pazz jop
by Sean
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


So yes - the results for Pazz and Jop 2003 are in. Critics have responded in droves and democratically declared the best of the year to be...

1 OutKast Speakerboxxx/The Love Below (Arista)
This is cool if only because it's, uh, not by white rockers. (This is relevant only because most critics I've met do happen to be white rockers. And, tokenism or not, this result suggests OutKast=Wilco (2002's #1 album), in the eyes of the critical commons. That is, prog hip-hop is as well-received as prog country-pop. And that's interesting.) It's also cool because I think it's a very, very good (double-)album. (Andrew will not be pleased.)
2 The White Stripes Elephant (V2)
3 Fountains of Wayne Welcome Interstate Managers (S-Curve)
4 Radiohead Hail to the Thief (Capitol)
Three okay albums that just make the list feel depressing. I guess it's how lots of other people felt about Wilco's win last year - these are picks without energy, vim, sparkle. Yes, the White Stripes do the white stripes thing well: but can you still get excited about Elephant? Yes, the Fountains of Wayne are catchy (I do like "Stacy's Mom"), but aren't they also really plain? Yes, Radiohead did record some fine songs. But songs; an ILMer put it best: what would Radiohead have to do to not crack the P&J Top Ten? Should these albums really consist of #2, #3, and #4?
5 Yeah Yeah Yeahs Fever to Tell (Interscope)
6 The Shins Chutes Too Narrow (Sub Pop)
Argh. The Shins!? What a boring, dumb-witted, donut-hole of a record. And it didn't even have "New Slang" to redeem it!
7 New Pornographers Electric Version (Matador)
8 Basement Jaxx Kish Kash (Astralwerks)
I'm surprised (why did so many indie kids - YYY, FoW, Shins, New Pornos - rank so high?), but I can live with these...
9 Drive-By Truckers Decoration Day (New West)
10 Dizzee Rascal Boy in Da Corner (XL import)
! Wow Dizzee! I don't think this album had even been released in the States in 2003...
1 OutKast "Hey Ya!" (Arista)
2 Beyoncé featuring Jay-Z "Crazy in Love" (Columbia)
3 The White Stripes "Seven Nation Army" (Third Man/V2)
4 Kelis "Milkshake" (Star Trak/Arista)
5 50 Cent "In Da Club" (G-Unit/Shady/Aftermath/Interscope)
6 Johnny Cash "Hurt" (Universal)
7 Fountains of Wayne "Stacy's Mom" (S-Curve/Virgin)
8 R. Kelly "Ignition-Remix" (Jive)
9 Junior Senior "Move Your Feet" (Atlantic)
10 Panjabi MC featuring Jay-Z "Beware of the Boys (Mundian To Bach Ke)"
But this list I like very much. The only one that wasn't among my favourite songs of 2003 was the Kelis track. I seem to be the only human being in the planet who isn't thrilled-to-pieces with "Milkshake" (well, apart from those cymbal things in the chorus).

Sorry for the lack of updates - I had a friend in from out-of-town, and I'm working on a v. large post about my pop and hip-hop trajectory. (MP3s will accompany it.)

Posted by Sean at February 10, 2004 6:20 PM

jeez, i didn't know people hated the shins that much. i don't love the record, but i didn't find it anywhere close to offensively bad

Posted by peter at February 10, 2004 8:24 PM

Yeah, I have been surprised by the venom that the Shins seem to inspire in a lot of blogs and on ilx. It seems largely a reaction against what seems like a force-feeding by indie radio and record shops, which I admit is a little much. When I bought the record it seemed overdone and silly and bordered in places on sounding like new age Jethro Tull. But the songs have grown on me, and they put on a hell of a live show. I can see why people would call them boring, but it seems like a lot of the hate directed at them is more about their popularity than anything else. BTW, The Drive By Truckers record has some amazing songs, and I nominate Dizee Rascal for the most over-rated thing to come out of England since the Mayflower. It seems to me like most people enjoy the idea and phenomenon of Dizee more than they actually enjoy the music. Was there a more annoying single in '03 than Fix Up, Look Sharp?

Posted by Scott at February 10, 2004 9:12 PM

eek! you guys are right!

If anyone asked me if I hated the Shins, I'd reply with a negative. Of course I don't - they're far too good-natured to hate. But what DID get me mad (as you can see!) was that they showed up so high on the "critics concensus" for BEST album of the year. Ahead of Broken Social Scene and Songs:Ohia and the Long Winters and Bubba Sparxxx. What's enraging isn't (for me) the "force-feeding" by the indie community, but rather seeing one mediocre album raised up so high *in the face of* dozens and dozens (hundreds?) of better records. If The Shins were at #30, you'd hear nary a peep out of me.

> But the songs have grown on me, and they put on a hell of a live show. I can see why people would call them boring, but it seems like a lot of the hate directed at them is more about their popularity than anything else...

I understand what you mean - I guess for me, it's just that the songs on Chutes Too Narrow never 'grew' (and I didn't get to see them live). Maybe the popularity thing comes into play, but my favourite songs of the year were "Hey Ya!" and "Crazy in Love"... I like to think I'm on my way to having the [indie] elitism thing mostly beat'

re: dizzee, absolutely correct! i like the idea MUCH more than I like his music (ie, I don't like "Boy In Da Corner," except [ironically] "Fix Up Look Sharp"). He'd definitely not be on my "best of 2003," but I -am- impressed than an import record zoomed up all the way to #10.

I'll check out the Truckers - what do they do?

Posted by Sean at February 10, 2004 9:49 PM

as the officially uncool guy here (I bear the burden), i totally agree with you that the singles chart is mostly spot on, while the albums have a lot of stuff that i could care less about.
But then, the last "album" i listened to was De La Soul's last one. These days, when I get a CD, first thing i do is burn it to the hard drive where i can hold it down and vivisect it.
However, since rock is so well served on the albums and hiphoprnb is given crazy singles love, I assume that rock can't make singles and hiphoprnb can't make albums.
I am the uncool one though, so whatdoiknow?

Posted by forksclovetofu at February 10, 2004 11:36 PM

The Truckers play unironic Southern rock, they get drunk and they frickin LOVE Skynyrd. I wouldn't say the album is great, but it has a few great songs, particularly "Outfit." And a few just great lines like "Rock and Roll means well but it can't help tellin young boys lies."
They will be on Kexp ( this afternoon, in fact (this evening your time).

Posted by Scott at February 11, 2004 3:01 PM

sean, i wish i could give you my ears so you would understand the sheer genius that is the shins. they are beyond merely pleasant. the songwriting is at a level of intelligence you rarely encounter in modern pop songwriting and hooks are delicious. give 'em one more chance!

but bubba sparxxx? you can't be serious....

and broken social scene are one of the most overhyped bands to come out of canada since, well, the unicorns....ouch....

Posted by k at February 11, 2004 10:49 PM

Radiohead would have to make a bad album not to make the top 10. They made a great album this year, so they are in the top 10.

I'm not going to get into another Fountains of Wayne argument, but suffice to say that if you think they're "really plain," you need to listen closer and/or investigate their back catalog.

Posted by Eppy at February 13, 2004 6:03 PM

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Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

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