My 2009 end-of-the-year anti-list: just 0ne artist, who released a Christmas album in 2008. Why am I so out of it?
The day before Christmas my old business partner Vyto sent me the music industry’s weekly Soundscan charts. It’s an old habit he hasn’t broken yet and I do like to take a look from time to time. A couple of years ago I was compensated well to spend hours each week going through all the sales data to determine where we were successful and where we weren’t, and to refine marketing strategies or develop new ones. While the career began with a passion for music, somewhere along the line I’ll admit it turned into moving boxes of plastic. I’m grateful that it wasn’t too late to get my groove back.
Today I opened the attachments from his email and took a peak. These particular charts were for the week that ended December 20th, which means that it’s less impacted by the ebb and flow of new releases which have slowed to a trickle during the holiday season, and more reflective of the mainstream tastes of the American consumer. While I have been a long time roots music person (and that term is pretty loose in my definition), I’ve always been aware of the top sellers. Looking back, I guess it was because it was part of my job description to just know such things. Today…I’m clueless.
In the past few weeks I’ve read (at least) 1,392 annual “best of” lists that have been flying through the roots blogosphere and for the most part it’s music I know, love and listen to. There’s been a few new things I’ve discovered and several I missed, but all the lists had something in common: familiarity. Be it Drive-By Truckers or Laura Veirs, Deer Tick or Steve Earle, Caroline Herring or the Gourds…it’s all a comfortable fit like a pair of soft, faded blue jeans.
Looking at the Top 200 today, it’s hard for me to find anything I can attach myself to. Susan Boyle tops the weekly chart and I recall her from the viral video frenzy a few months back. Yes…I know of Taylor and Carrie, Lady Gaga and Alicia Keyes. But who are Michael Buble, Justin Bieber, Robin Thicke and Lady Antebellum? Something called “Glee” has two albums in the top 30 and when I shift over to the digital songs that were downloaded, it might as well be written in Greek. Iyaz, Ke$ha, Guetta, Orianthi and Derulo. C’mon….do any of you know this stuff?
Finally. I slide down to number 30 and there’s a band I recognize: The Chipmunks. Alvin, Simon and Theodore are back in business with a new generation of kids and here’s where I can turn this post into something relevant to roots music and finish my year end blog.
Rosie Thomas. You know her? I didn’t until last night when some blog creature included her on their stupid “best of” list and I checked it out. You know the story…Pacific NW (where else, these days?), friend of Sufjan and occasional duet partner of Damien Jurado. Funny girl, five albums, new documentary screening in small but cool places. So she put out a Christmas album back in 2008 and she does a slow and smokin’ hot cover of the Chipmunk’s song “Christmas Don’t Be Late”. It’s something I know I’ll love in July as much as in December…it’s that special. It’ll never make the Top 200….and I’m so happy it won’t.
Turns out…I stayed up late last night checking out all her stuff. Very interesting. Became her Facebook fan and signed up on her mailing list. I feel like a stalker. Since I can’t find a video to post of her doing the Chipmunks, I found something else I think y’all might like. (PS: Peter B. did a great piece on her a few years ago and you can search the ND archives to read it.) Enjoy.