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16
Jan 22

2021: Grandson Of Poll!!

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Writing this proved to be an extremely slow process for all sorts of tedious reasons, but here are my notes on DAY 3 of the 2021 poll. Now long since completed but you can listen along on YouTube here – some true greats in this stretch.

  more »

8
Jan 22

2021: Son Of Poll!

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Thanks to getting Covid (again!) I’ve made only slow progress on the poll track write-ups – in fact I only finished this selection after all the matches ended (oops). YouTube playlist here:

Here they are though!  more »

4
Jan 22

2021: The Poll!

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Here are my listening notes/capsule reviews on the first day of this year’s round-up poll. If you want to take part the polls are here and there’s a link to the Spotify playlist too.

5 Discoveries from Day 1: more »

18
Aug 21

The World Cup Of Four Letter Words*

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*Four Letter Word Song Titles, that is.

As you all know I spend a lot of my pop time these days running elaborate Twitter tournaments.  These have a lot of matches and it can be tricky keeping track of what’s going on, so this is an experiment whereby I’ll link to all the polls that are running currently.

QUALIFYING ROUND: more »

9
Sep 20

#16: Can’t you see I’m trying?

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The final bracket spotlights the great hopes of indie rock – at least as far as the NME was concerned – The Strokes. Googling magazine covers for the lead-in illustrations to the poll brought home a couple of points. The first is how quickly and heavily the NME went all-in for The Strokes. The second is how little else they had to talk about in the same breath – their natural tendency to roll a few acts up into a “scene” seems initially thwarted. That would change, fairly quickly, but it accounts for the way Detroit’s White Stripes, already on their 3rd LP, would be swept up and treated as a new band.

#15: Looks good, sounds good, looks good, feels good too

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It’s the electroclash bracket! Er… kind of. Maybe half the tracks here would have some claim on that hotly contested genre, but the vibe of this bracket is “what might have been played at a hipster club night?”. Did I go to hipster club nights in 2001? Ah, not really.

7
Sep 20

#14: Es swingt dich in die Knie, denn der Riddim is Hardcore

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For the fifth poll in a row – it’s become a tradition! – we have a bracket dedicated to non-English language pop. This started as simply a couple of groups in the People’s Pop Poll in May, but it’s grown as we’ve done the polls. In the 1990 poll there was almost enough for an entire bracket – in this one we had too many for one, and a certain amount of sleight of hand was needed to accommodate it all.

#13: Hey, must be the money!

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This is the mainstream hip-hop bracket, with a chunky three tracks each from the critical King and Queen of the genre in 2001, Jay-Z and Missy Elliott, and appearances from a host of other royals – Nelly, fresh off months at #1 with his Country Grammar LP; snarlers Ludacris and Mystikal; Outkast and Wu-Tang. Debutants too – the Timbaland-produced Bubba Sparxxx and kinda-conscious rappers City High.

6
Sep 20

#12: Every word seemed to date her

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Roots and Americana don’t make up much of my musical diet – too fibrous – but I’m delighted we’ve got enough for an entire bracket of them here: it gives us something a bit different in the tournament mix. And it’s also reflective of a real 2001 trend which you couldn’t miss even if you didn’t like it – the steady swell of interest in Americana, country and other acoustic musics which had crested at the turn of the millennium, partly thanks to O Brother, Where Art Thou?…

#11: Leave your situations at the door

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This bracket shares very porous boundaries with Bracket 5 – the pop/R&B one – since R&B was a driving creative force in 2001 and we easily had enough nominations to spill over brackets. In this group the emphasis is a little more on the singers: Mary J Blige, Aaliyah, and India.Arie get two songs each, there’s neo-soul from Sunshine Anderson and Angie Stone, veteran soul from Sade, and sitting atop it all, in popularity terms at least, Alicia Keys megaballad “Fallin’”.