Last week, I read Elena Kagan's Princeton thesis—the whole document, not just the oft-quoted personal soundbites from her preface and conclusion—and found it to be an evenhanded assessment of the Socialist Party's brief window of effective politicking in New York during the early 20th century.
It's a fact as undeniable as it is oft-repeated: in the late '60s and early '70s, the Rolling Stones were incapable of doing wrong. Or, at the very least, the wrongs they were committing were exactly the sort that the public wanted from its rock stars.
It's unfashionable to carp about Hollywood's motives in handing out the Oscar for best picture. Savvy filmgoers are, at this late, cynical date, surely aware of the industry politics afoot, even if we reserve the right to howl privately about the worst offenses.
The music may never again be a popular force, but it is still swinging—if you know where to listen.
French intellectual Claude Lévi-Strauss died at the age of 100 last month, before he could comment on the latest single from Lady Gaga. If you think this an absurd notion, note that Lévi-Strauss's major project—discovering the common aspects of myths from different eras and continents—has influenced many pop scholars, including Greil Marcus.
They're not in competition, they swear. Much as you might want to draw elite orchestras from New York and Los Angeles into a bicoastal grudge-match story, they just won't hear of it—especially this year, when both are debuting young music directors who aim to raise the cultural profile of classical music.Even if we grant this premise, it's certainly notable that top philharmonics on both coasts have simultaneously undertaken face-lifts.
What would you say if Bob Dylan came caroling in your neighborhood on Christmas Eve?"Listen, Bobby D. That was an absolutely rip-roaring take on 'Must Be Santa,' but would you mind terribly playing 'Idiot Wind' while you're here?" Well, that's exactly what you'd do, if you had any sense.
The best performances of Terry Riley's 1964 minimalist classic In C come off like great sex: variations are gradually introduced and then withdrawn from a rhythmic structure—and when it's all over, you have a trancelike "what just happened?" kind of hum in your head.
Liberalism has long held a reputation for hoarding the influential celebrity talent: Redford, Streisand, etc. Consider last fall, when candidate Obama received an aesthetic donation from rapper will.i.am, whose "Yes We Can" video featured Scarlett Johansson, while GOP admen resorted to piping in old Jackson Browne—who promptly sued.
Pretty much nobody roots against Whitney Houston. After the train-wreck marriage to Bobby Brown (complete with embarrassing reality show), her admission of substance abuse problems, and the long periods of inactivity, it's difficult not to feel for the female singer who's had as much influence as anyone else on the post-Aretha direction of popular soul.
If a band leaks four full songs from a new album months before the street date, it's usually a sign they're confident about the total package. And in the case of the Flaming Lips, that confidence appears legitimate.
So there's maybe a new Radiohead song making the rounds─and, as Pitchfork and Stereogum have noted, if it's a fake, it's a damn good one. "These Are My Twisted Words" popped up on a fan site this morning, without any attribution or, um, attendant facts.
How many inventors are also great artists? Les Paul was both—an innovator in jazz, blues, and pop music who also pioneered the design of the solid-body electric guitar (since made iconic by the Gibson brand that bears his name).
by Seth Colter Walls The Fiery Furnaces have a resume full of quirks—singing about an internet cafes in Damascus, the odd verse written in Inuit—that makes them sound like a band dreamed up by an absurdist novelist.
Some musicians work only on their own terms, while others aim to satisfy the charts. Maxwell is doing both at the same time. After ditching the music game for eight years in order to pursue a "normal life," Maxwell's latest CD shot to the top of the Billboard 200 during its first week of release.
If you're doing quality work within a genre, you don't tend to declare it dead. And then there's Maxwell, the R&B singer whose pouffy Afro and history-conscious music made him a leading sex symbol of '90s neo-soul. "Is there even such a thing as R&B anymore?" he asks. "Hip-hop has completely absorbed it.
In 1996, American composer john Adams wrote a whirligig of a piece called "Scratchband." In its short running time, woodwinds and brass chase each other through thrashing figures so drunk on high spirits that the electric guitar, bass, and percussion can barely keep up.