1 – Song 33 – Noname – Noname apologized for this response to the J. Cole, but she shouldn’t. It is a 69 second vision of life for a black woman, and how she will change it. So much jumps out at you “one girl missing, another one go missing,” and “I’m the new vanguard” at the top of his list. How many songs care about transgendered women, how many songs push themselves to the forefront of a conscious change in perception. She buries into your subconscious you and on repeat it all becomes real in your mind. Noname has always been a great, but now she might be the greatest. Produced by Madlib.
2 – Good Days – SZA – A quiet year for SZA, along with Noname and H.E.R., top neo-R&B performers, derailed with the indifferent “Hit Different” released the precisely why she is so loved “Good Days”. Completely beautiful and hark into 2021.
3 – 20 10 20 – Burna Boy – Police opened fire on peaceful protesters in Lagos, this is dancehall meets African pop superstar Burna Boy’s response.
4 – Crossing the Rubicon – Bob Dylan – remember about ten years ago when Dylan got really ill and out came the obituaries and Dylan got pissed and said stop trying to bury him. Start trying to bury him on this dimensional shift from life to death
5 – Lilacs – Waxahatchee – a most gloriously tuneful indie folk stroke of love and difficulties, she sounds both scratchy and sweet and jumps up an octave on the chorus
6 – WAP (feat. Megan Thee Stallion) – Cardi B, Megan Thee Stallion – Cardi’s ode to female physical response (or at the least gynecological architecture) uses a sample of Frank Ski’s 1993 single, “Whores in This House,” to incredible effect where the result of sexual excitement is embraced instead of frowned upon ala male dominant sex scenario. The video is excellent
7 – Yoyoyo – Yemi Alde – The Nigerian empress at the peak of her powers with the addictive dance hall my boy lollipop
8 – death bed (coffee for your head) – Powfu, beabadoobee – a true original variant on sad boy dipped in electronics and a spectacular hook by the up and coming Filipino via London beabadoobee, the most original sound this side of 100 gecs
9 – True Love – Yemi Alade – The Nigerian popster calls it Afro-Pop and it is but it is most world music pop with astonishing drumming and nothing if not a high as a kite melodic quotient, better than “Don’t Jealous Me”
10 – Genocidal Humanoidz – System Of A Down – with Armenia getting blasted by Erdogan and his strongman genocide, Serj Tankian names our homicide as everything but the world of metal shrugs on this super fast metal melodic monster
11 – Bounce – Cazzu – Argentina trap queen but more youthful and exciting than even the most now Latin Trap
12 – I Think You’re Great – Alex the Astronaut – The Australian singer songwriter has written the lick of the year here, a tasty acoustic underpinning which is among the best pep talks since Marina’s “I Am Not A Robot”. She is a terrific songwriter and her disposition completely pleasant.
13 – Blinding Lights – The Weeknd – sure Abel was pissed at the Grammys, “Bliding Lights dropped a year ago and it is still in the top ten, considering he did had no major features and keep re-releasing the song, he stands here as a slab of nyctalopia on the streets (O claim of New York, but probably Toronto)
14 – Cut Me – Moses Sumney – Sublimely sung chill soul with an artful hip hop package and an intense lyric that swerves in and out around the horns
15 – Space And Time – S.G. Goodman – One of our great new voices, hear she sounds worthy, and not just just with a glorious country ballad but with the voice, of being dubbed a modern day k.d. lang
16 – The Father, My Son, And The Holy Ghost – Craig Morgan – in the face of the worst loss a person can suffer, the death of his son, Morgan finds strength in faith
17 – ringtone (Remix) [feat. Charli XCX, Rico Nasty, Kero Kero Bonito] – 100 gecs, Charli XCX, Rico Nasty – The sine qua non of queer pop crossover.
18 – I’m Not Getting Excited – The Beths – combustibile punk pop rocker about morbidity and death
19 – la – Kelsea Ballerini – As a non-believer, I might be wrong. This is the best song of its sort since “I Took A Pill In Ibiza” (not the remix, the original), and Kelsea takes it exactly right with a gorgeous bridge.
20 – Sweet – Porridge Radio – the sort of song that changes a semi-underground rock band from Brighton in England into overnight sensations
21 – Do To Me – H.E.R. – dancehall H.E.R. continues her year in a lifetime
22 – Forgiveness – Mandy Moore – all the action here has already happened off the tracks, in a divorce that became a referendum. But Mandy’s final response is devastating: “Will I forgive you? You don’t get to know…”
23 – Which Side Are You On? – S.G. Goodman – gorgeously sung Union song
24 – Only You Freestyle – Headie One, Drake – Drake’s best rap of the year (so far, there is a new album in the works) including a hello in Arabic, Headie One takes back on the track on his verses
25 – Doesn’t Make It Alright – Tomas Doncker – This deeply felt cover of The Specials anti-racism song was so good Dave Waking called it the best version he has heard.
26 – Gary Lives in the Twilight Zone – Gary Wilson – The cult artists cult artist, obtuse, strange, a little otherworldly and bizarre and yet completely brilliant dance pop, and here is one of Gary’s very best.
27 – FNY – Barkley – the tuneful crusade to “Fuck New York’ lives is a lesbian lost love triumph
28 – Young Life Crisis – UPSAHL -sadgirl emo hyperpop with a killer lyric: “Meltdown on my best friend’s couch, lines on the table and boredom in my mouth, Life’s gettin’ fatal, I think I’m runnin’ out, \I get dramatic when I’m drunk but don’t sympathize
29 -Scared To Live – The Weeknd – The Weeknd’s genius pop ballad, with a very useful Elton John sample that is a study in how to use an expensive song
30 – NO MORE TEARDROPS feat. Malik Yusef & Wyatt Waddell – VIC MENSA, Malik Yusef, Wyatt Waddell – one of the best #BLM protest raps of the year in a year with a whole lotta good ones
Plus One – O Magnum Mysterium – Sunday Service – Kanye West composed and write this centerpiece of the Sunday Service’s 5 song EP that embraces and lives inside the mystery.
Ice Cube is playing at the Belasco
return to the top of country
Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – January 1983 (Volume 14, Number 8)
a cow with eighteen udders
“a journey through his life, passions, influences, and enduring legacy”
the true Godfather Giannini Russo
Has Brit rock ever been worse?
essence de 2023
A very percussive song
the mixes his producer Daniel Lanois didn’t like
her best since “Milionària”