Thursday, December 30, 2010

Listening Post: The 25 Best Singles of 2010 (4-2)


4. Mumford & Sons -- Little Lion Man

Every couple of years or so, a band seems to come from out of nowhere and inexplicably strike gold -- their popularity taking everyone by surprise. We must be just about due because in 2010 Mumford & Sons were the little band that could, going from zero-to-supernova around the globe in what felt like a split second. Rising out of the new folk underground bubbling beneath the surface of London's indie scene, the band admittedly had shock value going for them, both in their overall sound -- which once again, since originality is relative, sounded completely fresh as pop music in 2010 -- and the intensity of their live performances. Little Lion Man exploded into a monstrous hit with good reason. It's got raw, unapologetic emotion and it barrels along like a locomotive coming at you -- and then of course there's one of the most memorable choruses of the year: "But it was not your fault but mine/And it was your heart on the line/I really fucked it up this time -- didn't I, my dear?" That's the kind of tragic resignation that hits home with just about everyone.




3. A Silent Film -- You Will Leave a Mark

There's always been a special niche in alt rock for bands that kick detached irony to the curb and throw both arms around the earnest and sincere. A Silent Film sat at the top of that sub-genre this year, and what they did they really did well. Grandiosely cinematic and proudly wearing their hearts on their sleeves, at face value they'd seem a little superfluous in the musical pool these days, what with bands like Coldplay, Civil Twilight, Keane and Snow Patrol already filling the thing to the point of pushing all the water out over the edges. But there's simply no denying one thing: they make good music. You Will Leave a Mark is terrific, no-bullshit power-pop, and from its pounding opening piano progression to its sweeping chorus, it's got the kind of urgency that never feels phony or pompous. These guys play like their lives depend on it, and even if this was the one and only song A Silent Film ever did, it would -- no pun intended -- leave a hell of a mark.




2. Foster the People -- Pumped Up Kicks

If Pumped Up Kicks were lethal, we'd all be dead right now. It's that outrageously infectious. There was buzz about Foster the People -- who got singed out of L.A. at lightning speed just last year -- even before this single was released, which is amusing because to this day not much more than this one song has been made available. Yeah, there's a full album on the way and much of it lives up to the effervescent promise of Pumped Up Kicks. But as with A Silent Film, if these guys never released another song, they'd have had a pretty meaningful career in pop music. Part Pet Sounds-era Beach Boys, part Beck, part MGMT, all carefree indie cool, this is one of those songs that -- the minute you heard it -- you found yourself immediately trying to figure out who it was and how to get your hands on it. They could probably get away with classifying it as a Class A drug.



Listening Post: The 25 Best Singles of 2010: 5. The Black Keys -- Tighten Up, 6. Vampire Weekend -- Giving Up the Gun, 7. Gorillaz -- Stylo

Listening Post: The 25 Best Singles of 2010: 8. Arcade Fire -- Ready To Start, 9. The Heavy -- How You Like Me Now, 10. Tame Impala -- Lucidity

Listening Post: The 25 Best Singles of 2010: 11. Ben Folds & Nick Hornby -- From Above, 12. Kanye West (Featuring Bon Iver and Gil Scott-Heron) -- Lost in the World, 13. M.I.A. -- Born Free

Listening Post: The 25 Best Singles of 2010: 14. Sia -- My Love, 15. Middle Class Rut -- New Low, 16. The xx -- Islands

Listening Post: The 25 Best Singles of 2010: 17. John Legend and the Roots -- I Can't Write Left-Handed, 18. Blonde Redhead -- Not Getting There, 19. The National -- Bloodbuzz Ohio

Listening Post: The 25 Best Singles of 2010: 20. Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti -- Round and Round, 21. P!nk -- Raise Your Glass, 22. Drive-By Truckers -- This Fucking Job

Listening Post: The 25 Best Singles of 2010: 23. Best Coast -- Boyfriend, 24. Anberlin -- Impossible, 25. Fences -- Girls with Accents

Up Next: #1

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Listening Post: The 25 Best Singles of 2010 (7-5)


7. Gorillaz -- Stylo

Almost a full ten years after their debut, Damon Albarn's exhilaratingly indescribable cartoon band project just keeps going strong -- and they've never sounded more inspired than on the first single from 2010's damn fine Plastic Beach album, Stylo. Adding the almost otherworldly flow of Mos Def and the powerhouse voice of the great Bobby Womack to Albarn's characteristically laconic drone, the song sounds like the work of an old school Brooklyn DJ, maybe circa 1980 or so, who happened to be on mushrooms. It's a slickly evocative track, and it just oozes cool with every beat.




6. Vampire Weekend -- Giving Up the Gun

Music critics from every corner of the landscape spent at least part of this year looking for inventive ways to say that Vampire Weekend had overcome not just the dreaded sophomore slump but the burden of all the hype that had been heaped -- justifiably -- on their debut album. The band's Contra record wasn't just as good as their first; it was actually quite a bit better. Rather than trying to branch out, reinvent themselves or fix something that wasn't broken, Vampire Weekend doubled down on the qualities that made them the subject of intense idol worship by many and aloof dismissal by a few. Giving Up the Gun sounds like exactly what it is: four Ivy League guys remaking Paul Simon's Graceland-era sound, updated and syncopated, for the hipster generation. And while that seems like it should be an insult, it's anything but.




5. The Black Keys -- Tighten Up

One listen to the sixth album from the Black Keys and you immediately ask yourself two questions: 1) How the fuck do two guys get such a massive sound? and 2) why haven't they been the biggest band on the planet for the past nine years? Tighten Up is their second collaboration with Danger Mouse, and the name of the song couldn't be more appropriate; DM's production feels like a gravitational singularity in space that compresses every note and beat played by Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney into a kind of pinpoint, making their already unyielding sound really draw blood. It's bluesy, it's funky, and it's the song that finally -- and much deservedly -- broke the Black Keys wide open.



Listening Post: The 25 Best Singles of 2010: 8. Arcade Fire -- Ready To Start, 9. The Heavy -- How You Like Me Now, 10. Tame Impala -- Lucidity

Listening Post: The 25 Best Singles of 2010: 11. Ben Folds & Nick Hornby -- From Above, 12. Kanye West (Featuring Bon Iver and Gil Scott-Heron) -- Lost in the World, 13. M.I.A. -- Born Free

Listening Post: The 25 Best Singles of 2010: 14. Sia -- My Love, 15. Middle Class Rut -- New Low, 16. The xx -- Islands

Listening Post: The 25 Best Singles of 2010: 17. John Legend and the Roots -- I Can't Write Left-Handed, 18. Blonde Redhead -- Not Getting There, 19. The National -- Bloodbuzz Ohio

Listening Post: The 25 Best Singles of 2010: 20. Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti -- Round and Round, 21. P!nk -- Raise Your Glass, 22. Drive-By Truckers -- This Fucking Job

Listening Post: The 25 Best Singles of 2010: 23. Best Coast -- Boyfriend, 24. Anberlin -- Impossible, 25. Fences -- Girls with Accents

Tomorrow: 4, 3 & 2

The Year in Quotes


2010 through the words of those whose voices defined it -- for better or worse.

"This is an abuse of power. It's a miscarriage of justice, and I still maintain that I am innocent. The criminalization of politics undermines our very system and I'm very disappointed in the outcome."

-- Tom DeLay, November 25th

"You're running your mouth just to talk shit... Your such a faggot... Sorry that all you guys are jealous of my families success and you guys aren't goin to go anywhere with your lives."

-- Willow Palin via Facebook, November 17th

"Happy birthday @sn00ki."

-- John McCain via Twitter, November 16th

"You touch my junk, I'll have you arrested."

-- Airline passenger Jon Tyner to a TSA agent, November 13th

"The Carnival Splendor is a lot like America: huge, dysfunctional and going nowhere, but plenty of Pop Tarts."

-- Andy Borowitz, November 12th

"I want to thank the Kennedy Center, or, as it will soon be known, the Tea Party Bowling Alley and Rifle Range."

-- Tina Fey, November 10th

"Damn right."

-- George W. Bush on whether he approved the waterboarding of suspected terrorists, November 5th

"If we amplify everything, we hear nothing."

-- Jon Stewart, October 30th

"This is not a time for compromise, and I can tell you that we will not compromise."

-- John Boehner, October 28th


"I don't think it's that big of a deal. I would like for her to apologize to me to be honest with you."

-- Tim Profitt, the Rand Paul campaign volunteer who stomped a female protester at a Senate debate in Kentucky, October 27th

"I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous."

-- Juan Williams, October 21st

"I think it's worth noting that in one of the alleged photos of him, he's pleasuring himself on a bed while wearing Crocs. And if you think about it, is there any better metaphor for the sad state of America today than an over-the-hill white guy lazily masturbating in plastic shoes?"

-- Bill Maher on Brett Favre, October 20th

"I just think my children and your children would be better off and much more successful getting married and raising a family. And I don't want them to be brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid or successful option. It isn't."

-- Carl Paladino, October 11th

"I'm not a witch."

-- Christine O'Donnell, October 4th

"I'm telling you that everybody who runs CNN is a lot like Stewart, and a lot of people who run all the other networks are a lot like Stewart, and to imply that somehow they, the people in this country who are Jewish, are an oppressed minority? Yeah."

-- Rick Sanchez, September 30th

"My name is James, I work in video activism and journalism. I've been approached by CNN for an interview where I know what their angle is: they want to portray me and my friends as crazies, as non-journalists, as unprofessional and likely as homophobes, racists or bigots of some sort… Instead, I've decided to have a little fun. Instead of giving her a serious interview, I'm going to punk CNN. Abbie has been trying to seduce me to use me, in order to spin a lie about me. So, I'm going to seduce her, on camera, to use her for a video. This bubble-headed-bleach-blonde who comes on at five will get a taste of her own medicine, she'll get seduced on camera and you'll get to see the awkwardness and the aftermath. Please sit back and enjoy the show."

-- James O'Keefe, September 29th

"A hall full of elderly white people in Medicare-paid scooters, railing against government spending and imagining themselves revolutionaries as they cheer on the vice-presidential puppet hand-picked by the GOP establishment. If there exists a better snapshot of everything the Tea Party represents, I can't imagine it."

Matt Taibbi, September 28th

“All faggots must die.”

-- Aide to Georgia Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss on a gay website, September 22nd

"I'd like to hear Barack Obama come out and renounce Lucifer. I don't recall hearing him do it."

-- "Author" Jerome Corsi, September 21st


"Those who are impotent and limp and gutless and they go on their anonymous, sources that are anonymous, and impotent, limp and gutless reporters take anonymous sources and cite them as being factual references. It just slays me because it's so absolutely clear what the state of yellow journalism is today that they would take these anonymous sources as fact."

-- Sarah Palin, September 2nd

"The Obama Administration has been a two year long Shark Week for Fox."

-- Cracked.com, August 29th

"The entity making such a remark might be a raving, terrified person whose cancer has spread to the brain. I can't guarantee that such an entity wouldn't make such a ridiculous remark, but no one recognizable as myself would ever make such a remark."

-- Christopher Hitchens on the possibility of a death-bed conversion to Christ, August 10th

"Plaintiffs do not seek recognition of a new right. To characterize plaintiffs' objective as 'the right to same-sex marriage' would suggest that plaintiffs seek something different from what opposite-sex couples across the state enjoy -- namely, marriage. Rather, plaintiffs ask California to recognize their relationships for what they are: marriages."

-- California 9th Circuit Judge Vaughan Walker, overturning Prop 8, August 4th

"Of course I have. I'm an actor for fuck's sake."

-- Inception's Tom Hardy on whether he's ever had gay sex


"The Sherrod story is a reminder — much like the 2004 assault on John Kerry by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth — that the old media are often swayed by controversies pushed by the conservative new media. In many quarters of the old media, there is concern about not appearing liberally biased, so stories emanating from the right are given more weight and less scrutiny. Additionally, the conservative new media, particularly Fox News Channel and talk radio, are commercially successful, so the implicit logic followed by old-media decisionmakers is that if something is gaining currency in those precincts, it is a phenomenon that must be given attention. Most dangerously, conservative new media will often produce content that is so provocative and incendiary that the old media find it irresistible."

-- Mark Halperin of Time magazine, July 27th

"If anybody reads the sainted, martyred Sherrod’s entire speech, this person has not gotten past black vs. white."

-- Andrew Breitbart, July 23rd

"At approximately 11:04 Eastern Standard Time, the American news media finally realized they kind of sucked."

-- Jon Stewart on the Rolling Stone story that led to the resignation of General Stanley McChrystal, June 24th

""‘Refudiate,’ ‘misunderestimate,’ ‘wee-wee’d up.’ English is a living language. Shakespeare liked to coin new words too. Got to celebrate it!"

-- Sarah Palin via Twitter, July 19th

"I'm ashamed of what happened in the White House yesterday. I think it is a tragedy in the first proportion that a private corporation can be subjected to what I would characterize as a shakedown -- in this case a $20 billion shakedown... I'm only speaking for myself. I'm not speaking for anyone else, but I apologize."

-- Rep. Joe Barton of Texas on BP, July 17th


"I hear comments sometimes that large oil companies are greedy companies or don't care, but that is not the case with BP. We care about the small people."

-- BP Chairman Carl Henric-Svanberg, June 16th

"Don't tease the panther."

-- Glenn Beck in his novel The Overton Window, June 13th

"There’s no one who wants this over more than I do. I would like my life back."

-- BP CEO Tony Hayward, May 30th

"That woman is an idiot."

-- Keith Olbermann on Sarah Palin, May 14th

"(Calling someone a "tea bagger") is the equivalent of using the 'n' word. It shows contempt for middle America, expressed knowingly, contemptuously, on purpose, and with a smirk. It is indefensible to use this word."

-- Grover Norquist, May 6th

"From time to time there are going to be things that occur that are acts of God that cannot be prevented."

-- Texas Governor Rick Perry on the BP disaster, May 4th

"I now feel quite confident that in fact she is a borderline simpleton, fame-seeking narcissist whose self-interested grab for attention is likely doing further permanent damage to the Edwards family, including her daughter and her siblings. If her appearance on the Oprah show seemed like an unjust setup, then Hunter proved that, every once in a while, someone so amply meets all expectations for awfulness that it's impossible to muster anything other than loathing for them."

-- Rebecca Traister of Salon.com on Rielle Hunter, April 30th

"In other words, a year ago, it was all about 'I am John Galt.' This year, it's evolved into, 'I am Victoria Jackson.'"

-- Bob Cesca, April 18th


"The American People are witnessing the greatest lie that is cleverly orchestrated by President Obama and his whole administration. President Obama feeds people poison, giving them the idea that they are entitled to take from the wealthier who have lived and worked in a democracy that understands that capitalism is the only truth that keeps a nation healthy ... (It's) a socialistic, Marxist teaching, and with it, he rapes this nation."

-- Jon Voight, April 14th

"Many psychologists and psychiatrists have demonstrated that there is no relation between celibacy and pedophilia. But many others have demonstrated, I have been told recently, that there is a relation between homosexuality and pedophilia. That is true. That is the problem."

-- Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican's second-in-command, April 13th

"The last I checked, Sarah Palin is not much of an expert on nuclear issues."

-- President Barack Obama, April 10th

"(Rielle felt that) Oprah was more 'spiritual' and would get her."

-- Spokesperson for Rielle Hunter on why Hunter agreed to grant Oprah a sit-down interview, April 7th

"Sarah Palin screaming about death panels? Listen, Sarah, if we were killing off useless people, you'd be the first to know."

-- Bill Maher, April 2nd

"They were very... touching words for the victims."

-- Vatican spokesperson Federico Lombardi on Pope Benedict XVI's personal letter responding to the priest sex abuse scandal, April 2nd

"Shut the fuck up."

-- Unidentified player at the NFL Scouting Combine to Tim Tebow, after Tebow requested that everyone in the room bow his head in prayer before taking the Wonderlic exam, March 28th

"Anime is a prime example of why two nukes just wasn't enough."

-- New Hampshire State Rep. Nick Levasseur on Facebook, March 28th

"What we do know is that when leaders on either side of the aisle go with this over-inflated rhetoric and they tell us it's the end of the world, it's Armageddon, the Marxists have taken over Washington, it's the end of the world as we know it, we're moving into socialism -- when they say things like that, that maybe some of them don't believe, and then the fringes believe it, and then they go out and do stupid things, well, I mean, it's all kind of tied together isn't it?"

-- Shepard Smith, March 26th

"This is a big fucking deal."

-- Vice President Joe Biden to President Obama during the signing of the health care reform bill into law, March 23rd

"I’m going to show you a lot more than tickle fights... Not only did I grope him, I tickled him until he couldn't breathe. I should have never allowed myself to be as familiar with my staff as I was."

-- Former Democratic New York Representative Eric Massa, March 10th

"I don't know. I'll just tell you this, if this passes and it's five years from now and all that stuff gets implemented -- I am leaving the country. I'll go to Costa Rica."

-- Rush Limbaugh, March 9th

"There's no worse crime in journalism these days than simply deciding something’s a story because Drudge links to it."

-- NBC's Chuck Todd, March 9th

"The multiculturalism movement must be unmasked for the fraud it is. There are superior cultures, and ours is one of them."

-- Mitt Romney, March 4th


"Extending unemployment benefits doesn't create new jobs. In fact, if anything, continuing to pay people unemployment compensation is a disincentive for them to seek new work."

-- Republican Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, March 2nd

"We're slaves to our different audiences, for MTV that's millennials, who are vastly different than Generation X. They're definitely less cynical -- they're more civic minded. Millennials are really about authentic reality and family. (That's why MTV) played up the camaraderie and family elements in Jersey Shore to appeal to them."

-- MTV Networks President Van Toffler, February 24th

"I was a big supporter of waterboarding."

-- Dick Cheney, February 15th

"Sarah Palin is a fucking retard."

-- Stephen Colbert, February 9th


"He chose to use his name, Barack, for a reason. To identify, not with America -- you don't take the name Barack to identify with America. You take the name Barack to identify with what? Your heritage? The heritage, maybe, of your father in Kenya, who is a radical? Really? Searching for something to give him any kind of meaning, just as he was searching later in life for religion."

-- Glenn Beck, February 5th

"It's kind of funny, you know, celebrities usually go on Oprah with these intense, serious interviews to get support from the public after they had sex with their father or married Bobby Brown or something. Jay Leno went on because they gave him The Tonight Show back. So please, keep him in your prayers."

-- Jimmy Kimmel, January 29th

"Health care is dead!"

-- Fox News's Stuart Varney, January 20th

"Although it is true that Haiti was just, like, five minutes ago a victim of a random earthquake that killed tens of thousands of people, I’m going to skip right past the fake mourning period and point out that Haitians are a bunch of lazy niggers who can’t keep their dongs in their pants and probably wouldn’t be pancaked under fifty tons of rubble if they had spent a little more time over the years listening to the clarion call of white progress, and learning to use a freaking T-square, instead of singing and dancing and dabbling in not-entirely-Christian religions and making babies all the fucking time. I know I’m supposed to respect other cultures and keep my mouth shut about this stuff, but my penis is only four and a third inches long when fully engorged and so I’m kind of at the end of my patience just generally, especially when it comes to 'progress-resistant' cultures."

-- Matt Taibbi "translating" David Brooks's column on the Haitian earthquake aftermath and what it tells us about Haiti, January 18th

"I have a pretty thick skin and I've seen a lot of stuff and I can ignore a lot of stuff but when we were sitting there this morning and just watching that woman wail, there is nobody for her. Her husband is just trying to hold her down on a mattress in a field, just from going insane from her loss. That kind of loss is horrific in any culture, but in a culture where you're utterly... where you're alone, it just makes it all the more difficult."

-- Fox News reporter Steve Harrigan in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, January 16th


"And I just want to say to the kids out there watching: You can do anything you want in life. Unless Jay Leno wants to do it, too."

-- Conan O'Brien, January 14th

"Something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it. They were under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon the third, or whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, we will serve you if you will get us free from the French. True story. And so, the devil said, okay it's a deal."

-- Pat Robertson, January 13th

"I take pride in one thing: I leave NBC prime time the same way I found it -- a complete disaster."

-- Jay Leno, January 12th

"The extent to which he can recover seems to me depends on his faith. He is said to be a Buddhist. I don't think that faith offers the kind of redemption and forgiveness offered by the Christian faith. My message to Tiger is, 'Tiger turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.'"

-- Brit Hume on Tiger Woods, January 4th


And hands-down the Quote of the Year...

"You should just fucking smile... and BLOW ME!"

-- Mel Gibson, July 13th

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Listening Post: The 25 Best Singles of 2010 (10-8)


10. Tame Impala -- Lucidity

Once again, what was old became new this past year -- and while a lot of bands were reaching back for the mid-70s soft-rock sound, one band was busy digging up the corpse of the Nazz and taking lessons from it. Australia's Tame Impala sound like the last 40 years didn't even happen -- like time stopped right around the time the Beatles wrote It's All Too Much. Lucidity, from the band's debut album Innerspeaker was an absolute blast of an introduction to global audiences -- a fuzzboxed swirl of psychedelic nostalgia that grabbed you by the eardrums and refused to let go. Part big-riff stadium rock, part fierce power-pop and all cool-as-hell, it was one of the catchiest songs of the year.




9. The Heavy -- How You Like Me Now

From the same basic period but borrowing liberally from an entirely different genre come the Heavy -- and the debut single from their second album, which became ubiquitous in 2010 thanks to its being the go-to song for every commercial and movie trailer that wanted you to really think the product it was pushing was bad-ass. If omnipresence on its own translated into quality, How You Like Me Now might sit comfortably atop this list. As it is, though, there's no arguing that the song was popular for a reason: it was damn good. Tapping directly into the funked-up vein of James Brown, the band -- fronted by the soulful howl of singer Kelvin Swaby -- created something so instantly memorable that it was pretty much destined to be massive. What the Heavy proved this year is that originality is all relative -- it relies on context. Sure, you know the kind of thing you're hearing in How You Like Me Now is nothing new under the sun, but in 2010 it sounded like the freshest sound around.




8. Arcade Fire -- Ready To Start

Make no mistake: Arcade Fire are one of the bests bands on earth at the moment. Their 2010 album The Suburbs, while not quite as flat-out fall-to-your-knees excellent as the poetic Neon Bible, continued the Canadian band's tradition of recording ambitious, epically cinematic albums. They truly have become the thinking man's arena rock band, and nothing proves that like Ready To Start. It's an almost magical combination of flawlessly crafted, thoroughly accessible pop hooks, anthemic dynamism and enigmatic intrigue. It's one of those songs that's just damn-near perfect.



Listening Post: The 25 Best Singles of 2010: 11. Ben Folds & Nick Hornby -- From Above, 12. Kanye West (Featuring Bon Iver and Gil Scott-Heron) -- Lost in the World, 13. M.I.A. -- Born Free

Listening Post: The 25 Best Singles of 2010: 14. Sia -- My Love, 15. Middle Class Rut -- New Low, 16. The xx -- Islands

Listening Post: The 25 Best Singles of 2010: 17. John Legend and the Roots -- I Can't Write Left-Handed, 18. Blonde Redhead -- Not Getting There, 19. The National -- Bloodbuzz Ohio

Listening Post: The 25 Best Singles of 2010: 20. Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti -- Round and Round, 21. P!nk -- Raise Your Glass, 22. Drive-By Truckers -- This Fucking Job

Listening Post: The 25 Best Singles of 2010: 23. Best Coast -- Boyfriend, 24. Anberlin -- Impossible, 25. Fences -- Girls with Accents

Tomorrow: 7, 6 & 5

Monday, December 27, 2010

Listening Post: The 25 Best Singles of 2010 (13-11)


13. M.I.A. -- Born Free

Blistering. Incendiary. Exhilarating. Absolutely fucking ferocious. Pick your descriptor, M.I.A.'s Born Free was all that and more. It was a sonic riot. It was a call to arms. You really could imagine it being broadcast from the falling capital of a country in a state of violent revolution -- and for the briefest moment it made you think that M.I.A. just might not be entirely full of shit when she claims she's a Tamil Tiger.




12. Kanye West (featuring Bon Iver and Gil Scott-Heron) -- Lost in the World

Maybe the most impressive endorsement of Kanye West is this: His 2010 album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, is so good it actually makes his megalomaniacal dickishness worth putting up with. Despite the fact that the rollout of the record was on par with the heralding of the Christ child, the end result more than lived up to the hype. Sure, the bombastic and mind-blowingly entertaining Monster is getting most of the airplay, but it's the track that was immediately made available to alt radio, Lost in the World, that's a work of imaginative near-genius. Using Bon Iver's auto-tuned acapella track Woods as a foundation, Kanye honestly made musical worlds collide, and the result is something truly special. Sure he's a tool, but he's an undeniably talented tool -- and his Fantasy is probably the best full-length album of the year.




11. Ben Folds & Nick Hornby -- From Above

Speaking of brilliant collaborations, this one seemed like such a no-brainer that the first time you heard the fruits of it you wondered why somebody didn't think of it sooner. Pairing the Rundgren-esque sensitivities of Ben Folds's music with the cheeky lyrics of British novelist Nick Hornby just felt so -- natural. The first single from their album Lonely Avenue proved it in spades. From Above is one of the saddest songs of the year, set to an almost willfully deceptive uptempo beat. It traffics in oversized, T.S. Eliot coffee spoon-style themes: missed opportunities, nagging feelings of regret, vague dissatisfaction, but most importantly, the fear that casts the longest shadow in the heart of anyone who's ever been in love -- the idea that maybe you're not with the person you're supposed to be with and that that one true soulmate is still out there somewhere. It's all told from the perspective, Wings of Desire-style, of detached beings that apparently aren't so detached that they can't take an interest in our all-too-human interactions. It's one of those songs that pulls off the rare feat of making you smile while it breaks your heart into a million pieces. Which, I guess, is exactly what love does.



Listening Post: The 25 Best Singles of 2010: 14. Sia -- My Love, 15. Middle Class Rut -- New Low, 16. The xx -- Islands

Listening Post: The 25 Best Singles of 2010: 17. John Legend and the Roots -- I Can't Write Left-Handed, 18. Blonde Redhead -- Not Getting There, 19. The National -- Bloodbuzz Ohio

Listening Post: The 25 Best Singles of 2010: 20. Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti -- Round and Round, 21. P!nk -- Raise Your Glass, 22. Drive-By Truckers -- This Fucking Job

Listening Post: The 25 Best Singles of 2010: 23. Best Coast -- Boyfriend, 24. Anberlin -- Impossible, 25. Fences -- Girls with Accents

Tomorrow: 10,9 & 8

Delays, Delays


Just a heads-up from Malcontent Central: I'm running a little behind because I'm so damn busy right now, but the next installment of the 25 Best Singles of 2010 will be posted later tonight -- and within the next day or so we'll begin looking back on the best DXM pieces of this year, as well as the year in quotes.

So, you know, stay tuned -- or something.

Quote of the Day


"I don’t even know if there was a deal, to be honest with you, before his show... I’ll forever be indebted to Jon because of what he did."

-- Kenny Specht, founder of the New York City Firefighter Brotherhood Foundation, on Jon Stewart's role in salvaging the 9/11 First Responders Bill

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Listening Post: The 25 Best Singles of 2010 (16-14)


16. The xx -- Islands

The debut album from England's the xx continued to dominate alt radio in 2010, thanks largely to the record's second single, which was actually re-released in the states mid-year. Islands works as a perfect little snapshot of all the reasons the xx achieved Next Big Thing status the minute their seductive sound -- some have referred to it as "post-coital" -- began bleeding from the earbuds and speakers of various in-the-know Londoners. The fact that at the time of the record's release not one member of the band was of legal drinking age in the United States just added to the odd mystery of the xx -- as in, how the hell are these kids making such luxuriously sexy music? The best part about them? They let that music do the talking. They're certainly not a gorgeous or fashionable band by any stretch of the imagination, but oh when you put on that record and let it envelop you -- the result is simply intoxicating.




15. Middle Class Rut -- New Low

The rise of Middle Class Rut is an honest-to-God grass roots success story and as a band they prove that there's still room in the popular music landscape for the straightforward post-grunge sound, provided it's done well -- and these guys do it extraordinarily well. Like the Black Keys or the White Stripes, it's astonishing the amount of music -- to say nothing of raw energy -- that can come from two people, in this case Zack Lopez and Sean Stockham, and just a few basic instruments. Middle Class Rut's debut LP, No Name No Color, is a flat-out monstrous record -- like being hit in the side of the head with a brick. But sprinkled somewhat casually amongst all that bite are moments of almost Western Gothic flair, and that's where New Low falls; it has a kind of mythic Last Chance Saloon vibe to it, and it's honestly one of the catchiest and most memorable songs of the year.




14. Sia -- My Love

It's one of life's great conundrums: The Twilight books are fucking awful. The Twilight movies are equally bad. Yet, strangely, the Twilight movie soundtracks are consistently terrific. It's as if the unholy creatures who engineered this pop cultural choke-hold decided to throw just one bone to those who have actual taste. The soundtrack to Eclipse featured new music from Metric, Muse, UNKLE, Florence + the Machine and Band of Horses, just to name a few artists. But it was Sia's stunning My Love, released to adult-alt radio seemingly as an afterthought, that truly stood out. In addition to it being, at long last, a worthwhile follow-up to Breathe Me -- one of the most achingly passionate songs of the last decade -- it was the kind of thing that touched something divine deep inside you, someplace unsullied by cynicism and the knowledge of the occasionally ugly realities involved in surrendering yourself to another soul. It was an unabashedly beautiful love song, and it made you want to believe in the feeling that could inspire such grace.



Listening Post: The 25 Best Singles of 2010: 17. John Legend and the Roots -- I Can't Write Left-Handed, 18. Blonde Redhead -- Not Getting There, 19. The National -- Bloodbuzz Ohio

Listening Post: The 25 Best Singles of 2010: 20. Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti -- Round and Round, 21. P!nk -- Raise Your Glass, 22. Drive-By Truckers -- This Fucking Job

Listening Post: The 25 Best Singles of 2010: 23. Best Coast -- Boyfriend, 24. Anberlin -- Impossible, 25. Fences -- Girls with Accents

Tomorrow: 13, 12 & 11

Saturday, December 25, 2010

America's Favorite Things



This is brilliant.

Listening Post: The 25 Best Singles of 2010 (19-17)


19. The National -- Bloodbuzz Ohio

The National write epic, end-of-the-world-style hymns, and most of the material on High Violet doesn't stand out from what anyone has come to expect from the band -- which is to say, it's phenomenal. Almost any song on the album would've made a terrific single and therefore would've probably made it onto this list -- Little Faith and Conversation 16 immediately come to mind -- but there's no denying that Bloodbuzz Ohio represents everything that makes the National one of the most vital bands working today. It's got a regal elegance to it, one that's highlighted by singer Matt Berninger's trademark baritone and undercut in the best possible way by an arhythmic backbeat. It's glorious, inspirational stuff -- the soundtrack for the moment in which the guy sitting alone with his thoughts is finally struck by the reality that he's letting the one good thing in his life pass him by, and so he pulls his coat up around his shoulders and wanders into the cold night with propulsive determination at his back. It's the music of life.




18. Blonde Redhead -- Not Getting There

There's a running gag that in addition to the ubiquitous asymmetrical haircut, taste for women's jeans and hamper full of ironic t-shirts, what you really need to be considered a respectable hipster is an Asian girlfriend. This probably explains why Blonde Redhead are the reigning darlings of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. But while the presence and voice of willowy frontwoman Kazu Makino might make anyone with a pair of functioning testicles run like hell on principle, the fact is that 2010's Penny Sparkle is a hauntingly gorgeous album -- all shimmer and shadows. And while the not-so-silent hand of My Bloody Valentine can be felt sprinkling pixie dust over the entire effort, they've never been a terrible band to emulate, and Blonde Redhead does it oh so well. The first single from the album, though, is reminiscent of a couple of other bands from years gone by: Not Getting There pulsates like a cross between Blondie's Heart of Glass and late-80s Cocteau Twins, and once again, that's not necessarily a bad thing.




17. John Legend and the Roots -- I Can't Write Left Handed

John Legend. The Roots. Covering a Bill Withers Vietnam-era, anti-war masterpiece. That's all that needs to be said. There's no way this couldn't be one of the year's best.



Listening Post: The 25 Best Singles of 2010: 20. Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti -- Round and Round, 21. P!nk -- Raise Your Glass, 22. Drive-By Truckers -- This Fucking Job

Listening Post: The 25 Best Singles of 2010: 23. Best Coast -- Boyfriend, 24. Anberlin -- Impossible, 25. Fences -- Girls with Accents

Tomorrow: 16, 15 & 14

Christmas Jeer

Friday, December 24, 2010

...And To All a Good Night


Merry Christmas, everyone.

The Reason for the Season

The Last Word


Neil Rogers was the reason I wanted to get into radio -- and I have no trouble admitting that when I finally did, I ripped him off all to hell.

I grew up listening to Uncle Neil -- a South Florida institution throughout a good portion of my life -- and was never anything less than breathtakingly awed by his insight, his intellect, his humor, and most of all his fearlessness. The man was simply incapable of being cowed by such quaint notions as decorum or a respect for conformity or authority.

That's why it was such a blow to learn a few days ago that, in what were obviously the final days of his life, Neil was suffering from dementia. I immediately understood how devastating it would be for the vibrant and vital Neil the world knew -- the acerbic and quick-witted wise-ass that had become a legend in my hometown -- to have that which he prized so highly slip away from him. I knew that for him, the loss of his dignity and a firm control of that scalpel-sharp mind of his would be a fate far worse than death.

So maybe it's better that this morning Neil Rogers died at the age of 68.

Still, knowing that a voice so powerful is now gone renders me, ironically, speechless.

Goodbye, Uncle Neil -- and thank you.

The Miami Herald: Radio Icon Neil Rogers Dies/12.24.10

Violent Night


Another holiday favorite from the DXM archives.

"The Thin Red and Green Line" (Originally Published, 11.27.07)

The following e-mail correspondence was released to the public on December 16th, 2011 via the U.S. Freedom of Information Act (Amd. Public Law 104-231) and was collected at an undisclosed time via the U.S.A. Patriot Act (Public Law 107-56). It includes content which will remain classified by the United States government due to its sensitive nature regarding matters of national security until the following date: January 1st, 2050. Please be advised that despite FOIA provisions, the publication or broadcast of this communication may be subject to restriction or amendment as dictated by the Fox News "First Look" Act of 2009 (Public Law 134-793, Signed by President George W. Bush, 1-17-09).

Communication Intercept #XX,XXX,XXX (USAPA)
Transmitted on: December 10th, 2009
TC: 13:21:06
From: PFC Granville Sawyer, 57th Overlanders (Tactical Infantry)
To: Mrs. Myrna Sawyer, Seattle, WA


Dear Mom,

I didn't think it would be this cold in Kansas, but the truth is it feels an awful lot like home right about now, except for all the unfriendlies.

My platoon's dug in far behind enemy lines. We have been for quite awhile now, just how long I don't want to say -- long enough that I've seen some things that will haunt me forever.

I keep going back to the same questions, Mom: How did it get this far? How did we get into this mess? How did this bloodbath start?

The first time I heard somebody say that there was a "War on Christmas" I laughed. I figured it was just bunch of overblown garbage used to sell some idiot's books. I thought it was a scare tactic.

Then came all the court cases, the lawsuits against any businesses that used "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas." The threats, the intimidation. Christians saying that they were being persecuted. Pushing their beliefs on so many until finally somebody decided to push back. I guess that's when I stopped laughing.

I can't even remember when war was officially declared.

We don't get much information out here and I'm worried that our transmissions are being monitored by electronic surveillance. XXXX XXXXXX XXXX XXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXX XXXX XXXXXXXX XXXXXXXX XXX XXXXXXXXX What we hear are mostly rumors. Is it true they wiped out New York City? The last I heard, the National Guard was moving in to crush some kind of uprising that torched the Rockefeller Center tree and destroyed all the Christmas windows at Saks. If the rumor's true, man, all those people. It wouldn't surprise me if it is. After the 42nd Irregulars took out John Gibson live on the air back in March and Fox News decided to relocate from New York to Orlando, it was only a matter of time before the Christian militants finally got their hands on some loose nukes and leveled that city. They've been looking an excuse for years.

I don't know if communcation's been cut off from California, but our new captain says that after we captured Santa Cruz and Santa Monica and renamed them (although I understand the decision, I kinda think Odin Cruz and Odin Monica sound a little silly), the Army's 1st Air Cav launched an assault on San Francisco. He says they came in off the horizon in a fleet of low-flying gunships, blasting Burl Ives's Holly Jolly Christmas as they opened fire. Cap was there and says it was the most terrifying thing he'd ever experienced, the smell of flaming egg nog in the morning. Scared the hell out of the locals.

I hope you're safe, Mom. There's a big mission coming up for us, maybe I'll be able to tell you about it next time I write.

Love,

Gran

Communication Intercept #XX,XXX,XXX (USAPA)
Transmitted on: December 15th, 2009
TC: 9:17:54
From: PFC Granville Sawyer, 57th Overlanders (Tactical Infantry)
To: Mrs. Myrna Sawyer, Seattle, WA


Dear Mom,

Last night, the Marines' 105th Airborne Crusaders -- they're nicknamed O'Reilly's Raiders -- dropped on our position. It was a violent fight. We lost thirty men, including one of my best friends, a guy named Muhammed. Thing is, the Raiders don't just kill you. No Mom, they want to make damn sure you know that "Jesus is the reason for the season." After the battle, we found out that they'd taken a bunch of our guys, tied them up with strings of Christmas lights, then forced them to eat mistletoe and myrrh. It's a poisonous concoction. A terrible way to die from what I hear. Another reason to hate Christmas.

But I'm still not sure all of this is worth it. We hit them and then they hit back, then we hit back harder. I don't even know if the brutality of the Raiders is a response to our own Special Ops unit. They're known as the Season's Reapers. There's word going around that they've been kidnapping carolers and tacking their Santa hats to trees... with the heads still in them.

This morning we torched a Christmas tree farm near the Colorado border. The cloud of smoke from the inferno blotted out the sun. It was like hell on earth.

Give my love to Dad.

Love,

Gran

Communcation Intercept #XX,XXX,XXX (USAPA)
Transmitted on: December 19th, 2009
TC: 21:06:33
From: PFC Granville Sawyer, 57th Overlanders (Tactical Infantry)
To: Mrs. Myrna Sawyer, Seattle, WA


Dear Mom,

We're XXXXX XXXX XXXXXXXXX XX and I'm not sure what sort of weapon they've got, but it's XXXX XXXXXXX XXXXXXXX XXXXX XXXXXXXX. I've never seen anything like it. All of a sudden there was this bright flash of white and XXX XXX XXXXXXXXXXX XXXXX XXXXXXX XXXX garland and pine needles raining down...

Communication Intercept #XX,XXX,XXX (USAPA)
Transmitted on: December 19th, 2009
TC: 05:45:21
From: PFC Granville Sawyer, 57th Overlanders (Tactical Infantry)
To: Mrs. Myrna Sawyer, Seattle, WA


Dear Mom,

Things are bad here. Word is the Christian militia's moving reinforcements into our position. They're conscripting the Kwanzaa Regiments into service by promising them freedom after the war -- that and Cadillac Escalades with 27-inch chrome rims. The only ones still standing with us now are the Jewish Brigades. They call themselves Zion's Lions. Strong fighters, but they make these fire bombs called Mazel Tov cocktails that use bottles of Manischewitz. Problem is that the stuff doesn't light very well.

It's now turned into a guerilla fight on both sides. Our best weapons right now are IEDs: Improvised Explosive Decorations. We plant them on the side of the road, and their guys just can't help but stop to take a look at them, since they love Christmas and all. We fill the ornaments with explosives and BOOM! ... that's the last Noel for them.

What's the word on the net from the front?

They say there've been some major victories for our side on the ground, but I'm hearing some rumors that really scare me.

Is it true we're putting dwarvess into internment camps?

Love,

Gran

Communcation Intercept #XX,XXX,XXX (USAPA)
Transmitted on: December 24th, 2009
TC: 16:03:50
From: PFC Granville Sawyer, 57th Overlanders (Tactical Infantry)
To: Mrs. Myrna Sawyer, Seattle, WA


Dear Mom,

So this is it, the final offensive, the one that could finish this war once and for all. After the American Family Council -- those crackpots out in Mississippi -- firebombed the Supreme Court, we knew we needed to make a statement. We needed to do something big and public.

That's what will happen in a few hours.

It ends tonight.

Wish us luck.

Your loving son,

Gran

Communication Intercept #XX,XXX,XXX (USAPA)
Transmitted on: December 26th, 2009
TC: 11:20:04
From: PFC Granville Sawyer, 57th Overlanders (Tactical Infantry)
To: Mrs. Myrna Sawyer, Seattle, WA


Dear Mom,

How will history remember this war? How will it remember those who fought against Christian fundamentalist terrorism, or those who fought to preserve a beloved tradition? Who will judge all of us?

After the capture of NORAD two nights ago and the live feed that was beamed to every home in America, after the retaliatory annihilation of the entire coast of California, after the truce that finally followed -- after the bloodbath, what's left?

Now I can tell you, I was part of the team that seized NORAD. We took Cheyenne Mountain and as the facility was going live with its traditional "Tracking Santa" broadcast, we broke in on the air, gave the statement of purpose that I'm sure you saw, then locked on and ordered a complement of surface-to-air missiles to be fired on the designated target. A few minutes later, Santa was blown out of the sky. The people in northern Canada reported seeing a huge explosion in the sky, followed by a fireball plummeting to the ground. The team that confirmed the kill said that nothing was left but a few toys and a bright red nose. For the rest of the world, all they saw was the "Santa" radar blip disappearing on their TV screens.

Then we cut into TNT's "24 Hours of A Christmas Story" and replaced it with The Exorcist on a continuous loop.

The retaliatory nuclear launch that followed, from the militia-controlled Army bunker in DC, was devastating. Millions were killed in California.

That's when both sides realized it was time to end the nightmare.

Hopefully this armistice will mean that I'll be coming home to you, Mom.

Although I finally have access to a TV and while flipping through cable channels this morning I came across Fox News, and there was Bill O'Reilly...

...saying something about a War on Easter.

End of Correspondence

CNN, DTF


CNN's had all kinds of entertaining screw-ups recently, most of which I've been too busy to chronicle. But for some reason this seems worth pointing out because it so perfectly encapsulates everything that's wrong with cable news these days -- particularly a network like CNN, which strives so hard to be taken seriously and whose managers and correspondents would ostensibly rather step on a live land mine than risk sullying the mothership's hallowed reputation.

Candy Crowley, who is by no means an idiot, just ran down what CNN called the Top 10 Political Stories of 2010. On the list was the brutal fight over health care reform, Lisa Murkowski's admittedly astonishing write-in victory against G.I. Joe Miller, and even the media frenzy over Christine O'Donnell. All worthwhile stories.

None of them, however, was #1 on the list.

No, according to CNN, the number one political moment of 2010 was -- Joe Biden "dropping the f-bomb" on national television. As in when he called the passage of the aforementioned health care reform bill a "big fucking deal."

That's the biggest political story of the year.

And apparently CNN is now run by Beavis and Butthead.

The only proper response to something like this is, well, fuck.

Listening Post: The 25 Best Singles of 2010 (22-20)


22. Drive-By Truckers -- This Fucking Job (Working This Job)

It would have to be a band like Athens, Georgia's Drive-By Truckers to write and record 2010's ultimate ode to, well, 2010 -- specifically the unrelentingly soul-sucking economic situation which continued to leave millions of Americans either on the precipice of ruin or in full-fledged catastrophe mode. While so many were out of work, so many more were reduced to working far beneath their abilities, and still more followed the well-worn path-of-least-resistance that those who came before them did -- chasing a middle-class American dream in its gruesome death throes -- only to find that it led absolutely nowhere. That's the tragic sentiment that the Truckers captured when they sang, "Sometimes I dream that I had aimed my life in different ways/But there was nothin' to show me a way to get me outta this place/So I just did what my daddy did before me/Only to find the only door I found was closed to me." When all was said and done, This Fucking Job may have wound up being the dead-end anthem for the 2010 leg of the Great Recession.




21. P!nk -- Raise Your Glass

At the other end of the spectrum from the honky-tonk nihilism of This Fucking Job there was P!nk -- and she wasn't content to let the little guy wallow in self-pity. Maybe it was a by-product of the inexplicable success of Glee or maybe it was as a response to the highly publicized suicides of a bunch of kids who claimed to be bullied to the point of absolute hopelessness, but somewhere along the line 2010 became the year of the underdog. There were a couple of songs this year that really captured the "hey, you're somebody, loser" zeitgeist: Katy Perry's Firework was one -- and it's admittedly a damn spectacular song -- but it just didn't have the street cred provided by somebody who's spent a good portion of her career confounding the demands and expectations of the machine that creates cookie-cutter pop stars. Raise Your Glass is P!nk using her substantial powers for good -- creating a loud, brash and anthemic paean to the joys of not quite fitting in. And it just fucking ruled.




20. Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti -- Round and Round

Ariel Pink is a bona fide weirdo. He's a recording/performance artist who's been kicking around the Los Angeles area for years, making the kind of music you either worship at the altar of or are utterly repulsed by. In 2010, a lot of bands -- most of them on the 4AD label -- worked over the retro soft rock sound like Ali going at Liston; hell, one of the best albums of the year -- Relayted, by the alt-supergroup Gayngs -- was inspired entirely by 10cc's I'm Not In Love. But only Ariel Pink and his Haunted Graffiti project had the balls to just swipe the 70's sound wholesale. His album, Before Today, is like an honest-to-God time warp; put it on and you may as well be sitting on a shag rug having fondue with Seals and Crofts while Boz Scaggs mixes drinks in the kitchen. And with a little bit of psychedelia and a lot of breezy harmony -- to say nothing of a video shot by the Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne entirely on his iPhone -- Round and Round is a perfect representation of the strange and eminently entertaining little feat Ariel Pink accomplished with this record.


Listening Post: The 25 Best Singles of 2010: 23. Best Coast -- Boyfriend, 24. Anberlin -- Impossible, 25. Fences -- Girls with Accents

Tomorrow: 19, 18 & 17

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Quote of the Day


"And that's the rub. The eagerness of designers and the press to seize upon children and dub them 'fashionistas' isn't about kids trying mom's platforms -- it's about a relentless and incredibly twisted industry that worships at the altar of not-even-womanhood. Because if you're Marc Jacobs or Proenza Schouler or any of the designers making clothes ostensibly for adult women but eagerly peddled out to high profile middle-schoolers, you're essentially saying your wares look best on females who perhaps have not yet even started menstruating. And if you're a journalist fawning over how those Valentino and Rodarte dresses 'look good' on a child, you are part of the problem, big time."

-- Mary Elizabeth Williams in a Salon piece decrying the rise of the "tween fashionista"

All I Want for Christmas Is a Large Black Woman's Hand on My Junk


In honor of yet another holiday season plagued by fears of imminent death at the hands of terrorists, I bring back a yearly DXM tradition.

"And Now, a Very Special Holiday Message from al Qaeda" (Originally Published, 12.20.06)

In the name of Almighty Allah, and all praise is due to Allah, and may peace and prayers be on the Messenger of Allah, and on his family, companions and allies. Muslim brothers everywhere, peace be upon you and may you know the mercy of Almighty Allah and his blessings.

The rest of you can burn in hell.

Hah, hah -- No -- I kid, I kid.

It's me again, Ayman al-Zawahiri. You might recognize me as the co-star of the hit TV series Death to America, which airs monthly on al-Jazeera. I also had a big part on Extreme Makeover: New York and DC Edition a few years back, and -- well -- between you and me, I even tried my hand at doing a couple of music videos. Yeah, I edited a bunch of scenes together that really highlight the relationship between Meredith and Dr. McDreamy and set it to some of my favorite Goo Goo Dolls songs. They're on al-Qaeda's MySpace site now. Feel free to take a look -- I'm very proud.

But hey, enough about me, right? It's the holiday season for most of the non-Muslim world, or as we in al-Qaeda like to call it -- the Muslim world. So just to show you that we're not all streets-running-red-with-the-blood-of-the-infidels, we wanted to personally offer you all a special holiday message.

Why would we do something like this you ask?

Well look, it's been a pretty good year for us overall. Thanks to your dimwitted Imperious Leader, we've been able to swarm all over Iraq like teen pregnancy on a Birmingham trailer park. We now have more recruits to our cause than we know what to do with -- so many in fact that we're thinking about starting a new chapter of al-Qaeda. We're still trying to come up with a name for it, but so far al-Qaeda 2: The New Class seems to be pretty popular around the camel. We figure we might even be able to get Screech to do a commercial for us, seeing as how that guy will do anything for money these days.

Then of course we'd have to kill him because he's a Jew, praise be to Allah.

Getting back to what I was saying, it really doesn't matter to us that you good folks finally came to your senses and realized that the drunken idiot you sent to the White House twice is completely out of control. It's certainly a step in the right direction for you, but hey -- what's done is done over here. You can't put the genie back in the bottle -- ya know?

Get it?

Genie?

Bottle?

Sorry -- just a little Persian humor for you. Hussein the Hilarious, circa 1438. You should always respect the classics.

Anyway, lately we understand that the whole Iraq thing has taken a backseat to something truly Earth-shattering that's happened in America. Something which has dominated your headlines and held the attention of your entire nation, paralyzing every man, woman and child with anticipation and an unquenchable desire to have one question answered -- quite simply the most important question America has ever faced:

What will Donald Trump do with Miss USA, Tara Conner?

Look, forgive me if I laugh a little about this, but is this the freedom you people are supposedly "protecting" abroad -- the one your sons and daughters are dying for in Iraq?

The right to continue to worry about stupid, trivial shit like this?

That's what this is all about?

I live in a cave, for Allah's sake, and even I could've told you what an asshole like Trump was gonna do. He was gonna do whatever he had to do to make sure that the 20-year-old beauty queen from Kentucky never told anybody that he'd been boning her for the past six months. Still, come on. Rehab? Isn't that place getting a little crowded over there? How'd you manage to slip her in between Mark Foley and Ted Haggard?

No, seriously -- how'd you manage to slip her in between Mark Foley and Ted Haggard?

Holy shit, that Lindsay Lohan girl is never sober, never wears underwear and never lacks for a place to put down a rail of cocaine the size of the USS Abraham Lincoln -- and yet you people put her on the front cover of Vogue. This kid does what any kid would do if you swept her up from a debutante ball outside Lexington and dropped her simple ass on top of Chamillionaire in the TRL studios in New York and you decide that she needs rehab?

Wow, are you people hypocrites. And you wonder why we keep our women under sheets and hit them with rocks until they're dead when they misbehave, Allah be praised.

I've got a much better idea for you. Why not just have Trump build Skynet and send the Terminator back through time to kill this girl. Wait, that was Sarah Connor? Shit. What do you want from me? I live in a cave. Satellite reception's awful and our movie package only includes Starz! and Encore. You try making pop culture jokes when the most recent movie you've seen is Grumpier Old Men, or as we like to call it -- Two Old Jews Now Put Asunder by Almighty Allah, His Name Be Praised.

In the coming New Year -- 2007 on your calendar, 1373 on ours, again -- we in al-Qaeda expect to continue our campaign of terror against you for your continued insult and humiliation of our Muslim faith, the one true God, Allah, and his prophet Muhammed. I just figured I'd go ahead and be up-front about that. But that being said, we concede that there is one line in the Koran about being tolerant of "People of the Book," and as far as we can tell -- that means you Christians. So, with it being your Christmas season and all, we wanted to at least pay a little lip-service to the conciliatory spirit by wishing you all a healthy and safe holiday -- seeing as how, if we get our way, it will probably be your last.

And for our Jewish friends, Happy Hanu -- Channuk -- Chahn -- oh fuck it, just drive yourselves into the sea already.

I've gotta run now. I'm trying to figure out how to put my dick in a box as a gift for Osama.

Yes, you infidels, we have YouTube -- Allah be praised.

Zawahiri out.

Listening Post: The 25 Best Singles of 2010


It's what most pop artists strive to create; what every record company is dying to hear; and what can come to define a band, a sound and -- once in a while -- a generation: that one great song. Overall, 2010 was a banner year for terrific singles, which makes sense given that the death of music in a physical format would seem to render the entire notion of a complete album obsolete. And yet unlike 2009, the singles that stood out as being the most impressive this year also served as perfect representations of the full-length records from which they came; in other words, it wasn't just a good year for individual songs, it was a good year for music in general (provided you knew where to look). 2010 saw more than a few interesting trends: the return of dream-pop, the rise of neo-70s psychedelia, the refusal of auto-tune to just fucking die already, the slavish critical obsession with LCD Soundsystem, alternative/hip-hop pairings and "supergroups" -- it was tough to keep up.

But let's try to sort through it all, shall we? Bring on the 25 Best Singles of 2010.


25. Fences -- Girls with Accents

It's tough not to fall in love with a guy who sings in the chorus of the very first single from his very first album, "I'm fucking up, I'm fucking up, I'm fucking up everything," and that might be what makes Christopher Mansfield so undeniably charming. Fences is the alias of this Seattle-based singer-songwriter, and he makes it clear both in interviews and in the music itself that he threw every life experience he's ever had -- most of them apparently tragic -- at the studio wall during the recording of his debut. The result is as honest and strangely touching as it is revelatory. Maybe because we've all been there -- right where Mansfield was when he wrote this song -- at one time or another.




24. Anberlin -- Impossible

A perfectly crafted pop-rock anthem never goes out of style and the band that gets the award for cranking out the best one of the year, hands down, is the pride of Winter Haven, Florida: Anberlin. Sure they generally traffic in quasi-inspirational, Christian-influenced schlock, and they look like they're trying to single-handedly revive hair mousse as a fashion statement. But word has it the reason rock god Brendan O'Brien specifically sought out the band and asked if he could produce what would eventually become their 2010 mega-hit album, Dark Is the Way, Light Is a Place, is that his daughter is a huge Anberlin fan. Just thank Christ she wasn't into Justin Bieber.




23. Best Coast -- Boyfriend

Between Beach House, the Wavves and Best Coast, you would've thought California wasn't going broke and in danger of sliding into the ocean this past year. All three bands cultivated a new kind of Cali surf sound, which was at turns layered and dreamy or frenzied and hyperkinetic. Of those three bands, though, only one released the kind of single that sluiced its way through your ear canal, wrapped snugly around your brain stem and stayed there. With its Spector-esque Wall of Sound production -- complete with fuzzy guitars and appropriately angelic harmonies -- and lyrics that read like a love letter to teenage longing, Bethany Cosentino and Best Coast managed to capture both innocence and the endless summer flawlessly.



Tomorrow: 22, 21 & 20