It is sad to realize that my anticipation when listening to terrible tracks of how pained UC would be when he eventually would listen and be forced to describe is pain in hilarious words, and thinking about what he would say when reading terrible, terrible prose regaling in these same tracks, was really what made Pitchfork Cobaggery Watch enjoyable. Anyhow, I just breezed through the top 30 this year for THROWBACK THURSDAY.
30. A. G. Cook “Beautiful”
Pinko Punko says: Chipmunk Speak N’ Spell Stacey Q. Andrew Ryce almost begs for forgiveness having to polish this sort of turd. It’s an OK gimmick sort of for a dance track, but I sort of wonder why it is worthy of any comment at all.
29. Spoon “Do You”
Pinko Punko says: Spoon have been so good for so long, a new ultra polished and evolved perfectly constructed record from them doesn’t seem to demand the attention it deserves. The new one is better than the last one and I can’t wedge my schedule to listen to it much, but it is typically excellent. I like “New York Kiss” for a Spoon track with non-Spoon sounds.
28. Grouper “Holding”
Pinko Punko says: Super beautiful hushed vocals over spare, repetitive piano. It is a different universe from the usual list filler. I’m sort of surprised that this sort of song would be considered- where is the shiny gimmick so attractive to the internet?
27. Sharon Van Etten “Your Love Is Killing Me”
Pinko Punko says: Cinematic and burning, roiling, throwback. Seriously wonderful, forcing me to dispose with Sharon Van Meh-tten, but allowing me to use “Your Love is Killing Meh” because this song is anti-meh. Pathetic that a bunch of crap will undoubtedly wash the good taste of this song out of my mouth. I kind of imagine Grace Slick singing this for a Rick Rubin produced late-life swan song.
26. Beyoncé “Partition”
Pinko Punko says: I can see how every piece of this is polished to diamond hard brilliance, perfected by Bey driving an army of mad scientists chained to her spaceship. I don’t know about reading anything between the lines on this, I sort of wish she would write about something more interesting.
25. Vic Mensa “Down on My Luck”
Pinko Punko says: Unh…Unh…Unh…the percolating house beat is so boring and it is old school- I guess it is a sample. Vic Meh-nsa. It is sort of OK, but the music makes me feel bored to tears.
24. St. Vincent “Digital Witness”
Pinko Punko says: I feel like if I could some how monetize shitty music writers forcing discussion of David Byrne as a “primary influence” for Annie Clark, I could have a lot of green. I can’t think of a top artist who is backhanded so much and whose unique vision is so constantly minimized. St. Vincent kills and the new album is very very strong. I like “Rattlesnake” and “Huey Newton” even more, but this is a great track.
23. Flying Lotus “Never Catch Me” [ft. Kendrick Lamar]
Pinko Punko says: I never really liked drum and bass or jungle, except in its most cinematic form (c.f Blush by Bows), so this just comes off as a genre wank. I like these sorts of things a lot, but if it is a genre I never liked I can’t connect.
22. Ex Hex “Don’t Wanna Lose”
Pinko Punko says: Garage stomp power pop with seemingly right out of “Stutter” era Elastica on the vocals. It’s a simple, straightforward track but it is good enough to make me want to pick up the album.
21.Sophie “Lemonade” / “Hard”
Pinko Punko says: Our long time pal Philip Sherburne tries to sell this- the chippy aspects drive me up a wall, but these tracks are all about the headphones- these are sort of angular and blorpy noise collages on an EDM bent. All over the place, but your ears are on the edge of the seat because they don’t know what to expect. You can hear the skill involved but seems sort of a showoffy mess. Like a Michelin 3 star restaurant where you feel like the food is too weird or maybe you are afraid to put it in your mouth, but it is expensive and you just don’t appreciate it. “Hard” is much more successful than “Lemonade”- and guess what, I don’t care if it is a double-A side, the name of the list is “The 100 Best Tracks” so jettison one of these, PHILIP, or straight to your room.
20. Nicki Minaj “Boss Ass Bitch (Remix)” [ft. PTAF]
Pinko Punko says: I don’t ever want to listen to this again, and could never play it out loud under any circumstances, but I am definitely afraid of Nicki and I would never, ever, EVER, beef with her. Yikes. She just nukes the neighborhood. PP backs away slowly.
19. Sun Kil Moon “Carissa”
Pinko Punko says: Mark Kozalek has elevated himself to such a music-biz troll it becomes hard to know if he’s taking the piss on the dear diary crushing tragedy in what could be a heart rending brutally honest matter of fact telling of a barely known life and a horrible death, or it could be satire of a country song. The way I hear the song is a consequence of how Kozalek acts in public. The only other artist I can think about in a similar vein is Morrissey.
18. Panda Bear “Mr Noah”
Pinko Punko says: I don’t know how it happened but I have really skipped over Panda Bear since his triumphant “Bros” phase. There are all sorts of sounds here that I feel could be deployed to better effect. Not really a success- the sum is less than the parts. Meh-ster Noah.
17. Tinashe “2 On” [ft. Schoolboy Q]
Pinko Punko says: I’ve only ever heard this on the crap car stereo before now, so outside of crap speakers and loud AC, can’t really appreciate this. Not my cup of tea and would be fine with this buried down the chart. Throwback 90s R&B, but polished.
16. Young Thug “Stoner”
Pinko Punko says: The ultra minimalist icy beat is the best thing about this. The staccato/laconic mix of deliveries is a bit arresting and catches attention. The apotheosis of Lil’ Wayne-esque weed/sex rap. Destined for rote, unfun Spotify 2024 mix lookback at whatever the hell this year was.
15. Lil B “No Black Person Is Ugly”
Pinko Punko says: Oddly, given the number 1 track on this list, maybe this year is the year of sincerity. Ultra earnest from a prolific source. I have no real experience with the BASED GOD so I don’t really have anything to add.
14. QT “Hey QT”
Pinko Punko says: It is surreal to realize that there is a trend that I have been oblivious to, but happily so. Not a single word in all these chipmunk EDM tracks about the pitchshifting on vocals making the diva on the hook sound 8 years old mentioning that infantilizing sexuality is gross. Initial reaction: pathetic and icky.
13. Todd Terje “Johnny and Mary” [ft. Bryan Ferry] (Robert Palmer cover)
Pinko Punko says: Bryan Ferry is tops. The year of sincerity I think it must be, but vocals carry the very 80s museum piece of production. Mark Pytlik picks up the Vangelis notes, but Terje delivers a nice slow burn.
12. Drake “0 to 100 / The Catch Up”
Pinko Punko says: “Started from the Bottom” rehash, but less fun. Verses are boiled down- Drake isn’t technically proficient or flashy, but he sounds effortless, and that is what allows him to kill. I can’t help but like Drake, but outside of a few songs, I feel like he’s gonna have a hard time racing ahead of the tick tock. Look at rap giants- they get lazy (Jay-Z), stale and tired (Eminem), mindless and repetitive (Wayne). What is Drake going to do? Keep boasting about how on top he is? Or complaining about whatever? Limited lifespan on that.
11. Shamir “On the Regular”.
Pinko Punko says: Novelty club alt-rap. Harmless. “Don’t try me, I’m not a free sample”- that is a good line. Reminds me of the time some lady helped herself to the funnel cake my fam was sharing at a farmer’s market. She obviously thought it was a sample- like the world was her Costco. STEP OFF, LADY. The world is a Costco, sent to dra-ay-ay-in
10. Michael Jackson “Love Never Felt So Good (Original Version)”
Pinko Punko says: Museum piece alternate universe walkthrough time capsule. I can’t remember an MJ ballad that I ever liked, but this is uptempo and you can appreciate the genius of his vocal command. Can’t imagine this being remembered, unfortunately.
9. Future “Move That Dope” [ft. Pharrell, Pusha T, and Casino]
Pinko Punko says: So boring. Hard beat wasted. Pharrell’s lines are the best part.
8. Perfume Genius “Queen”
Pinko Punko says: Goosebumps and a shiver down my spine. I wouldn’t change a single note. This song is an instant classic that traffics in a neo-Gary Numan otherworld, but is not concerned with robotic alienation but instead, defiance of hetero definition/views of gayness. The persona MIke Hadreas takes in the video for this track is the image on his album cover, and every action is delivered with such confidence and control it that it somehow doesn’t feel surprising that a music video filled with music video-isms still feels cinematic and mesmerizing. I only heard this for the first time this week and I consider it possible track of the year. It is interesting to watch the performance of this song on Letterman, as you can see some nervousness and fear, in contrast to the supple and precise control of the video. I think it shows just what it means to be defiant.
7. Beyoncé “***Flawless” [ft. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie]
Pinko Punko says: “Bow down, b*tches” Thanks, Bey. I admit that I can get annoyed by Bey’s vocal control being swamped by tics- not saying that she needs to be a robot- she is incredibly jazzy and does all sorts of weird, interesting stuff, but compare to MJ a few tracks earlier and you see someone with a similar number of vocal tics but it comes across as totally controlled. Sometimes Bey just being weird. This is another producers dream and you can see with a number of tracks from Beyoncé that there is just a higher standard here than almost anywhere else in pop. This doesn’t mean that it adds up to anything more than that. Decent, but one ingredient too many- comes across as overbaked.
6. Run the Jewels “Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck)” [ft. Zack De La Rocha]
Pinko Punko says: Killer Mike is hard as f*ck but sometimes seems on the nose to me, but this f*cker bangs harder than a goddamn diamond. A little too dark for milquetoasty me, but Zack KILLS on this. Completely mesermizing. This and the Future cut above are not from the same hardness galaxy.
5. The War on Drugs “Red Eyes”
Pinko Punko says: Bruce a la Tunnel of Love I guess. I’m one of very few that felt Lost in a Dream the War on Drugs’ album that offered up this track was a step back from their previous, Slave Ambient. That being said, this is a good song. I wonder if it will lose power and feeling when it gets old, especially since it is cloaked in an older production.
4. Caribou “Can’t Do Without You”
Pinko Punko says: I like Caribou OK, but I was more of an Andorra fan than Swim, and this doesn’t really work for me. I can handle a lot of repetitive and endless music, but those two things don’t automatically equate with epic. A hushed and respectful yawn.
3. FKA twigs “Two Weeks”
Pinko Punko says: Kate Bush as the android from Metropolis translated to a space sation platform, but not really as good as it should be. Tastemaking future retro R&B. Should be more interesting, but better than a ton of other shit.
2. iLoveMakonnen “Club Goin Up on a Tuesday” [ft. Drake]
Pinko Punko says: I heard this yesterday on the radio. iLove-Meh-konnen. Two minutes too long, nice Drake cameo, sort of boring, yet not exactly the usual usual. Certainly more interesting than the usual for hip hop that gets played on the pop station. Pure novelty at this stage in the countdown, and will be either embarrassing or ironically cherished in the future, but I’d listen to the first half again.
1. Future Islands “Seasons (Waiting on You)”
Pinko Punko says: 80s New Wave fetishism as ironic non-ironic instant earnestness. Derivative in the extreme, but wrapped in heart on sleeve emoting. Consider previous retro-fetishist Pfork chart toppers- M83, LCD Soundsystem- those tracks really did transcend their styles. I can see why this works for the kids, because the territory it mines traffics in feelings. It might grow on me. Feel like this is Neon Indian and the like all over again but with more BPM, but misses the mark of my cold dead heart.