The Super Bowl Halftime Show has become an overblown spectacle of such proportions and delusionary grasping at the straws of musical-artistic relevancy that it quite simply may never be good again. Yet there have been some standout performances – mostly those that concentrate on actual performing. There were some very dark years here and there that were not focused on the artists and their music as much as the pageantry (I’m looking at you Disney), so I didn’t even count those. There were also a lot of ‘meh’ moments that are not really worth getting into.
2000: PHIL COLLINS, CHRISTINA AGUILERA, ENRIQUE IGLESIAS, TONI BRAXTON
I don’t remember this and I’m not going to watch it, but it’s awful. It’s literally the worst thing I’ve never seen.
Drummers-turned-front men are a rare but illustrious lot. There’s Dave Grohl, Phil Collins, Iggy Pop and Bon Scott”all of whom left the kit behind to seduce audiences from the front of the stage. Singer-songwriter Brandon Husken spent twenty years on drums, playing for multiple bands in his hometown of Detroit, Michigan. Now, as a singer-songwriter and guitarist, he performs as Brae, crafting melodies with a Brit pop sensibility. Glistening guitars and piano permeate the glacial Planks and Haystacks, a song for restless, moonlit nights. Come Back has the same wintry feeling, delicate swaths of textures blow through like December winds, but Husken’s voice provides some embers to warm yourself. The sun comes out on the folksy Best Foot Froward, where Husken warns, Just because you put your best foot forward doesn’t mean you move in the right way. True, but we’re liking the direction this guy’s going.
Lately, it seems that we are hearing more and more from new and unexpected partnerships between artists of different genres. This is why, through Superlatones, we are creating our very own directory”a musical wish-list, if you will”of artists who have yet to join the collaborative bandwagon.
As musicians, we come to understand music in a myriad of different ways. Depending on what instrument we play or value most, we tend to tune in to specific parts of a song: a drum solo, a complicated guitar riff, a fun bass line. This week, we feature artists known for their catchy tunes and great production quality; but instead of analyzing the composition of their songs, we are focusing on a different aspect of their music that the rest of the world seems to take for granted: their voice.
The Dynamic Duo:
Foster the People and Gotye
How do you get him to go away? Pay for the pizza.
It’s cruel and inhumane jokes like these that surely led the following musicians to come out from behind the kit and take center stage. Please note that it was difficult and pointless to rank these artists against each other, so they are listed in no particular order.
10. Steven Tyler
Let’s not talk about what Aerosmith has become, and focus on the good times, when they made great records and rocked faces off with regularity, all while totally zonked on drugs. You know, the good times. Anyway, Tyler was and, okay, kind of still is a great frontman, but he got his start on the drums, pre-Aerosmith. While singing and songwriting were clearly his calling, he still bangs it up from time to time.
Most of us probably would be loathe to admit it out loud, but we all have them: Singers and bands we love in spite of everybody else. They create music to our ears, while to those who consider themselves highbrow connoisseurs of cool, they’re incurably uncool. I’d call these acts “guilty pleasures,” but when it comes to the music I listen to, I don’t believe in shame.
Jennifer Lopez Don’t judge. And don’t write off Love?, Lopez’s 2011 pop comeback. It’s a lot better than the title. All these months after she debuted the video from her judge’s perch on American Idol, “On the Floor” still never fails to take me there, and “I’m Into You,” the follow-up single, deserved so much more than a No. 41 peak on Billboard’s Hot 100. The other day, my iPod landed on Lopez’s first hit, “If You Had My Love” (No. 1 in 1999), and I didn’t press skip. In fact, I hit repeat. Twice. Carp about her thin vocals all you want, but if you’re a pop fan and you say you haven’t gotten swept up in her groove at least once”most likely thanks to the aforementioned “On the Floor,” or “Jenny from the Block,” perhaps her greatest hit”I’d say you’re probably lying.
Enya Back in college I worked in a record store, and one day I faced an angry customer who had requested something similar to Enya and was recommended Kate Bush by one of my colleagues. She bought it, tried it, hated it. If only my clueless co-worker had known that nothing compares to Enya. She’s lumped into the new-age category”home of Yanni (yikes!)”and her songs often are dismissed as music for insomniacs because of it. But stay awake and listen: Her potpourri of Irish folk, choral music and gospel, with occasional flourishes of tribal and world music, sometimes tense, sometimes soothing, is so much more than anodyne pop.
A lot of musicians produce their own music, but there is a smaller field of those who can produce other artists AND are successful at it. Here’s a list of nine artists better known (in most cases) for their own musical efforts but who have significant bodies of work as producers. This is not to say that they are the “best” or that they are listed in order of greatness. The list is ordered according to a mixed assessment of the worthiness of the things they’ve produced and the amount of producing they’ve done.
9. Phil Collins
Phil Collins, who has had massive success as a solo artist and as a member of Genesis, produced hits for Frida (ex-ABBA), Howard Jones and Philip Bailey, among others. He then presided over the loosest use of the term comeback, when he helped Eric Clapton score big with Behind the Sun (1985) and August (1986). Weeeeeeeak.
8. Jack White
Seems like Jack White has put touring on the back burner in favor of his newfound music mogul-dom. Before he really ramped up work on his Third Man Records label, store, mobile unit and future empire, White branched out from The White Stripes to produce 2001’s Lack of Communication by The Von Bondies (whose lead singer would later be punched many times in the face by White) and Loretta Lynn’s 2004 LP Van Lear Rose. He has produced most of his own studio projects, including The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, The Dead Weather and Another Way To Die, the theme to the Bond film Quantum of Solace, with Alicia Keys. White produces sessions for his own Third Man Records and has worked with Wanda Jackson, now ex-wife Karen Elson, The Black Belles and of course, Stephen Colbert.