In my mind, 2010 will be remembered more for moments of strangeness, oddity, and lessened expectation, than it will be for transcendent music. The throwaway nature of pop has never been more transient or incidental; technology enables us to hear as much as we want and, by the sheer volume of those possibilities, to actively listen as little as we ever have. How else to explain Ke$ha and the Glee cast recordings, much less the continuing nonsense of Black Eyed Peas? Raise your hand if you think Bruno Mars or Rihanna are still going to be churning out hits ten years from now, or that Katy Perry (more about her below) will still be squeezing into latex after she and her pasty Brit hubby have two or three little Russells to contend with, and things start saggin’.
I will remember 2010 for several key moments:
1. The Roots, Being the Roots. Are they the best band on the planet? It’s hard to argue when their versatility is put on display every weeknight, and when they reiterate their overall excellence by turning out two of the best records of the year (How I Got Over and Wake Up, with John Legend).
2. Dio, Chilton Die. We lost metal’s gentle sorcerer (Ronnie James Dio) and Big Star’s genius-in-residence (Alex Chilton) within a few months of one another. May they both rock in peace.
3. “The Bed Intruder Song.” Some television producer obviously thought putting Antoine Dodson’s rant on the evening news would make for amusing viewing. Add Autotune, YouTube, and stir, and you have the most unlikely viral hit of the year.
4. Michael Jackson single: Real or Fake? It’s him. Not even Sony would be so dumb as to taint their posthumous cash cow by trying to pawn off a soundalike as the man himself. It’s too easy to get caught. Until MJ rises from the dead (which I firmly believe will happen), this is how he’ll stay in the headlines.
5. ICP’s “Miracles” Video. There is no WTF moment from 2010 nearly as WTF as this WTF moment.
6. Katy Perry’s Breasts Make Videos. Perry’s videos display the two things she does best: making catchy singles and showing off her breastuses. Not since chocolate and peanut butter were mixed by H.B. Reese has a combination worked so well.
7. Rush Become Movie Stars. Who’da thunk the kimono-wearin’, prog-playin’, not-very-pretty Canucks who made Hemispheres and 2112 would ever be so compelling on film? They’re funny, charming, and have more inside jokes than you and your seventh-grade buddies did.
8. Tyler to Idol. It is my fervent hope that Steven Tyler’s defection to television does what 20 years of shitty Aerosmith records was unable to do—namely, stick a fork in a band that has rattled on long past its expiration date.
9. Bret Michael Survives. Dude’s got nine lives. Twenty-five years of groupies, lite metal, drugs, booze, and more groupies has to be good for you.
10. Quasi release “Bye Bye Blackbird.” It’s been in their set for a while, but to hear it on American Gong was something of a revelation. Play it loud enough, and you will be moved. Maybe out of your shoes.