Sunday, December 26, 2010

Guiltless Pleasures, or, 2010's top albums

Goldfrapp takes album of the year.
My top 10 scrobbled albums of 2010 per again reveal that I am mostly out of synch with popular tastes, but who can blame me when the likes of Ke$ha and Katy Perry rule the chart? I like to go with a scrobbling recap rather than devising my own top 10 partly because I'm lazy but also because I like to consider everything current. That said, however, my favorite albums from this year are exactly where they should be on this list.

10 Christmas EP • Pet Shop Boys // Helped the boys retain their usual spot as most-played artist this year.

9 Information Society • Information Society // Had the big single back in the day but never got the full album until this year. The ballad "Repetition" is much better than I remembered.

8 Don't Stop / All Night EP • Annie // I'm throwing in the EP as well because I culled the best tracks from the two into one album of electro-pop goodness. It straddled the end of '09 and early '10, or it would have been closer to the top.

7 Kaleidoscope • Tiesto // The hardcore fans dismissed it as a pop sellout, so naturally I loved it, particulalry "I Will Be Here (Wolfgang Gartner Radio Edit)."

6 The Fame Monster • Lady GaGa // Whether you choose to view it as the second album or an EP, clever pop songs like "Bad Romance," "Monster" (how was this not a single?),  "Dance in the Dark" and "Telephone" make it essential.

5 La Roux • La Roux // La Roux put out one of the best Erasure albums of all time, and songs like "Fascination" and "As If By Magic" left me slobbering for more. To boot, it was gratifying to see that synthpop like "Bulletproof" can still be embraced by the wasteland of U.S. radio.

4 Fixin' to Thrill • Dragonette // I'm a sucker for melody and an '80s sensibility.

3 Body Talk • Robyn // Had the full album emerged earlier in the year, this sly dance album would have made a run at number one.

2 Interpreting the Masters Volume 1: A Tribute to Darryl Hall and John Oates • The Bird and the Bee // Why didn't they just use the brilliant working title, Guiltless Pleasures? That sums it up perfectly in contrast to the bloated, over-compensating title it released under. Nevertheless, this concept worked, with The Bird and the Bee's electro lounge pop marrying perfectly with H&O's pop chestnuts. "One on One," with its mesmerizing synth filigrees, is a song that seems like it ought to be left alone, frozen in the perfect moody '80s production H&O bestowed upon it, but Bird and the Bee manage to create something equally evocative in its own way. However, for me, "She's Gone" is the crowning achievement here. I do wish there had been a less predictable song choice or two — throw me a "Missed Opportunity" or "Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid" for fun. Also around the same time they gave us a soundtrack offering, a very groovy cover of "I'm Into Something Good." Now, who's up for Interpreting the Masters Volume 2: A Tribute to Depeche Mode?

1 Head First • Goldfrapp // My expectations were lowered after the folktronic nirvana of Seventh Tree, but they needn't have been. Golfrapp veered back toward the dancefloor but did so with a set of hypnotic, danceable songs that reference the synth of '80s pop in a most satisfying way; I don't think I've heard music that is so satisfyingly now and 1985 at the same time. Brilliant stompers like "Rocket," "Believer" and "Alive" glisten alongside satisfying slow-burns like "Head First" and "Hunt." More, please.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

iTunes store extends song previews to 90 seconds (check your scrobbling)

You may have heard or noticed by chance, as I did, that Apple in the last few days has extended song previews from 30 to 90 (!) seconds in the iTunes store. The first time I noticed it, I did a double-take, thinking I had somehow accidentally bought the song.

One undesirable side effect that I noticed: In some cases, depending on the song length and your preferences settings in's Audio Scrobbler, the preview may be long enough to count the preview as a full play and add it to your profile on I've got my Scrobbler set at 75 percent to count a song as a full play, and that was enough to add two preview plays to my profile. For the stat-obsessed, this could be quite the nagging annoyance.

So, the result was Bananarama's "Baby It's Christmas" and Double You and Friends' cover of "Do They Know It's Christmas" from Super Dance Christmas Party Vol. 3 showed up on my history merely from listening to the iTunes samples. I deleted the scrobbles on principle (not because those song selections are anything of which one would be ashamed, of course).

On the plus side, a 90-second sample is a much better taste of a song — you're less likely to get those clueless samples that only feature the intro of a song or some middle breakdown that is unrepresentative of the whole — and an unexpectedly generous move on Apple's part.

Saturday, December 04, 2010


Katy Perry's Teenage Dream album has been nominated for a Grammy award for album of the year.

That's it, folks. It's all over. If she walks away with a Grammy, I'm quitting music.

If you're looking to nominate a pop album in this category, how does this trash get nominated over Lady Gaga's The Fame Monster?