‘Tis the season (for ‘Best of’ lists)
2007 is almost over which means everyone is creating their Best of 2007 lists. I was about to make my own Best of 2007 list until I realized…oh wait, I didn’t get enough new music this year to create a list. I got a lot of new music but it was mostly swiped from friends and I have no idea when the original albums came out. 🙂
Slate.com has some interesting banter going on over this topic though. And for some reason, Journey comes up repeatidly. I know it’s probably from the end of The Sopranos but was Journey actually in the running for relevance? Somehow I missed that. Here’s what the critics had to say:
Jody Rosen (sidenote: this woman referred to R Kelly as ‘The Sexosaurus. Wow):
Let’s start with the song of the year—which isn’t to say the song of 2007. I’m talking about “Don’t Stop Believin’,” nee 1981, the soundtrack to the year’s finest music video, and, for a week in June, the holder of the No. 1 spot on iTunes. My first thought when the screen went black at the end of the Sopranos finale was, “What a great song”—and my love deepened when I heard Petra Haden‘s barbershop version, which glories in the contrapuntal genius (I use the term advisedly) of Journey’s arrangement. Meanwhile, guess what note-perfect cover song Kanye West has been playing as a requiem for his mother on his current tour?
Who thought we’d start out our chat about the Year of Arcade Fire Kanye In Rainbows “No One” pondering a band that I once thought good for nothing but some killer air keyboard? But Journey is so relevant now. Thanks to my pals at the fresh blog Oh! Industry, I was already embroiled in the latest Journey journey, a saga that captures so much about pop music in 2007.
The short version: While looking for the band’s sixth lead singer (Relevant Element 1: ancient rockers soldiering on) on YouTube (RE 2: that damn Web), Journey guitarist Neal Schon came across Arnel Pineda, singer for the Quezon City, Philippines-based band the Zoo (RE 3: Filipino cover bands, a major export, according to this excellent 2005 article). Pineda’s spot-on Steve Perry high notes suited Schon, and he’s been hired, but not after some vehement protest from American Journey fans (RE 4 and 5: racism in rock, American nationalism).
Let’s get this party started quickly. Journey sucks. They sucked in 1981, they’ll suck in 2033, and they suck now. Who gives a fuck what Tony Soprano thinks? What I love about Tony Soprano when he’s not killing people (and sometimes when he is) is that he prevails with his brain but isn’t above bringing his body into the contest. That’s very rock ‘n’ roll. But does it mean that I want to eat at Artie Bucco’s (the diner, maybe, no onion rings please), or live in that McMansion (unless he installs a lot of bookcases)? Uh-uh. Of course he likes hyperemotional arena rock from his flaming youth. In 10 years, he’ll be ordering up Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On.”
Jody Rosen (again):
I’m sure as hell not about to go to the mat with the Dean of American Rock Critics over Journey. (REO Speedwagon—now that’s a different story.) Just for the record, I agree with Bob that there’s no such thing as a guilty pleasure—and pleasure is what I get from “Don’t Stop Believin’,” from the first keyboard rumble to the last “streetlight-people-whoa-oh-oh.” It is transcendent schlock, and I’ll still know it’s a great song in 2033, regardless of where Journey places, in a cosmic sense, on the Suckiness Matrix. As for Bob’s guilt-free pleasure “Smack That“: I prefer Akon hooting along with a different bottle blonde.