Josh: So I was thinking the other day, you know what I love best about music?
Bick: What’s that?
Josh: The way it sounds. So melodic. Almost rhythmic.
Bick: Some might call it musical.
Bick: Oh, whatever. I guess that’s fair. Your thoughts on music, I mean. And wow, what a great segue into our discussion of the best music of 2011 so far. Also, please note I spelled favorite with the boorish, American spelling, just to appease our no doubt enormous audience. Of Americans.
Josh: There is no place for fat jokes in a Best Of article, B. But there is a place for picks of our favorite music of the year. That’s an even better segue, I think.
Matt: Douche. Let’s just go with both. Always best to just jam as many segues in there as possible, is what I always say when I’m talking about segues. So I guess I’ll go first, because importance. Anyway, I guess my favorite musical release this year was Donald Glover’s Childish Gambino EP. Which is kind of a huge deal for me, because mostly I can’t stand the raps and the hip hops.
I guess I mostly just hear the bad commercial radio stuff or whatever, but for the most part, hip hop just doesn’t appeal to me. I can get behind a fresh beat or whatever it is the kids are saying, but if the lyrical content doesn’t appeal to me, then it’s basically all just noise. Which is I think what I love most about Donald Glover when he’s rapping. His lyrics are endlessly clever (‘E.E. Cummings on her face, now that’s poetry in motion’, I am running this bitch, you are just a dog walker,’ Couldn’t see me as Spider-Man, but now I’m spittin’ Venom’), the beats are exceedingly fresh, and the stuff he talks about in his songs actually seems as though it could apply to me. Like, there’s a couple of songs dealing with just being an insecure dude, and that totally hits home for me, being a giant insecure bitch.
And I mean, if you don’t feel like being a huge emotional twat about music all the time, either, he still puts together some really fun songs, like Freaks and Geeks or (to name a song from his last full album, Culdesac) Put it in my Video. Anyway, that’s how I feel about the album, and I know you’ve listened to it as well, so let’s hear your thoughts.
Josh: I did listen to it, on repeat, dozens, maybe even hundreds, of times.
Matt: Hell yeah.
Josh: I think two things made me fall in love with the EP right away: wordplay and normalcy. I mean, yeah, “E. E. Cummings on her face, now that’s poetry in motion” might be the best rap lyric I’ve ever heard. But it’s not just the clever shit; he also doesn’t rap about cappin’ n-words and makin’ cheddar, both of which I’m still unsure of their meaning.
Matt: Exactly. There’s stuff in these songs that everyone can relate to. And I mean, maybe that’s not what everyone’s looking for with rap or even music in general, but I feel like that goes a long way towards making an inherently divisive genre like hip hop more palatable to average schlubs like me.
Josh: Right, but it’s also got great club beats, and I have constant daydreams of bomb ass hipster pixies spilling their PBR and fogging up their horn-rimmed glasses while I freak them to this EP.
Matt: Right…? Like, right now, Lights Turned on just came on, and holy shit, the beats on this song are incredible. I just want to get up and dance, and that’s something I literally never want to do, ever. Like, between that song and Freaks and Geeks, I pretty much spend half my time listening to this album with the intention of dancing or something. Really, my only complaint is that it’s an EP. I want it to be a full release so bad that I would pay honest to god money to buy it. It was released for free, and it makes me want to pay for it, and I think that’s about the best praise I could ever give something. It makes me want to mail my wallet to someone so they’ll make more of it right now. And with that, and this not at all contrived segue, we’ll move on to your pick for the best music of the year so far.
Josh: Alright, slightly different mood with this one, but the same artist race. That was probably a coincidence.
Matt: In all likelihood, this is probably true. I doubt there was a secret meeting somewhere in the world to determine which race the winners of the Best of 2011 So Far (Music) category on a blog with a readership in the single digits. And if there were, it would probably just make me sad.
Josh: Don’t be sad. Affirmative action or not, Raphael Saadiq’s “Stone Rollin’” is my runaway pick for this year.
Matt: I am a terrible person, and I confess that I got the album last week, and am just now finally listening to it.
Josh: Yet another reason why you’re terrible. And the reason it’s my favorite album of the year is simple: Motown is king. It’s been the music genre I rely on most to remind me that the world doesn’t have to be complicated, it can be and often is happy, and when it’s not, just fucking croon, boy.
Matt: I’m only two songs in, but it’s already a really lively, and entertaining album. Which is something I’ve always found about the, honestly, small amount of Motown music I’ve actually heard. there’s an energy which I don’t think you see as often in other genres, and it really makes me want to crank the volume, even though it’s two in the morning.
Josh: Right? And beyond that, it’s the theme of this album that spoke to me even more than his last. He sings about love, longing, and crippling heartache–all of which have been the themes of my 2011.
Matt: But also, I’m getting a kind of Chuck Berry vibe from this third song, Radio. Something about it makes me think of Johnny B. Goode.
Josh: Dude, you’re killing me here. You keep responding before I can get these awesome segues into use.
Matt: Damn. Sorry. I’ll try to stop doing that.
Josh: Well it’s funny that you say ‘stop’ —
Josh: Shut up. Anyway, it’s funny that you say ‘stop,’ because that word begins the proper lyrics in The Answer, by far the best song I’ve heard in 2011. Stop. It’s a word that’s shown up in some of the best Motown around. Stop! In the Name of Love comes to mind. And it’s immensely effective, and kind of typifies Motown for me. Everything is stop or go, love or longing, sex or everything that leads to sex. It’s a genre that speaks to my sentimental heart, stripping away all emotional complexity and driving home the idea of the hopeless romantic where love is the thing that keeps us all alive, and when that ends, it all ends. I read a quote a few months ago when I was wallowing (though I want to clarify, since that line makes it seem like that was something I did in the past; I’m still in the wallowing phase, you see), and since this is a blog, fuck citation: “I don’t know why they call it heartbreak. It feels like every other part of my body is broken too.” Simple, but powerful shit. And it’s the kind of simple, powerful shit that shows up in songs like Heart Attack, Just Don’t, and Over You.
Matt: Yeah man, I get that same hopeless romantic sentimentalism, and it’s fucking killer. Save some wallowing for me, is what I’m trying to say. And having just listened to Over You, I totally hear that same sensation of heartbreak you’re describing. I mean, like I said, I don’t listen to a ton of Motown, but I can definitely see this album staying in my permanent rotation.
Josh: It’s so broken hearted and speaks so much to the way I feel that for months I wanted to put some of his lines as my status updates on Facebook, which is the world’s public diary now, but they might be too honest and capture heartache too well. “You’re giving me a heart attack. Girl I want you back. I just can’t take it no more,” is fucking universal, but also sappy. You put that in a status update and I might as well write, “Slitting my wrists LOL,” but you put that on top of an R&B rhythm, and it just makes my heart melt. And I swear Saadiq got this line from Just Don’t by peering in my apartment window: “I drown myself in whiskey, grass, and beer. Love, I was wishing you were here.” Fuuuuuuuuck. Who hasn’t felt like that?
Matt: Exactly. And what better praise can you give a song than “I wanted to put the lyrics in my Facebook status, even though that is the tackiest shit ever”? I mean, damn.
Josh: Yeah, but I couldn’t do it.
Matt: Well that’s probably for the –
Josh: So I put them on Twitter. Should we end it here?
Matt: I think so. We’ve probably devoted enough of tonight’s time to the entertainment of all of our fan.