The 7th annual Cross Canada Music Critics Poll
in eye, 22 janvier 1998
The 7th annual Cross Canada
Music Critics Poll
Canadian music writers boot up OK Computer and sound off on the best and worst of 1997
OK Computer (Parlophone/EMI) 2975 (35)
2. THE VERVE
Urban Hymns (Hut/Virgin/EMI) 2168 (27)
3. BOB DYLAN
Time Out of Mind (Columbia/Sony) 1422 (16)
Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space (Dedicated/BMG) 1279 (16)
5. PRIMAL SCREAM
Vanishing Point (Reprise/Warner) 905 (11)
Homogenic (Elektra/Warner) 874 (10)
7. BETH ORTON
Trailer Park (Heavenly/BMG) 768 (9)
Dig Me Out (Kill Rock Stars/Outside) 767 (9)
9. YO LA TENGO
I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One (Matador) 702 (8)
Brighten the Corners (Matador/EMI) 666 (9)
11. BEN FOLDS FIVE
Whatever and Ever Amen (550/Sony) 663 (8)
12. FOO FIGHTERS
The Color and the Shape (Roswell/EMI) 606 (7)
13. SARAH MCLACHLAN
Surfacing (Nettwerk/EMI) 579 (8)
14. CHEMICAL BROTHERS
Dig Your Own Hole (Virgin/EMI) 559 (7)
15. STEVE EARLE
El Corazon (Warner) 535 (7)
16. BELLE & SEBASTIAN
If You're Feeling Sinister (The Enclave) 456 (6)
17. BRAN VAN 3000
Glee (Audiogram/Select) 494 (6)
18. BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB
Buena Vista Social Club (World Circuit/Warner) 462 (6)
19. SPRING HEEL JACK
Busy Curious Thirsty (Island/PolyGram) 460 (5)
Be Here Now (Creation/Sony) 442 (6)
21. THE PRODIGY
The Fat of the Land (XL/Koch) 437 (6)
Blur (Food/EMI) 428 (6)
When I Was Born for the 7th Time (Luaka Bop/Warner) 418 (5)
24. THE JAYHAWKS
The Sound of Lies (American/Warner) 410 (5)
25. THE DANDY WARHOLS
Come Down (Capitol/EMI) 395 (5)
Dots and Loops (Elektra/Warner) 394 (5)
27. NEKO CASE & HER BOYFRIENDS
The Virginian (Mint/Outside) 382 (5)
La Llorona (Audiogram/Select) 375 (4)
In It for the Money (Parlophone/EMI) 345 (5)
30. NUYORICAN SOUL
Nuyorican Soul (Giant Step/Universal) 343 (4)
1. THE VERVE
Bittersweet Symphony (Hut/Virgin/EMI) 1806 (21)
Song 2 (Food/EMI) 1197 (14)
Tubthumping (Universal) 1142 (14)
4. BRAN VAN 3000
Drinking in L.A. (Audiogram/Select) 1042 (12)
Brimful of Asha (Luaka Bop/Warner) 732 (9)
6. SMASH MOUTH
Walking on the Sun (Interscope/Universal) 587 (7)
7. THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS
Block Rockin' Beats (Virgin/EMI) 547 (7)
MMMBop (Mercury/PolyGram) 495 (6)
9. BEN FOLDS FIVE
Brick (550/Sony) 458 (5)
10. BIG WRECK
The Oaf (Warner) 455 (5)
Barbie Girl (MCA/Universal) 390 (5)
12. DAFT PUNK
Da Funk (Virgin/EMI) 375 (4)
Where's the Love (Mercury/PolyGram) 364 (4)
14. YO LA TENGO
Autumn Sweater (Matador) 347 (4)
Paranoid Android (Parlophone/EMI) 345 (4)
HOW IT WORKS
The critics (listed on page 10) submitted their lists of their Top 10 Albums and Top 5 Singles of 1997, scoring each entry out of 100. Winners are ranked by total points scored, not total number of votes (which is noted in parentheses). On the charts above, albums and singles are listed by artist names first. To see more commentary and individual lists, visit the music section of eye's web site.
OK, you win
Bigger than R.E.M. Bigger than Beck. Bigger than Hole. Yes, Radiohead turned out to be even bigger than Nirvana. Their third album, OK Computer, topped eye's Cross Canada Music Critics Poll with the largest number of votes (35) in the poll's seven-year history -- Nevermind in '91 won handily with only 22.
Radiohead's victory was not absolute. Indeed, in a rare occurrence, the artist with the top-placing album did not earn the most points overall (determined by the total percentage points given for album and singles). That honor went to fellow Limeys The Verve, who had the second-place album in Urban Hymns and an inordinately high-scoring single in "Bittersweet Symphony."
But the real triumph might belong to Pink Floyd, whose influence is unmistakable on three of the top four albums. Many critics have quipped that OK Computer is Dark Side of the Moon for the late '90s. You can hear two critically approved elements of '80s rock in it -- R.E.M.'s bucolic grace (though Radiohead's base is not so much folk-rock as post-punk) and the widescreen angst of U2 (whose Pop earned 34 fewer votes). But its at-times deeply creepy depictions of white-middle-class alienation and breakdown also recall the end-game Floyd of The Wall and The Final Cut, more so than the late-hippie languor of Dark Side. For Spiritualized's superpsychedelic grandiosity (six-minute guitar solos et al.), retrieve your moldy copies of Meddle or Animals from the back of the closet. The Verve's the most nostalgic of the bunch, with the pastoral bent of Saucerful of Secrets or Ummagumma.
Nice theory, huh? Then what the fuck's Bob Dylan doing here? Growing older, but not wiser. The sense of resignation on Time Out of Mind, his most universally lauded album since Blood on the Tracks in '75, is strong, but then rarely has he seemed so stupefied, and that's attractive, too. Note that Bob spends most of the 17-minute track "Highlands" making cryptic small talk with a waitress. The critics responded to it because, like most of the albums on the chart, it was very good and, like few of the albums on the chart, it feels like it says something important about love, death and refills.
So how about those Women in Rock? Sarah McLachlan charted well (for more on the Lilith Fair queen, see page 13), but her soft-focus swooning was edged out by the more artistically adventurous sounds of other women -- Björk's pristine loony tunes, Beth Orton's stoner-folk-with-beats and Sleater-Kinney, whose Dig Me Out proved to be an anomaly among this year's faves by containing catchy songs with loud and fast guitars. (The Foo Fighters' reheated grunge-punk aside, this might be the most midtempo list of all time.) With Chemical Brothers, Spring Heel Jack and The Prodigy, burly electronica fared OK, though high-profile junglists like Roni Size and Photek didn't register, and Masters at Work a.k.a. Nuyorican Soul came through on the jazzy-Latin-house front. And Chumbawamba, Hanson and Smash Mouth can take pride in having successful hits about feeling good.
The whiteness of the winners is disconcerting. What happened? Wu-Tang Clan's Forever and the Notorious B.I.G.'s Life After Death were sunk by self-indulgent running times, Rakim and Master P didn't quite get enough props, Erykah Badu and Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott were stopped just outside the Top 30. Why's that? The lack of urban and pop radio to showcase the music in Canada, the limited video exposure of black artists who weren't in a Puff Daddy production, our failure to solicit enough polls from hip-hop-n'-R&B-friendly writers (alterna-rock fans are more prone to pontificate for free).
But hey, it's always interesting, and thanks to all who participated. And despite the hype, the computer has yet to replace the guitar. -- JASON ANDERSON, MUSIC ED.
Top 10 Artists
Based on total votes for Best Album and Best Single
1 The Verve 4183
2 Radiohead 3669
3 Blur 1625
4 Bran Van 3000 1536
5 Bob Dylan 1422
6 Cornershop 1150
7 Ben Folds Five 1121
8 Chemical Brothers 1106
9 Björk 1067
10 Primal Scream 1000
John Lydon Psycho's Path 5
Oasis Be Here Now 5
Pat Boone In a Metal Mood 3
Spice Girls Spice 3
Aqua "Barbie Girl" 11
Meredith Brooks "Bitch" 6
Elton John "Candle in the Wind '97" 5
Chumbawamba "Tubthumping" 3
Sugar Ray "Fly" 3
Daft Punk "Da Funk" 7
Radiohead "Paranoid Android" 5
The Verve "Bittersweet Symphony" 4
Yo La Tengo "Sugarcube" 3
Beck "The New Pollution" 3
Can't believe the hype
The critics' pick of the most overflated and overhyped of '97
Spice Girls 14
Puff Daddy 8
The Prodigy 8
Marilyn Manson 7
Backstreet Boys 5
Fiona Apple 5
The country's frozen over, but the winner this year in the category of Best Reissues is a summery choice -- The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds Sessions (EMI) earned 13 votes from Canadian critics. Also in the running was Iggy & The Stooges' remixed Raw Power (Legacy/ Sony), undoubtedly favored because rockers can finally hear the celeste on "Penetration."
The third-place finisher was the complete works of The Jam on Direction Reaction Creation (PolyGram), which earned five votes. There were plenty of noteworthy reissues at four votes apiece: Lee "Scratch" Perry's Arkology (Island); field recordings of American folk, blues and C&W by Alan Lomax (Rounder/Denon); three CDs of Boston post-punk band Mission of Burma (Rykodisc/Denon); AC/DC's Bonfire (Warner); the early-'70s double-live albums by Miles Davis (Legacy/Sony); The Pixies' Death to the Pixies (4AD/PolyGram); Led Zeppelin's BBC Sessions (Warner); Ray Charles' Genius and Soul (Rhino/Warner); and John Coltrane's Complete 1961 Village Vanguard Recordings (Impulse!/Universal).
Three votes were earned by: 01.22.1998's Anthology of American Folk Music (Koch), assorted Byrds reissues (Legacy/Sony)and The Replacements' All for Nothing (Warner). Also multiply cited were Ozzy Osbourne, The Doors, Serge Gainsbourg, John Lennon and Joy Division.
I'm coming up
Congratulations to Montreal's Bran Van 3000, who, with six votes, are the musical act most cited by Canadian critics to go huge in '98 (particularly Stateside). And Madonna's comeback is a sure thing if you go by the three votes she garnered. Also accorded three votes were Montreal DJ Kid Koala, singer-songwriter Oh Susannah and Parisian disco-lite duo Air (who had five votes, if you include general votes for the trendy French). At two votes each were John Southworth, Esthero, Billie Myers, Sarah McLachlan, The Deftones, Beth Orton, Big Wreck, Neko Case, Imani Coppola and the queen of the universe, Alanis Morissette.
This was the year hip-hop swallowed itself. In other words, the predominant sound on pop radio (what's left of it) was oddly familiar. Multimillionaire R&B/hip-hop/pop producer Sean "Puffy" Combs rehashed old hits for new hits, including golden oldies in his own tracks as well as singles by the Notorious B.I.G. and Mase, e.g., Diana Ross' "I'm Coming Out" ("Mo Money Mo Problems"), The Police's "Every Breath You Take" ("I'll Be Missing You") and Lisa Stansfield's "All Around the World" and David Bowie's "Let's Dance" ("Been Around The World"). We asked the ballot-fillers what they thought would be the Early '80s Hit Most Likely to be Sampled by Puff Daddy in 1998. Here's some favorites, so listen up, Puffy...
Grace Jones' "My Jamaican Guy" (Chris Burland), Electric Light Orchestra's "Shine a Little Love" (Christopher Ayers), A Flock of Seagulls' "I Ran" (Adrian Bromley), Talking Heads' "Burning Down the House" (MARY DICKIE and Mario Carlucci), John Cougar Mellencamp's "Jack and Diane" (Kieran Grant), Elton John's "Candle in the Wind" (Jonathan Hale -- "Only he can break Elton's record!"), The Human League's "Fascination" (Catonia Whalen), John Waite's "Missing You" (JOANNE HUFFA and Tom Harrison), Brighton Rock's "We Came to Rock" (Mitch Joel), Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" (Ron Foley Macdonald), Kim Mitchell's "Patio Lanterns" (Aubrey McInnis), Leo Sayer's "More Than I Can Say" (Steve McLean), Thompson Twins' "Hold Me Now" (Jonathan Patrick), Naked Eyes' "Always Something There to Remind Me" (TIM POWIS), Ray Parker Jr.'s "Ghostbusters" and Huey Lewis and the News' "I Want a New Drug" (Dave Rodgers -- "Together at last!"), Christopher Cross' "Sailing" (Robert Thompson), Eddy Grant's "Electric Avenue" (Mike White), Berlin's "Take My Breath Away" (Allan Wigney), Toni Basil's "Mickey" (Chris Yurkiw -- "the original Spice Girl")
Final note: "You mean there's still one out there that he hasn't? In that case, um... 'Rapper's Delight' " (James Morrison)
Being a music critic is a lonely thing sometimes. OK, all the time. So here's a brief list of the albums that individual respondents really rooted for, placing them at or near the top of the list despite everyone else pretending they didn't exist...
The Gravediggaz' The Pick, the Sickle and the Shovel, The Bathers' Kelvingrove Baby, Mortician's Hacked Up for Barbecue, Erasure's Cowboy, Katell Keinig's Jet, Hanzel und Gretyl's Transmissions from Uranus, Richard Buckner's Devotion & Doubt, Matthew Ryan's Mayday, Trans Am's Surrender to the Night, Gogh Van Go's Bliss Station, the soundtrack to Jean Luc Godard's Nouvelle Vague, Elliott Smith's Either/Or, Michael Blake's Kingdom of Champa, Tipsy's Trip Tease, Kronos Quartet's Early Music, World Party's Egyptology, Snapcase's Progression Through Unlearning, Anathema's Eternity, The Sea and Cake's The Fawn, Cheap Trick's Cheap Trick, G. Love & Special Sauce's Yeah, It's That Easy, Kool Keith's Sex Style, Lincoln's Lincoln and Capone & Noreaga's The War Report.
As for more noble defeats, these albums were all within spitting distance of the Top 30: Microstoria's Reprovisers, Echo & The Bunnymen's Evergreen, Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott's Supa Dupa Fly, Daft Punk's Homework, David Bowie's Earthling, treble charger's Maybe It's Me and Teenage Fanclub's Songs from Northern Britain.
Shock! Critics were asked to name their favorite Spice Girl (or Boy, in keeping with the politically correct, post-Lilith Fair spirit of things) and we were surprised by the results.
It's a tie! Canadian music writers can't decide between Posh Spice (Victoria) and Sporty Spice (Mel C) -- they each earned eight votes. (There were also two votes for Posh and Sporty together.) Ginger Spice (Geri) had three votes. Baby Spice (Emma) two and Scary Spice (Mel B) a miserly one. Of course, we did not say that voters had to restrict their choice to one of the five women currently in the actual pop group. Here are some of our favorite alternative Spice people:
Foxy Brown Spice, saffron, Elizabeth Hurley, Gavin Rossdale, Spanky Spice (Marv Albert), Zachary Hanson, Ginger Baker, Death-By-Drowning-In-Ketchup Spice, fenugreek, Ralph, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Spice, "the one who shook the Queen's hand," Tommy Lee, Thom Yorke, Landfill Spice, "the one who talks the least"... and Rosemary Clooney.
Meet the press
In late 1997, we sent ballots to music commentators across Canada. The respondents (listed below) gave us their choices in each category you see. Thanks to the 77 critics who took part.
Don Anderson (Space Age Bachelor, eye), Jason Anderson (eye), Christopher Ayers (Exclaim!), Ira Band (Toronto Star), Jeff Bateman (The Record), STUART BERMAN (The Varsity, Chart), Karen Bliss (The Record, Jam! Music On Canoe, Canadian Musician), GREGORY BOYD BELL (eye), Adrian Bromley (Chronicles of Chaos, Unrestrained!, RHiG), Chris Burland (Chart), John F. Butland (Exclaim!, Chart, Cake), Paul Cantin (Ottawa Sun, Toronto Star, Shift), Mario Carlucci (Yellowknife), Joe Chan (VOX, Calgary), Ian Chiclo (FFWD, Calgary), Chris Dafoe (Globe and Mail), Phil Dellio (Popped, Why Music Sucks, Tapeworm), Mary Dickie (eye, Maclean's), MIKE DOHERTY (The Varsity, Chart), Kerry Doole (Tandem, Access, Words and Music), Jane Farrow (X-tra), Andrew Flynn (Canadian Press), Warren Footz (See, Edmonton), Doug Gallant (The Guardian, Charlottetown), Lee-Anne Goodman (Canadian Press), Kieran Grant (Toronto Sun), Jonathan Hale (Scene, Electric Village, UWO Gazette), Tom Harrison (The Province, Vancouver), Timothy C. Heck (i.e., Calgary), Joanne Huffa (eye, Id), Nicholas Jennings (eye, Maclean's), Mitch Joel (Hour, Montreal, Circus), Kid Rock (Peace!), LIISA LADOUCEUR (Chart, Pulse), John Law (Niagara Falls Review), Anna Lazowski (Uptown, Winnipeg, Chart, Extreme), Sook-Yin Lee (MuchMusic), Jim Little (Hour, Jazz Montreal), ANDRE MAYER (eye), Ron Foley Macdonald (The Daily News, Halifax), P. Stahl MacIntyre (The Buzz, P.E.I.), Rick McGinnis (Globe and Mail), CINDY MCGLYNN (eye), Aubrey McInnis (FFWD), Steve McLean (The Record), Matt Moron (eye, Raising Hell), James Morrison (Access), The Mouth (CIUT, Chart), Bruce Mowat (eye, Hamilton Spectator), Sean Palmerston (Exclaim!), Jonathan Patrick (eye, The Kids Are Uptight), Sean Plummer (Access), Martin Popoff (Collector's Guide to Heavy Metal, Chart), Tim Powis (eye), BILL REYNOLDS (eye), Li Robbins (eye), James Rocchi (Id, Electric Village), Dave Rodgers (The Kids Are Uptight), Harris Rosen (Peace!), Mike Ross (Edmonton Sun), John Sakamoto (Jam! Music On Canoe), Emily Smith (eye, Melody Maker), Perry Stern (eye, Network), Jane Stevenson (Toronto Sun), Jane Tattersall (Chart, Express), Robert Thompson (Grooveplanet, London Free Press), Dave Veitch (Calgary Sun), Brent Waldie (eye), Christopher Waters (Exclaim!, View, Echo Weekly), Catonia Whalen (Chart), Mike White (Exclaim!), Allan Wigney (Ottawa X-Press), Chris Wodskou (Exclaim!, Now, Shift), Scott Woods (Popped, Radio On, Tapeworm), Chris Yurkiw (Montreal Mirror) and mucho kudos to Erin Hawkins (eye), CHIEF RETURNING OFFICER.
See also: http://www.eye.net/eye/issue/issue_01.22.98/music/polllists.html and http://www.eye.net/eye/issue/issue_01.22.98/music/pollcomment.html.
|bran van 3000: the answer | bran van 3000 newswatch | alphabetical order | chronological order | pictures|