• TREND THAT RAN ITS COURSE
From indie rock’s most acclaimed albums to pop’s biggest hits, registered sax offenders were committing violations all across the musical landscape. Let’s put an end to this before it gets worse, at least in memory of the late great Clarence Clemons.
• BEST EXAMPLE OF HOW TO MAKE A BAD SONG GOOD
Stephen Colbert and the Roots – “Friday”
An April Fools’ joke in which the punchline is just how good this performance is. The same cannot be said for the shark-jumping Glee, which covered Rebecca Black’s notoriously awful first single the following month.
• WORST TITLE FOR A GOOD ALBUM
Suck it and See, Arctic Monkeys
I wish these guys would have picked a better album title – and really, ANYTHING would have been better than this – because this is the best thing they’ve ever done. Yes, even better than their debut.
• MC HAMMER AWARD FOR MUSICIAN WHO HAS TOO MUCH MONEY
Forget that you broke my heart by disbanding the White Stripes. I really dig what you’re doing with Third Man Records and all that, but seriously, producing a cover one of Mozart’s “joke songs” for Insane Clown Posse? You’ve got too much money and too much time on your hands. I can appreciate a sense of humor – it’s been present in your recordings from the get-go – but it shouldn’t be that of a 12-year-old boy.
• KRUSTY THE CLOWN AWARD for recording a song that “would embarrass Redd Foxx, God rest his smutty soul”
Chris Brown feat. Ludacris – “Wet the Bed”
R. Kelly really shouldn’t have made that PG-rated soul album. Because Chris Brown saw the void left in the nasty R&B world, called up Luda and recorded this song so outrageously over-the-top and vulgar, it makes 2 Live Crew look like a Bill Gaither Homecoming band.
• KRUSTY THE CLOWN AWARD II for a band retiring “Why now? Why not 30 years ago?”
Listen, their impact on indie music can’t be denied. But what was their last great album? Automatic for the People? There have been a few bright moments (Monster, Reveal), but what does it say about a band whose best songs were completely inscrutable?
• BEST CONCERT
Battles (Granada Theater)
I can only imagine how much fun I would have had watching Friendly Fires had they not canceled. But that opened the door for me to see this show, which was energetic start to finish. They even brought out charts to show the audience reaction to each song during their main set. They put the math in math rock!
• HIPPEST SONG OF THE YEAR, PRESENTED BY URBAN OUTFITTERS
G-Side – “How Far”
You hear that sound? That’s the sound of millions of hipster issuing a collective sigh of pleasure.
• BEST NIGHT-DRIVING ALBUM
Drive (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Pretty obvious choice, this. But it made me enjoy what can sometimes be a taxing ordeal. This soundtrack makes you cruise instead of race home.
• SHUT UP & SING AWARD
If Lady Gaga just recorded music, then I wouldn’t be so ambivalent toward her. But she continues to think she’s doing something important. I used to simply not care for some of her music and leave it at that. But in 2011, I moved from simple disliking to all-out loathing. It started with her nasty public feud with Target. First of all, who doesn’t like Target? Second of all, she was mad at the president of the company for making donations to a PAC that supported Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, who wasn’t so keen on gay marriage. And if partnering with Target offends her personal beliefs, that’s fine. But then she had to go and get all self-righteous on us, demanding that Target “redeem the mistakes they’ve made,” as if someone up and made her the judge of everyone’s decisions. Besides, as corporations, do you think they care one way or the other about gay marriage? No. But GOP candidates are more likely to give them tax breaks and the like. So get off your high horse, Gaga. Yet she didn’t stop there. In October, she decided to act like a dictator, getting a web series to stop using a character named Lady Goo Goo. Let’s not forget that parody is considered protected free speech in the U.S., the same free speech that lets her wear hideous outfits and sing terrible songs under the guise of Important Art. Hopefully she’ll be rather silent in 2012.