Maura Johnston

Maura Johnston

Most Recently: 'I Want You,' In Order of How Badly You Are Really Wanted

I have no idea what I am doing.

'Cowboys & Aliens' Is Not Kidding, You Guys

"By the time the film, which cost about $100 million to produce, opens next July, the studio expects advertising and future promotions to have persuaded almost everyone that Mr. Favreau’s movie is a tough-minded adventure on the order of Clint Eastwood’s 'Unforgiven'—with aliens."

Ladies Who Blog, Listed

Here is a list of "125 Fearless Female Bloggers," most of whom apparently possess that quality because they're not afraid to post about SEO practices, people being "Too Fake On Facebook," and "How To Get Incoming One Way Backlinks to Your Blog." What these women are trying to say aside from "Look at me! I have a message!" is unclear, but that is precisely why I am never not fascinated by the alternate-universe Internet; it's not even the medium that is the message over there, but its amplification. [Via]

Why The Ads For Christmas Engagement Rings Make Me Uncomfortable

It's not even December, but the "aggravating trends in holiday commercials" list is already filling itself out quite nicely, and right behind the chart-topping scourge of twee that is Pomplamoose has to be the surge in ads for diamond merchants like Jared, Zales, and Kay, all of which have decided that the best way for a man to celebrate the season is to put a sparkly ring on his intended's finger. But all these ads are doing for me, a red-blooded American female, is solidifying my belief that that I never want someone in a relationship with me to feel like they have to "propose." READ MORE

Patrick Stump, "Spotlight"

I have been patiently (OK, semi-patiently) waiting for the release of the first full-length by Patrick Stump, the former Fall Out Boy lead singer and ex-Law & Order guest star who also happens to possess one of the best voices in pop today. He also has finely tuned musical instincts; I saw him play a brief set at SXSW in March, where he pulled off a Jon Brion-at-Largo style "play all the instruments then loop them" bit and a Bobby Womack cover. (It was awesome. Too short, of course, but awesome.) Last night he released the first single off his forthcoming record, "Spotlight," in not one but two forms! Let me say that again: !!!! READ MORE

New Music: The Joy Formidable, LeeLou, PJ Harvey, Kylie Minogue, and Florrie

Over the past two years the new band I've been most thankful for is the Welsh trio The Joy Formidable; led by a powerhouse blonde named Ritzy Bryan, they sound like all the best bits of alt-nation's brief matriarchal rule, full of energy and passion and galloping drums. Last year, I probably would have worn out the grooves on their hyperactive single "Cradle" had I listened to it in physical form, and this year I have them on repeat again thanks to "I Don't Want To See You Like This," an impassioned look at a broken relationship that's currently fighting it out for the top spot on my "2010 awesomeness" list. READ MORE

Liveblogging The 2010 American Music Awards: Teenage Dreams Of Prom Themes Past

Because nothing makes popular music more fun than typing alongside friends, it's time to do that "liveblogging" thing in honor of the 2010 American Music Awards, which celebrate the most popular of the most popular music that this country has to offer, complete with the sort of pomp that only the most craven enterprises can possess. Join me after the jump for the Black Eyed Peas, Christina Aguilera, Katy (sigh) Perry, the results of allowing 13-year-olds to vote (online) (for their favorite male pop stars), and OMG NEW KIDS AND BACKSTREET BOYS TOGETHER!! READ MORE

We Will Be Liveblogging The American Music Awards This Weekend!

The American Music Awards are simultaneously the silliest and the most honest music-related gala. Nominees are based on things like Soundscan numbers and online streams instead of trifles like artistic intent or legend status, and the winners are dubbed "favorites," not "bests." Yet there's an air of seriousness about it that you'd never see at, say, MTV's Video Music Awards, one that will be ever more present this year as the Black Eyed Peas bring us their latest wedding-floor-filler "The Time (Dirty Bit)" live for the first time on TV and Train play That Train Song You Hear Everywhere one more time. Which is to say, come back Sunday at 8 pm eastern for a good old-fashioned liveblog of the show by me! And pray, pray that Kanye shows up.

New Music: Marnie Stern, Sky Larkin, Shakira and the xx

My greatest regret of CMJ week, which just blew through New York in a whirlwind of panels and open bars and late-night Kanye sightings, was missing the almost-dozen performances by Marnie Stern. Marnie's self-titled album, which came out earlier this month on Kill Rock Stars, is my favorite record of the year—brash but vulnerable, energetic but melancholy, and full of . Plus, "Female Guitar Players Are The New Black" is not only a great title that sorta-forces critics to deal with their "OMG a girl is playing guitar really fast that's like so weird" biases, it's a whirlwind of a track, with an army of Sterns leading the assault over Zach Hill's pummeling drumming and guitar bursts that sound like they were inspired by the "pew! pew!" sounds people make when they're playing Finger Lasers. READ MORE

iTunes' "69-Cent One-Hit Wonders" Ranked By Relative Tolerability

16. Baha Men, "Who Let The Dogs Out" READ MORE

"Pap Smear! Pap Smear!" Just Doesn't Have The Same Ring

A crisis pregnancy center in St. Cloud, Minn., has figured out a way to entice local students who might not otherwise appreciate their mix of sex education and religious lecturing (not to mention whoosh-filled videos): According to a coupon inside the most recent edition of the St. Cloud University annual agenda, the Pregnancy Resource Center of St. Cloud, Minn is packaging its STD, HIV, and Pap tests with a free cheese pizza at the local Little Caesars. (One pizza per person only, alas. Although given the religious bent of this place... if you're pregnant, does that mean you're eligible to eat for two?) [Via]