Strictly Come Dancing About Architecture 2012

Even though people of a certain vintage and temperament love to moan that music journalism ain’t what it used to be, I’ve read a lot of great essays, reviews and interviews this year, both in print and online. Here are some of my favourites from the latter category. The picture at the top is Philip Roth, who never wrote about music as far as I know but damn, he looks writerly.

Best Corrective to Bad Habits
“Are you essentially making shit up about the artist in order to sexualize her?”
How Not to Write About Female Musicians: A Handy Guide (Maura Johnston, Village Voice)

Best Analysis of How Critics Think
“The closer an album comes to Illmatic’s exact make and model of classic, the more likely it’ll be accepted on the same level.”
Classic Material (Andrew Nosnitsky, Pitchfork)

Most Touching Tribute
“Adam Yauch was a part of my childhood, an ambassador to America from our New York, which is now gone, as is he.”
Peace Adam (Sasha Frere-Jones, New Yorker )

Best Anatomy of a Pop Horrorshow
“A flashy presentation of a record label spreadsheet.”
A Sorry State: Pop Marketing & Rihanna’s Unapologetic (Jude Rogers, The Quietus)

Most Beautiful Web Feature (The Writing’s Good Too)
“Don’t look, it’s got three pubes in it!”
Bat for Lashes (Laura Snapes, Pitchfork)

Best Ending to a Profile

“She still thinks I control the rain.”
Jack Outside the Box: Jack White Is the Coolest, Weirdest, Savviest Rock Star of Our Time (Josh Eells, New York Times)

Funniest Confession of Thirtysomething Bewilderment
“PUMPS & TANK TOPS & HAIR GEL & HOUSE MUSIC”
Live: IDentity Festival Walks the Line Between Raving and Raging at Jones Beach (Michaelangelo Matos, Village Voice)

Best Reflection on the State of “Indie” (Whatever That Means These Days)
“There will never be another Nevermind, because there will never again be a predominant media narrative”
Animal Collective, People Alone: Centipede Hz and the solitude of indie rock (Steven Hyden, Grantland)

Best Insight Into the Grim Economics of “Indie” (Whatever That Means These Days)
“You’d better be doing it for the love of it, because nobody’s making real money.”
Grizzly Bear Members Are Indie-Rock Royalty, But What Does That Buy Them in 2012? (Nitsuh Abebe, New York)

Best Writing About Bad Music
“Is there any cure for the song poisoned by its own success?”
Can ‘My Heart Will Go On’ Be Resuscitated? (Carl Wilson, The Atlantic)

Best Writing About the Terrible Legacy of a Good Band
“Drama students dressed up as policemen dancing to Thriller at Liverpool Street station”
The Awful Legacy of the Libertines (Clive Martin and Kev Kharas, Vice)

Best Conversation Between Critics
“You can’t outgrow this, you shouldn’t outgrow this, and you won’t outgrow this.”
Myths and Depths: Greil Marcus Talks to Simon Reynolds (Los Angeles Review of Books)

Best Generational Clash Over the Future of Music
“Congratulations, your generation is the first generation in history to rebel by unsticking it to the man and instead sticking it to the weirdo freak musicians!”
Letter to Emily White at NPR All Songs Considered (David Lowery, Trichordist)

Best Pop Nostalgia
“It’s hard to imagine any freakish 11-year-olds in 2012 sharing Pop Scene’s excitement about STATISTICS!”
Reviewing the charts in 1981 – on stolen chip paper (Pete Paphides, The Guardian)

Best Behind-the-Music Study of a Classic Album
“A wonderment of wow”
Big Star’s Third: ‘It’s hard to nail the chaos’ (Michael Hann, The Guardian)

Best Interview in Which No Questions Were Asked

“I’ll talk myself and I’ll tell you the real deal.”
Bobby Womack: ‘I can sing my ass off, better than I could before’ (Alexis Petridis, The Guardian)

Most Unexpectedly Light-Hearted Interview
“Barry Manilow look out!”
Scott Walker: Brother Beyond (Simon Hattenstone, The Guardian)

Most Satisfyingly Epic Profile
“You are free of yourself for those hours; all the voices in your head are gone.”
We Are Alive: Bruce Springsteen at Sixty-Two (David Remnick, New Yorker)

Best Writing, Basically
“Who do you run to, who do you tell, when you realize you’ve built a prison out of the things you thought were liberations?”
Did He Feel Good? James Brown’s epic life and career (Ian Penman, City Journal)

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