Thursday, December 16, 2010

The 11 Most Pretentious and/or Incomprehensible Quotes from Pitchfork's Top 100 Songs of 2010 List

Pitchfork Media, the music e-magazine found over at, is known as much as a taste-maker for hipsters as it is for its writing style and extreme, head-scratching allusiveness. Pitchfork assumes a level of familiarity with independent music history that most people do not nor ever hope to have; its writers often pile on long Latin verb and noun construction, giving the site a prose style that David Cross famously described as "overwrought."

What follows are the Top 11 Overwrought, Pretentious, Incomprehensible, and/or Confusing quotes from Pitchfork's recent Top 100 Singles of 2010 countdown. They are ranked in order of their appearance on Pitchfork's list.

The trend in UK bass music last year was the razor-sharp, juttingly melodic 'purple' craze spearheaded by artists like Joker, Guido, and Gemmy. This year, many producers took the opposite tack, embracing cold, metallic textures, IDM-indebted rhythmic structures, and negative space that at times felt almost antagonistic.

 - from the review for "Don't Change for Me" by Ramadanman, written by Larry Fitzmaurice.

Chosen because I have never heard of any of the artists listed, nor did I know that UK bass music was a genre, nor did I know that UK bass music had been a genre long enough that it contained trends that changed from year to year.

(More than the frequently cited Kate Bush, Glasser often sounds like a punkier Juana Molina.)

- from the review for "Apply" by Glasser, written by Philip Sherburne.

Sentence construction: This singer you've never heard of sounds less like this other singer you've never heard of more so than she does a variation on a third singer you've never heard of.


"Rattling Cage", a post-whatever's-after-post-dubstep track filled with decontextualized samples and loops, and yawning with interpretive possibility, sounds like it's trying to make more than a musical point.

- from the review for "Rattling Cage" by Forest Swords, written by Amy Granzin.

Three questions:
1) What sound is post-whatever's-after-post-dubstep supposed to conjure in my mind?
2) Is a hallmark of post-whatever's-after-post-dubstep that the producers of post-whatever's-after-post-dubstep are content to only make a musical point?
3) Do Pitchfork writers have to replace their hyphen keys very often?


Chillwave engulfed indie pop this year, and though Toro Y Moi provided good vibes just like the rest of those post-grad loafers, Causers of This eschewed privileged ennui so it could soundtrack wizened acceptance.

 - from the review for "Blessa" by Toro y Moi, written by Brandon Soderberg.

Even if you are not surprised that something called "chillwave" engulfed indie pop this year: what are the odds that the phrase "eschewed privileged ennui so it could soundtrack wizened acceptance" was written not by Brandon Soderberg but by a robot programmed to mimic pretentious English?

Here, Lindstrøm plays a frittering Moroder-type producer while Christabelle vamps Donna Summer, but the collaboration also recalls the friendship of No Wave pioneers Richard Hell and his literary muse Lizzy Mercier Descloux.

- from the review for "Lovesick" by Lindstrom & Christabelle, written by Mike Orme. 

Oh yes, that friendship. I recall it often(?)

It was a pretty big year for abstracted vocal samples and beatific, downtempo collage music, but Derwin Panda was the only producer to turn a second-person pronoun into an anthem. 

- from the review for "You" by Gold Panda, written by Andrew Gaerig.

Who do you guys think had the bigger year: Mark Zuckerberg, Julian Assange, or abstracted vocal samples and beatific, downtempo collage music? Hard to say, since they all had pretty big years.

Each element of the tune will be familiar to anyone who's owned a rave compilation or two-- the "Breaking Bells"/freestyle percussion, the air raid sound effects, the Balearic piano riff, and so on-- but these multiple nostalgia-inducing hooks are woven into the kind of club-ready and bedroom-friendly epic that was as rare in 1990 as it is in 2010. 

- from the review for "Reckless (With Your Love) (Tensnake Remix), written by Jess Harvell.

STEFON: New York's hottest club is JUICE. This place has everything: breaking bells, freestyle percussion, air raid sound effects, Balearic piano riffs...


Producer Lex Luger once again sounds like he's making beats for the Decepticon Francis Scott Key[.]

- from the review for "Hard in Da Paint" by Waka Flocka Flame, written by Ian Cohen.

STEFON: ...Decepticon Francis Scott Key--
SETH MYERS: Wait, wait. Stefon--who is Decepticon Francis Scott Key?
STEFON: You know it's that thing, where like the writer of the American national anthem is combined into one being with the bad guys from Transformers in a metaphor?
SETH MYERS: Oh yes. That common thing.

2010 saw an avalanche of dubstep and bass singles that drew straight from early 90s 'ardkore-- scatter-beat proto-jungle breaks and e-peak hyperventilating synths and diva vocals turned manic spaz-outs and all of that. 

- from the review for "Wut" by Girl Unit, written by Nate Patrin

Things in this sentence that mean nothing to me: dubstep and bass singles, early 90s 'ardkore, scatter-beat proto-jungle breaks, e-peak hyperventilating synths, diva vocals turned manic spaz-outs. Basically I understand the conjunctions and what the word "avalanche" means.

Maybe it's the knowing conflation of forms, the weird Venn diagram of goth rave, pop goth, and hairspray pop afforded by the track's three principles: Crystal Castles, the Cure, and its original composer, 80s Canadian radio rock outfit Platinum Blonde. Or maybe it's the fact that such an arch cover feels sort of like an inside joke that anyone who wasn't glam rock or Canadian enough in the early 80s could never hope to get.

- from the review for "Not in Love" by Crystal Castles (ft. Robert Smith), written by Mark Pytlik.

Mark Pytlik was right: I played this song for my 45-year-old Canadian glam-rock friend, and he laughed SO hard.

The connection between [Animal Collective and Ariel Pink] starts with the fact that Ariel Pink first came to public consciousness with the releases of The Doldrums on A.C.'s Paw Tracks label in 2004. Musically, that's also pretty much where the connection ends, despite the two artists sometimes sharing the "hazy, half-remembered yada yada" that became an indie cliché over the past two years. 

- from the review for "Round and Round" by Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti, written by Mark Richardson.

Not for all the tea in China would I listen to another one of those hazy, half-remembered yada yada songs that I've been hearing these past two years. Enough already, Indie Music. And try not to kill post-whatever's-post-dubstep while you're at it.

As an indie rock song by Titus Andronicus, "A More Perfect Union" is ambitious enough for these lofty origins, and as down-to-earth as a college kid's face after one too many Four Lokos.

- from the review for "A More Perfect Union" by Titus Andronicus, written by Marc Hogan.

This isn't pretentious or incomprehensible, but it is my new all-time favorite metaphor. This track by Titus Andronicus is literally down-to-earth. LITERALLY. Down. On the. Earth. Similar to how this other thing that is down on the earth: a college kid's face after one too many Four Lokos. Because he passed out and died.

1 comment:

  1. I like the idea of "one too many Four Lokos." As if one too many Four Lokos isn't just one Four Loko.