Music Madness: ROUND 2 Begins!
Radiohead's Kid A, the #1 seed fought hard to keep its spot in the tournament, and is now up against Coldplay's Rush of Blood to the Head. Coldplay's only contender made the brackets because it was already a reader's favourite. Kid A on the other hand, has been time and time again to be considered the best album of the Ohsies by both regular listeners and the kind that write for magazines.
Both of these albums just barely made it into the second round. In Rainbows beat out Kanye West's fun debut with only 54% of the vote, and Frank Ocean created the first upset by beating out Jay-Z's hip hop classic, The Blueprint with an incredibly tight 52% of the vote. I don't know which record will make it past this round, but for now I am appreciating their colourful cover art next to one another.
Along with the Radiohead album above, The White Stripes' White Blood Cells was able to box Kanye West completely out of the competition. Now they move on to match a Canadian Content favourite, Funeral, that took a way too easy win against Erykah Badu's neo-soul masterpiece, Mama's Gun.
This to me seems like a very appropriate contest. The two women have a lot in common: Amy and Adele are both British ladies, but not only that they come from the same home town of London... and even more-so, they both come from the Northern part of London! Coincidence? Probably. They also are both very good at selling records, and singing with a heck of a lot of soul.
Well, that was fun. Let's take a step back into the previous decade, shall we? 1990's Conference next:
Welcome our first real Cinderella story of the brackets, Weezer, who in their 16th seed position just barely beat out Radiohead's #1 seeded OK Computer with 54% of the vote. Rather similarly, but perhaps slightly more expected, L. Boogie came out as the winner in her scrap-out with Bono. This one could get messy.
Now onto what I find the funniest match-up of the conference... maybe even the round. Will it be the crafty and clever, socially conscious rap, or the bitter and angsty radio-friendly pop rock? "Ready Or Not", or "You Oughta Know"? Refugees or the Canadian? There are way too many ways to spin this one, but either way, you've got to make a choice somehow.
This one makes sense to me somehow. I feel as though Nirvana made Nevermind to confront albums like Morning Glory on purpose... even though it was put out a few years earlier. Oasis made a really catchy, listenable British pop rock record that sold a lot of copies. Nirvana made a record that attempted to stick it's middle finger up at conventional pop music, and ended up pioneering Grunge (which I think is great in its mentality and sound, but not great in its favour of long greasy hair).
Along with Nevermind, The Smashing Pumpkins were somehow able to make sure that no iconic dead 90's rapper would make it into the second round. Meanwhile, Country-pop favourite, Shania Twain lost out to contemporary Christian music band, DC Talk. I knew that no matter what, someone's nostalgia would win out. That's probably true here too.
I'm not going to lie, The 70's/80's Conference is my most loved and hated part of the bracket. Some amazing things are happening here, and I love every one of the albums competing. I've no idea how I'll be voting on some of these:
Look how beautiful these two records look beside each other! The Joshua Tree is our second #16 seed in the competition, and it goes up against another fan favourite in Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814. Both won their first round game without too much thought, so it's hard to say who has the edge here. Then again, 4 against 1 (even if the 1 is Miss Janet) is never completely fair.
Each of these albums came out of much closer fights than the last two, with Pink Floyd securing at least one spot this round, even though their #1 seed, Dark Side of the Moon, was upset. Wish You Were Here is less heady, and more personal, and it goes head to head with the equally personal Rumours. Pink Floyd and Fleetwood Mac are both bands that have been through a lot with each other, and made some deeply creative and honest music as a result. Oh look, the albums here are the result! Whose pain do you think is more beautiful?
These two records are trying to do a lot more than just offer some good tunes, although they do that too. Stevie and The Clash alike have made a lot more music outside of these albums, but I would say Songs in the Key of Life and London Calling represent the best of these two very different worlds. It might come down to whose world you like more.
In the closest match-up of the entire tournament so far, Paul Simon's Graceland beat Marvin Gaye's What's Going On? Can he do it again with the world's most commercially successful album of all time? Let's not turn around and underestimate Thriller either - there is a reason (or several) that this album can be found in nearly everyone's home.
Most recently, you've been placing your bets on the early albums of the 50's/60's conference. These are the records that set the standards ahead of time, and are sometimes more mythical than things we experience on the daily. If you don't know any of these 2nd round albums, I'd encourage you to look them up. Without further ado, here are the last 4 match-ups of round 2:
While Rock was establishing itself as the popular music of this time period, Jazz and Soul music were the two genres that knew how to make an album before LP's were really a thing. Though Aretha was following in the footsteps of many a great soul man, she seemed to perfect the art, and now stands as the lone woman in the conference. She goes up against what is probably the most bought/listened to record in the history of Jazz. Yikes!
It's hard to say which of these albums have been more influential on music since, whether it be Jazz/R&B or Psychadelic Rock. Both won their round 1 battles with relatively comfortable margins , although I have to admit, I was shocked that The Beatles beat out Dave Brubeck. Then again, they are The Beatles. Coltrane may prove slightly harder to knock down, but either way, I'm excited to see how this one goes.
Talk about two iconic records going head-to-head. Both Pet Sounds and Are You Experienced? were released in the mid-late 60's ('66 and '67 respectively), but are playing some very different music. The Beach Boys record as many different sounds as they can think of in a pop-ish kind of way, and Jimi Hendrix goes electric, planting himself down as an intensely experimental and brilliant guitarist. I have a feeling this will be a fight to the end.
Simon and Garfunkel beat out on Beatles album, only to face another one. As a record that made it in by draw at seed #15, I wasn't expecting much from Bridge Over Troubled Water, but clearly it's playing for keeps. Abbey Road isn't joking around either, taking out Bob Dylan's one and only chance in the brackets.
Hope you enjoyed that good time - we'll keep these Round 2 polls open for a week - so check back on Easter weekend for the Sweet 16 Albums in Round 3!