Lessons from the 2014 Billboard Music Awards

Lorde

I spent much of the time from 8-10pm last night asking myself why I was watching the 2014 Billboard Music Awards. Most of the performances were uninspired and the award winners were foregone conclusions. It’s not as if this were the only awards show featuring performances from the likes of Pitbull, Imagine Dragons, Ariana Grande, Jennifer Lopez and Jason Derulo. And though I like Ludacris, the prospect of him hosting was not enough on its own to draw me to the show.

I realized that I’m drawn to awards shows like this because I’m fascinated by the way that organic moments of spontaneity can arise from a rigorously pre-programmed spectacle. I’m looking for two or three performances that rise above the mediocrity of the majority. I’m looking for something to reaffirm my belief that popular music and even awards shows can be thought-provoking or aesthetically satisfying. And indeed, while the 2014 Billboard Music Awards were largely forgettable and eminently skippable, I found a few topics worth discussing before I switched over to Mad Men.

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The M&M Report, Episode 14: The Year’s Best Music

Heart

Listen to Episode 14 here.

Welcome to the last 2013 episode of The M&M Report. This week, Devin Mitchell and I talked about some of our favorite albums and songs of the year. Keep in mind that Devin and I are far from comprehensive music consumers, so our musical tastes are limited to the genres we’ve enjoyed in the past. We’re open to tons of suggestions on new music we should try out, so bear with us and feel free to comment.

After we discussed six albums, we had a freewheeling conversation about the year in music, touching on everything from “Blurred Lines” and “Same Love” to Daft Punk and Miley Cyrus.

Here’s a Spotify playlist featuring some of the music we discussed during the show. Feel free to follow along.

Click through for the time breakdown and a bonus video from Local Natives, and we’ll see you in 2014!

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2013 in Review: The Best and Worst of Top 40

Lorde

It’s easy to look back at the year in music and only see images of Miley Cyrus twerking, Robin Thicke skeeving and Pharrell dominating. With this list, I’m shining a spotlight on the best that pop music had to offer this year, whether it involved blurred lines or diamonds in the rough. I combed over every Billboard Hot 100 chart from this year and picked my favorite songs that cracked the Top 40.

You’ll notice there are 12 songs on this list. Why not? Ten is just as arbitrary. These are 12 songs I really like. I hope you’ll find something worth celebrating here. No use cutting corners. (To make my life easier, I did my best to exclude songs that made bigger splashes in 2012 than they did in 2013, including Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble” and Kendrick Lamar’s “Swimming Pools (Drank).”)

You’ll also notice that these songs are in alphabetical order by the artist’s first name. Why? Because it’s too difficult for me to decide which of these songs is better than the others. They’re good for different reasons, and I don’t see any value in fussing with which reasons matter more.

(The playlist isn’t in alphabetical order – in fact, it’s not in any order at all, except my vague attempt to create a pleasurable listening experience.)

Without further ado, my favorite Top 40 songs of 2013.


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Live-Blogging the 2013 CMA Awards

CMA

I’ll be updating this blog all night long with thoughts and grades on this year’s celebration of country music, the CMA Awards on ABC. Read on for the good, the bad and the ugly.

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