July 2, 2016 |
Song of the summer prognosticating has become a growth industry. Cultural observers aim to nail down which so-ubiquitous-you're-sick-of-it-already song will sum up the collective pop-fan experience, or at least become as hard to get out of your head as Pharrell Williams' "Happy" or Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe. " The song list that's annotated below and accompanied by a streaming Spotify playlist makes mention of some of this year's contenders, from Justin Timberlake to Rihanna and Drake, among others.
February 10, 2015 |
Beck Hansen's album Morning Phase , a becalmed collection from the changeling California songwriter, was surprise winner for album of the year at the 57th annual Grammy awards at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday. The show was otherwise dominated by 22-year-old British crooner Sam Smith, who won best new artist as well as song and record of the year, and pop vocal performance. "This is the best night of my life," said Smith, in picking up his crowning record of the year trophy for "Stay With Me (Darkchild Version)
January 10, 2013 |
Tuesday night upstairs at World Cafe Live, a one-night Woodstock-in-a-phone-booth broke out, with the title "Philly Plays Song Reader : a New Album by Beck Hansen. " It was an introduction to both a major new album and to the local music scene, as 20 Philly-region acts played through the 20-plus songs of Beck's Song Reader . This disheveled hoot of a hootenanny left the packed, sweltering audience with two impressions: (1) Song Reader is full of various, witty, retro-futzing, often poetic songs, in an exciting and challenging new/old package; and (2)
July 8, 2008 |
Back in the Odelay day, Beck was a carefree sort. Or at least it seemed so, given the gleeful inventiveness of the boy wonder of cut-and-paste postmodern pop. In 1996, he was proving he was no one-hit "Loser" with his second major-label album (which was reissued this year). He had two turntables and a microphone at the ready, a "Devil's Haircut" in his mind, and the zeitgeist in the palm of his hand. A dozen years later, Beck has come down with a case of the paranoid post-millennial alienation blues.
October 10, 2005 |
When a supposedly still-relevant musician opens a show with a signature oldie instead of his latest hit, there's cause for worry. Beck Hansen took the Tweeter Center stage Saturday night to the acoustic slide-guitar scrape of his 11-year-old breakthrough anthem "Loser," rousing suspicions that he distrusted the material from his latest disc, Guero. Yet newer songs "Black Tambourine" and "E-Pro" held strongly against oldies from Odelay, the 1996 disc once deemed the pinnacle of rap-inflected alt-rock eclecticism by hip publications such as Spin.
September 22, 2002 |
The latest chapter in the odyssey of Beck Hansen opens with a grandiose declaration: "Put your hands on the wheel, let the Golden Age begin. " It's road-trip time, and Beck, that revered poet of postmodern dislocation, is revving the engine. Desperate to ditch the cares of the world, he's looking for a sliver of frontier that hasn't yet been subdivided, a place far enough away for him to smell possibility in the air. His words tell of buoyant new beginnings, but there's nothing resembling optimism in Beck's voice.
February 21, 2000 |
Halfway through his show Friday at the Tower Theater, Beck Hansen dismissed the band to do a solo acoustic set. He careened through an inspired treatment of "Lazy Flies" and several other more sedate originals, and just when it seemed the band was headed back, the iconoclastic singer-songwriter solicited requests. A female voice shouted, "Take me backstage!" "Take me backstage?" Beck chortled. "I don't know that one. What key is it in?" Without missing a beat, he fired up the acoustic guitar and improvised a twisted, blues-tinged piece that addressed the myths about life on the other side of the curtain.
November 21, 1999 |
There was a time not so long ago when it took herculean effort to get a straight answer out of Beck Hansen. The unorthodox pop tunesmith's songs are marvels of digital-era free association, and he litters his interviews with similar leaps, switching in mid-sentence from a discussion of turntable sounds to the various take-out options in L.A. Sometimes they blossom into insightful diatribes. Just as often, they are unexpurgated silliness, like the memorable commentary on the ritual of the interview he delivered through a voice-altering Mr. Microphone in 1994.
November 21, 1999 |
There's no Y2-anything lurking within Beck Hansen's brilliant Midnite Vultures. No apprehensive references to clocks ticking or doomsday approaching. Only one passing mention of a computer: "She's all right, on my computer/She's all right, selling me watches. " Yet the millennial moment hovers over these 11 dense, detailed songs of lust and greed like an approaching storm front. The countdown is well under way, and Beck - his antennae tuned, as always, to the sordid and the ephemeral - rushes around, a repo man joyously rescuing all that the time-capsule stuffers deem unworthy.
November 12, 1998 |
Beck is on the phone from his home in Los Angeles' Silverlake section, describing the mood of the sessions that led to his new acoustic disc, Mutations (DGC). He's using words like relaxed and siesta, but every now and then he can't disguise his irritation. Seems there's a lawn jockey with a leaf blower cranked up to 11 next door. "That thing is obnoxious," he says finally, as he escapes to a different room. Seconds later, the wheezing motor returns. "He's following me! I can't get away from it. " Oh, the postmodern predicament: Beck Hansen, the whiz-kid of the attention-deficit generation, whose sonic trademarks include vacuum cleaners pumped through guitar amps and tracks cobbled from random noise and crunching clutter, rendered speechless by a little bitty leaf blower.