinkers that pop up.  Today, we recognize the worst of the these stinkers in the “Song of the Year” category.  Please note that for the most part we just picked the worst songs, without taking much historical context into account, and as always feel free to tell us where we went wrong (or maybe right for once?).  Enjoy!

 

10.  “Beautiful Day” – U2

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Champagne wishes and caviar dreams for these four Dublin douchebags. We get it Bono.  You’re life is awesome, and you’re not gonna waste a moment of it, and you will never die, and we are gonna have to be inundated with your b.s. forever.  We get it.


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Top Ten Thursday: Best Super Bowl Halftime Shows

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Super Bowl halftime shows have had a pretty wide range over the years; starting out with mostly college marching bands and currently sometimes ending up in huge controversy (like the above or M.I.A. last year).  For the past twenty years or so, though, the halftime show has settled into two categories for the most part:  aging rock star or in-the-moment pop sensations.  There just hasn’t been a lot of imagination.  I truly believe, and so do Todd and Wes deep down even though they won’t admit it, the combination of Aerosmith, N’Sync, and Nelly was pretty electric, and a legitimate combination of current and aging talents.  Alas, they didn’t make the list.  Neither did The Who (decrepit), Madonna (mummified), or the Shania Twain, No Doubt, Sting combination (puzzling).  In fact, this list is not nearly as strong as we would have expected, so I ripped to some degree on several acts.  Enjoy, and as always let us know what you think in the comments.

10. 2006 – The Rolling Stones

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After the 2004 Janet Jackson debacle (blessing?), the NFL decided to trot out a lot of very “safe” acts for some time.  Hence, a bunch of old bags of bones (stones?) took the stage in 2006 and sounded much smaller than the event demands.  As a consolation, the stage is phenomenal, and Keith Richards puppet-master continues to get paid for his superb work.
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