And now, my annual list of Â those who came out ahead in 2008, and those who worked their way into the same catagory as Billy Corgan. Â
Two rapping Star Wars nerds.Â Just when rap was losing all footing as an art form, two Chicago kids came out of, well probably out of scholastic bowl practice, to shake things up.Â The beats are incredibly sparse (the first track is pretty much a bell and a looped vocal), and the lyrics are about BMX bikes, pagers, TV dinners, and the â€˜90â€™s in general (and thankfully pretty free of profanity).Â Nobody saw The Cool Kids coming, but Iâ€™m sure glad theyâ€™re here.Â
Middle-aged singers.Â The Hold Steadyâ€™s Craig Finn (37) isnâ€™t somebody youâ€™d recognize if he was in line with you in Target.Â In fact, youâ€™d probably assume from his receded hairline and white-collar-job glasses that he was an accountant somewhere. The same goes for 38 year old Rivers Cuomo of Weezer.Â But both bands saw their popularity with college kids skyrocket this year.Â
Kid Rock and Taylor Swift.Â These artists won for being the only two who can still sell physical CDâ€™s.Â Rock, because he rejected iTunes distribution while enjoying the success of â€œAll Summer Long,â€ and Swift because teen girls have lots of disposable income and share her boy drama.Â
M. Ward.Â Yeah, he was renowned amongst the indie community before â€™08 (mainly for Post War), but it wasnâ€™t until he teamed up with the adorable Zooey Deschanel and made an equally adorable record that he became a household name. Or, letter.
Sara Groves. Possessing one of the grandest visions in Christian music, Groves launched the Art. Music. Justice. Tour, featuring Derek Webb, Sandra McCracken, Brandon Heath, and Charlie Peacock for a live show that spotlighted the social justice movement within the church around some really, really good music.Â
Pete Wentz.Â Yeah, Fall out Boyâ€™s last album wasnâ€™t that great, and his video show MTV is simply horrendous.Â But heâ€™s got the golden touch, from a new clothing line to re-launching Panic at the Disco as a band you can take semi-seriously.Â Heâ€™s become the voice of upper middle class suburban kids whoâ€™s main source of angst is that their Volvoâ€™s are second hand and their iPhones are first gen. And even if you donâ€™t like him, heâ€™s still the driving force behind the biggest punk-inspired band of this decade.
Okkervil River and/or Fleet Foxes. Depending on who you ask, oneÂ (or both) of these bands are going to save indie music.Â And since 2008 was the biggest year EVER for indie music, itâ€™s easy to see why the movement would need one artist to save it.Â Still, both bands found lots of attention and loads of new fans.Â
Underoath. They scream, scream, screamed their way into the most prominent spot in hardcore.Â
The city of Chicago.Â Americaâ€™s 2
city threw one heck of a Lollapalooza and gave us exciting new music from Lupe Fiaso, The Cool Kids and Kanye West (who sings, weird), and Matthew Santos (just wait, heâ€™s coming).
Johnny Cash. There was a truckload of â€œnewâ€ material from the Man in Black this year, including a re-release of his Folsom Prison concert, a Christmas special DVD set and a punk-rock tribute album.Â Â Unforunately, a bunch of artists he would have greatly disliked either covered his songs or name-dropped him to sell more records (the two greatest offenders are that chick from Dancing with the Stars, and has-been white rapper Everlast).
Every city with a KISS FM radio station.Â Â Â In 2007, the corporate monolith started to get better (mixing in Foo Fighters, Death Cab For Cutie, etc), but returned this year to their tried and true mix of songs that all sound more or less like â€œCan I buuay you a draaank.â€
Gym Class Heroes. Band hires guy who sounds like T-Pain (meaning he canâ€™t sing without the help of a computer) to do the hook on the first single off of â€œThe Quilt.â€Â Fans, who previously adored the band for their backpacker-hip-hop-meets-quirky-indie-rock are outragedâ€¦and move on to the next flavor of the month.Â
Hip hop.Â Lets face itâ€”this was a really bad year.
Long song titles. Sorry Sufjan Stevens and various hardcore bandsâ€¦.but songs with more words in the title than in the lyrics have fallen out of favor.
CDâ€™s.Â The fastest growing demographic for digital consumption (mainly via the iTunes store) is 36-50 year olds. Â Your mom is now buying on iTunes. Â Sorry shiny plastic discs, itâ€™s over.
Tuesday.Â Kanye West, Guns n Roses and Coldplay all dropping albums on Monday, the traditional â€œmedia release dayâ€ is going by the wayside.
Billy Corgan.Â Sadly for the Smashing Pumpkins frontman, he learned too little too late that making fun of the fans=a flopped comeback tour.Â On a recent youtube video (that I considered linking, but finally deemed it too vulgar), Billy told the crowd â€œitâ€™s not getting any better than this.Â You might as well head to your cars.â€Â They did.Â And with them went the final hope that this â€˜90â€™s alt giant could ever be anything again (Note, if youâ€™d like to buy a signed copy of Billy Corganâ€™s poetry book, email me.Â I am willing to let it go cheap).