I AM NOT FUCKING KIDDING ABOUT THIS BLOG BECOMING AN ALL-DISCLOSURE BLOG.
And yet, an ongoing theme in the duo’s music has been the struggle to find the soul amid the technology. It was right there in the title of their undercooked 2005 studio album, “Human After All,” and it underpins their soundtrack for the 2010 sequel to a pioneering piece of sci-fi cinema, “Tron: Legacy.” With “Random Access Memories,” they immerse themselves in a time when the technology had not outrun the humanity, when the nexus of machines, studio craft and pop culture was still under construction.
Some of the praise I’ve seen for Random Access Memories (I heard it, I’m fine with it, I don’t think I would listen again) is in line with this Chicago Tribune article, i.e. salivating over its throwback charms. And sure, it’s pretty neat that an album this funky from a duo so huge came at a time when popular dance music is working so differently. But the sentiment that Daft Punk are injecting soul into technology – as if the two are polar opposites, as if technology is by definition emotion-free – verges on rockist (recast the praise as, “Thank God Daft Punk are saving us from this EDM crap with music that makes me feeeel”). I’ve seen this type of praise heaped on electronic artists before – that they overcome their genre’s inherent soullessness and make it warm and approachable – so it’s nothing towards Daft Punk (or anyone who likes RAM).
But “soul and technology” is a false dichotomy. It’s fine if a song doesn’t evoke some emotion or reaction from you, but it’s not fine to classify entire genres as impenetrable (from later in that article, Greg Kot notes that RAM tries to combat the ”coldness and assembly-line beats of dubstep”), especially when they are such umbrella genres as “dance music.” So much of my library is made up of trance music – some even without the benefit of a human vocal – that is among the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard. Some of it can bring tears to my eyes in the right moments. Dubstep doesn’t make me cry, but it can sure as hell make me feel. My approach is not to classify these moments – when a purely synthetic song reaches me – as exceptions to the rule, but merely as an example of good music.
KYARY PAMYU PAMYU - INVADER INVADER
Will Adams: No surprise, Nakata is just as skilled at dubstep as he is at the dancepop that first caught my attention with Perfume. “Invader Invader” is cut from the same cloth as “Fashion Monster,” its uptempo bounce supporting a chorus that asks you to jump off your feet. The winning moment, however, is the second verse, when the harder half-time beats meet with beautiful piano arpeggios. Kyary continues to win me over with her maximalist pop.
And apparently I make puns without even realizing it (cloth… fashion… get it?)! Anyway, this is great, though it’s edged out by “Ninjari Bang Bang” and “Fashion Monster,” the former of which is already slated for a year-end appearance.
JASON DERULO - THE OTHER SIDE
Will Adams: Jason Derulo feels like he’s living a teenage dream, though it’s not a dream that I’ve had or would like to have. Not with that howling, and definitely not with an ultimatum like “kiss me like it’s do or die.”
Oh look, I used a pun without being hacky for once! Surprised no one else thought of “Teenage Dream.”
Classixx – A Stranger Love
I will be writing about this album soon, but all I’ll say for now is that it pains me that so many will listen to Random Access Memories without hearing Hanging Gardens. I haven’t pinned down which song is my favorite, but I think it might be this one.
The year’s most jaw-droppingly lovely single gets an (unsurprisingly) jaw-droppingly lovely video.
I’d still rank Somebody Loves You and High Society above this (in that order), but damn, the video brings it close. Also, god dammit, this is now the fourth singer I’ve developed a crush on in the last 9 months (past/still current crushes include Ellie Goulding, Alana from Haim, and Carly Rae Jepsen).
This is my second year paying attention to Eurovision (come join TSJ’s live blog at 3 EST!), and this time around I’m watching much more closely. Here are my rankings of the 26 final songs, in order from “NO PLEASE STOP” to “OH HELL YES” (in terms of scale, #26 is a  and the top 4 would definitely go on my iPod). These are personal rankings; I still have very little idea of how the contest works, so chances are my list is gonna be pretty warped from the actual results.
- 26. Malta, “Tomorrow” – This song hurts my soul.
- 25. Armenia, “Lonely Planet” – So does this piece of shit, but less so.
- 24. Hungary, “Kedvesem” – Overproduced and undersung. Apparently this is a remix of a far superior original. I would hope the vocals are different on the first version.
- 23. United Kingdom, “Believe In Me” – What’s Mel C been up to lately? Surely she could come up with something better than this sleepy ballad.
- 22. Germany, “Glorious” – Everything I dislike about Cascada’s past three years in three minutes. Shameless ripoffs (see: “Euphoria”), outdated ripoffs, and a singer who is turned up to 11.
- 21. Russia, “What If” – She’s got a point. What if we chose to bury our guns? We probably wouldn’t have to deal with songs like this.
- 20. Iceland, “Eg a Lif” – Weird production choices here: the fadeout on the long note, and the final seconds have a really upclose, dry vocal.
- 19. Italy, “L’Essenziale” – Everything Is Modulation.
- 18. Lithuania, “Something” – The first verse is hilariously repetitive, and it had me thinking the song would never reveal what that something.
- 17. Estonia, “Et Uus Saaks Alguse” – I believe that this song exists in every language, such is its featurelessness.
- 16. Greece, “Alcohol Is Free” – All the fun is in the chorus/title for me.
- 15. Romania, “It’s My Life” – The countertenor is certainly impressive, and the staging was nuts, but I can’t get into this.
- 14. Belarus, “Solayoh” – The synths are good and loud, though the chorus is a bit off kilter.
- 13. Moldova, “O Mie” – Chorus kinda sounds like “Objection (Tango)” at half-speed, doesn’t it? That earns it at least a couple points.
- 12. Finland, “Marry Me” – All the fun of Katy Perry, with even more in-your-face gender politics!
- 11. Ukraine, “Gravity” – I don’t think I’ve heard string hits used this well since… err, Call Me Maybe (!). Terrible ending, though.
- 10. The Netherlands, “Birds” – If Lana Del Rey recorded something this jazzy, I might crap myself.
- 9. Azerbaijan, “Hold Me” – I like the melodrama in this; it’s verging on Evanescence. Take that as you will.
- 8. France, “L’Enfer et Moi” – The stomp here reminds me of “Rumour Has It,” which has me thinking of the awesome possibilities of a French Adele.
- 7. Denmark, “Only Teardrops” – More panflute, please!
- 6. Ireland, “Only Love Survives” – That was… not the drop I expected. It’s just boshy enough to interest me, though. Needed more of those cool drums.
- 5. Georgia, “Waterfall” – I guess if you’re gonna go ballad, go big. And it’s less so on the recording, but it really sounds like they’re saying, “sailing on a sea of trees.”
- 4. Spain, “Constigo Hasta El Final” – I think I’m a bit alone in my love for this. Who knows? Maybe the lyrics are shit. But when the chorus shifts into double time, I’m sold.
- 3. Sweden, “You” – Those twisting notes are glorious (not “Glorious”). I feel like I’ll find myself drunk one night, trying to sing this, then realizing how little vocal control I have.
- 2. Belgium, “Love Kills” – The synth stabs on the syncopated chord changes are wonderful. Were it not for the dubstep drop, this would tie with Margaret.
- 1. Norway, “I Feed You My Love” – Of course. The strobing bass just pulls you in, and the live drums balance well with it. I’m regretting scoring this a  on TSJ.