Radiohead Delivers Album of the Year
(Soundbite of music)
ALISON STEWART, host:
You are listening to song from their number one release in the 2007.
I sound like Miss South Carolina, I'm starting that over again. This song is from the number one movie of 2007 and voted - as voted by NPR listeners who took part in the ALL SONGS CONSIDERED competition.
MIKE PESCA, host:
NPR listeners such as, new act Americans.
STEWART: Such as - the number one, the song, the release. Now, just because Radiohead offered up the music on a pay-what-you-wish scale something near and dear to NPR folk or was it really the finest musical offering of the year?
NPR's music's Bob Boilen who's been the best master presiding over this year's polling and we invite him to walk us through the highlights.
BOB BOILEN: Hello there.
STEWART: So Radiohead on top. Did more people hear it because they bought it for a dollar, $2, $3, whatever they want to pay?
BOILEN: I don't think that there's a chance for that. In fact, there's a good chance that they have less people listening to them because the only way to get it was one specific way. You have to go in, you had to register online and get into a lot of stuff. It's a great record. And the song you're playing now is not even anywhere near my favorite record, my favorite song on the record. There are so many good songs.
STEWART: So you weren't surprised at all that Radiohead was on top?
BOILEN: Oh, no. It was clear, it was - I mean, there was a lot of chatter about the record and maybe people, you know, watched CNN and start to report about the fact that they're doing this download, you know, buy as you what you want and they did the public radio method which I loved, you know?
BOILEN: Honestly, you know, that you pay with you want to play(ph)…
MIKE PESCA, host:
Although as you listen to the record, then it interrupt and tell you how many cups of coffee each individual track was worth.
BOILEN: That's right, though. Maybe next year.
PESCA: Where else but a Radiohead record can you get that kind of quality? Please donate. But yeah, they got a lot of press attention. But and, within the - people who love music, I mean, basically, it almost seems like you come out with a top 25 list. If I told you in the year 2010, Radiohead and Wilco would have releases we could all put them in at number, you know, two and three on the best of that year list also.
STEWART: Yeah. It seems like they're the usual suspects on the top five. You have Radiohead at number one; Arcade Fire at number two; Feist, three; Wilco and then the White Stripes.
BOILEN: Well, I'm not going to take issue with the Arcade Fire one because, I mean, they've only released so, maybe a second record and the first record was out of the blue. To me, I'll just say it. The best record of the decade, this record is pretty amazing, too. So I was assured that the Arcade Fire (unintelligible)…
STEWART: Oh, come on. All was critically acclaimed. They were critical (unintelligible) as day one…
PESCA: Okay, maybe not as huge (unintelligible) - that's it, that's the fact.
BOILEN: I don't think usual suspects.
PESCA: It's not usual suspects.
BOILEN: And Feist? I mean, who knew, you know? So, but yeah, for sure. You had a list of, you know, Radiohead probably what is this, their seventh record, Wilco's probably there six to seventh white stripes, you know, against six, maybe, Spoon, Modest Mouse, you just go down the list and they're all in the 5 and 6. But you know something about independent rock, which is that most bands put up their second record and you never hear from them cancel. This is a good sign. The Wilco record wasn't a good sign.
STEWART: I know you didn't like that one. Number six, top five, I think, I don't like that (unintelligible), uh, NPR, of course. At number six is a record though I love myself. It's Spoon. Can we play a little spoon?
(Soundbite of song "The Underdog")
SPOON (Band): (Singing) I hear the call of the lifetime ring, felt the need to get up for it. Oh, you cut out the middleman, get free from the middleman. You got no time for the messenger. Got no regard for the thing that you don't understand. You got no fear of the underdog that's why you will not survive.
PESCA: That is, I think, a good song from a good record and a band that it's good upon repeat listenings and also very accessible. If you've never heard of them before and you just turn that, I bet you said, I kind of like that.
BOILEN: You know, they write catchy ones, don't they?
PESCA: Yeah. Time to be shared for hooks.
STEWART: Let's listen to what some might, how do we say, is the best record by the craziest artists. Ms. Amy?
(Soundbite of song "Back to Black")
Ms. AMY WINEHOUSE (Singer): (Singing) We only said goodbye with words. I died a hundred times. You go back to her and I go back to - I go back to us.
STEWART: Were you surprised Amy Winehouse didn't crack the top 10?
BOILEN: It's hard to say. I mean, first time she's up against a lot of people who have a big fan base….
BOILEN: …but, boy, you know, it is good record and Mark Bronson, who helped produce the Lily Allen record, a great producer made this record sounds good but, you know, it's only as good as the singer and the songwriter and she's a good one.
PESCA: Do you think that because it was released earlier in the year maybe that's what kept it out of the top 10?
BOILEN: I thought about that and but Arcade Fire came up, you know, top of January. It's the number two record. If there is something to be said about that, (unintelligible)…
STEWART: What about all the shenanigans?
PESCA: Oh, yeah.
BOILEN: The - I don't, I - honestly, I don't follow any of that stuff so let's go back to some music.
PESCA: Oh, yeah. If you haven't followed, it turns out that she likes to drink. Anyway…
(Soundbite of laughter)
PESCA: Arcade Fire, do you think the fact that they've been such good friends to NPR, who helped them launch them up the list? They've done a lot of stuff with us, right?
BOILEN: They have because well, I mean, for me on ALL SONGS CONSIDERED, I love this band and I love this band because…
BOILEN: So get them Bob's good side, do you say?
BOILEN: So I guess you don't like it. I mean, I would have sought full concert for this.
STEWART: Publicists, are you listening?
BOILEN: Well, they are listening. They might need me, and they also know that's one of their press releases right in the trash when I get them. But this is a band that I saw four times in New York City. We Webcast it - you can hear it online, and they just, I mean, those eight or nine of Vermont station they put them a magnificent show, their music is unpredictable and fun and depressing and uplifting and it does it all at the same time.
STEWART: I want to keep on working down the list…
BOILEN: Yeah, yeah.
STEWART: …at number 13. You have at 13, you have LCD Soundsystem. It's interesting two different people gave me this CD "Sound of Silver" to listen to. I'm wondering how important is word of mouth, you think?
BOILEN: It is like asking the question in the 1960s how important is radio, you know? They're, from the most part, people, you know, there isn't great radio in their cities. If you're lucky, you have one, and in terms of music. So it's everything, you know? It's typing your friend and send them or drop them a song and, you know, through IM or however you do it, whatever blog you might read especially for this kind of music, it's everything.
STEWART: Okay. So for our listeners who haven't heard LCD Soundsystem, I'm going to take the word of mouth a little farther and play a little bit. Check this out.
(Soundbite of song "All My Friends")
Mr. JAMES MURPHY (Vocalist, LCD Soundsystem): (Singing) And so it starts. You switch the engine on. We set controls for the heart of the sun. One of the ways that we show our age. And if the sun comes up, if the sun comes up, if the sun…
STEWART: Now Bob, I think it's always interesting on this list to find out who just missed it, just by a sliver didn't make it into the top 25. Tell us who - 26 and 27 are.
BOILEN: Let's see. Well, both of them are old timers. A group, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, which of was one of the big surprise records that I looked at right and said. Huh?
(Soundbite of laughter)
STEWART: But you know what?
BOILEN: And it's a great record.
STEWART: Yeah, it is just - it's very wonderful it's full.
BOILEN: And then there's - and the 26th was Bruce Springsteen, you know. Look, I love…
PESCA: Bruce Springsteen didn't do magic for you?
BOILEN: I love Bruce Springsteen and it was, you know, 30 years ago. And when the punk movement hit, I left him behind. And honestly, I put this record on and I never got past the summer clothes thing.
PESCA: Well, you know…
BOILEN: …I just stopped listening to it.
PESCA: You know, Bob, I'm a huge Bruce Springsteen fan. I'll meet you on the corner. Okay. Here's - now, take it for me, a big Bruce Springsteen fan. It's not a great record. It's not. I would, I just, I tried to listen to it a bunch of times and then he got this song called "The Last to Die for a Mistake," which is supposed to be a protest song. Play a bit of that and I'll make a little point. Okay.
(Soundbite of song "The Last to Die for a Mistake")
Mr. BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN (Singer): (Singing) A voice drifted up from the radio…
Unidentified Group: (Singing) Yeah.
Mr. SPRINGSTEEN: (Singing) We saw the voice from long ago
Unidentified Group: (Singing) We saw the voice from long ago…
Mr. SPRINGSTEEN: (Singing) Who'll be the last to die for a mistake, the last to die for a mistake…
PESCA: You know, a good protest song has to be subtle, I think or provocative. If you're just going to quote John Kerry, which is what he is doing, it's not that much better than Neil Young's "Let's Impeach the President." To me, this song is so on the nose, it doesn't even work as a protest song.
BOILEN: You know, look, he's a talent, he's a great artist, he's a great songwriter. He - people should listen to what he has to say, but doesn't mean he always had something to say, right?
STEWART: Bob Boilen, that's an excellent place to end. Thank you so much to walk us through the NPR all songs top 25.
BOILEN: My pleasure. You can - you know, you can hear it all online.
STEWART: Thanks, Bob. Have a great weekend.
BOILEN: You're welcome. Okay.
STEWART: And that does it for this edition of THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT.