Comments from Tom Breihan

I got to work with Christgau (tho never really directly) for the better part of a year. I did a music blog there (Status Ain't Hood) for about 3 years, and for the longest time I just kind of stayed quiet and kept my head down. First time I ever talked to Bob was in the elevator, when he asked me what I thought of the Damian Marley album. (He liked it more than I did.) Before that, I figured he had no idea who I was. Bob had a real messy cubicle The whole Voice situation was SO FUCKED UP, but I got to work with amazing people while I was there: Chuck Eddy, Rob Harvilla, Nick Sylvester, Zach Baron, Pete L'Official, Camille Dodero, David Marchese, Nick Catucci, D. Shawn Bosler, Dennis Lim, Ed Park, a shitload of other people. (Met Greg Tate once but was mostly scared to talk to him.) Got that job when I was like 25, and it's amazing that I got to share space with all these fuckin giants of the field. Also my cubicle was right next to Michael Musto's cubicle, and he for sure hated me because I was loud and because my ringtone was the Shop Boyz' "Party Like A Rockstar." Also I got to be there at the first editorial meeting after Lacey bought the paper, where Lacey and Nat Hentoff were just screaming at each other the whole time and I had no idea what was going on.
+32 |
January 30, 2019 on The Number Ones: The Honey Cone’s “Want Ads”
People in Baltimore who are younger than 70 don't actually do that, or at least they don't do that in non-ironic/self-conscious ways.
+10 |
January 30, 2019 on Watch Snail Mail Talk Old Bay Seasoning, Godspell, & Tegan & Sara In Nardwuar Interview
Highest-charting Jimmy song is "We Fly High" (#5, 2006), and that's a solid 7. Remix probably gets bumped up to an 8 for the Young Dro verse.
+3 |
January 30, 2019 on The Number Ones: The Honey Cone’s “Want Ads”
Oh shit I forgot about this! The footage of Jones ad-libbing it is priceless.
+6 |
January 30, 2019 on The Number Ones: The Honey Cone’s “Want Ads”
Aretha's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" is a 9.
+10 |
January 29, 2019 on The Number Ones: The Rolling Stones’ “Brown Sugar”
Maybe a quarter of them? Or less than that? Movie soundtracks and oldies radio have drilled most of them into my brain.
+22 |
January 28, 2019 on The Number Ones: Three Dog Night’s “Joy To The World”
Weird thing is that all these singles have like 5 different covers. I usually try to pick the best one.
+5 |
January 25, 2019 on The Number Ones: The Temptations’ “Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)”
The NPR piece used "he/him," and that's the most recent, so that's what I went with.
+7 |
January 24, 2019 on Stream Girlpool’s New Album What Chaos Is Imaginary
No. I don't rank these by comparing artists' work to their own catalogs. "Penny Lane" is a 6 compared to every other successful pop song ever. So is "One Bad Apple." You gotta understand: I honestly don't care how historically important or formally innovative these songs were. I mean, I care; that stuff is fun to talk and think about. But that's not how I rate them. I rate them based on how much I enjoy hearing them. And honestly, at any given moment, if you gave me the choice between "One Bad Apple" and "Penny Lane," there's a good chance I'd pick "One Bad Apple." There is no objectivity in music criticism. Objectivity is a lie.
+10 |
January 23, 2019 on The Number Ones: The Osmonds’ “One Bad Apple”
Hit "publish" early by mistake yesterday. Y'all noticed before we did.
+5 |
January 23, 2019 on The Number Ones: The Osmonds’ “One Bad Apple”
"Black Magic Woman" is a 9. Thought about dropping a 10 on it, but then I cued it up and my brain chemistry didn't change.
+4 |
January 22, 2019 on The Number Ones: Tony Orlando & Dawn’s “Knock Three Times”
...yes. fuck. I keep forgetting about the ROH/Sinclair thing. I would be shocked if ROH was making Sinclair any money, but yeah, that shit still ain't cool.
+2 |
January 22, 2019 on Album Of The Week: Judiciary Surface Noise
That was the plan until Friday, when this promo finally came thru.
+9 |
January 22, 2019 on Album Of The Week: Judiciary Surface Noise
yeah, no, fuck that, I know what I saw.
+43 |
January 22, 2019 on Album Of The Week: Judiciary Surface Noise
Sometimes Whosampled. Sometimes Wikipedia or Songfacts. Sometimes I just click through YouTube results until I find something I like. And sometimes, I dredge it up from the recesses of my own memory, which is what I did with today's.
+8 |
January 22, 2019 on The Number Ones: Tony Orlando & Dawn’s “Knock Three Times”
In retrospect that probably sholuda been a 1.
+31 |
January 22, 2019 on The Number Ones: Tony Orlando & Dawn’s “Knock Three Times”
Oh I think Cuaron made a way better movie, and he'll probably win, but Spike's at least got a shot at it this year, and I wouldn't be mad if he won.
+4 |
January 18, 2019 on The 5 Best Videos Of The Week
This is all in a Beatles context. Cena is Elton John because he arrived afterward, used some of what he saw, and made a silly circus out of it. (But also sometimes he was good.)
+6 |
January 18, 2019 on The Number Ones: George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord”
Yeah I couldn't figure out what to do with Shawn Michaels. He's... Frankie Valli? That can't be right. Also thought about saying Goldberg was Mick Jagger or Brian Wilson but that seemed kinda off too.
+1 |
January 18, 2019 on The Number Ones: George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord”
I watch NXT and sometimes the pay-per-views but never Raw or Smackdown. And I'll watch the big non-WWE shows like Wrestle Kingdom or All In, but I don't keep up with indie stuff as much as I'd like to. And I watch Lucha Underground when it's on; I love that show.
+5 |
January 18, 2019 on The Number Ones: George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord”
An incredibly dorky thing that I thought about putting in the column but didn't: Chris Jericho likes to say that he was the George Harrison of the WWF's Attitude Era, the guy who got overshadowed by Stone Cold Steve Austin the Rock. (He didn't specify which was which, but obviously Stone Cold was John and the Rock was Paul.) But the real George of the Attitude Era was Mick Foley. Jericho was more like the Billy Preston. Also, Triple H was Ringo, Vince McMahon was George Martin, Bret Hart was Pete Best, and Brian Pillman was Stu Sutcliffe. Hulk Hogan was Elvis. John Cena was Elton John. CM Punk was punk.
+34 |
January 18, 2019 on The Number Ones: George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord”
That was a typo I should've caught. The album came out in 1967.
+2 |
January 17, 2019 on The Number Ones: Smokey Robinson & The Miracles’ “The Tears Of A Clown”
My litmus test for a 10 is: Will my day completely change for the better if I happen to encounter this song in the wild? I love this song, but it doesn't totally alter my brain chemistry. It's a high bar, but it's the one I use.
+16 |
January 17, 2019 on The Number Ones: Smokey Robinson & The Miracles’ “The Tears Of A Clown”
I would argue that selling drugs is something very different from beating up or exploiting women. I'd also argue that killing someone in self-defense is different from intentionally victimizing people, although that's murkier. "Fashionable" doesn't have anything to do with that. What I've covered in this column is a choice. Maybe it's not the right one. I don't know. As the the first point: Yes, it is weird. Maybe there's a holistic way to construct a narrative around this guy's music and his life, a way to make them make sense together. I don't know what it is. Maybe I got a little glib here, but I really don't know what the fuck else to do. A lot of really vital music comes from fucked up circumstances. In rap music, you're dealing with people whose lives are often very dark but whose music is brilliant and demands attention. I've been doing this for 15 years, and I'm still not really sure how someone like me, who doesn't come from those circumstances, can write about this music and these people's lives without denigrating the music but while also taking into account the things that they might've done. I'm constantly trying to figure out the right way to do it. This is the most detached white-people reference I could possibly bring up, but 'Atlanta' does a really nice job dramatizing the absurdity that happens when someone tries to jump out of the street life and into something like fame. That's never an easy transition. DaBaby comes from Charlotte, a huge city with no real rap infrastructure, one that's never produced a national rapper of note. Maybe DaBaby really is becoming a target in his own city, and maybe he has to defend himself. I really like his music, and I want to see him thrive. But his whole story is intense, and that intensity contrasts with his music in strange ways. But I still like the music! And I want to talk about it! Maybe hyping a guy like that up is the wrong call, but fuck, he's good!
+28 |
January 16, 2019 on DaBaby Is 2019’s Funniest, Scariest Rapper
Will agree that Deerhunter > Pavement.
+8 |
January 15, 2019 on Album Of The Week: Sharon Van Etten Remind Me Tomorrow
AOTW started in 2011, when I started working here. There have only been 3 Deerhunter albums in the AOTW era. The week 'Monomania' came out, AOTW was Savages' 'Silence Yourself,' which was the right call. The week 'Fading Frontier' came out, AOTW was Majical Cloudz' 'Are You Alone?,' which was also the right call. If Deerhunter really wanna get AOTW, they should consider making the best album of any given week.
+18 |
January 15, 2019 on Album Of The Week: Sharon Van Etten Remind Me Tomorrow
I like arena rock and new wave. I just think "Come Dancing" fucking sucks.
+20 |
January 15, 2019 on The Number Ones: The Jackson 5’s “I’ll Be There”
None of those Deerhunter albums would've gotten AOTW, though. Not one. Not close. The Steve Gunn album is really good, and I had him and SVE neck-and-neck for a while.
-51 |
January 15, 2019 on Album Of The Week: Sharon Van Etten Remind Me Tomorrow
My thing is I only rate songs that charted in the top 10, my reasoning being that those songs, and only those songs, were ever a threat to get to #1. So with that in mind, Kinks ratings! "You Really Got Me" (#7, 1964): 10 "All Day And All Of The Night" (#7, 1964): 9 "Tired Of Waiting For You" (#6, 1965): 9 "Come Dancing" (#6, 1982): 2 And that's it!
+24 |
January 15, 2019 on The Number Ones: The Jackson 5’s “I’ll Be There”
Nah man. I would have to be ODing on Aderall to write 10 of these motherfuckers in a day. I'm good for maaaaaybe 2 if I've got a day off coming up. Usually just one.
+8 |
January 11, 2019 on The Number Ones: Diana Ross’ “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”
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