2014, or as it’s better known, The Waking Dream Between Kanye Albums, is almost to an end. While we wait for the slumbering giant that is Kanye West to rouse himself so we can see if we actually exist or not, what do we even talk about in a year-end roundup? If it weren’t for Taylor Swift and Beyoncé it’s possible that 2014 would have been the year that we lost the use of language altogether. And that, presumably, would be bad. So, in the continued quest to use words to take up space on the Internet, I have decided to do a sequel to my wildly successful (158 likes on Facebook) “2013: A Year In Which Some Music Happened.” But this one is different. The stars are bigger, the stakes higher, the jokes more petty by a thousand fold, and the “2013” is now “2014.”
Unlike last year, I have opted against adorable names for the numbers as all the preciousness was drained from my soul after a single viewing of Katy Perry’s masterpiece of the ultra real, Part of Me (it came out in 2012, but was on Netflix in 2014. Therefore it happened it 2014). Anyway: for your edification, A By No Means Comprehensive Sampling of Pertinent Things That Happened In 2014.
THIS YEAR IN ONLINE DISCOURSE: The greatest debate of 2014 was (aside from the Q of “Will the State continue its centuries long institutional policy of degradation and murder of all bodies tanner than Siouxsie Sioux and/or Muslim?” A: “Yes it will. With an enthusiasm that breaks the spirit and makes hope taste like ash.”) “Are Migos in fact better than The Beatles?” Now, there’s a lot of empirical data to support both arguments and, as someone who only voluntarily listens to the music on the first Quicksand seven-inch, I’m perhaps not qualified to weigh in. But, I’m a professional and I have certain responsibilities. So, not having heard Migos more than a few times but having heard The Beatles so much that it’s pretty much all Vivaldi to me, I’m going to go with “Versace Versace.” Will the republic still stand? Let’s sure as shit hope not.
THIS YEAR IN MEMES: Pharrell wore a hat. Macklemore had the word “more” in his name. Twitter comedians, both of the “Hat! Less!” mainstream and the “Same! But as commentary of some sort on the initial joke!” alternative/edgy variety danced in the street, weeping with joy at this fecund bounty given to them by a good God.
THIS YEAR IN ONLINE DISCOURSE (PART TWO): Likewise, a generous God, knowing that I am, by virtue of privilege and ignorance, entirely the wrong person to weigh in on all the cultural appropriation debates that have become (in my humble opinion, correctly) a regular occurrence, threw down from the heavens the short lived, but very exciting for me, moshing debate. Sparked by both bands My Cup of Tea (Joanna Gruesome) and Not My Cup of Tea (Joyce Manor), hopping on people’s heads became a point of Very Serious Contention. My take, a take so hot that it generates its own heat in perpetuity, is this: if it’s not Madball or Hank Wood and The Hammerheads, keep your fucking hands to yourself. Dropping your body on another person’s body without their consent makes you a bad, entitled person. Dropping your body on another person’s body without their consent while Allo Darlin’ is playing checks off every square on the “bad, entitled, and also wicked dumb” card as to entitle you to a free bad, entitled, and also wicked dumb sandwich. A sandwich that you would undoubtedly eat and not share with anyone else trying to enjoy the show. This is not a strained metaphor. You’re a strained metaphor.
Pictured: Kurt Vile. Or one of the dudes from War on Drugs. Or Ariel Pink? Fuck, we don't know.
THIS YEAR IN BOHEMIA: Ween reenactor Ariel Pink gave a number of shocking (if making fun of Madonna in 2014 is shocking) interviews seemingly aimed at convincing the record buying public that he, War on Drugs, and Kurt Vile are not in fact the same person. A redundant move as Illuminati knows they’re the same person but keeps up charade to boost word count in Year End Lists. Can’t fight City Hall.
THIS YEAR IN METAL: Metal moved away from shoegaze. There was a resultant drop in music site interest. Thankfully doom metal still exists to give indie kids who dabble something to listen to while they do something else.
THIS YEAR IN ONLINE DISCOURSE (PART THREE, CRITIC INFIGHTING DIVISION): The poptimist/rockism debate continued its tedious journey, a train with no destination, just tracks. Many—around 15,000 at last count—male white music writers complained that real music like Tchaikovsky and Pavement were no longer getting due credit. And, as in all things white, male, and over 30, they were the real victims here. Photos of bookshelves were put forth as evidence of rock and roll erudition. The poptimists, perhaps tired of the argument altogether, moved away from the righteous defense of hip-hop and dance music to defending stuff clearly aimed for pre-adolescents, to the point that one could argue that pop became the new black metal: 99 percent of what critics claim to listen to in the privacy of their own home was a lie. When I say, “one could argue” I’m not talking about me. I’m staying out of it. I’ll die before I use the phrase “guilty pleasure.” Above the fray like a beautiful bird, I just put a live squid attached to a rubber band on top of my head half-up ponytail style, pretend I’m Ariana Grande, and dance around the foyer to Iceage.
THIS YEAR IN STEVE ALBINI’S OPINIONS: Speaking of “real music” Steve Albini, The Pixies of public intellectuals, had some strong words in support of the current music business model. I didn’t read it all (there was a new Gotham on, at some point) but I don’t doubt that it was as timeless and valuable as his Odd Future takedown. I heard the new Shellac was very good, but I’m aware of my age enough as it is and am in no hurry to rush toward death.
THIS YEAR IN YOUNG PEOPLE, THEFT: Despite Albini’s settling of the issue, streaming remained a concern for the music industry. Young people continue to see the entire world as an extension of side B of Dead Kennedy’s “In God We Trust, Inc.” and have installed a very equitable system where retweets of one’s favorite artist is accepted as currency. All artists should just be grateful that they haven’t been replaced by holograms. And their holograms should be grateful that they haven’t all been replaced with more popular holograms.
THIS YEAR IN COUNTRY: Florida Georgia Line, in a savvy move beyond the scope of Graydon Carter’s wildest “death of irony” dreams, applied the aesthetics of old Cash Money album covers to buff white dudes with wallet chains and dirt bikes. With all due respect to the innovators of Cash Money and wary of appearing snobbish about country music as a genre, it fucking sucked.
THIS YEAR IN HIP-HOP: Drake.
THIS YEAR IN ALT-HYPOCRISY: Sleater-Kinney got back together, and the world rejoiced. Everybody already knew that a band reuniting was an entirely ludicrous thing to have a strong opinion about one away or another. So there wasn’t any weirdness. Because indie ideals are never case specific, like being against reunions until a band you really like does it, as to appear to the untrained eye to be entirely arbitrary. I am perhaps being ungenerous. I welcome you, new band reunion converts, it’s OK. I forgive you your (somewhat) youthful foolishness; I’m pretty sure some of my parents’ friends were Stalinists in the 30s so… I get it. You can totally get on my shoulders during “One More Hour.”
THIS YEAR IN ONLINE NEPOTISM: In 2014, I became less funny because I now have more friends in the music industry, and I don’t actually want anyone to dislike me, ever, for any reason. If the dude from Grizzly Bear unfollows me on Twitter, I’ll die. I’ll just die.
THIS YEAR IN U2 JOKES: U2 did the first interesting thing they’ve done since Achtung Baby, so good for them. I like to picture the album, henceforth known as “Rolling Stone Magazine’s Number One Album of 2014,” being hand delivered to every home in one miraculous night by the magical under-the-stage elf who plays all of Adam Clayton’s bass parts live. His name is “African Hope,” and he’s here to save you whether you like it or not.
THIS YEAR IN EDM: Steve Aoki continued his goal of taking whatever legacy and goodwill he’d built with the early years of Dim Mak Records and grinding it into a thick rancid paste that the entire world, with not a single soul excepted, shall forever be forced to choke down like cake from an IMD. “Selfie” by Chainsmokers was, is, and forever will be the worst song ever (for now). It’s the reason Mohammad invented the word “problematic,” Moses wouldn’t let male models into the promised land, and Jesus went to the temple and kicked out all the DJs.
THIS YEAR IN OTHER YEARS: The 90s revival, going on its 15th year, continued apace. Having exhausted every Dinosaur Jr./Nirvana riff available, the kids moved on en mass to the Juno-esque wistfulness of the K Records/Teenbeat catalog. Lo-fi strumming and earnest to the point of obvious lyrics replaced, well, direct Nirvana lifts. Luckily having hair in your eyes and being adorable is a look that works with all genre revivalism. Far be it from me to judge harshly what does no harm (and, being old and mean, I’m not the intended audience, so who cares what I think about your scene) and certainly preferring all it to the soul crushing professionalism of the Spoons and Foxygens of the world; when I listen to all these sincere feelings simply put, these grown men and women holding onto some imagined innocence of teen with a capital “t,” this noble and beautifully intentioned end result of the glorious punk experiment of total democratization of art, unfettered by gatekeeper notions of craft and schooling, I sometimes think to myself, “Huh. Maybe I am a fascist.”
Also, Death Grips.
Happy New Year!
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