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If You Aren’t Following These Artists On Twitter, You Should Be

Screen Shot 2013-12-23 at 7.58.42 PMKaty Perry was crowned the Queen of Twitter earlier this week, after figures released by the site showed that she gained more than 15 million followers in 2013. Which is good, because while KP has already received numerous accolades – Billboard Music Awards, American Music Awards, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame – we all know that when it comes to determining popularity (and self worth), it’s all a matter of how many Twitter followers you have.

Perry may have narrowly beat out fellow pop superstars like Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber to take home the title of most beloved on the interwebz, but her timeline isn’t nearly as funny, thought-provoking, or all-around enjoyable as some of the musicians who truly rule the social network. For tweets that are full of lulz and aren’t purely written for self promotion, try following these unsung heroes.

John Darnielle @mountain_goats
The Mountain Goats frontman is already well known for being a prolific songwriter, but he’s equally active on Twitter. Follow if you like: jokes, death metal, bad movies, progressive politics

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The Best Music Books of 2013

4474421855_5630cc2cfb_oOh baby, it is literally so damn cold outside. I have no interest in walking in a winter wonderland because the weather outside is actually frightful and I’m terrified that if I try to go anywhere I’ll get lost in a blizzard and never make it back home. It’s that cold. If Beyonce was like, “Hey girl, you can have backstage passes to my show this weekend if you just stand in the snow for ten minutes,” I’d be like, “Sorry, lady, but my heat is on and I’m not coming out for anything.” [Of course, it became bizarrely warm here in New England on the day this went to press. -ED.]
I guess there is one nice thing about these frigid climes – they offer up a great excuse to blow off plans and cuddle up inside with a new book. And with all of the excellent music-related titles that came out in 2013, I’ve had plenty to choose from. So if you’re a total wimp about the cold like me, grab one of these bad boys, pour yourself a half a drink more (at least), and get your read on.
I’m not the world’s biggest Morrissey fan, but the review that convinced me to pick up Autobiography was this one from Rolling Stone writer Rob Sheffield, who writes, “Practically every paragraph has a line or two that demands to be read aloud to the mirror, tattooed on foreheads, carved on tombstones.” High praise, coming from a guy who also writes for a living. But it turns out he was right: this book is bitingly funny, endlessly entertaining, and stocked with crazy personal anecdotes. Morrissey’s writing is – no surprise, given his songwriting abilities – electric. While I won’t be getting anything from this book permanently inked on my forehead, I might consider it on some less valuable real estate like an arm or a foot.
Mo Meta Blues
Drummer for The Roots, bandleader on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, producer, DJ, and all-around rad human being AhmirQuestloveThompson is one of the busiest and most accomplished artists working today. His memoir, Mo Meta Blues, is one of the coolest and most interesting pieces of literature to hit shelves in 2013. This book will teach you a lot, make you smile a bunch, and give you the lowdown on a whole list of records that you may not have known about and absolutely must check out. Is Questlove the coolest guy in music? Yes. Is he the coolest guy in the entire world? Probably also yes. Mo Meta Blues is proof.
9781555537296_p0_v1_s260x420Radio Free Boston: The Rise and Fall of WBCN
Carter Alan
I get the feeling that Carter Alan‘s Radio Free Boston wasn’t too widely read or reviewed outside of the New England area, and that’s a real shame. The book details the history of Boston’s WBCN radio, a station founded in the late ’60s when its DJs could essentially say and play whatever they wanted. Author Carter Alan, a former music director and DJ at the station, manages to stay mostly objective as he recounts its history, but it’s charming how his love for WBCN shines through nonetheless. This tale may not have a happy ending – WBCN played its last notes in 2009 – but the book kind of makes you wish radio stations today were as cool as this one was in its prime.
How Music Works
David Byrne
Okay, yes, technically Byrne’s How Music Works was released at the tail end of 2012. But the paperback edition, which came out earlier this year, is completely revised and updated and includes the same beautiful, full-color pictures that were found in the hardcover version. So I’m counting it. While the text is exhaustively researched and incredibly thorough (some might say dense), the book manages to be fun and engaging throughout. And while the Talking Heads frontman does discuss how music works in a technical sense, the book really shines when he writes about how and why we relate to music the way we do. Part memoir, part textbook, and all celebration of music, it’s the kind of book that you can come back to year after year.

The EditoriaList: Top 5 Songs From Children’s Christmas Specials

Riverbottom Nightmare Band
Riverbottom Nightmare Band

Nothing says Christmas like TV specials. When you’re a kid, they herald the arrival of the season. Each airing is another step closer to the big day. As an adult, they remind us of that excitement as we gain a new appreciation for the quality (or lack thereof), subtle humor, and often awesome music that these shows featured. Here are five of the best original songs featured in these specials.


5. “Marley And Marley” – A Muppet Christmas Carol

Casting Statler and Waldorf as the Marley Brothers in The Muppet’s version of A Christmas Carol was a stroke of brilliance. This song is great, darkly comic, with the two deceased misers still trying to overcome their glee at having been such bastards in life. I also appreciate that Michael Cane, as Scrooge, sticks to Dickens’ original dialogue.

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Why Almost Everyone Loves “Bowing Down” To Beyoncé

BEYONCETo be clear, this is not really about Beyoncé’s new album. It’s not about her incorporation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie‘s feminist TED Talk on the track “Flawless.” It’s not about her anti-marketing strategy. And it’s definitely not about judging whether the music is “overrated” or not.

Because beyond any of the numerous aspects of the album’s production that Beyoncé had under her control – the probably insane non-disclosure agreements regarding the album’s release, the video treatments, the feminist lyrics, the genre-spanning production – what is just as fascinating about the new album are Beyoncé’s fans reactions to it, and the repeated hyperbole that they use when they talk about her, especially in contrast to their own lives.

It isn’t news to anybody that Beyoncé’s fans elevate her to the level of royalty, and, most of the time, to the level of a goddess. It’s become just as commonplace for the casual fan to refer to Beyoncé as “Queen Bey” as it has for some of the press’ most respected music critics. But if you comb through enough tweets and status updates about Beyoncé, you’ll see another interesting trend: that, in their veneration, her fans repeatedly tend to openly highlight their own supposed personal insignificance and lack of achievement to the pop queen’s grandiose accomplishments.

Here are some anonymous Beyoncé-related samples from the recent Twitter archives:

“I can barely make my bed in the morning. @beyonce is on a world tour and puts out an album and a shit ton of videos. what am i doing?”

“Beyoncé made more money in the past hour than I have in my whole life.”

“I don’t want to sound like a crazy stan, but listening to Beyonce’s new album is why we were put on this earth”

“Let it sink in that 2-year-old Blue Ivy Carter already has a verse on a Beyonce song, once again proving she is more powerful than us all.”

A recent Buzzfeed review of Beyonce’s new album takes a cursory stab at dissecting this phenomenon: “Even casual fans approach her as a sort of deity, in large part because thinking of her as a superhuman being is part of what makes her music and performances so much fun.”
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Review: Childish Gambino – ‘Because the Internet’

Screen Shot 2013-12-16 at 7.28.47 PMWhile Donald Glover listed a slew of personal worries in a headline-grabbing series of Instagram notes earlier this year, his greatest fear must be stagnating. The 30 Rock writer turned Community star turned showrunner of a new FX sitcom, Atlanta, has also been making infectious hip-hop under the moniker Childish Gambino since 2008. And even with that project, Glover refuses to stand still for too long.

Over the course of the last half-decade, the artist has completely revamped both his attitude towards the music he creates as well as his approach in making it. The project started as a lark, with Glover adopting his stage name after plugging his own into a Wu-Tang rap name generator online, and early Gambino tracks have a carefree, this-is-just-a-side-project sort of vibe. But because he’s spent the last several years bouncing around from writer’s room to television studio and back to the writer’s room again, his hip-hop career is the one thing that has offered any sort of stability. It’s also the reason that he’s been able to hone his once-goofy sound into something more lasting. Glover’s studio LP debut – 2009′s Camp – found the rapper discussing race and class issues over dazzling electro beats and was hardly the stuff of joke rap. That’s not to say Camp was lacking in wordplay – my personal favorite line was always, “I love pussy, I love bitches, dude, I should be runnin’ PETA,” – but the record was a definite move in a more serious direction.
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R. Kelly Is Suuuuuuper Sketchy, Remember?

R. Kelly
R. Kelly

A couple of pieces making the rounds today remind us that Robert Kelly is a really suspect dude and quite probably a sexually predatory monster (note: insert the word “allegedly” wherever applicable here).

The first and most revelatory piece is a conversation published on the Village Voice site between Jessica Hopper, an author whom we’ve interviewed, reporting for the Voice, and acclaimed music writer Jim DeRogatis. DeRogatis originally broke the story of Kelly’s covered-up history of inappropriate behavior with teenage girls. As the article points out, Kelly’s appearance at the Pitchfork Music Festival this summer brought his past back into public discussion. DeRogatis, who has never dropped this fight, tells Hopper the details of Kelly’s allegedly horrific behavior, and shared with her the facts of the case, supported by testimony and documents (note that Kelly was acquitted of charges including child pornography, but has never been charged with rape, of which DeRogatis reports dozens of alleged instances). At one point, he delivered this devastating line that sort of sums up why it is such a big deal to keep this in the cultural consciousness: “The saddest fact I’ve learned is nobody matters less to our society than young black women.” The victims, he argues, are being disregarded and forgotten, not least of all because they are black.

There is a second piece, by Drew Millard and published by Noisey (by Vice), that taps into the question of whether you can enjoy the music of R. Kelly, knowing of his despicable history:

“This all adds up to one of the defining questions of our time: Do we give people who do bad things a pass just because they’re talented?

The answer to this is ‘it depends.’ It’s easy to dismiss art because the artist did something terrible, and it’s just as easy to dismiss an artist’s terrible actions because they produce something great.”

This piece is less personal and confrontational than the Voice article, allowing that Kelly is a talented and original artist, whose ‘gifts’ have lead to both amazing music and “some truly heinous shit,” but in the end Millard rightly puts the responsibility on the listener:

“While the platitude ‘the avant-garde need not be moral‘ is often bandied about as a catchall explanation for why it’s OK to listen to music that might make some uncomfortable, everybody has their lines—this is art we’re talking about, and it’s as real as you allow it to be.”

Both articles point out that there are lots of great artists whose music we can enjoy without being brought down by their personal behavior. One big difference, though, is that Kelly’s songs relate directly to his sexual behavior – and thus it’s a lot harder to disassociate. But the important thing is that you be aware in the first place. Then you can decide how you feel about his Black Panties.


More like this:
Lostprophets Frontman Pleads Guilty To Depraved Sexual Offenses
Roy Harper Charged With Sexual Assault
Arrested Development: How Artists Are Affected By Jail Time

Lana Del Rey Stole Half An Hour Of My Life And I Will Never Get It Back

Lana Del ReyI really tried to give Lana Del Rey the benefit of the doubt on this one. I swear. I was hoping that her half-hour long short film Tropico, “an epic tale based on the biblical story of sin and redemption,” wasn’t going to be another poorly–conceived attempt at grand symbolism and “deep” meaning that would inevitably force me to question why I ever derived any satisfaction from her music in the first place and would once again make me come face to face with the full scope of her guileless superficiality and lack of insight. But you know what Mick Jagger says.

So, just for the sake of convenience, even though the biblical triptych of innocence, sin, and redemption is the central conceit of the video, I’m going to ignore the overwrought and overused religious parallels that Lana cuts and pastes with bowling ball-level subtlety and focus more on her decision to include voiceovers of her reading excerpts from Walt Whitman and Allen Ginsberg poems, which is exactly as pretentious as it sounds.
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Great Poets Whose Words Inspired Songs

Tim Kinsella
Tim Kinsella

Tim Kinsella, the Chicago-based musician who accidentally helped invent what we know as emo while cutting his teeth in bands like Cap’n Jazz and Joan of Arc, just released one of the more interesting collaborations he’s done since the ’90s. Tim Kinsella Sings The Songs Of Marvin Tate By LeRoy Bach Featuring Angel Olsen finds Kinsella and ex-Wilco member LeRoy Bach setting the poems of fellow Chicago native Marvin Tate to music. And fear not, emo kids, they’re all pretty damn sad.

Kinsella and Bach aren’t the first musicians to lend their talents to preexisting poems. In fact, we could have compiled a list featuring hundreds of singers who have quoted writers, but we tried to reel it in. For time’s sake, you can check out four of our favorite music and poetry connections after the jump. And while you’re at it, pick up a copy of TKSTSOMTBLBFAO. Its title may be a mouthful, but its tracks are beautifully short, simple, and sparse, perfectly complimenting Tate’s stark and sometimes abrasive words.

1. Vladimir Nabokov and The Menzingers
Russian novelist Vladimir Nabokov may be most famous for penning Lolita, but it’s Pale Fire, his 1962 novel/999-line poem, that featured what is likely Nabokov’s most well-known couplet:

I was the shadow of the waxwing slain
By the false azure in the window pane

Definitely the most beautiful thing that anyone has ever written about birds flying into windows. Anyway, Scranton, PA’s The Menzingers quoted those lines almost verbatim during the bridge of “The Obituaries,” and while the rest of the song’s lyrical content has little to do with Pale Fire, the emotional impact of Nabokov’s words aren’t lessened at all. In fact, they compliment the track so well, it seems that the writer may have missed out on his calling as a punk lyricist.

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OurStage’s 2013 Gift Guide

Are you one of those foolish people who thinks the holidays are about getting together with loved ones to share some laughs, eat a delicious meal, and make memories that you’ll cherish for the rest of your lives? HA. Sucker. The holidays exist for one reason: proving to your friends and family that you love them more than they love you with over the top spending on extravagant gifts. And with less than three weeks until Christmas day, time is running out to empty your bank account in the hopes of impressing the people in your life.

Luckily, we’re here to help. Welcome to OurStage’s 2013 gift-giving guide. If you have a music lover on your list this year, any of these items will be sure to impress, proving once and for all that you are the better friend/family member/lover. Merry merry, y’all.

1. Tickets

When it comes to buying presents for the music fan in your life, nothing is better than a pair of tickets to see their favorite band live. They get an unforgettable night of music with an artist they love, you get the joy of giving them a gift that’s also kind of for yourself. (“Oh my god, you want me to take the other ticket to the Neutral Milk Hotel show? It’s totally fine if you want to take someone else. Well, if you’re sure…”)

2. A record player

Sure, this whole vinyl revival has been going on for a few years now, but I’m pretty sure we all have that friend who has yet to give up their mp3 player because they think it’s just a fad. For as little as $50.oo you can get that uninformed goon a record player so that they, too, can become a pretentious pseudo-audiophile who gushes over how much warmer everything sounds on vinyl. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.
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One Drummer, One Kit, A Dozen Different Sounds

This one is educational for all recording musicians, and hopefully entertaining for the rest. It’s a crystal clear demonstration of the drastic and dynamic differences in sound as affected by the ambiance or environment. Something to remember when you’re not getting the sound you want in the studio – especially with acoustic instruments. This is very cool.


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