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Open Call 2015: The Shortlist

It has been a busy 8 weeks here at 33 1/3. We have now read all of the proposals submitted to our 2015 Open Call. My eyes are bloodshot and I think I’ve gone down -.75 in my contact lens prescription but it was worth it. There are some astounding pieces of music criticism in this list. So first of all, a huge round of applause for every single one of you who submitted. This was an EXTREMELY competitive round with so many submissions but these 83 proposals stood out.

We were just blown over (and a bit overwhelmed) by the response this year. We ask for a lot without promising anything so thank you once again for taking the time to write these pitches. It’s an incredible thing to experience the outpouring of so many words and we are so grateful for your commitment. This series has had its ups and downs but we continue to hang on thanks to your support. Really, we mean it and couldn’t do it without you. It’s not a perfect system but has resulted in some incredible books from first-time authors over the years. Our latest releases can be found on Bloomsbury.com.

What is this list? This list of 83 albums represents the proposals that are still under consideration from the 605 proposals submitted this summer. There are a few cases where there were 2 (or 3!) excellent proposals for the same album so we’ve listed the initials of the author of the proposal we are still considering.

What comes next? From this shortlist we’ll select between 10 and 20 proposals to become books in the series.

When? We hope to have final decisions by the end of October.

What about next year? If the album you proposed isn’t listed here, we are very sorry but we can’t publish every brilliant proposal we receive. There are MANY reasons why proposals don’t work: approach, album choice, strength of writing, scope, etc. We hope to hold the next open call in 2016, likely around this time. It all depends on how things go over the next year. Please please please post your comments and questions below as it’s impossible for us to respond to every email we receive.

The 2015 33 1/3 Shortlist 

(GI) (JG) -Germs

24 Hour Revenge Therapy-Jawbreaker

Arena-Duran Duran

Bangerz (BA) -Miley Cyrus

Bangerz (CC) -Miley Cyrus

Biophilia (ND) -Björk

Biophilia (AW)-Björk

Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde-Pharcyde

Born to Die (RB)-Lana Del Rey

Boys for Pele (VS) -Tori Amos

Boys for Pele (EM) -Tori Amos

Boys For Pele (AG) -Tori Amos

Carreras Domingo Pavarotti In Concert-The Three Tenors

Christmas Eve and Other Stories-Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Cobra and Phases Group Play Voltage in the Milky Night (HT)-Stereolab

Colossal Youth-Young Marble Giants

Death of a Ladies’ Man-Leonard Cohen

Diary (MM)-Sunny Day Real Estate

Different Class (KR) -Pulp

Dr. Octagonecologyst-Dr. Octagon

Electric Warrior-T. Rex

Flash Gordon-Queen

Fontanelle-Babes in Toyland

For Emma, Forever Ago-Bon Iver

Greatest Hits Volume 2-Wesley Willis

Gris-Gris (WS) -Dr. John

Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse-Eugene McDaniels

Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? – Of Montreal

Homogenic-Björk

In on the Kill Taker (JG) -Fugazi

In the Wee Small Hours-Frank Sinatra

It’s a Shame About Ray-The Lemonheads

Kick-INXS

Kimono My House-Sparks

Kollaps-Einstürzende Neubauten

Licensed to Ill-Beastie Boys

London Calling (MS)-The Clash

Lulu (JM)-Lou Reed and Metallica

Lyric and Coloratura Arias-Maria Callas

Murder Ballads (SH)-Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Nancy & Lee-Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood

Nina Simone and Piano-Nina Simone

Okie from Muskogee-Merle Haggard

Original Pirate Material-The Streets

Peepshow-Siouxsie & the Banshees

Philosophy of the World (PK)-The Shaggs

Pinkerton (PT)-Weezer

Pinkerton (LB)-Weezer

Random Access Memories-Daft Punk

Reflektor-Arcade Fire

Refried Ectoplasm (Switched On Volume 2)-Stereolab

Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version-Ol’ Dirty Bastard

Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)-David Bowie

Smell the Magic-L7

Solaris OST-Eduard Artemiev

Something Else By the Kinks-The Kinks

Songs From the Big Chair-Tears for Fears

Southern Rock Opera (RF)-Drive-By Truckers

Steady Diet of Nothing-Fugazi

Switched-On Bach (RK)-Wendy Carlos

Ten Ragas To A Disco Beat-Charanjit Singh

The Blueprint (SS)-Jay-Z

The Days Of Wine And Roses (SA)-The Dream Syndicate

The Idiot-Iggy Pop

The Inner Mounting Flame-The Mahavishnu Orchestra

The Meadowlands (JM)-The Wrens

The Mekons Rock ‘n’ Roll-The Mekons

The Modern Dance-Pere Ubu

The Modern Lovers (SM) -The Modern Lovers

The Muppet Show-The Muppets

The Specials-The Specials

The Yellow Shark-Ensemble Modern and Frank Zappa

Tin Drum-Japan

Transformer-Lou Reed

Transgender Dysphoria Blues-Against Me!

Twin Peaks OST (CN)-Angelo Badalamenti

Violator (AH)-Depeche Mode

Voodoo-D’Angelo

When the Haar Rolls In-James Yorkston

White Blood Cells (NJ)-The White Stripes

Workbook-Bob Mould

Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots-The Flaming Lips

Uptown Saturday Night-Camp Lo

97 thoughts on “Open Call 2015: The Shortlist”

  1. It’s a little odd for me to state this in a public space, but I’m not sure how else to convey this to the publishers: some colleagues at Gatling Pictures (http://www.gatlingpictures.com/our-vinyl-weighs-a-ton) want to produce my feature length documentary on Charanjit Singh and the deeper story of analogue synthesis and dance music in 70s Bombay, with the aim of starting production in January. The timing is basically perfect – I do recall that the proposal questions referred to whether or not there was a film in the works, and I can now say with confidence: yes there is. Gatling was also quite excited about my begin shortlisted I have to say, so fingers crossed; it could present a really well rounded series of engagements across film, readings, and of course the shortlisted book itself.

  2. Pingback: Tori Amos's Boys for Pele: a much misunderstood work of dark, wounded magic | letgoonline

      1. Yes, of course it’s seen as a problem. Lack of women represented is also a problem, and the editor has already said she’s trying to address that — and even then less than 15% of her submissions were either by women or about women.

        The problem with all book series and edited anthologies is that you can only publish what people submit. If there aren’t enough non-white artists represented, get talented people to submit good proposals about these artists, or submit one yourself. In other words — do something about it.

  3. Hi, I’m glad about my proposal of Japan TIN DRUM to be shortlisted. but I only just now realised I sent you a draft of my introductory chapter instead of the corrected version. still pleased it got through but I’m also mortified. basically, confused two files. is it possible to send the right version (it was finished on deadline). it was late and I tried to make the deadline of course. I care about this enormously. let me know.
    best wishes

  4. Admiral Snackbar

    Did they seriously reject a book by Everett True?

    Can we finally just get the Colossal Youth and Southern Rock Opera books so I can finish up this series? That Muppets one might be cool, and The Shaggs are great, but I’m not sure if there’s much to write about them that hasn’t been written (The Children of Sunshine might be a better option). Unless the series is going to branch out into more interesting, non-indie/whitey territory, or they do a Shop Assistants volume, there’s not much charge left.

    1. All I can say is;

      1. I’m glad someone else feels the way I do about the Muppet book.

      and

      2. I had a rejected proposal, went back last week to turn my sample chapter into a CFN piece to be submitted for publication elsewhere, and realized my writing sample just plain sucked. It took over a month of distance to see it, but yeah, it sucked. I tried something different and just wound up being incoherent. I should have just tried to write some straight up CFN or focused on something directly related to the artist. My intent was to provide reception history using CFN and then segue into author context and background, but the whole presentation just didn’t work. So while the rest of the proposal was strong, I would have turned down my proposal too based on the writing sample.

      I’d encourage anyone who was turned down to go back and reread their proposal a little more critically.

      1. Admiral Snackbar

        Do people not like the Muppet book idea? The surprising ideas are the ones that still draw me, especially lively stuff like Super Mario or The Muppets.

        Not sure if the bulk of your post was directed at me, but I didn’t submit a proposal. Don’t have much interest in doing that kind of writing myself and I’m pretty disconnected from modern music writing as it is. But I’m excited when people come up with really interesting material. At this point, the series is what it is and I don’t expect much out of it, so mine was more an unfulfilled potential kind of complaint. But I’d like to read about Colossal Youth sometime, so toss a starving old dog one last scrap of meat.

        1. Thanks for asking for clarification. Pt. 1 was directed toward you. Pt. 2 was just me taking a moment to respond to a lot of disappointed people here, but not you.

  5. WOW!!! I really do like your list so if you go on to publish any of these 20 below as books I would buy them:
    Born to Die by Lana Del Rey
    Boys for Pele by Tori Amos
    Death of a Ladies’ Man by Leonard Cohen
    Dr. Octagonecologyst by Dr. Octagon
    Greatest Hits Volume 2 by Wesley Willis
    Homogenic by Björk
    In the Wee Small Hours by Frank Sinatra
    Kollaps by Einstürzende Neubauten
    Lulu by Lou Reed & Metallica
    Lyric & Coloratura Arias by Maria Callas
    Murder Ballads by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
    Nancy & Lee by Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood
    Nina Simone and Piano by Nina Simone
    Reflektor by Arcade Fire
    Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version by Ol’ Dirty Bastard
    Smell the Magic by L7
    The Modern Dance by Pere Ubu
    Transformer by Lou Reed
    Twin Peaks by Angelo Badalamenti
    White Blood Cells by The White Stripes

  6. Justin Williams

    To respond to the Popular Culture Association comment, there are also conferences held outside the US, and some travel grant money worth applying to as well. It’s certainly a good place to pitch and work through some of this material.
    IASPM has branches all over the world, and a large global conference every two years (this year was in Brazil).

    1. Yep! I’ve done conferences with IASPM (whose abbreviation I always manage to mangle 🙂 ) and the PCA has a few international conferences as well.

  7. For me, I think it’s possible to get feedback simply by looking at the shortlist. My proposal was for Cockney Rebel’s ‘The Psychomodo’ and ‘my place’ is taken in the list by T Rex’s ‘Electric Warrior’ (a bigger album and a better known band) and Sparks ‘Kimono My House’ (who have a more current resonance due to the Franz Ferdinand hook up). I’m fairly confident that the quality of my writing was high, my writing pedigree is reasonable and I do have principle members of the band on board for interview purposes. However, I think that the band have just slid off of the critical radar too far for 33 1/3 usage. Fair do’s, I still have a viable project. I’d also guess (apologies to the authors, if they read this) from the way the shortlist is shaping up that the T Rex and Sparks proposals won’t make the final cut. Hope they do, mind!

  8. the last few comments on here make me think that all the terrible jokes people make about millenials are, in fact, based in some truth.

    you’re literally saying that the process of writing a proposal for a book is TOO HARD. what do you think writing a book is going to be? a love letter to your favorite band? being anointed with holy grace?

    (much of this discussion of the “exacting standards,” by the way, ignores the fact that in the original call for proposals that while each section was required, it was specifically said that you could treat the wordlength requirements as provisional.)

    1. I agree! I’ve written entire manuscripts on spec before, with no guarantee that anyone would want them, with no set guidelines about what might be expected. It’s part of the writing business — unfortunate or not, it’s reality when editors have to take care of the authors already writing for them in addition to ones who hope to make it in.

      Am I correct in assuming that you wrote the Mr. Bungle proposal? I was really rooting for that one . . . I’ve listened to the self-titled record more, but would love to learn about the process of making any album or a critical response to it.

    2. Not sure who your comment is being directed at, but in my case, I am certainly no millenial nor an inexperienced writer who doesn’t understand the concept that, yes, writing a book is hard work. I am an academic scholar and seasoned writer (I might add, one who routinely writes 10k + music articles on a routine basis) and more than used to taking on demanding writing projects. Nor do I believe that anyone here was trying to say that the demands of the 33 and a third proposals are any more exacting than what is normally expected of an academic publication. But it’s only natural, when you have put so much of your heart and soul into something, to wonder “Where did I go wrong?” And sometimes it may be that you did nothing wrong at all-it could be simply bad timing, or the wrong market for that particular proposal/artist. The original point was that some may wonder if their current proposals are worth retweaking and being given another shot in this series, or if we should just go back to the drawing board and start from scratch, or just to accept that this series isn’t the right place for our work and move on? There is nothing inherently wrong in asking those questions, even if among each other, and thankfully the editors are generous enough to allow writers this forum in which we can vent on these very issues and hash out these questions. And these are not decisions to be made lightly, because once the proposal is tweaked and-let’s say-placed elsewhere, then you have pretty much forfeited your chance of it ever being a 33 and a third book. So for many of us, we must weigh those decisions carefully in asking if it is worth it to revise the proposal and wait-or not, as the case may be.

      I don’t think anyone here is seriously expecting the editors to revamp their policies. There are 520 of us in the same boat, and a lot of us are just venting out loud as we ponder what that crucial next step should be. In my case, I had certainly done my homework. In addition to having put in many years’ worth of scholarship on the artist, I had poured over past successful proposals in the series, and modeled my own on what I “thought”-based on those models-the editors wanted (but perhaps that, too, was a mistake, as it meant I was essentially modeling what had worked for someone else, rather than just taking my own approach). I had studied past volumes in the series to get a feel for the varied types of writing and approaches that had been accepted in the past. In the end, none of it worked so, again, it’s only human nature to wonder where one might have erred. In the end, I’m inclined to believe it just wasn’t an original enough “take” on the album, and given that this series just published a Michael Jackson book in 2014, it probably needed to have been something truly unique to stand out. I really wanted to explore how Jackson used the concept of the album as autobiography. Many artists have done this, but I thought his approach was totally unique, and broke a lot of ground insofar as how a “musical book” can be written and told. However, I needed an approach that was as unique as his vision, and this experience has helped me to realize what I need to do differently, especially if I expect my proposal to stand out among 600+ other brilliant proposals.

  9. Those of you bemoaning the length and criteria of the proposal — you do realise this was a pretty standard publishing proposal? I’ve written proposals for three other book projects in the past two years (as editor or co-editor of a collection of essays), and for each one had to provide a CV, brief description, full description (appr 2000 words), marketing and audience, promotion, and (because they are anthologies), provided not only a detailed annotated table of contents, but the abstracts of the other author’s potential chapters. Oh, and I had to include a writing sample, so included the 8000+ word chapter that would be my contribution. I’ve also pitched two 80K + book proposals in the last couple of years — with the same criteria. These proposals have included four different publishers, from academic to more commercial non-fiction publishing (academic, but also with a general audience in mind — eg I B Tauris, Palgrave, Bloomsbury, Routledge, and a couple of academic presses like University of Chicago). All of the proposals were quite lengthy, averaging anywhere from 20 to 40 pages. It’s also very, very difficult to sift through general calls-for-papers, which I and my own colleagues did for the anthologies — we had some excellent submissions that just didn’t fit the general theme or structure of the book we are putting together.

    Long story short, yep, it’s a lot of work and time-consuming, but what 33 1/3 asked for in its over-the-transom CFP is nothing out of the ordinary. Seriously — go to any non-fiction publisher’s webpage, and see what the requirements are for subissions. Rejection with radio silence can be frustrating, but it’s rarely anything personal; it’s actually pretty courteous that we were all sent a general Open Proposal update earlier this week — and I thought the general reasons why proposals weren’t accepted was fair. Rather than throwing your toys out of the pram, take a bit of time for reflection, and maybe see if there’s another outlet for your project. I’ve submitted to the 33 1/3 open call a few times now with no joy, but each time, I’ve been able to reshape the work I created and get it placed elsewhere.

    1. Chris, are you willing to share any detail as to how you reshaped your proposed 33 1/3 books, and where you ended up getting them placed? I’m interested in doing something similar.

      1. No problems — usual disclaimers apply: your circs aren’t my circs, &c &c — this is over a couple of years, mind, since about 2012. Bits of a proposal was reshaped for an online project sponsored by a German university that is collecting short articles about particular songs that have had cultural or social impact (or reflect something specifica about a particular contemporary cultural phenomenon); part of the introduction to a proposal ended up being folded into a chapter in a monograph. Other sections ended up in stand-alone chapters in essay collections. Bits and pieces because the themes around which conference papers were built (probably three or four papers; I lose track) — the latter is where the bigger publications come from: I’ve been giving talks and conference papers about my particular artist for the past 11 or 12 years now, and it’s a great way not only to meet other people who might want to colloborate on a writing project, but many publishers have tables at conferences and send reps who will listen to pitches and discuss ideas with you (bring something you’ve written, though — they don’t have time just to sit and listen to you tell them why XYZ is the greatest performer ever, &c). If you’re in the US, getting hooked into the Popular Cultural Association is a good step — they have a National Conference but also at least half a dozen regional conferences, and they accept papers by independent scholars as well as non academics if your abstract/proposal looks promising. It also give you a chance to speak about a smaller, more focused aspect of your project to a receptive/constructively critical crowd and to get instant feedback. IAPMS is another good association who have annual conferences as well.

  10. A Hearty Congrats to those who made the short list!

    I think James and Raven make some interesting suggestions for tweaking the MO of this lovely hunger games for pop critics. The odds may not be ever in our favor but the cause of our death can at least be known. To wit: In the last go-round, I made the short list (around 100). This time I didn’t, despite writing what I thought was a much more compelling proposal on the top-selling album by a better-known and “canonical” artist not yet covered in this series. So, like others in a similar spot, I’m at a loss.

    I understand the ridiculous balancing act: the open call for submissions for a series with a cult-like following and a few genuine hits and/or volumes by Blue-Chip critics, novelists, and rock stars creates incredible competition. Publishing economics leaves one editor and perhaps one assistant to wade through the entries. Unimaginable labors! The last go-round the long list was around 400 entries. This time it was around 600. Will it be 800 next time? This time, presumably 150-300 (perhaps more) less-serious entries were thrown out quickly for not even fulfilling the exacting submission requirements (which were exhaustive and detailed). That only left another 200-350 to go (excluding those making the short list). I write “only” with tongue firmly planted in cheeked. I see why feedback is well-nigh impossible.

    Of course, if the editor does follow any suggested or attempted “rubric” approach, she will surely be flooded by requests for clarification. “Why didn’t I get an A- rather than a B+, Professor?” So perhaps the rubric response can include a disclaimer that “this response does not promise further discussion.” The rubrics could include… Your proposal did not make our short list because (and the editor may choose more than one answer):

    a. it did not constitute a full proposal (technical knockout)
    b. while excellent on its own terms, we have reason to believe this book wouldn’t sell more than 100 (or 200? or 1000?) copies. Alas, we are a commercial press under extraordinary financial pressure.
    c. while a worthy study of a worthy album, it strikes us as too similar to already published books in our series or books published elsewhere
    d. the proposal does not built strong expectation of 120-150 pages of gripping and original criticism. Perhaps you should publish this in essay-form elsewhere. Or perhaps try again when you have a lot more to say on the topic.
    e. regardless of content or originality, the writing quality on this proposal is not up to par; we cannot afford to rent you a professional editor.
    f. we’ve read some of your other writings on music (noted on your proposal), and they do not give us confidence that you will bring further glory to our niche imprint. To the contrary, we think our imprint would be forever tossed about like a ship on the ocean upon our association with your work. But thank you for your font choice.

    1. Good points, Lemmy. I think the main benefit of a rubric of some kind would be a clear indicator of weak spots.

      Seriously, though, thinking about it, a rubric might be more complicated than necessary. I was thinking of something simple that could be built in to an online submission manager, but really just a single sentence would be good enough: badly written, not interested in this artist at this time, would like to see a different approach, etc.

  11. I don’t get people complaining about the project or the selections, though, esp. after submitting a proposal. It’d be interesting to run some numbers on proposals shortlisted to see how many are 80s, 90s, 2000s, etc., and ratio of male to female artists. They did blog earlier that they wanted more female artists. That’s a good thing.

    I’m currently developing an edited anthology titled Rock and Romanticism and I’m having a similar problem: rock and roll has been a skinny little boys club for so long that most submissions are males writing about male artists. I say this having received about 44 proposals for essays too, which is pretty good for an edited anthology like this.

    Anyone interested in this project can check it out at

    http://rockandromanticism.wordpress.com

    I’ve sent initial proposals out to publishers, but I am still willing to take more.

      1. Thanks, Chris, and good luck to you with your projects as well.

        The only thing worse than writing a 20-40 page rejected proposal is having to read over 600 proposals when half of them probably didn’t pay close attention to instructions or demonstrated an inability to write well. That’s an incredible investment of time and effort.

        PS I’m a Continuum author who got grandfathered in to Bloomsbury, and I’ve had to deal with Bloomsbury a bit since then. They were/are both great publishers to go with, and I was very happy with the editorial process and my book placement.

    1. James,
      Sounds like a very cool project. From my quick glance at your website, it looks like you are basically focused on English Romanticism, but I also think there is much to be said about the relationship between German Romanticism and certain strains of heavy metal (German or otherwise). And I’m not just talking about relatively obscure death-metal bands that are into medieval themes – I’d suggest that even mainstream metal outfits like Metallica, Megadeth and Ozzy often explore anti-Enlightenment ideas or iconography in a way that isn’t too far removed from Kleist and Fichte and even Beethoven. If you’re indeed still accepting proposals, I’d be happy to send you something more on this.

      1. Brendan —

        My intention for the project was for it to be transnational and transchronological in its consideration of Romanticism. We do have some essays using Schelling and other figures in German Romanticism (one using German opera too), but we need more. The way it’s worked out (unintentionally), the project is largely focused on the British Romantics with some nods to American and German Romanticism. I had someone express interest in an essay on Norwegian Black Metal who never sent a proposal. Something like that would be fabulous, esp. if it was paired with a Romantic-era figure from the Baltic region like Henrik Steffens or Adam Oehlenschläger.

        Please do read the Nuts and Bolts page and the CFP and send a proposal. short bio statement, and short CV with contact info if you’re interested. I look forward to seeing what you come up with.

    2. Regarding your comment below about sifting through proposals that don’t follow directions, &c — yep. A colleague and I are putting together a collection of essays built around a very popular cult television show, and despite being very explicit in our CFP about what we wanted (300 word abstract, thesis statement, key words, and a few lines about how the proposed chapter would contribute to the overall theme of our collection), the majority of submissions we got were all over the place. Many did not address the actual theme we’re looking at; a number were badly written panegyrics about how much the author loves the programme. It’s a tough task, especially when you do appreciate that people are putting their heart and soul into the proposals, but also, from the other end of the spectrum, a contributer has to meet the editor part way. The How to Write About Music book is a fab resource in this regard (nope, I’m not a Bloomsbury shill, but I’ve had students read the book to see different approaches to writing about music academically and professionally.)

      1. Yes, egad, I believe that. I’m working on a couple of edited anthologies myself and am getting a little bit of that. To me, if you want someone to publish you, you follow their requests to a t.

  12. Ha, okay, I didn’t make the shortlist, but I am sincerely glad to see The Muppets on there.

    I know you received over 600 proposals, so you have about 520 rejections in your queue, but I’d like to make a suggestion.

    Develop an online database to which contributors submit directly so that you don’t have to manage a ton of emails. You might look at Airtable or similar web-based spreadsheet applications.

    As you review your proposals, score them on some kind of rubric built in to that database and write a few comments. Your rubric measures could include items like
    – artist or album chosen
    – originality or desirability of approach
    – writing quality
    – author qualifications

    I say this because you have to reject a lot of good proposals, and this kind of feedback for at least the stronger ones might encourage good contributors to try again. It’d help me quite a bit if I knew that you just weren’t interested in the Pretenders or if you wanted a different approach.

    Thanks very much for your hard work on this project. I love these books, I like your shortlist, and yes, I think Miley belongs on there. I’m sorry to see that Appetite for Destruction didn’t make it, though.

    1. I agree with you. While I understand the logistics of not being able to provide personal feedback on 520 rejected proposals, the downside is that no feedback at all discourages many of us from the thought of even bothering to submit again. Putting together a 33 and a third proposal is a LOT of time consuming work. I understand we go into this with no guarantees of the outcome. But if I have invested two months or more of my life to putting together a proposal, it would be nice to have a concrete idea of what I need to revise. For example, if the timing was simply too soon for another Michael Jackson album, then I might think, okay, I can wait a couple of years and resubmit the proposal. If it was the approach, then I know I need to revise my thesis before trying again. In other words, I think I can speak for a lot of us who say, when faced with a big blank question mark as to why we didn’t get picked, why bother going through all of that again? As you said (excellent point, by the way!) there may be many who “almost” made the cut and those contributors would be much more likely to revise and try again. I still think Jackson’s HIStory is a great album that deserves its due in this series (of course, I know everyone of us feels the same way about the albums we chose). I would love to revise my pitch and try again, but have to admit, after all the hard work, I’m feeling very discouraged. Nevertheless, it has been a positive experience and I am sure that, after I’ve licked my wounds a bit, I will be back next open call. By the way, I am very pleased to see that the Nina Simone proposal made the list. That is a title I will buy, for sure.

  13. I’m out-of-my-mind overjoyed and honoured to be included here, but I’m even more excited to see that you’re considering proposals on Transgender Dysphoria Blues and Switched-On Bach. This has been a banner year for trans visibility in the media, but we’ve also seen a sharp recent uptick in violence against the trans community, particularly trans women. This is the perfect time to recognize and celebrate Laura Jane Grace and Wendy Carlos’ game-changing, courageous work and I sincerely hope both proposals make the final cut.

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  15. Apologies, Sean. I take your point. My intention was not to dispirit you. My intention is always to suggest there are always alternatives. Perhaps the editors would be kind enough to remove this thread of messages when the day begins over there in America?

    1. I was going to follow on that last post with an addendum: I’m not one of the “very disappointed first-time non-US writers” I was alluding to. This was my 3rd attempt and the one with the least expectation on so I never really was in that field as such. No, my point was I remember my 1st pitch and I was heartbroken when it didn’t get it. I can’t imagine how I would have felt had I read your comments above. We need to be rational and at least a little positive to everyone here. I’m certainly not going to make the same mistake I did then and rant at everyone else for getting in! What an idiot I was! I still feel the shame of it all. Congrats to everyone who got through and for those like me who didn’t make it this time, let’s get ready for 2016!!

      PS I’m still dying to know if we have had writers who after their nth pitch finally got in? Now that would be encouraging for all those unlucky writers (myself included).

      1. /raises hand

        Second proposal got published; first proposal didn’t make The Shortlist. Went with a different band and a different approach. May have included a copy of a forged U.S. passport and more stories about a shirt I once owned….I can’t remember….

    1. Where does it say that? I’ve never seen anything saying that anywhere on 33 1/3 otherwise I would have bailed years ago (I live in NZ). Methinks you’ve been toking on something….really?

      1. It does not say that, Sean. That is my point. I am making an educated guess. Perhaps the editors at 33 1/3 might care to share with us the proportion of American and non-American writers they have published over the years, to set our minds at ease? If (as I suspect) it is more American than non-American then I think it is fair to accuse them of bias, and indeed xenophobia, bearing in mind the proportion of American to non-American music criticism in the world.

      1. You may have raise a decent point of order where the majority of successful candidates come from but calling the publishers xenophobic off the bat before we have the data to say ‘yay or nay’ on that front is utterly ridiculous. It sounds like you are scaremongering here which isn’t helpful for some of those may have been turned down. How do you think a very disappointed first-time non-US writer would feel after reading your half-assed assessment above? They may as well just give up and go back to their daytime jobs rather than try writing as more than a hobby. It’s not helpful and – as yet – not based on any actual evidence. Can you just try and be positive both to those who lost out (like me) and those who were lucky this time around? Anyone would think you’d got the hump because yours was turned down too….

    1. “Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse” is on the list. It’s written and produced by the late Eugene McDaniels and he’s also the artist. And he’s Black.

  16. So obvious whose proposals didn’t make the grade — have a bit of grace, folks! Even published bods have faced a lot of rejections — no work is wasted, as you file it away, rewrite/reshape it, use it on another day, etc. Unless you’ve sifted through proposals, you can’t second-guess the thought process behind shortlisting. Better luck next time to those who didn’t make the cut this time, and good luck to those stillin the running!

  17. I knew I should have submitted a proposal for Sparklehorse instead of Tori Amos.

    Kinda bummed there isn’t a 33 1/3 about Sparklehorse yet and won’t be in the forseeable future.

  18. This is a great list. While I am disappointed that my pitch for Willie Nelson’s Red Headed Stranger didn’t make the cut, writing the proposal was a great exercise and I do plan to revisit it in some form down the line.

  19. Disappointed to not see my proposal on the list but certainly not unexpected. It would be great to see what some of these “winning proposals” look like to give us a better idea what you’re looking for…

    I was super surprised to see Camp Lo- Uptown Saturday Night on the list. Not only because it’s a great record but because IT WAS NOT ON THE INITIAL LIST!! What happened there? DId you guys accept proposals after the cut-off date?

    Don’t think I’m hating–it is BY far my favorite proposal listed.

  20. First of all, I’d like to congratulate everyone who made it onto this year’s shortlist. In retrospect, while my own proposal mentioned opportunities for a book on the troubled creation of ELO’s Secret Messages to coincide with the recent announcement that Jeff Lynne would be relaunching his old “band” (now sadly more a solo effort than an actual group) and the album I planned to write about ironically turning 33 1/3 next year, I can appreciate that my writing was aimed at hardcore fans rather than casual readers, not to mention focusing on a very specialist subject, despite the promise of engineer Bill Bottrell or former member David Scott-Morgan to help provide exclusive insights. Undeterred, I plan on continuing with my work, expanding this out to include a few revelations that cover the surrounding period, and if everything works out then I’ll hopefully be announcing something very soon. Of those selected, I really hope one of the two submitted on Weezer’s Pinkerton makes it and at least briefly mentions the ill-fated Songs From The Black Hole, as I’d mentioned this in my pitch as perhaps the most well-known unreleased musical project of the 1990s, easily comparable to examples from previous decades such as The Beach Boys’ SMiLE or The Who’s Lifehouse.

  21. I think a certain amount of time should pass between an album being released and it’s consideration for the 33 1/3 treatment. I want to read about an album that has weathered a bit of time and proven itself worthy – not a release that’s merely the latest flash in the pan.

  22. Disappointed but I had low expectations this time around (it was a skillfully edited re-hash of an older pitch). Has anyone else submitted multiple times unsuccessfully and eventually got in? [Just looking for a little ray of home for pitch #4 in 2016!]

    1. Just bumping this…really do want to know if anyone had made several unsuccessful submissions and then finally got the chance. It’s something to keep pen moist for next year. Or any kind of general advice for what people are looking for (and yes, I have a blog already). Cheers.

  23. Exciting list! Incredible work to get it down to that few, huge thanks to Ally-Jane for doing the hard work. Ignore the complainers, you’re doing an amazing job.

  24. I am friends with Nick McCabe (guitarist) and Simon Jones (bassist) of The Verve so they would have been ready to be interviewed, and it would have been such an honor to write a book about the hidden gem of the ’90s (A Storm in Heaven) but I guess my proposal was, perhaps, too straightforward (the creation of the album and my own memories of the album) and not offbeat enough.

    As for the shortlist, these are the albums which I feel would be the most intriguing and exploratory reads:

    Gris-Gris (WS) -Dr. John
    Solaris OST-Eduard Artemiev
    The Idiot-Iggy Pop

  25. These are the ones I would buy:

    Colossal Youth-Young Marble Giants
    Death of a Ladies’ Man-Leonard Cohen
    Electric Warrior-T. Rex
    Gris-Gris-Dr. John
    In the Wee Small Hours-Frank Sinatra
    Kimono My House-Sparks
    London Calling-The Clash
    Nancy & Lee-Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood
    Switched-On Bach-Wendy Carlos
    The Idiot-Iggy Pop
    The Inner Mounting Flame-The Mahavishnu Orchestra
    The Modern Dance-Pere Ubu
    The Modern Lovers-The Modern Lovers
    Transformer-Lou Reed
    Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots-The Flaming Lips

    No Metal Machine Music yet?

  26. The proposal itself was a longtime goal of mine, and it was an honor to be considered at all. Thanks for taking the time, and for putting out such awesome books. Can’t wait to read this next batch! – Dan Caffrey (After The Gold Rush)

  27. I think the inclusion of Boys For Pele was perfect. I hope it finally sees the light of day since I know this is an album that 33 1/3 has been trying to tackle for a LONG time. And the Twin Peaks Soundtrack, too!?? Great!

  28. As you may gather, I’m always rooting for the Sparks’ book (whoever is writing it) – but overall this is a great list. Congrats. Ignore the negative commentary. They’re just jealous!

    1. Tosh, I enjoyed your Sparks book and regret not coming by City Lights and getting the signed copy directly from you. Yes, more Sparks books, please!

  29. Though I didn’t make the cut, this was a terrific writing exercise for me. I learned so much: most important, to be finished with the draft way ahead of time. I came down with the flu the last week before the deadline, and I’m afraid I submitted a muddy, antihistamined proposal. But I won’t give up! Sex, hope, and rock-and-roll, as Ellen Willis said. Congratulations to all!

  30. Thank you for reading all the submissions. While disappointed, I learned even more about Cowboy Junkies’ The Trinity Session and that made the experience a rewarding journey. Congratulations to all who move forward!

  31. Gutted to have missed out on the list, so commiserations to the 500-plus others in the same boat: a lot of work for no reward.
    But congratulations to those who made the list – looks like there will be some great new books in the pipeline.

  32. Lulu? Seriously? I hope their author’s approach wasn’t another attempt to convince us that this steaming pile of garbage was actually a listenable let alone enjoyable record.

    Glad to see more women represented, but Miley, Bjork, and Tori Amos aren’t exactly who I would have chosen. I’m sure I’m not alone in wishing for a Sleater-Kinney or Neko Case book.

    1. Dan Carr–I agree wholeheartedly that I would much rather see a book about Neko Case than a book about Miley, Bjork, or Tori Amos.

  33. Extremely disappointed in your picks… No wonder I’ve never bought one of your books… The same record by Tori Amos is on there 3 times, Bangerz by Miley Cyrus (come on, really?) is on there 2 times… I didn;t even submit anything and I think your list is LAME!

    1. Are you suggesting the series that would release a Geto Boys book written by a white travel writer dude is whitewashed? GET OUT OF TOWN, SIR.

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