Recent comments

  • Best Upbeat & Optimistic Albums   4 weeks 6 days ago

    We probably don't really disagree too much regarding early rock music. Maybe I'll make a list ranking songs and see how well those pre-1965 songs stand up for me. Or maybe I'll make a list of recommended compilation albums with pre-album-era songs and see whether they're as good as later actual albums. Maybe both. Maybe neither. Maybe neither both nor neither. Maybe.

    Regarding his producers list, the one I imagine some people being a bit surprised about is the Neptunes on number 2. They are known for producing some of the most popular pop and hip-hop songs of the early 00's, including some of Britney Spears biggest hits. So... not exactly what people would associate with Scaruffi. Though I'm sure that they were not placed on the list for their work with Britney Spears, it's more for what they did with Clipse and N*E*R*D. By the way, Fly or Die by N*E*R*D would probably be appropriate for this list. It is quite optimistic. And what do you think of Cyclops Nuclear Submarine Captain, is that optimistic enough? It's definitely funny.

  • Best Upbeat & Optimistic Albums   4 weeks 6 days ago

    Sorry but that didn't answer my question. Thanks for posting it though. I think I should get more specific because parts of your response allude to what I'm asking:

    ""Fundamentally, it's "expressed emotional conviction" (any emotion or emotions) and "evocative conceptual content", relayed with "ingenuity". Most, if not all artists, do this to some degree."

    My question: What's "expressed emotional conviction" and "evocative conceptual content"?

    "The differences in rating and ranking are determined by a precise attempt at measuring the emotional/conceptual content and ingenuity from the whole work while it is being assimilated... "

    My question: how do you measure emotional/conceptual depth?

  • Best Upbeat & Optimistic Albums   4 weeks 6 days ago

    Fundamentally, it's "expressed emotional conviction" (any emotion or emotions) and "evocative conceptual content", relayed with "ingenuity". Most, if not all artists, do this to some degree. Even a Miley Cyrus song has each of these factors to a mild, superficial degree. I am most interested in the most extraordinary examples.

    A reliable formula for my ratings and rankings is as follows:

    Accumulation of the degree and consistency of expressed emotional content or evocative conceptual content and ingenuity within the time frame or space of the work of art.

    With "time frame" I am referring to arts such as film and music that play out and are assimilated within certain running times. With "space" I am referring to arts such as painting or other visual arts that are viewed and assimilated within certain spatial parameters such as a canvas.

    The differences in rating and ranking are determined by a precise attempt at measuring the emotional/conceptual content and ingenuity from the whole work while it is being assimilated. Both its qualitative peaks and consistency are carefully considered into the overall rating. Experiences do tend to differentiate -- even if slightly -- from one to the next, so a resulting evaluation marks an attempt to determine as precisely as possible the highest rating that it consistently sustains. Therefore, I will tend to assimilate a work several times (particularly in the higher ratings) before I really settle in to a more "permanent" rating and ranking for it. Of course, even then, these are subject to change, but usually I can sooner or later come to terms with a very close estimation of its sustained value within my criteria and in relation to other works of art. After that, there are still variances with that work, from one experience to the next, but in most cases they are so minute that the rating usually doesn't change much, if at all.

    My Ratings Scale:



    6.0 - GOOD



    7.5 - EXTRAORDINARY ... At 7.3+ the experience becomes extraordinary, and will begin to stand out as a historically significant work in relation to my criteria.

    Definitions of extraordinary being applied: "Highly exceptional; remarkable" and "Beyond what is usual, ordinary, regular, or established." / The Free

    8.0 - AMAZING ... At 7.8+ the experience will be thoroughly extraordinary and the work starts increasingly representing a truly amazing experience historically and in relation to my criteria.

    Definition of amazing being applied: "To affect with great wonder; astonish." --The Free

    8.5 - AWE-INSPIRING ... At 8.3+, the experience will be thoroughly amazing and the work starts increasingly representing a truly awe-inspiring experience historically and in relation to my criteria.

    Definition of awe-inspiring being applied: "an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, fear, etc., produced by that which is grand, sublime, extremely powerful, or the like."

    9.0 - ALL TIME MASTERPIECE ... At 8.8+, the experience will be thoroughly awe-inspiring and the work starts increasingly representing a towering masterpiece historically and in relation to my criteria. These works will tend to be the most historically singular, powerful and compelling expressions of their particular genre or confluence of genres.

    9.5 - SUPREME MASTERPIECE ... At 9.3+ the experience seems like an impossible achievement. An achievement so astonishing that, regardless of the type of emotional and thematic content, it inspires awe comparable to a life-changing religious experience, and does so in a manner so singular and exceptional that it will tend to completely revolutionize one's concept of what a work of art can express.

    10 - IMPOSSIBLE?

  • Best Upbeat & Optimistic Albums   4 weeks 6 days ago

    Re: Indie bands nobody will remember ... I'm sure people were thinking similar things about Beefheart, The Velvet Underground, Slint and, almost 20 years ago, Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. I can assure you Arcade Fire's Funeral will rank highly on "best of" lists for decades to come, and Return to Cookie Mountain will grow in stature (maybe not as highly because its purpose/concept is less clear and relatable). Not that any of this "legacy" stuff matters in my criteria, but you do realize Funeral is already 12 years old and almost universally regarded as the 1st or 2nd best album of the 2000s (Kid A and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot being the other two most common choices).

  • Best Upbeat & Optimistic Albums   4 weeks 6 days ago

    I've been meaning to ask you this question for some time:

    What's "emotional/conceptual depth" and how do you grade it? I'm not asking for comparisons between albums, just the definition of "emotional/conceptual depth" and the tool that you use to grade it.

  • Best Upbeat & Optimistic Albums   4 weeks 6 days ago

    Its of course impossible to say things like "if TMR were released today..." because several works on my list wouldn't exist in the same form had it not, as well as many other albums. But, I can say this: If somehow every single album on my list were released at the same time (even though its an impossible idea), yes, all the ratings would be exactly the same.

    Comparing The Beatles to Citizen Kane is ridiculous. Citizen Kane would have the exact same rating no matter when it was released. No other film has been able to accomplish what it does. The Beatles were a mild step apart from what was already happening. Citizen Kane was decades ahead of its time, completely revolutionary in both form and emotional/conceptual weight, in ever aspect or confluence of its filmic language. Citizen Kane's emotional/conceptual content is still being wrestled with to this day. Its depths are practically endless. It is on a similar level as Beethoven's or Mahler's or Michelangelo's or whoever's greatest masterpieces and will likely never be repeated. The Beatles were not even dreaming of the profound depths Welles and Toland were delving into with Kane. Its a silly comparison.

    The Beatles legacy is, in your opinion, unsurpassable, I get it. I find it has some merits, but is blown way, way, way out of proportion -- at least if one is grading by emotional/conceptual depth. Which we've already agreed they didnt accomplish much in the way of, so I'm not really sure, in the end, what the argument is really. I mean, if you really think the Beatles "emotional/conceptual depth" is extraordinary or a colossal achievement, or greater than Arcade Fire's Funeral, or whatever, than "to each his own". I dont care about "legacy" or how many times Brian Wilson cried about Rubber Soul, etc. My criteria page is what I value and that's why I rate The Beatles where I do.

  • Best Upbeat & Optimistic Albums   4 weeks 6 days ago

    The Beatles' legacy in music is too colossal to be "surpassed" by a couple of boring indie magazine bands nobody will remember in 20 years (I had already forgot TV on the Radio existed). You may not grade on a curve but I think anyone can tell it is a much more remarkable feat to be The Beatles in the 60s than to be TV on the Radio on the 00s or the dB's in the 80s. And I'm talking about music, not exposure or record sales. Bernstein would agree, I bet.
    I think putting the works in their respective historical context helps understanding the work and constitutes an inseparable part of our appreciation of it. How can you value Citizen Kane's innovative formal and dramatic techniques if you are not familiar with the american cinema of 1940 and before? How do you know it's such a "singular" achievement in the first place? No different in Beatles' case. I've already said there are different things to be valued in Beatles music (as well as earlier pop music) that may be getting lost in your criteria. It just comes down to what you think it's more important - your personal criteria or the music not encompassed by it.

    Yeah, Bernstein would probably not have said those things in 1966 if The Beatles never existed. Would Trout Mask Replica still be the greatest album on your list if it was released today, after things like Pere Ubu, PiL, and Minutemen (assuming the unlikeliness that these bands would sound the same without his influence)? Probably not, we need a musical past for that music to sound so iconoclastic and revolutionary. I doubt you don't take this into account when listening to Beefheart. And this exactly is what you call a concession, is it not?

  • Best Upbeat & Optimistic Albums   4 weeks 6 days ago

    I think perhaps the main problem for me is that the Beatles aren't very interesting rhythmically. Ringo Starr seems to be the only one interested in the rhythm. Whereas if you listen to the Rolling Stones (another band who did a lot of covers at the time) every musician is very aware of the movement of the song and adds something to it (including the singer.) Now, I'm not saying that to make rock music you have to be as rhythmic as the Rolling Stones, but since the Beatles didn't have very interesting arrangement/production at that time either, you're left with just (in the case of Twist and Shout anyway) Lennon's screaming voice. Which is interesting, but not as powerful as, say, Little Richard a few years earlier. There are some early Beatles songs where their approach to rhythm does work, though. A Hard Day's Night comes to mind (but ofcourse, that isn't a cover.)

    By the way, if you're interested in music from that time with a raw punk-like energy, what do you think of the Kinks' Beautiful Delilah?

    Also, you asked what I thought of the originals to the Beatles' cover songs. Ofcourse I don't know all of the originals, but I like the Motown songs (Money, Please Mr Postman) and I'm very fond of Chuck Berry. And I just listened to the Shirelles' Baby It's You and it has more atmosphere in the Shalala-part than the Beatles' version (darker as well.) The instrumentation is more surprising as well, with an organ (or similar sounding instrument) solo appearing out of nowhere.

  • Best Upbeat & Optimistic Albums   4 weeks 6 days ago

    Yeah, Freak Out raised the bar for sure.

    I don't dismiss the earlier songs/producers as unimportant. I just can't think of any of them I would rate highly on my scale (which favors ingenuity and emotional/conceptual depth). For instance, Chuck Berry was, obviously, massively influential, but I wouldn't rate his songs among the best of the 60s by any stretch of the imagination, let alone "all time".

    His producers list seems fine. I dont pay too much attention to who produced an album so its not something I have much of an opinion on. I would definitely agree with ranking Steinman highly, and if they counted, Kanye West, Frank Zappa and Brian Wilson. His list looks pretty good to me.

  • Best Upbeat & Optimistic Albums   4 weeks 6 days ago

    John Lennon's voice is obviously the defining feature of the cover. Overall, it seems to me that the Isley Brothers' version is more "cool"/confident, soulful and assured; the cover is sped-up (or at least, that's the impression I get) and more forceful/triumphant/anthemic, giving it that raw rock edge that pointed towards the more energetic, more "punk" direction that many rock artists would later on take. Whether that's an improvement is a matter of preference, but I think it at least explains why the cover is more popular and why, for example, Ferris Bueller's Day Off doesn't feature the original instead. Both are good party songs, with a slight nod to John Lennon's screams.

    I like Anna, Boys and Money, but I've forgotten the originals. I never really made a comparison between the originals and the covers in most cases; the most obvious one coming to mind right now is Roll Over Beethoven: the Beatles' changes aren't really bad but I enjoy the original significantly more. Other than that, either what most of the covers sounded like has slipped my mind because they didn't interest me much in the first place, or else I've forgotten or never listened to the originals. What do you think of them?

  • Favorite books   4 weeks 6 days ago

    I'll definitely check those out, there's a lot of Russian lit I haven't gotten around to reading yet. Marlowe did have a great sense of comedy, shame he died so early in his career. As for Wilde's plays, I've only read Being Ernest, but if you haven't read A Picture of Dorian Gray then I would highly recommend it

  • Best Upbeat & Optimistic Albums   4 weeks 6 days ago

    What makes the Beatles' version "next level" for you? Is it john Lennon's voice, or are there other things you consider an improvement?
    Also, what is your opinion of the Beatles' other cover songs? Because personally I consider (almost) all of the original versions better than theirs.

  • Best Upbeat & Optimistic Albums   4 weeks 6 days ago

    Another one I would add is Freak Out! by Frank Zappa, supposedly a big influence on Sgt Pepper.
    But yeah, though I would agree that there was a significant improvement in quality in 1965-1967, I don't think you should dismiss the stuff that came before. There were some great things being done with rhythm (Chuck Berry and tons of other rock and roll musicians) and "sound" (Phil Spector, Joe Meek and other innovative producers.) What do you think of Scaruffi's greatest producers list, by the way? It is relatively mainstream (for Scaruffi) so I'm curious what your opinion of it is.

  • Best Upbeat & Optimistic Albums   4 weeks 6 days ago

    The Isley Brothers' version is almost as good actually. But the Beatles took it to the next level.

  • Best Upbeat & Optimistic Albums   5 weeks 1 hour ago

    I think Phil Spector is great, his "wall of sound" certainly adding more dimension to the songs he produced.

    Its been a while since I really gave much dedicated listening to the pop music of each half of the decade. I think The Beatles vastly improved between Rubber Soul/Revolver to Sgt Pepper/The best of the White Album/Abbey Rd -- those last 3 being where all their best songs occurred, (except Tomorrow Never Knows). If I'm remembering correctly, I'm pretty sure all of the major pop rock acts followed this same trend of improvement so I'm not sure if Id agree with you that there's several earlier songs that are just as good. But, yes, this was likely a byproduct of quality controlling their songs into the consistency of an album, an idea ushered in primarily by ambitious artists like Dylan (especially Hwy 61/Blonde On Blonde), and then bands like The Doors. And for pop, the Beach Boys Pet Sounds (though apparently partially inspired by the consistency of Rubber Soul, even though the music doesnt bare much resemblance.)

  • My ratings of creations in any artform   5 weeks 1 hour ago

    Great to see this moving along again :)

  • Best Upbeat & Optimistic Albums   5 weeks 3 hours ago

    Although 1965-1967 did bring a major boost in the quality of pop/rock, I would say that another major development from those years might make you biased against earlier music a bit: the switch from singles to albums. Albums before 1965 were basically the singles plus some filler. I would say there is (almost) no pop/rock album from before 1965 that stands up to the later ones, however in my opinion there are many songs that do. What do you think of Phil Spector for instance? I think his production can be very powerful.

    I do agree with you that The Beatles weren't very good at the time, though. Twist and Shout was mentioned, but I think The Isley Brothers' version is much better. It might not have John Lennon's screams, but it has far more rhythmic depth.

  • Best Upbeat & Optimistic Albums   5 weeks 12 hours ago

    The Beatles may have been one of the very best rock artists through, say, 1964/65 within the limited scope of what had been accomplished thus far (even though their own best works came later). But, sorry, I dont grade on a curve. The Beatles have been far surpassed since. Artists like Arcade Fire and TV on the Radio are far more talented, much more exciting and relevant emotionally/conceptually, musically.

    I highly doubt Bernstein would be saying the same things if The Beatles music originated now, or even 1970. The thing about the albums I rank/rate highly is that no such concessions are necessary. They were so extraordinary emotionally/conceptually, such singular achievements, that surpassing them has never happened in their respective genres or confluence of genres.

  • Best Upbeat & Optimistic Albums   5 weeks 13 hours ago

    Nonsense. Again, that's like blaming Haydn for not sounding like Mahler already. Either you allow them some artistic integrity and validity or you don't. Their genius concerns the almost Mozart-like ease with which barely trained musicians came up with countless essential, original melodies, the abundance of songwriting ideas they could put in a single song (for their time. Please don't bring up the Vampire Rodents) as well as the economy and exploitation of those ideas in a 3 minute period, their synthetic talent for combining different styles and influences (black and white, highbrow and popular) in their pop format, the straigthforwardness and vitality inherent to all their music. And these merits must be taken according to the musical context of their time.
    And even if they were to be unfairly judged by later standards of rock music please don't choose the dB's, TV on the Radio or The Stone Roses as better examples of "Beatle music". That's insulting. Pick Big Star and Cheap Trick or, if we stretch it, The Ramones, but not TV on the Radio and certainly not the insufferable Arcade Fire.

    Not to give an argument from authority but just type the words "Bernstein" and "Beatles" on Youtube and clic on the first video to watch Bernstein examine the innovative musical aspects of some Beatles songs (including Good Day Sunshine) and eloquently endorse the revolution in rock music The Beatles were leading at the time. And pay close attention to what he says to his classical music audience: "never forget that this music employs a highly limited musical vocabulary (harmonically, rhytmically, melodically) but within that simple language all these new adventures are simply extraordinary".

    (Sorry, I realize I'm repeating myself and we'll never get anywhere but I couldn't help myself)

  • My Favorite Hip-Hop Songs   5 weeks 1 day ago

    I think it has to include rapping as a vocal style (doesn't mean every song on a given album has to be in this style). Dalek is probably the biggest stretch of the definition, classified as alternative/experimental hip hop.

  • My Favorite Hip-Hop Songs: Ranked from Greatest to Worst   5 weeks 1 day ago

    Oh okay, cool. Thanks for the explanation, looking forward to it.

  • Best Upbeat & Optimistic Albums   5 weeks 1 day ago

    No problem. With more time, I could add many many more examples, but I just threw these out there off the top of my head. They should suffice just fine. Some of the comparisons seem grossly "unfair" (But that's part of the point, and should give a strong clue as to why I dont rate it very highly. Of course Tim Buckley's spare songs are much more emotional and evocative than The Beatles ones, of course Loveless annihilates Tomorrow Never Knows, etc. Conversely, one couldn't say the same things against those greater works if one were to compare them to rock history).

    Also, to modify, my criticisms above are mainly stated only in relation to much higher rated works. Revolver is still a 5 or 5.5 to me, which means its good/mediocre. There is probably much more music that is worse than it than there is that is better. So its not "bad", it just suffers in comparisons to what I look for and want out of music/art.

  • My Favorite Hip-Hop Songs: Ranked from Greatest to Worst   5 weeks 1 day ago

    Nah, it's me ranking the songs on my list from best to worst. I differentiate 'favorite' and 'best': 'favorite' being songs I personally enjoy the most over other songs and 'best' being songs that are more meaningful and significant. Like, some Michael Jackson songs are favorites of mine because they're nostalgic, whereas The Doors' music is better because it has much more emotional expression and meaning. Some of my favorites and some that I think are the best are parallel at times because they happen to both be equally personally meaningful and emotionally expressive (e.g. Iron Galaxy).

  • My Favorite Hip-Hop Songs: Ranked from Greatest to Worst   5 weeks 1 day ago

    Is this going to be a different list than your other one or is it a replacement?

  • Best Upbeat & Optimistic Albums   5 weeks 1 day ago

    Thanks for this. I wasn't really willing to just copy-and-paste my earlier argument so my plan was to listen to any comparable albums and build my argument from there. So it's actually really cool that I got a ready-made list XD
    Will get back to you on this soon hopefully.