Pop Culture Bracketology: Artist of the moment, Elite 8 discussion and results
By Cory Barker
Cory Barker: Will it be an all chalk final four? GO!
Max McCombs: I think the top seeds win fairly easily in the Pitchfork and Pop brackets, but the other 2 are tossups in my book. I'm leaning toward the underdog in both of them.
Brad Sanders: I'll take Mastodon, Kanye and Lady Gaga.
Brian Marks: I agree with Brad on Mastodon over Muse. I'm sick and tired of Muse's glam + prog = bullshit equation. They have a couple songs that I like, but most of their music just leaves me cold. It's too much arena rock, where every song has to devolve into a sing-along. I am not a fan of metal at all, yet somehow Mastodon wins me over. I only know two of their albums, the same as with Muse, but they're way more fun and exciting for my tastes. The album concepts are a little silly, but they're not stuffed with filler. And if they can make someone like me listen to metal, then they must be doing something right.
BS: Well, I'll take Mastodon because they're my fifth favorite band of all time and shockingly aren't hated by non-metal folks. I'll take Lady Gaga because I stand behind the belief that she is the most important pop star of my/our lifetime and that she is finally making pop matter again. I'll take Kanye because the couple Kanye songs I know I like better than the couple Jay-Z songs I know.
I have a dreadful sense that the final will be Hip Hop Winner vs. Pitchfork Winner and I won't care about the title game any more than if Michigan State and Duke win on Saturday.
Steven Arroyo: I really don't want to see Muse go in for all of Brian's reasons, plus I voted against them in the first round. But I can't in all seriousness vote for a metal band for the final four. I know way too few people who are into it. Maybe it is vastly under-appreciated, I can't say, but maybe the 20's will be its decade. Who knows, but this just isn't it's time.
Jay-Z should be goin to the ship.
Gaga too, mostly because "Telephone" is the most amazing thing I've ever witnessed and Beyonce was the sidekick.
BS: :-( Steven, why do you hurt? Frankly, if Mastodon can't be band of the moment, no metal band can. They are the best metal band of all time to attain the level of commercial success in America that they have. I mean, the only better metal bands are Iron Maiden and Opeth (my opinion!) and Maiden are at this point a legacy act for most people and Opeth cracked the Billboard top 25 but are peaking...Mastodon are only four albums in and have already...blah, I'm wasting my time. You like it or you don't, and I like it a lot. They're gonna get buried by whichever rapper moves on so I don't really care. I'm putting my energy behind Lady Gaga from now on.
SA: I see no reason why metal can't blow up. I just think that it will take time if it happens. Maybe Mastodon will be the reason it does. But just because they're metal Jesus doesn't mean metal will never be as popular as it is now, I'd say the opposite. I for one will most likely never get it, but I guess it's my loss.
Adam Lukach: It's hard for me to split hairs between Kanye and Jay-Z; they're both probably in my top 3 or 4 personal favorite artists. But I think if you consider the concept of "the moment," that gives Kanye a slight advantage.
Although Jay-Z is obviously still enormously popular and making some good music, his hey-day was really the early part of this decade.
BP3 was pretty mainstream-sounding and had some novelty collabs and even some weak efforts from Jay-Z in lyricism and flow. Many would argue that you can make the same case for "808's," but Kanye's other 3 albums are more timely and more "our generation" than Jay's best work. "808's" isn't really a hip-hop album either, but that's another argument. Long story short, I think Kanye's music is more of the moment and really, since 2003, he's been the better rapper.
MM: I think I've made up my mind in the hip-hop bracket and am going with Kanye. I agree he feels like a more relative presence in music right now, plus Graduation is probably the single most important album in getting me to listen to hip-hop.
BM: Kanye is more of the moment as far as I'm concerned. If you keep trying to retire, I don't think that suggests much investment in music of the moment. Jay-Z has some great albums, but they're a few years past, and BP3 just bored me. I think Kanye was influenced a lot by Jay-Z, especially in regards to making an album that actually works as a cohesive whole, not just a collection of songs.
I bet he's the world's biggest douche in person as much as in public, but he manages to sound like a human being on his albums. And maybe people have been too hard on 808s; it obviously wasn't supposed to be like his previous 3 albums, but I think it's legitimate to make a departure now and then. So because I think that Kanye is simply more interesting at the moment, I'll vote for him.
Brett Eppley: Gaga absolutely wins over Beyonce. As Brad said, she's making pop music matter again. And even if you don't buy into all of her pop art aspirations, you've got to admit that her music is damn good. Or at least immensely popular. I believe that she is the Madonna of our generation. She's truly making it hip to like pop music. No more guilty pleasure listening here.
I'll also throw my hat into the rap ring: I'll have to give this one to Kanye. As much as I hate Mr. West, he's definitely more relevant than Jay-Z right now. Kanye's asshole attitude doesn't mean that he doesn't put out some good tunes.
2. Kanye West -- 87.5 percent of vote
1. Radiohead -- 62.5 percent of vote
2. The Flaming Lips
1. Lady Gaga -- 100 percent of vote
1. Mastodon -- 75 percent of vote