Shut Up, Dude: This Week’s Best Comments

Shut Up, Dude: This Week’s Best Comments

Happy Earth Day! Here’s Ringo Starr talking about climate change in a Surfbort shirt.


Score: 22 | Apr 20th

I’m mainly going to talk about the first A-side single here, as it’s the one I’m more familiar with anyway. I’ll reserve space for the other single, too. Think that’s how I’ll do this…

I’m not sure about underrated, but I’ve always thought Toni Braxton was a bit undersung compared with the likes of Mariah and Whitney. She’s just as good at delivering emotive performances, if not better, and has one of the most distinct female voices of all time imo. As soon as you hear one of her songs, you know it’s her right away. Always liked how deep her singing voice naturally is too, that really has set her apart from other performers imo.

I also think her ballads are just as enjoyable as her mid- to uptempo hits. I put “Breathe Again” as being among my favorites for ’93, and I stand by that. A very emotionally charged vocal there. Same with “You Mean the World to Me”, which I’d considered putting on my list proper. And both of them are excellently produced. I couldn’t believe how well both of them had aged when re-listening to them. She and Babyface are each other’s ultimate musical collaborators as far as I’m concerned.

I’d heard both of these songs and a future number one quite often growing up. But, I’d never heard “You’re Makin’ Me High” until I watched a Pop-Up Video (favorite fun fact: Braxton practiced singing to Barry White records as a kid!) marathon on VH1 Classic one day. So, I basically discovered the song through the video and…Yeah, this is definitely not shy about its messaging. But, I’ll admit, I always root for songs like this in which women express their sexuality. I think it can be considered a taboo subject, like it’s better that we not be seen as sexual beings with that sort of agency. It’s a huge selling point of this song imo: bold enough in terms of expression but also playing coy in other parts. That push-and-pull dynamic makes it interesting from a lyrical standpoint.

Then, there’s the fact it’s a bop of the highest order! It’s got a steady bpm going for it, just ideal for grooving to. Braxton herself just positively smolders on it too, she underplays much of it but does vamp it up for the chorus. That delivery is what brings me back to “You’re Makin’ Me High” again and again. I loved it immediately when I first heard it and still love it now. I’d venture to put it among her very best singles. A 10!

As for “Let It Flow”, I think I might have heard it in one of the parts of Waiting to Exhale I’ve seen in the past. And I’d put it high up there, too. I think these light acoustic guitar arrangements have always suited Braxton’s voice well, and this is no exception. I love the overall message, which is always heartening to hear: don’t rush or settle, great relationships go at their own pace. This is the bubble bath comedown from the other A-side, warm and soothing. I think I’ll go a 9 here.

Needless to say, this was a great era for Toni Braxton. I can’t wait til we get to her next number one…Good thing it won’t be long!

Posted in: The Number Ones: Toni Braxton’s “You’re Makin’ Me High”
Score: 23 | Apr 15th

Meanwhile, at the perfect albums side of town . . .
Odelay is released. 
After the unexpected success of the ramshackled Mellow Gold and two albums more towards a folk sound, Beck was ready to conquer the world (or at least the L.A. barrio where he lived). He found the perfect match in the Dust Brothers, celebrated by their work on Paul’s Boutique and Tone Loc, to create all the crashes of styles going through their heads. Incredibly it all works, sometimes marvelous Devils Haircut begins the record with a bang and multiple slaps to the face, Hotwax pretty much sets the tone of all that’s coming (an avalanche put together with pretty much almost all the musical styles till then) and all the great tunes that follow (Lord only Knows, The New Pollution, Jack-Ass, Where it’s At), Sissyneck, High 5) only prove it. Everything seems pretty much holding on together by scotch tape and a sigh and it can all fall apart at any moment but 13 songs later you just witnessed the album of the year. 
On the next ones, Beck would go back to folk and then explore Pince.

Posted in: The Number Ones: Bone Thugs-N-Harmony’s “Tha Crossroads”
you beautiful bastard.
Score: 24 | Apr 18th

here come the big stepper (o-k-lama)
it’s the Pulitzer gangsta (o-k-lama)

ETA: spelling updated to reflect proper enunciation

Posted in: Kendrick Lamar Announces New Album Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers Out Next Month
Score: 24 | Apr 18th

*sigh*. How do you even rate songs? Tom has repeatedly insisted that objectivity when rating music is a lie. I see where he’s coming from. My life experience is a huge part of how I perceive music/lyrics and it’s hard to undo that.

You know how most people feel about the Kardashians?…”I don’t even care about them or what happens to them. I have never seen that show.” That is how I always felt about the violent soap-opera that was 90s rap. Songs describing sex in explicit terms or songs glorifying/defending violence or songs sad about the same violence…almost always with enough braggadocio to make them sound like they’re running for office. In many, many things in life I have had my founding, conservative opinions moderated as I have become more educated, gained experiences and met diverse people. I have no doubt that I don’t understand/relate to rap lyrics because I have little association with an urban or minority life. So my lack of empathy probably needs adjusting…and honestly it has somewhat over the years. But the glorification of the hedonistic (sex or violence or wealth or pride) is just off-putting. I am only slightly fascinated by it all, but mostly I am repelled.

I get that it sounds holier-than-thou, and maybe it is. Look, I have had plenty of problems in my life…some have required a little therapy. I never try to build myself up into some perfect person. But I am generally a pretty pleasant fellow (I guess we all think that of ourselves, true or not) and I eschew conflict, am proficient at avoiding profanity (like, I never use it…not even accidentally). I guess I feel it necessary to explain all of this because I have to defend giving 2Pac’s song today a 2/10. My life experience and values (imperfect as they may be), make it so I cannot possibly like this. It doesn’t help that musically it is very uninteresting to me, too.

I do know “California Love”, though. I don’t remember it from the 90s. The Cincinnati Reds have used it occasionally as bumper music for years, and it was such a catchy clip that I had to find out what it was. I’m not saying I love the song, but I get the appeal. Heck, it was even in the Super Bowl halftime show this year.

Posted in: The Number Ones: 2Pac’s “How Do U Want It” (Feat. K-Ci & JoJo)
mr. gruff the atheist goat
Score: 24 | Apr 18th

Did anyone think “Good Kid, MAAD City” or “To Pimp A Butterfly” were good album titles when they were announced? Looking forward to another album so great we forget how awkward the title is

Posted in: Kendrick Lamar Announces New Album Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers Out Next Month
Mark Crilley
Score: 25 | Apr 18th

This was a great column for getting an overview of the whole history of the Tupac/Biggie story, which I of course lived through but wasn’t paying a lot of attention to at the time. When I think of similar such articles Tom has written since the beginning of his column, I really am grateful for what amounts to an ongoing masters class in music history since 1958. A shame that all too many of these stories have an element of tragedy to them; the profession of “music superstar” has a very high mortality rate indeed, from its early days right up until now.

Posted in: The Number Ones: 2Pac’s “How Do U Want It” (Feat. K-Ci & JoJo)
Score: 28 | Apr 18th

California Love is so good, it’s part of my DNA. It’s a song with an ease to it that makes you wonder why all songs can’t be this great.

But they aren’t, which leads to this column. I’ve never considered the flip side to be the A-side. In much the same way that The Doobie Brothers Black Water was flipped by kids in my hometown and the eventually by DJs, California Love is the Number One in my mind.

Posted in: The Number Ones: 2Pac’s “How Do U Want It” (Feat. K-Ci & JoJo)
Score: 29 | Apr 20th

On the Alternative Side…
Let’s discuss the #1 song(s) from the Billboard Alternative chart.  I’ll align these to Tom’s Hot 100 #1 column as best I can.

Song:  Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in My Hand
Artist(s):  Primitive Radio Gods
Time at #1:  Six weeks

OK – another weird one for you.. Primitive Radio Gods started out as a band called The I-Rails in the late 80s.  The band was formed by Chris O’Connor, Jeff Sparks, and Tim Lauterio and they released four albums that no one bought or got played on the radio before calling it a day.  O’Connor, though, kept working on the material originally intended for a fifth I-Rails album.  Radio stations and record labels were indifferent, so O’Connor “retired.”  Several years later, while house cleaning, O’Connor found the recordings and, as a final hail-mary, sent the tracks out to every record label he could think of.  An executive named Jonathan Daniel from Fiction Records was intrigued, and got O’Connor a contract with Columbia Records.

“Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in My Hand” first appeared on the soundtrack to “The Cable Guy” and then on the “band’s“ debut album, “Rocket”.  Besides the Modern Rock #1, this also made it to #2 in Canada and #31 in Australia.

This is a totally bizarre, one-of-a-kind, absolutely wonderful song.  Built on a sample from B.B. King’s “How Blue Can You Get?” there’s a hip-hop backbeat, the world’s most plaintive piano solo, church bells, ocean waves, distorted voices (kids:  there were once these things called phone booths, where you could make a telephone call – the sound quality was often not great, and parts of this song try to emulate that), and those melancholy lyrics describing how two people just can’t find an emotional connection.  There’s zero reason this song should work, but it’s awesome.  Truly a one-hit wonder, the band released more singles and albums, but was never really acknowledged by radio stations or the listening public.  I still hear this one all the time on the radio and I listen all the way through, every time (my Tween kids like it, too – I feel like I’ve done something right as a parent).  10/10

(I’m not linking the official video, as it’s a minute shorter, and you deserve to hear all of this one):

Posted in: The Number Ones: Toni Braxton’s “You’re Makin’ Me High”
Score: 31 | Apr 18th

Thanks, oklama

Posted in: Kendrick Lamar Announces New Album Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers Out Next Month
Score: 39 | Apr 19th

he should also apologize to me for having to hear some dude in a parking lot saying Greta Van Vleet is saving rock and roll. that was deeply troubling.

Posted in: Greta Van Fleet Singer Acknowledges Appropriating Indigenous Culture


Apr 20th

I was at the show in Ithaca last week and during any quieter portions of the opener’s set (which was Ambient/Soundscape), the conversation was deafening. I felt so bad for her! Maybe not the best stylistic match of opener to main act, but still poor behavior by the audience. Not surprised Adrianne felt obliged to say something…

Posted in: Big Thief To Concertgoers: Please Stop Talking During The Opening Set

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