banks

Homework 8 / dirty pop

Your next assignment is posted in the Assignments tab. It’s due a week from today, on Thursday, 17 April 20.


In honor of the announcement of Robyn’s next NYC concert, today’s email is about pop music. I used to catch a lot of flak from my friends for listening to Robyn around the time her Body Talk albums were coming out, because she was seen as a 90s one-hit wonder (“Show Me Love” wasn’t too bad as far as 90s pop goes, but it’s not as good as the song of the same title by Robin S. from earlier in the decade). People have come around, though. Watch Robyn’s brilliant, one-take music video for “Call Your Girlfriend“, and then watch Taran Killam’s version thereof. Then watch them side by side!

robyn

I can’t help but enjoy Betty Who, an Australian who makes some of the catchiest music this side of Katy Perry. Her first hit was “Somebody Loves You“, but her latest EP (which just came out this past Tuesday) is better. There’s a very Perry-esque song called “Alone Again” that I like but a good version of which does not seem to exist on YouTube. The lead single is called “Hearbreak Dream“, and it’s also pretty good.

I hear a bit of Charli XCX’s melodic sensibility in “Heartbreak Dream”. Charli’s most recent single “SuperLove” is way more uptempo than her début album True Romance, and in my opinion not as good as the highlights of that LP. I liked True Romance a lot and honestly thought it was going to catch on more in the States than it did, but her new direction will probably raise her profile. She also sings on Iggy Azalea’s single “Fancy“, off of the latter’s début full-length The New Classic, which is coming out in three weeks and will probably be something of a big deal. The music video is a Clueless homage, which is pretty tight.

fancy

One of the most annoying things about pop music is how long it often takes after a single drops for the LP containing it to be released. Just as True Romance included songs like “Stay Away” and “You’re Not The One” that were released a year or more before the album, The New Classic will include old songs like “Work” (I quoted from “Work” in Puccini and Leoncavallo’s imagined conversation in the last email) and “Change Your Life“. That’s just the way it goes, though, and I guess it’s mostly just for début albums.

Tove Lo seems to be gaining some traction with the release of her Truth Serum EP. I’m not totally convinced she’s the real deal, but that’s mostly because the Hippie Sabotage remix of her song Habits is way better than the original. That’s not her fault, though. She does seem to have a pretty good voice, and she’s from Sweden, so I’ll be looking out for more from her. Speaking of Sweden, there’s this Swedish artist Snoh Aalegra who’s just a ridiculous babe but in a totally un-Scandinavian way. She’s signed to No I.D.‘s label and he produced her song “The Fall“, which is solid. Here’s another tune of hers called “Burning Bridges” that has an actual music video; the production isn’t as good but it’s more of a showcase for her vocals. Her music isn’t on Spotify so I don’t listen to her too much, but she looks like a cross between Natalie Portman and Eva Mendes and can actually sing, so I’m keeping an eye on her.

Don’t worry, that’s a trick photo; she’s not really a conjoined twin

Closer to home and poised for big things in 2014 is Banks, who has overcome the obstacle of a generic, initially un-Googleable name (a quandary solved by Chvrches with their novel spelling) to build a strong following. Her song “Waiting Game” is in a Victoria’s Secret commercial, so she probably got a bunch of dough for that. Good for you, Banks! Way to live up to your name! Ha, ha, ha!  Her most recent offering is called “Brain“, which is a pretty bold name for a pop song. Actually, Banks isn’t really very poppy. I guess this email kind of got off track from super poppy music to just music by female artists. Sorry about that. Also, confession, I mentioned a few of these artists in emails to last semester’s class. But I didn’t copy/paste anything, so I don’t feel too bad.

Continuing Stateside, Sky Ferreira put out a great album last year, but I still like her old song “Everything Is Embarrassing” best, I think. The LP has some good cuts, though. (Incidentally, Dev Hynes, who co-wrote “Everything Is Embarrassing”, put out an excellent album last year as  Blood Orange, but since he’s a dude he gets reduced to a parenthetical in this email. Sorry, Dev. Go back to boot camp.)

I like Chloë Howl, too, and her hat.

hat

Also I was reading Jack Nicholson’s Wikipedia page earlier and the Pop artist Ed Ruscha was quoted praising Nicholson’s art collection, so here’s a picture of a Ruscha painting that’s in the MoMA, and a postcard of which you may have seen in my office:

oof

And Broad City is a show you should be watching. This scene is really short but really great.

Finally, here’s a cool Web site if you like Beyoncé a.k.a. if you are a human being.


“I believe in making the world safe for our children, but not for our children’s children, because I don’t think children should be having sex.”

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Final exam grades are posted

So it took a little longer than I expected, but after many exhausting hours I have finished grading your exams. Now I have to figure out all the averages. Luxury life.


Here’s a list of the albums I listened to, in order, while grading the exams. I listened to the entirety of each, except the last one, which I’m listening to now.

The Velvet Underground & Nico – The Velvet Underground
(Ten) Years Together – Peter, Paul and Mary
The Graduate – Simon & Garfunkel
Sounds of Silence – Simon & Garfunkel
Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme – Simon & Garfunkel
Spanish Virtuoso – Angel Romero
Lullabies of Birdland – Ella Fitzgerald
Silence Yourself – Savages
Slow Focus – Fuck Buttons
Somewhere Else – Indians
Today We’re Believers – Royal Canoes
Torres – Torres
True Romance – Charli XCX
Untitled Love EP – Adesse
When The Night – St. Lucia
Yeezus – Kanye West
6 Feet Beneath The Moon – King Krule
Almanac – Widowspeak
AM – Arctic Monkeys
Amygdala – DJ Koze
Herein Wild – Frankie Rose
Holy Fire – Foals
Howlin’ – Jagwar Ma
Hummingbird – Local Natives
Immunity – Jon Hopkins
London EP – Banks
Major Arcana – Speedy Ortiz
Matangi – M.I.A.
Monomania – Deerhunter
Night Time, My Time – Sky Ferreira
Nothing Was The Same – Drake
Old – Danny Brown
Once I Was An Eagle – Laura Marling

HW 9

The last homework is here. It will be due Monday 2 December 2013, in class. 

Section 4.2: 7, 8
Section 3.5: 20
Section 5.3: 1, 2, 3(a) and (b)
You’ll want to use a computer to calculate some of the matrices in some of the problems. I recommend using Matlab through the Virtual SINC site:
To borrow a phrase from Rubeus Hagrid: it’s dead useful.

Sometimes when I listen to a lot of new music it is a little overwhelming and it’s hard to remember what was good and what was not so good. So sometimes I’m a little surprised when I go back to certain certain artists and I have that old familiar feeling of listening to a song that I like. It’s a good feeling. Anyway, 

Banks (she has more danceable songs like this one, which is not to be confused with the track of the same name from earlier this year by Iggy Azalea (new remix dropped recently is pretty good, if somewhat brostep for my taste), 
Deptford Goth (he’s kind of like James Blake meets The xx except a little less minimalist), 
Adesse (sample on that track is from O Superman by Laurie Anderson, who’s OG and the recent widow of Lou Reed, the legend. If you get nothing out of this class but the fact that The Velvet Underground were one of the best bands ever, I’ll have done my job (okay, not really, but they were amazing. Their début was the first album I ever bought on vinyl)),
and Perera Elsewhere are pretty good.
In other news, winter is coming: