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>> IT WAS A GREAT YEAR FOR POPULAR MUSIC, BUT IT DIDN'T HAVE TO BE

December 6, 2012 12:10 am

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Damn you, Taylor Swift! You know I can't resist you in your sequined nutcracker outfit. we1206pitbull2.jpg

That's not an in-ear monitor, that is an actual earplug designed to keep Pitbull from hearing his own lyrics.

AS SOMEONE WHO spends a great deal of time listening to music, I feel that I am in a good position to tell you what to listen to. I'm in an even better position to tell you what not to listen to.

As 2012's year in music reaches its coda, I feel comfortable naming the people who did their best to destroy the semblance of overall quality that so many other artists worked hard to create. For all the effort that genuine talents like Japandroids, Macklemore and Frank Ocean put in, there were insufferable hacks dicing up the airwaves with their claptrap.

I feel that annual best-of lists are often knee-jerk affairs that overlook the true masterpieces of the time. Great songs need months or years to mature into important works of art, but a bad song is just a bad song. You don't need too much time to figure that out, and you don't need to wait to call out the people responsible for them.

TAYLOR SWIFT

It would be very clever of me to embrace miss tween USA in a show of manly irony, but, like, that is exhausting. It's time the world recognized that we're in an abusive relationship with Swift. Every time we realize her insipid teen-angst lyrics are devoid of any real value, we're sucked back in by her damn catchy tunes. It's maddening, and it's time we stopped making excuses for her behavior.

FLO RIDA

Despite the worst emcee name in rap history, this guy gets himself on every pop guest list in the universe. Think of his name on a song as a service--a musical "Mr. Yuck" sticker. It's particularly useful when his is the only name on the track. "Whistle" might seem offensive because of its juvenile sexual single-entendres, but it's lyrics like: "Show me your perfect pitch / you got it my banjo," that make Mr. Rida a paragon of ineptitude.

KANYE WEST

This one hurts me as much as it hurts you, Kanye. Before this year, he was a certifiable genius--the introspective, glamorous, ingenious rapper that hip-hop history has been working toward for decades. In 2012, Kanye came close to destroying all the credit he'd earned over the course of his career. He dropped the introspection and ingenuity to focus full-time on the glamour, a suit that fits him all too well. With all his talk of "suicide" this and that, it might have been his own career he was trying to kill this year. Click.

MUMFORD & SONS

A quick rise to fame often results in a wave of easy criticism, but this is one band that deserves it. Some of my consternation comes from my own reverence for traditional Appalachian and bluegrass music. Mumford & Sons makes lightweight pop and dance music that masquerades as traditional fare and relies on that perception of authenticity for its emotional power. If you're looking for true grit and emotion, there are hundreds of bands that do it better.

PITBULL

Ha ha. For an artist who has positioned himself as a "global" phenomenon, his music is surprisingly limited. By his own admission, he is "running through the world like a running back." I assume that means he can't go more than 5 yards without ending up at the bottom of a pile of men. He should get some credit, however. Not many people knew combining the worst parts of Will.i.am, Ricky Martin and Lou Bega was a recipe for success.

Jonas Beals: 540/368-5036
Email: jbeals@freelancestar.com




JONAS' IN-TOWN PICK: The Fredericksburg Jazz Collective's Live Jazz Jam at La Petite Auberge. Class up your life a little bit. Thursday at 9 p.m. OUT-OF-TOWN PICK: Japandroids at the Black Cat in Washington. You're probably getting sick of hearing me say it, but they are about as pure as rock gets right now. Friday at 9 p.m. LISTENING TO: "Death to My Hometown" by Bruce Springsteen. This one from "Wrecking Ball" has grown on me, becoming more defiant and determined with repeated listening.



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