Show 313: Rock Doctors with Paul Krugman, Reviews of Noel Gallagher & Kate Bush
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1 Last week Jim and Greg rated Drake’s new album Take Care. This week he’s at #1 on the Billboard chart with 631,000 copies sold in the first week. Greg notes that Drake has had luck achieving commercial success by initially giving his music away to build a fan base. The same model worked for last week’s #1 artist Mac Miller. Using mixtapes and social media to build an audience, Miller became the first indie artist to debut at the top of the charts since 1995.
1b Speaking of the charts, Billboard has decided to change the rules. Earlier this year Lady Gaga jumped to #1, thanks in large part to some deep discounting from retailer Amazon. They sold her album Born This Way for $0.99, and helped Gaga reach the million sold mark. But according to Billboard, that’s cheating, and they’ve now instituted a mandatory price point of $3.49 in order for an album to be counted on the chart. Jim thinks this is telling about how dramatically the idea of “Number one” has changed in the last decade. In the mid and late ‘90s, top-selling artists sold upwards of 7 million albums. Today that’s down to 3 million, and that number will continue to plummet. So why then is Billboard making it even harder to recognize success? In an era when artists are giving away their music for free or close to free, Jim suggests we need to change the definition of success.
2 Now it’s time for the Rock Doctors to open the clinic and greet another patient. In the past Drs. Kot and DeRogatis have conducted couples counseling, held a musical intervention, and helped a listener with a music allergy. Today, they are challenged to assist their first-ever Nobel Prize winner. Jim and Greg are joined by Paul Krugman, an economist at Princeton University and regular columnist with the New York Times. Paul was invited on the show after a recent blog entry caught our eye. This self-described “baby boomer” explained his renewed interest in music, especially after discovering Grammy winners Arcade Fire. But in an age where you can access everything all the time, where do you start? Jim and Greg thought they might be able to prescribe some new music to Paul that would fit the criteria provided in his patient history.
2b Paul explained that he was looking for melodic, joyful music that wasn’t a mere record label marketing ploy. Jim’s prescription was Wye Oak’s 2011 album Civilian, and Greg recommended Hotel Shampoo by Welsh musician Gruff Rhys. During their follow-up appointment, Paul comes out of the gate explaining that he didn’t like either record. But, he did see the merit of both artists when it came to their live performances, especially Wye Oak. Seems like this baby boomer has actually abandoned the traditional album in favor of live performances on the internet. And while the recorded albums didn’t make the grade, Paul concurs that these two acts supply his demand for capitalist-free art.
Want to schedule your own appointment with the Rock Doctors or nominate someone you think is in need of assistance? Fill out our patient form at soundopinions.org.
3 Oasis made a big splash in the ‘90s with hits like “Champagne Supernova” and “Wonderwall,” and while Liam Gallagher was the voice, it was his brother Noel who crafted the songs (remarkably, they shared controversy equally). So when Jim and Greg heard that he was releasing his first solo effort, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, they expected big things. No such luck, says Greg. This is merely another 2nd rate Oasis record. Gallagher’s voice is more vulnerable and melancholic than his brother’s and would’ve been well-served by an intimate production style. Instead what we get is overblown bombast with choirs and horns, according to Jim. Both hosts say Trash It.
4 The always unique Kate Bush is back with a new album called 50 Words for Snow. Bush has been making music since she was discovered by Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour as a teen, and she’s always enchanted fans with her gorgeous voice and avant-garde aesthetic. According to Jim and Greg, Bush has done it again on this album, which is admittedly “weird,” but also beautiful, childlike and chilling. Greg doesn’t understand the presence of guests Elton John or Stephen Fry, but both he and Jim say Buy It.
Songs Featured in Show #313
Drake, “Underground Kings,” Take Care, Cash Money, 2011
The Rolling Stones, "Dear Doctor," Beggars Banquet, Universal, 1968
The Civil Wars, "Barton Hollow," Barton Hollow, Dine Alone Music, 2011
Arcade Fire, "Sprawl II," The Suburbs, Merge Records, 2010
Jackson 5, "Doctor My Eyes," Lookin' Through the Windows, Motown, 1972
Robert Palmer, "Bad Case of Loving You (Doctor, Doctor)," Secrets, Island, 1979
Wye Oak, "Civilian," Civilian, Merge Records, 2011
Wye Oak, "Civilian," Live at KEXP, 2011
Wye Oak, "Holy Holy," Civilian, Merge Records, 2011
Wye Oak, "Plains," Civilian, Merge Records, 2011
Gruff Rhys, "Honey All Over," Hotel Shampoo, Turnstile, 2011
Gruff Rhys, "Shark Ridden Waters," Hotel Shampoo, Turnstile, 2011
Thompson Twins, "Doctor! Doctor!," Into the Gap, Arista, 1984
Noel Gallagher, “The Death of You and Me,” Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Sour Mash, 2011
Noel Gallagher, “Stop the Clocks,” Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Sour Mash, 2011
Kate Bush, “Wild Man,” 50 Words For Snow, Fish People/EMI, 2011
Kate Bush, “Misty,” 50 Words For Snow, Fish People/EMI, 2011
Kate Bush, “Snowed In At Wheeler Street,” 50 Words For Snow, Fish People/EMI, 2011
Kraftwerk, “The Telephone Call,” Electric Café, Elektra, 1986
Wild Flag, “Romance,” Wild Flag, Merge, 2011
Earth, Wind and Fire, “Reasons,” That's the Way of the World, Columbia, 1975
Christopher Cross, “Sailing,” Christopher Cross, Warner, 1979
Bon Iver, “Calgary,” Bon Iver, Bon Iver, Jagjaguwar, 2011
Radiohead, “Lotus Flower (Jacques Greene Rmx), TKOL RMX 1234567, Ticker Tape, 2011