WordTips has a great feature - Singers Vocabularies. They counted the words used by 100 modern stars and the 100 greatest singers of all time and added up the number of unique words they used per 1,000 and used the formula for the feature. What they found is that the star with the biggest vocabulary overall is legend Patti Smith, who uses 217 unique words per 1,000 - she used 2,669 different words across a total word count of 12,291. The modern singer with the biggest vocabulary is Billie Eilish who uses 169 per 1,000. Legend Luther Vandross and modern star Trey Songz are tied with 66 for the smallest vocabulary. The song with the most unique words is Lou Reed’s 'The Murder Mystery', recorded by The Velvet Underground, with 639 words.

Music writer Ted Gioia tries to see into the future, here are some of his predictions:

Record labels will gradually lose both the ability and desire to develop new artists. They will focus increasingly on their old catalog and archival materials.

More new artists will get their big break from web platforms... So I wouldn’t be surprised if a whole new platform emerges during the next decade—an interface that makes it fun and exciting for music fans to hear new music.

Listeners will have favorite new songs, but not know (or care) about the name of the artist.

Musician incomes will continue to shrink, but some young musicians will still earn large sums of money by being influencers.

Dead musicians will start showing up everywhere—via holograms, biopics, deepfake vocals, and other technology-driven interfaces.

Get ready for A-Pop from Africa, I-Pop from India or Indonesia, and a whole host of competing sounds and styles from Latin America, China, Eastern Europe, etc.

Pitchfork is continuing to celebrate its 25th birthday, the latest b-day cake being a selection of favourite albums by some of Pitchfork's own favourite musicians. Some interesting choices: ANOHNI chose 'Buffy Sainte-Marie’s Power in the Blood' ("Buffy is one of the people I am relying on to help me understand how to move forward as an artist and as a human being"), Bun B chose Radiohead’s 'OK Computer' ("when life starts moving too fast, 'OK Computer' is still there to help slow it down for me"), Daniel Kessler from Interpol chose Aphex Twin’s 'Richard D. James Album' ("pushed music to where it had never ventured before"), Thundercat chose Slipknot’s 'Slipknot' ("awesomeness"), Timbaland chose OutKast’s 'SpeakerBoxxx/The Love Below' ("groundbreaking").

Peter Buffett and Cellist Michael Kott

Ted Gioia looks back at the case of Peter Buffett, son of legendary investor Warren Buffett who had given his son some shares in Berkshire Hathaway, and at age 19 Peter wanted to raise money so he could prepare at leisure for a music career. To cover expenses, he sold his entire stock holdings for $123,000 - shares that would now be worth $275 million. “It was understood that I should expect nothing more” he later wrote in his memoir 'Life is What You Make It'.

Song Exploder podcast shared a "very different and special episode of the show" - about John Lennon song 'God'. Song Exploder have never tried making a posthumous episode before, because hearing directly from the artist is at the heart of the show. However, with all the John Lennon interview archives, plus all the isolated tracks from the recordings, and the original demo, it turned out a legitimate, different and special episode of the show.

Plenty of country for old rockers
October 05, 2021

The best country rock songs

Late Tom Petty's quote that today's country music is nothing more than “bad rock with a fiddle” was the inspiration for Medium's blog entry of the best country rock songs. It includes some Rolling Stones, Metallica, Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Presley, and some context.

I rap, therefore I am
October 03, 2021

Essay: Similarities between rappers and Philosophers

Level goes on an ambitious quest - tries to connect wordings of contemporary rappers with those of classic philosophers. One of the comparisons is between Kendrick Lamar and Plato, who both deal with issues of identity, reality and ideas:

“What money got to do with it / When I don’t know the full definition of a rap image? / I’m trapped inside the ghetto and I ain’t proud to admit it / Institutionalized, I keep runnin’ back for a visit” - Kendrick Lamar, 'Institutionalized'

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light” - Plato.

Laser sharp
September 23, 2021

Michael Azerrad: My time with Kurt Cobain

A beautiful article in the New Yorker by Michael Azerrad, a journalist and one of Kurt Cobain's closest friends: "That’s the kind of thing that haunts people who know people who have committed suicide: Is there something I could have done? Twenty-seven years later, I still ask myself that question. I tried, but perhaps I could have—and should have—tried harder. The thing is, although I was in my early thirties, I was still immature and naïve. Maybe I wasn’t so well suited to the task". The long read also gives quite a convincing albeit prosaic explanation for the suicide: "Kurt had several clinically established risk factors for suicide, including inhuman levels of professional pressure, chronic and severe physical pain, and a heroin addiction that he just couldn’t seem to shake (or didn’t want to). He also had a long family history of suicide".

Adult oriented lists
September 15, 2021

Rolling Stone's 500 greatest songs of all time

Rolling Stone has reviewed its 2004 list of 500 greatest songs of all time. Nearly 4,000 songs received votes. Where the 2004 version of the list was dominated by early rock and soul, the new edition contains more hip-hop, modern country, indie rock, Latin pop, reggae, and R&B. More than half the songs here — 254 in all — weren’t present on the old list, including a third of the Top 100. The result is a more expansive, inclusive vision of pop, music that keeps rewriting its history with every beat - RS points out. The list starts at the number 500 with Kanye West's 'Stronger', and reaches the highpoint with Aretha Franklin's 'Respect'.

Top ZZ
September 08, 2021

What is jazz?

Jazz Times talks to notable musicians who consider an old question, with Ambrose Akinmusire giving an interesting perspective: “It’s the sonic representation of how Black people navigate through the world. The improvised element. It’s the never know[ing] what’s coming your way, but reacting and staying calm and knowing that no matter what it is there’s a way to spin it and make it work”.

Ode to joyful rebellion
September 08, 2021

Beethoven - a tornado on and off the piano

History of Yesterday remembers the notoriety of the classic music genius: "Beethoven famously chopped the legs off of his piano to feel the notes from the floor vibrations. When that stopped working, he attached a metal rod to the piano. While composing, he bit the rod to feel the notes... When aristocrats attended his performance and talked in the crowd, he would stop playing, turn, and stare at them from his bench, his eyes cutting lasers out into the crowd. There would be painful silence until he’d resume".

There's also beauty there
August 29, 2021

New Sounds makes a selection of music from Afghanistan


New Sounds produced a podcast with a selection of music from Afghanistan, putting a different light on the troubled nation. Among the selected are Homayun Sakhi and Quraishi with their rubâb music, folk poems of Afghani women, the Hazara tradition by Hamid Sakhizada, and adapted music from the Khorasan region by the duo Badieh. Much of the music comes from musicians who have fled the country to Europe or North America.

Sympathy for the drummer
August 25, 2021

100 greatest drummers of all time

Rolling Stone is celebrating the life of the deceased Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts with a (repeated) list of 100 "kings and queens of slam". An interesting list, starting with Christian Vander from the French prog-rock band Magma, and finishing with Led Zeppelin's John Bonham.

Kwaito dancing

The Face brings a brief history of some of Africa’s most exciting modern music genres. Kwaito was born as a voice of South Africa’s Black population and liberation from Apartheid. Amapiano is kwaito's derivate made in the same country. Singeli is a fast-paced, jangly offshoot of the party-friendly bongo flava genre, sped up to between 180 and 300 BPM. Asakaa is also known as Ghanaian drill. Coupé-décalé is characterised by soaring guitars, triumphant horns and lilting basslines.

Can't buy me firsts
August 21, 2021

Video: 8 things The Beatles pioneered

Music YouTuber David Bennett released an interesting video describing 8 elements in music that are quite common now, and that were pioneered by the Beatles. They were the first to play concerts on a sports stadium, the first to play live music on TV, the first to introduce loops and guitar feedback, the first to use sitar in popular western music etc.

Let the circle be unbroken
August 20, 2021

Essay: The history, anatomy, and art of moshing

At its best, moshing is a visceral and collective experience, a physical way to match the energy of the music you’re witnessing with the feeling it gives you. When done right (and safely), there is a willful exchange of bodily autonomy in the mosh pit — it’s a relinquishing of a certain amount of control of where your body goes and moves, a step into chaos, a pushing and pulling motion that mirrors the intensity of what’s happening on stage. At its best, there should be a feeling of respect in the pit; everyone is there for a similar reason: to enjoy live music in a visceral and cathartic way" - Consequence points out in an essay about the art of dancing in a punk show.

Homo countryens
August 19, 2021

Gay country artists finally able to come out

Brooke Eden

“It was like, ‘I can be comfortable and out and gay, or I can do country music, but I definitely can’t do both’” - one gay country artist told Rolling Stone about the dichotomy that now appears to be falling apart. There are several that have come out recently - Brooke Eden, T.J. Osborne, Lily Rose, Shelly Fairchild - without jeopardizing their careers.

"Most amps sound better at volumes loud enough to fray the edge of notes with the subtle distortion that is to electric guitars what makeup is to a drag queen of a certain age... We seem to love broken voices in general: vocal cords eroded by whiskey and screaming, the junked-out weakness of certain horn players, distortion which signifies surpassing the capabilities of a tube or a speaker—voices that distort, damage, but (at least in performance) don’t actually die" - guitarist Marc Ribot makes the case for loud music in the Literary Hub.

This weekend, a new Aretha Franklin biopic 'Respect', starring Jennifer Hudson, comes to theaters. To mark the occasion, Billboard selects 11 times the Queen of Soul made awards show history. In 2015, Franklin, then 73, made American President Barack Obama teary-eyed and honoree Carole King ecstatic when she performed her 1967 classic '(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman' (which King co-wrote) at the Kennedy Center Honors.

Ode to horse
August 07, 2021

The music and the horses at the Olympics

Isabell Werth

"The Grand Prix Freestyle event, where riders can choose their own music and moves rather than go through a pre-set test, is the blockbuster event of Olympic dressage" - NPR goes into equestrian events at the events, and the music it is being performed to. So, what is it that the horses like? "Norway's Carina Cassoe Kruth went for an 80s medley including 'I Want To Know What Love Is' by Foreigner and 'Footloose' by Kenny Loggins. The U.K.'s Carl Hester rode his horse, En Vogue, to groovy disco music that channeled the Bee Gees. Germany's Isabell Werth looked to the majesty of Beethoven's 'Ode To Joy' for her performance".

Rock N' Heavy goes into the lyrics of "them good boys" The Beatles, who were, well, not that good all the time. Even in their early songs, like 'Please Please Me' with a direct suggestion of oral sex:

"Last night I said these words to my girl
I know you never even try, girl
C’mon (C’mon), please please me oh yeah, like I please you".

Singer-songwriter Billie Marten picks the only album by guitar virtuoso and US cult hero Ted Lucas for The New Cue's An Album To Blow Your Mind segment: "I came across it as I was looking for something new and good over the third lockdown back in winter, and I was convinced it was a modern artist trying to sculpt the best sonics plucked from every great 70s recording. I did some research - after milking this record so much that I’ve now had to place a temporary ban on it - and it turns out he was one of the greats in assisting everyone under a session player guise of ‘exotic string specialist’, helping out on a lot of the great recordings coming out around that mid-70s time".

Saving a tree isn't enough of a consolation
August 03, 2021

A sad blog post: The coming extinction of concert tickets

It's obvious, but still, Global News' Alan Cross manages to create one more drop of sadness with his nostalgic blog post about the extinction of paper-tickets: "Collecting concert ticket stubs will soon be extinct, much like the notion of B-sides, liner notes, and album artwork. Instead, our memories will be preserved as selfies taken at our seats or video recordings of the gig that we never watch. Yes, there are T-shirts, programs, and an endless supply of tchotchkes at the merch tables, but they all cost money. A ticket stub came with its own memories built into the cost".

The partying part
August 02, 2021

Films about partying worth watching

Music Journalism Insider has given over this week's edition to film critic Aaron Gonsher, who suggested a few films about parties and partying. Among the chosen ones are 'The Hip-Hop Nucleus' - a documentary on the notorious mid-to-late ’90s hip-hop parties at the Tunnel, 'Crowd' - subtle capture of Giséle Vienne’s extraordinary dance performance, 'Talkin’ Headz - The Metalheadz Documentary' - a snapshot of the cultural moment/movement when jungle crested and drum & bass surged...

Magazine chose the video star
July 31, 2021

Rolling Stones' 100 best music videos of all time

MTV as a music television exists no more, but music videos still complement songs, create mythologies, and cause chatter and controversy - Rolling Stone says introducing their selection of the 100 best music videos of all time. Starting with The Buggles' 'Video Killed the Radio Star' and finishing with Beyonce's 'Formation' "all of these picks are perfect examples of how pairing sound and vision created an entire artistic vocabulary, gave us a handful of miniature-movie masterpieces, and changed how we heard (and saw) music".

Longer than 15 seconds
July 30, 2021

The best of the first MTV videos

MTV celebrates its 40th birthday this weekend, with Billboard and Stereogum looking back with a selection of the 40 best videos played on the very first day on the network. There were 116 videos played in the first 24 hours, with Stereogum and Billboard agreeing Talking Heads' 'Once in a Lifetime' and Blondie's 'Rapture' being the best.

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