June 27, 2010
Mark Judge is the grandson of former Washington Senators baseball player Joe Judge, and author of Damn Senators: My Grandfather and the Story of Washington's Only World Series Championship and God and Man at Georgetown Prep Lady Gaga is no Madonna. That some conservatives are comparing the two performers is yet another sign of the pop-culture (and even religious) illiteracy of the right. I myself am a conservative, and it always demoralizes me when people on the right fumble the ball on popular culture, particularly in the field of pop music.
August 18, 1992 |
Rock 'n' rollers in their 30s and 40s with lingering dreams of making it in pop music have only a slight chance of getting signed to major rock-oriented labels. Rock 'n' roll is traditionally a young person's industry, and such signs of aging as a receding hairline or a paunch take a performer out of the rock sweepstakes. But recent trends indicate that adult pop and rock is a gold mine waiting to be explored. Though the record industry is still youth-oriented, it seems that yuppie musicians and consumers are quietly waging a revolution that is putting a dent in rock record and concert sales.
November 9, 1997 |
You've got to thaw that "cold, cold heart," counsels the Rev. D. Wayne Love. Behind him, the choir harmonizes angelically, warming up for the gospel shouting ahead. And in the corner, a blue note uncurls from a lonely harmonica. The theme is that old standby, sin and repentance. Even the melody is familiar, handed down from hundreds of public-domain hymns. But just as you marvel at the way the British band known as A3 has constructed its unusual sermon, along comes a drum machine, kicking out a stomping backbeat.
December 26, 1989 |
They're writing songs of love, but not for Michael Feinstein. "Sure, I've found new material that's pretty good," the debonair cabaret singer/pianist concedes in a chat sparked by the opening of his weeklong stint tonight at the Shubert. "But if there was never another song written, if all the songwriting stopped today, I couldn't reincarnate in 10 lifetimes all the good songs of the past. Gershwin alone wrote 800. Porter and Berlin each wrote 1,500. " An old man in a young man's body, the 33-year-old Feinstein offers up a pure vocal lilt and earnest enunciation reminiscent of a Johnny Mathis or Barry Manilow.
December 30, 1990 |
From the top of the charts to the underground rockers, good grooming counted as much as talent in 1990's pop music. Glossy videos paid big dividends. Sharp marketing types found ways to sell anything - even tepid rap remakes of '80s disco hits - and helped to turn the once unruly road to rock success into an orderly series of checkpoints wholly unrelated to the music at hand. Anyone could be a star by following the advice of veteran "handlers" such as Maurice Starr. Everybody dressed to the nines, remembered their lines and played by the book; the music they made sounded that way. Reacting to a retrogressive climate in radio, record companies were reluctant to experiment.
July 31, 2012 |
According to a new study from researchers at the Spanish National Research Council, the familiar complaint that contemporary popular music has grown loud, predictable, and simpler than ever may be exactly right. While one must be skeptical of quantitative music studies, the analysis may have a point, even if the portrait it paints is incomplete. The study's analysts ran 464,411 recordings in all popular-music genres from the period of 1955 to 2010 (called the "Million Song Dataset")
January 29, 2012 |
The season in music will be a busy one. Big-name acts of long standing such as Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, the reunited Beach Boys, and, it's expected, the Rolling Stones, will be on tour. And everyone from Super Bowl headliner Madonna to agit-pop singer M.I.A. to Philadelphia street rapper Meek Mill will be releasing new albums. The accompanying list highlights a selection of hotly anticipated albums and concerts, with newcomer Lana Del Rey and old lion Leonard Cohen starting off the season this week.
December 22, 1996 |
Listening to the self-obsessed mutterings that ruled popular music in 1996, you'd think you had barged in on a meeting of the Poor, Pitiful Me Club. Alone in the corner, chronicling every turn of "this lonely spiral I've been in," was Adam Duritz, the desperately serious lead singer of Counting Crows. "All my innocence is wasted on the dead and dreaming," he moaned self-consciously. Competing for attention was Sheryl Crow, who straightened her hair, then made shrill pop that reflected her hardened, newly self-obsessed persona.
January 30, 1997 |
What a young artist chooses to play to introduce himself to a city immediately sketches his persona for an audience. For a pianist, is it Rachmaninoff? Mozart? Brahms? Is he going to be meditative, ebullient, dazzling? Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes will play Shostakovich in his local debut tomorrow with the Philadelphia Orchestra. For Andsnes, now 26, the choice is significant. It is the light side of a generally dark artist that appeals to him just now, and it is that paradox that intrigues him. "The music has that honky-tonk quality," he smiles.
August 24, 1997 |
Billy Joel is trying to reconstruct the moment a few months ago when he discovered, after 15 albums in 25 years, that he'd lost the desire to write pop songs. He's sitting at a stately grand piano in a cozy room at Steinway Hall, the museum-like shrine where people like Billy Joel go to test-drive really good pianos. He paws at the keys like a piano-bar veteran easing into a quiet introduction. Pretty soon, he feels comfortable. "It was totally out of the blue," he recalls in the blunt, declarative voice that powered hits like "Uptown Girl" and "Allentown.