virtuosity

March 22, 2011

I don’t love all popular music…or lots of it, even.  I need the lyrics to a song to be at least somewhat interesting, and for the song to have that hook that makes something really memorable.

But those pop songs that are memorable…those, I think, take as much virtuosity to write as the most complex piece of music. The example I always come back to for myself is Carole King. Not all of the songs are great, but there’s something in them that shows that the writer really understands how music works and how we listen to it.

Semi-bold statement #2: for me, Kanye West is one of those artists. And, thank goodness, I think he’s showing signs of maturing (maybe not as much personally as in his music). His first few albums were characterized by flashes of brilliance (Jesus Walks, Diamonds from Sierra Leone, Stronger) surrounded by mediocre material. But I just gave My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, his newest album, a listen, and while it doesn’t have any of those immediate standouts, it’s much more listen-able, overall. No more of those stupid skits that I’d just skip over. A really solid, enjoyable album, with, even, some beautiful moments.

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