Just like every year for at least the past half-decade, 2013 was the GREATEST YEAR EVER for games: the graphics more realistic, the worlds bigger, the narratives more cinematic. Bioshock Infinite and Grand Theft Auto V, the year's two highest-profile releases, won near-universal acclaim from the major games reviewers, and no wonder: with their intricately-detailed worlds and epic, violent stories full of tortured characters and twisting plots, they perfectly fulfilled the current standards for Quality Games.
But for perhaps the first time, much of the criticism these so-called AAA games inevitably received came not from the usual arbiters of moral decay, but from dedicated, engaged gamers. Bioshock was [...]
A promo ad for this album says it all: "EDDIE MURPHY SINGS!!! / 'HOW COULD IT BE' ?!?" Nine years after Richard Pryor's …Is It Something I Said? held the number-one spot on the R&B charts for two consecutive weeks, only one of Murphy's first two albums, both recordings of his stand-up act, had squeaked its way into the top ten of that chart.
Though comedy LPs by Bill Cosby, Steve Martin, and Bob Newhart had been major commercial successes in the 60s and 70s, by the early 80s, audiences were turning to movies, TV, and video rental for their standup needs. (Pryor's landmark 1982 concert Live on [...]
If everyone you know is making an album, is it really a vanity project when you make one, too, or is it just peer pressure? Such is the taxonomic problem with which we're faced when it comes to Speak, Lindsay Lohan’s 2004 Casablanca Records debut LP. While previous entrants in this series may have made their albums at the behest of savvy record labels, as with Ian McShane and Milla Jovovich, or to satisfy their own artistic ambition, as with Corey Feldman and Crispin Glover, the years surrounding Lohan’s album would see releases—some very good ones, it should be said—from peers like Paris Hilton, Mandy Moore, [...]
So far in this series on vanity projects, we've sampled the pleasant, the sad, and the surprisingly great, but now it's time to venture into the area most frequently associated with celebrity albums: the desperately weird. Crispin Glover has made a career out of being an elaborate, self-abasing weirdo, and his 1989 album The Big Problem ≠ The Solution. The Solution = Let It Be is his persona expressed in musical form. It came two years after his legendarily off-kilter bewigged appearance on "Late Night With David Letterman," during which he read aloud his own negative reviews and karate-kicked perilously close to Letterman's face, at which [...]
In 2002, Corey Feldman was the canary in the reality-show coal mine. Before starring on the first season of VH1's "The Surreal Life," a show that spawned something like 16 spinoffs, the fallen star of Goonies and The Lost Boys produced an album which could stand as the unofficial soundtrack for the 00s' glut of celebrity reality shows. That Former Child Actor was going to be a wreck was evident before it even came out (maybe it was the promised cover of "Imagine" that tipped everyone off). But this series is dedicated to reassessing vanity projects past, no matter how unpromising, so let's do now what we [...]
Consider this: according to Discogs.com, about 800 remixes were released in 1983. In 1990, more than 4,000; in 2000, almost 15,000. And in 2010, there were 22,750 remixes released, an increase of more than 450% in twenty years. Not surprisingly, as that number has leapt up, remixes also have come to represent a much larger share of what's being released: in 1983, they accounted for 2% of all releases; 7% in 1990; 17% in 2000; until, by 2010, a staggering 20% of all releases were remixes.
How did we get to the point where a one-hit-wonder band from the '90s like Marcy Playground can release an entire [...]
Part of a series on collaborations that we now take for granted but initially made little sense.
In November of 1984, Band Aid, an impromptu UK super-group organized by former Boomtown Rat Bob Geldof and pop mercenary Midge Ure, released "Do They Know It's Christmas?" The charity single, intended to aid the famine in Ethiopia, sold 3.5 million copies, making it the biggest-selling UK single until "Candle in the Wind '97." The song's massive success showed that there were sound commercial reasons for marrying pop music to charity causes, a now-familiar union. In this, it preceded, but was ultimately eclipsed by, the American iteration: USA for Africa's "We Are the [...]