Video Vault 110: Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde at 25

On the 25th anniversary of The Pharcyde’s Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde, 33 1/3 author Andrew Barker gives us a glimpse at the greatness of this hip-hop foursome and their debut album. Twenty five years ago today, Los Angeles’ inimitable oddballs The Pharcyde released Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde, their first and unquestionably greatest album. There’s something bittersweet about watching such a touchstone of youthful exuberance and melancholy cross the quarter-century mark. Not only because the album was so pioneering that it would probably be an even bigger hit if it were…

Nothing Has Been Done Before, Day 5: Alternate Takes and Outtakes

For the portion of author Robert Loss’s guest spot, he takes us through the music and artists he could not quite fit into the book. You can read his more on his study of newness and popular music in Nothing Has Been Done Before: Seeking the New in 21st Century American Popular Music. Nothing Has Been Done Before is the second book in a new series from Bloomsbury, Alternate Takes: Critical Responses to Popular Music. The point of the series is “to examine popular music from critical perspectives that challenge the…

Nothing Has Been Done Before, Day 4: American Studies

Today guest blogger Robert Loss writes about the multifaceted notion of “American-ness” and how it unfolds across genres of popular music. Whether they mean to or not, every American artist tells his or her version of the American story. The “American” descriptor in the book’s subtitle (“Seeking the New in 21st-Century American Popular Music”) winds its way throughout the book as a constantly changing narrative, a set of beliefs, a place, a people, visions of the past, and visions of the future. Sometimes the American-ness is treated explicitly. In “Revivals…

Nothing Has Been Done Before, Day 3: Bob Dylan and the Nobel Prize for Literature

We continue with guest blogger and author Robert Loss, whose new book Nothing Has Been Done Before explores the idea of newness in popular music. Today, read about how he wrote his Bob Dylan chapter and how Dylan’s Nobel Prize win changed the course of his writing. Plus, a Dylan playlist. The situation is always changing. The book you might have written five years ago about Prince would be very different from the book you’d write today. We could say the same about Taylor Swift, or retro music, or newness in general.…

Nothing Has Been Done Before, Day 2: An Extended Timeline

Even though Nothing Has Been Done Before centers on music made since 2000, it is, at times, intensely historical, tracing stories and ideas that reach back to more than a century ago. Author Robert Loss explores some of the defining moments in pop music history on that extended timeline.   1859—Let’s start in the year that minstrel-show innovator Dan Emmett debuts “I Wish I Was in the Land of Dixie,” a song he likely stole from Ellen Snowden, the matriarch of a Black American family of musicians who were his…

Nothing Has Been Done Before Day 1: ‘Newness’ and Popular Music

This week, we bring you posts from guest blogger Robert Loss, author of Nothing Has Been Done Before. Read on to learn what inspired him to write the book, why he thinks that there is room for newness in popular music, and how this newness can evade being defined by demands of consumerist culture in popular music. Plus! A bonus playlist to accompany the music covered in the book. “Britney Spears is constantly coming up with something new and innovative. Pere Ubu does the same old thing. ‘New’ is a trap and…

Album Anniversary: Celebrating 20 years of The Flaming Lips’ Zaireeka

Join us today in celebrating the 20th anniversary of Zaireeka by the Flaming Lips with Mark Richardson, author of The Flaming Lips’ Zaireeka, who explains the distinct listening experience that The Flaming Lips brought with this unique four-part album. Twenty years ago, the Flaming Lips album Zaireeka was released into a different world. We were rushing to a new age of speed and convenience, but many aspects of life still moved at a crawl. News came through newspapers and television broadcasts, and the 28.8 modem was standard (for people with internet,…

Video Vault 109: Björk’s best little video oddities

There is a huge sea of Björk interviews, TV appearances and live shows out there on the internet to get wonderfully lost in. Whole days can go that way, easily. There’s also many a rare gem to be found, if you dig deep – and in the course of writing my 33 1/3, I definitely dug deep. Months on, YouTube is still going “Hey! Maybe you’d like to watch this other Björk video!” And do you know what, I still would. Here are some of the best little video oddities…

Remembering Tom Petty: 33 1/3 Southern Accents author reflects on Petty’s legacy, the album, and the trappings of heritage

This week, Michael Washburn, author of Tom Petty’s Southern Accents (coming Fall 2018!), reflects on Tom Petty’s impact on American culture, what Tom Petty’s Southern heritage meant to him, and how Petty approached the representations of Southern heritage in Southern Accents. Tom Petty’s death last week provoked a torrent of deserved, heartfelt tributes. The 66 year-old rock star bridged late-70s rock radio to the video generation, and he continued writing solid songs well into the 21st century. Petty’s death revealed him as an institution that we’d long taken for granted. It’s only…

Björk Week – Day 5: Six connections between Homogenic and Utopia

To celebrate this week’s release of Bjork’s Homogenic, we’re pleased to bring you the fifth and final installment of Björk Week by author Emily Mackay! Six connections between Homogenic and Utopia. One of the main reasons I can’t stop obsessing over Homogenic so much is that I can always find paths from Björk’s more recent work leading back to it. Medulla’s concern with national and global identity, Volta’s feminist politics, Biophilia’s unification of nature and technology… there’s always a thread back to the album that for me, really defined what…