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Sound And Vision: Six Artists I Love Although I Know I’m Not Supposed To

Most of us probably would be loathe to admit it out loud, but we all have them: Singers and bands we love in spite of everybody else. They create music to our ears, while to those who consider themselves highbrow connoisseurs of cool, they’re incurably uncool. I’d call these acts “guilty pleasures,” but when it comes to the music I listen to, I don’t believe in shame.

Jennifer Lopez Don’t judge. And don’t write off Love?, Lopez’s 2011 pop comeback. It’s a lot better than the title. All these months after she debuted the video from her judge’s perch on American Idol, “On the Floor” still never fails to take me there, and “I’m Into You,” the follow-up single, deserved so much more than a No. 41 peak on Billboard’s Hot 100. The other day, my iPod landed on Lopez’s first hit, “If You Had My Love” (No. 1 in 1999), and I didn’t press skip. In fact, I hit repeat. Twice. Carp about her thin vocals all you want, but if you’re a pop fan and you say you haven’t gotten swept up in her groove at least once—most likely thanks to the aforementioned “On the Floor,” or  ”Jenny from the Block,” perhaps her greatest hit—I’d say you’re probably lying.

Enya Back in college I worked in a record store, and one day I faced an angry customer who had requested something similar to Enya and was recommended Kate Bush by one of my colleagues. She bought it, tried it, hated it. If only my clueless co-worker had known that nothing compares to Enya. She’s lumped into the new-age category—home of Yanni (yikes!)—and her songs often are dismissed as music for insomniacs because of it. But stay awake and listen: Her potpourri of Irish folk, choral music and gospel, with occasional flourishes of tribal and world music, sometimes tense, sometimes soothing, is so much more than anodyne pop.

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Sound And Vision: Pop Goes the Previews — The Best and Worst of Fall Movie-Trailer Music

Whoever invented the movie preview must be some kind of genius. Because of them, half the fun of seeing a movie on the big screen is getting there—to the main attraction, that is. It always takes a few good trailers to put me in the mood. But sometimes, if the words don’t get in the way (damn, bad screenplays!), the music does. Too often terrible songs ruin perfectly good trailers—or make bad ones worse.

That said, movie-trailer music has come a long way. For a brief period in the early ’90s, nearly every other one seemed to feature the soothing new-age sounds of Enya floating by in the background. Nowadays we get a larger assortment of musical backdrops (pop, classical, rock, hip hop, techno and, of course, vintage Motown), some of which can actually turn must-avoid into must-see — at least until the coming attraction is over and sensible thinking once again prevails.

Variety, however, hasn’t done away with predictability, and recently, while screening trailers for some upcoming autumn releases, I noticed a few rules at play.

1. No self-respecting Oscar contender stoops to the tops of the pops. David Fincher may have gotten Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails to score The Social Network last year, but he knew better than to use Radiohead’s 1992 hit “Creep” in the trailer. Instead, he used a haunting cover by Belgium’s Scala & Kolacny Brothers. This year, for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (December 21), he punctuates the sneak-peek action not with Led Zeppelin’s classic version of “Immigrant Song” but with a near-equally exhilariting remake by Reznor and Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

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Today we journey to The Emerald Isle to throw back a Guinness and take a look at the Irish music scene. Have you ever heard of some guy called Bono or a lady called Enya? How about the pope-picture-tearin’ Sinéad O’Connor? Apparently the entire world has. These international superstar artists helped throw Irish music into the consciousness of the American mainstream. Many Irish bands like The Chieftains and The Corrs stay true to their Irish folk roots. Other Irish acts, such as Bell X1 and My Bloody Valentine, are hard to tell apart from their American or British contemporaries. Then, of course, there are artists like Morrissey with Irish blood and English heart. Nevertheless, Ireland has a strong track record of producing quality music. Give a listen to these up-and-coming OurStage Irish acts before you’re spending $300 on their special edition iPods and taking a third mortgage out on your house to see them live from the nosebleed seats:

Irish folk rock band The Rye keeps things festive with their spirited tune “The Banana Song”. One listen and you’ll soon picture yourself in an Irish pub surrounded by an entire village of friends singing along. Just try not to your footprints all over the bar.

With Bloc Party rhythms and dreamy harmonies, Angel Pier has a sure fire recipe for power pop stardom. At least that’s what NME thinks. Judge for yourself by listening to their rock ballad “Emily”.

Sisters Fiona, Nayome and Evangeline O’Neill form the dangerously addictive pop trip The Girls DEFY. Formally known under the name Sirocco, The Girls DEFY moved to the states to try their hand at the American music scene. Lady Gaga better watch out for these girls. With hooks reminiscent of The Writing’s on the Wall album by Destiny’s Child, The Girls DEFY are poised to dominate Top 40 radio for the next decade.



BATS are a noisy Dublin rock band that recently recorded their debut full length, Red In Tooth & Claw with Kurt Ballou from Converge in Salem, Massachusetts. The band has been making a name for themselves after a few choice opening spots for bands like The Locust, Liars and These Arms Are Snakes. Their song “Credulous! Credulous!” is full of raw post-rock energy with a dash of dance-punk and a touch of cowbell.

Stand is an Irish band with an old school country fried approach to storytelling through music. Fans of The Hold Steady and Magnolia Electric Co. are sure to warm up to this band. Stand is set to co-headline with Jukebox the Ghost on CMJ Opening Night at the Delancey October 20th.

If you’re tired of waiting for Garbage to put out new material you can look no further than Alphastates to fill the void for electro pop with female vocal attitude. Their track “Angel Kiss” shows us a band that was reared on a healthy diet of Portishead and Joy Division. Alphastates have had the honor of opening for the likes of Cat Power, Mercury Rev and Zero 7.


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