I mean… that kinda works, right? Jarvis Cocker splitting his first name into two words, then adding the title of the album to make it seem that you’re making the statement that “Jarv is beyond the pale”. Like, OK, I get it, but to buy into the pun yo have to accept that Jarvis now goes by the name ‘Jarv’ which, come on, mate, that’s a dumb fucking name that ain’t nobody going to answer to. I’m calling you out, Jarvy Boy! I don’t buy into the conceit that the title of your fourth solo album aims to evoke!! Bring it on, Jarv! Anytime, any pla… Actually, not any place. My choice of place. I worry that he’ll have us both do battle in Sheffield, and according to my beliefs about the Steel City that may well resemble the closing scene of Terminator 2. I worry that wouldn’t play to my strengths as a fighter. It’ll likely to be in the Ippon Judo Club in Cheadle. I got a green belt there about 20 years ago, so watch your fucking back, Jarv!!
The album’s great though, successfully hitting references and inspirations as diverse as Leonard Cohen and Kraftwerk. Also, the line “Dragging my knuckles/Listening to Frankie Knuckles” is worth a bump of a few places at least.
The highest so far. Because, unlike me, other critics are scared of his bullshit!!
Shake shake shake.
We’ve already been introduced to Shamir’s sixth (!!) album at no.95 on this list. On ‘Catacalysm‘, there was an overwhelming, disheartening but inescapable feeling that Shamir had run out of ideas, run out of inspiration. Perhaps his method of releasing roughly one album every year that seemed to uproot everything you’d previously assumed about him and offer another inspired take on rock music, had finally caught up with him. As decent as the album was, he seemed out of ideas, and would obviously benefit from a long spell away from releasing albums to reevaluate his status as an arist and have a long, hard think about where he was going next.
Three months later he released On My Own, and everyone with two ears and a spleen lost their fucking mind. An absolutely perfect pop/rock song that scaled emotional and cathartic heights that 99% of all the biggest rock bands in the world have so far failed miserably to replicate. Shamir, the filthy tease, made us wait a further four months for his seventh (!!!) album, which although it fails to completely live up the majesty of its opening track (because- seriously?- I think that might be scientifically impossible), is a collection featuring so many highs that it immediately deserves to be thought of amongst the best of one of the most interesting and artistically worthwhile musical artists of the last decade.
The skits though? No, Shamir. No.
Christ, he might actually be second only to The Manics in terms of number of entries…
Listen, we’ve got to set a few ground rules here. Why are you reading this blog entry? Why are you reading this elongated and overindulgent annual countdown at al? Perhaps you’re just here for the quality of writing, which I completely understand. With the prose this good, the subject matter isn’t really relevant, an inside out knowledge of early 20th century Dublin isn’t necessary to still enjoy James Joyce’s Ulysses, after all. Maybe you actually know me in person, and are aware that my guarded nature IRL means the only chance you have of ever finding out what kind of demons dance around my mind is the off chance that I might confess my sins again on tis blog. Well tough titties, you Trauma Vultures! You’re getting nothing this year but actual album pieces and occasional madness like offering Jarvis Cocker out for a fight! Good luck finding anything this year to analyse, Mum! Erm… did I say ‘Mum’ then? Not Mum. Anyone.
Or perhaps you’re here for the real intended reason for this blogs existence. The wrestling references. But, believe it or not, there is actually a secondary aim of The Greatest Blog On the Fucking Internet™: to point out and recommend the greatest music currently being made. Are you here to learn about this music? To perhaps even get ideas of where next to bend your ears? In that case, what sor of music are you interested in investigating further? Do you merely want to be turned towards the records that will guarantee the most joy? The songs and albums that achieve the absolute best within their chosen medium? You just want solid, verse/chorus/verse pop/rock songs that quicken your heartbeat and moisten your groin? Well, I’ve already mentioned On My Own, which is about as good as it gets in that department.
But if you’re instead more interested in truly exploring the excesses and the potential of the artform, if you want things that are going to challenge your very acceptance of what constitutes music, then the Seth Manchester produced (yep, him again) debiut record by the Rhode Island metal ‘super group’ (as ‘super’ as members of The Body, Lingua Ignota and Full of Hell can be) might be the most essential record of 2020 for you to experience.
‘Grave of a Dog’ is a disturbing, violent, but also intently emotional and genuinely heartfelt labour of love. It’s technically ‘metal’, I suppose, but defies all easy boundaries and genre classification. It’s difficult, sure, but it’s also unique, singular and massively rewarding.
BLACKPINK in the hur-ree-yar!
Man, don’t all these haterz really piss you off? I am sick of these haterz, I don’t mind letting you know. I can’t leave my house these days without some hater getting up in my grill and throwing shade on my style. I went to Tesco’s yesterday to buy some AA batteries, and guess who served me? A hater! This hater spat barbs at me about how old fashioned the use of AA batteries was these days, now that most devices are simply rcharged via USB, or at least by AAA batteries, which are definitely the cooler battery size in 2020. I simply spun away, told the hater “Look at me, then look at you. How you like that?” and left the store with my head held high. Ain’t no hater bringing me down! I got home and checked my post, and you’ll never guess what somebody had sent me in a jiffy bag?? A hater! The hater started chatting shit about the defunct nature of physical post in this digital era, but I simply told the hater that “If you mad, stay mad, we not alike” and assuredly shoved the hater into the nearest bin. When I got home, I realised that my bathroom’s water seemed clogged up, and when I checked in the cistern, guess what the cause of the blockage was?? That’s right, another freaking hater!! The hater attempted to cause bare aggro by pointing out how the fact that the bathroom was the first place I went to after entering the house was obviously a sign of me being desperate and how I perhaps should have gone before I left. I calmly informed the hater that “Negative days, negative nights, baby, you’re wasting all your time. I can’t relate, I keep it light, no, no, no drama in my life“, before wishing them a good day. The hater took three flushes to finally expel them out of the toilet. Fucking haterz!! Fuck the fuck off, the fucking lot of you! (that one isn’t an actual lyric)
So, yeah, that’s basically all of the lyrical concerns of the rather fittingly titled ‘The Album’ covered. But we’re not here for the lyrics. We’re here because the freaking awesome BLACKPINK take us all back to a time before Napster and before Spotify, when record labels were unafraid to go in large on their pop groups. Back in the early 00s and late 90s, every pop artist’s release would be heralded by an entire herd of African elephants being shot into space for the sheer spectacle, and every music video would see each member of *NSYNC individually burn down five of the seven wonders of the modern world* by firing off nuclear bombs from special compartments in their crotches, in a video directed, somehow, by Alfred Hitchcock. The scaling back of these superstar pushes weren’t just a financial decision- Katy Perry was still making videos of her being eaten out by a unicron while riding Smaug the dragon way into the 21st century- but in 2010 Lorde released Royals, which I’m going to talk about more later, and gave the whole Western pop world the impression that shit might be best turned down a little.
(*they left out the Great Wall of China, as that’s a developing market you really don’t want to piss off, and Rio De Janeiro’s Statue of Christ the Redeemer, because of ‘the optics’)
The reason we’re so thirsty for extra and fuck austerity K-Pop bands such as BLACKPINK and, to an extent, BTS (which stands for ‘Blown To Shit‘) is that i’s a market and industry that isn’t cowardly reticent to place it’s massive balls to the massive walls and go absolutely all out on an act. It also helps that the music is so often absolutely perfect pop confectioneries. BLACKPINK could conceivably be considered the best pop group in the world right now, at least when using the ‘classic’ definition of pop. It’s also extraordinarily welcome that their debut ‘full length’ clocks in at a lean 24 minutes. No fat, no nonsense, no skits, just pure pop excellence.
Derry Londonderry, Derry Londonderry, Derry Londonderry…
I worry that it might have been kind of overlooked how good an album ‘Miss Anthropocene’ is. Like, yeah, it isn’t Grimes’s greatest achievement, but that’s an extremely high bar to reach. On its own merits, it’s a pretty fabulous piece of work, with Grimes darkening the mood of her music to at least match the general temperament that’s expected when considering a global fucking crisis that’s going to destroy the Earth every soon. Unfortunately, Grimes has sadly lost the ability to just be considered and analysed as one of the most influential and expansive musical artists of the past decade. Now, everything has to be linked back to her personal life, and she is only considered as an extension of the dickhead she’s married to. Ah well, she’s a woman, so that’s fair game I expect.
‘Fun’ fact, I had started the year meaning to keep track of every album that I considered the year’s best at any one time, so i could examine how places switched and how my mood swung throughout the year. This was the first album of the year. Then an album released in February knocked her off the top. And stayed there until December. Ah well, maybe next year…