This week was consumed by a few monolithic brands, one musical, one technological. Puppets teamed with singers. Singer cited puppets. A legend fell. A new music site arrives with promise. Grandma unintentionally shouted-out Grandmaster Flash. Below are the highlights of the week in online music writing, reading, composing and ruining.
-- Prior to this week, two innovative brands, U2 and Apple, were gliding toward the release of new, eagerly awaited products. Instead, on Tuesday the dynamic duo united to become some two-headed marketing beast, and alienated a few people in the process.
In announcing Apple’s new iPhone 6 and connected Watch device, the computer-maker hired the superstar Irish band to debut its new album, “Songs of Innocence,” through iTunes immediately after the media event.
Apple also unleashed a torrent of criticism when it gave U2 the master key and the band barged into iTunes libraries without invitation. Half a billion times. I had a problem with this. So did Deadspin’s Rob Harvilla.
"'Innocence' isn’t terrible, but its introduction to us was terrible,” he writes, “and in 2014 that’s basically the same thing. ‘Songs of Corporate Guilt.' The only aspect of this record anyone will be talking about 10 years hence -- hell, it’s the only aspect anyone’s talking about now -- is the Involuntary iTunes Bum-Rush thing, and how that stacks up against other industry stunts, from Radiohead’s to Jay Z’s to Beyonce’s.” Read the whole thing: U2 Never Gave Their New Album a Chance.
-- Last week the influential Argentine singer Gustavo Cerati died after four years in a coma. In the days after his death, the music site Fusion devoted deserved time to exploring Cerati’s legacy both as a solo artist and as founder of the band Soda Stereo.
Calling him “Rock en Español’s ‘Avant-Garde Crooner,’” writers Manuel Rueda and Nuria Net run through his influence and inspiration, and spoke to dedicated devotees and thoughtful scholars.
“Latin American rock has always had stars and always had stadium-sized personalities, but Cerati was one of its first truly great, truly artful, songwriters,” Josh Kun, associate professor at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, told Fusion. The feature provides links to and embeds of Cerati’s music, and tips on where to start. " Read at Fusion.
-- Those who follow music writing were abuzz this week when new online publication Cuepoint arrived through Medium, and for good reason. Within its first few days, the site had published new writing by some of music criticism’s most recognizable names, including Robert Christgau, Tom Moon and dream hampton.
Christgau is offering a frequently updated rework of his influential “Consumer Guide,” dubbed “Expert Witness.” Punk photographer Janette Beckman’s stories behind fantastic shots is fascinating and informative. And Kelly McCartney’s conversation with Sinead O’Connor is smart, thoughtful and informative. Speaking of her new album, in which she occupies the voices of four different women, O’Connor told McCartney that the approach has been liberating.
“It’s brilliant, actually,” said O’Connor, “because it gives you a lot more freedom. It’s kind of like being a puppet master, you know? The puppet can do and say all kinds of stuff you would never do or say. So, it’s really great and it’s really easy.”
Cuepoint has already got a promising body of writing on the site, edited by Jonathan Shecter. Here’s hoping it continues its roll. Cuepoint.
-- Did somebody say puppets? Janelle Monae and the Muppets sing about persistence and practice on “Sesame Street.” Enough said.
-- Grandparents and Facebook: a fraught relationship prone to foibles, embarrassments and misunderstandings. A very specific kind is documented on the site Grampa and Grandmaster Flash, a tumblr page devoted to mistaken grandparental Facebook auto-fills.
To wit: As Gram tries to type in the word Grandma, Facebook’s auto-fill often defers and links to the name Grandmaster Flash, the influential first-wave rapper responsible for “The Message,” “White Lines” and others. Check Love, Grampa and Grandmaster Flash.
-- Warning: gossip follows. Neil Young is hanging with a new girlfriend after announcing his divorce from Pegi -- and David Crosby seems to have a problem with it. Speaking to the Boise Idaho-Statesman in advance of a gig by Crosby, Stills & Nash, Crosby stuck his nose where it didn’t belong to express disappointment with his former partner Young. Speaking of his own marriage of 37 years, Crosby was asked about Young’s divorce.
“I happen to know that he’s hanging out with somebody that’s a purely poisonous predator now,” he said. “And that’s karma. He’s gonna get hurt. But I understand why it happened. I’m just sad about it. I’m always sad when I see love get tossed in the gutter.”
In possibly related news that’s also nobody’s business, Young and the actress Daryl Hannah are reportedly an item. Idaho Statesman.