DO LOOK BACK

THE YEAR IN MUSIC: IT JUST DIDN'T GET MUCH BETTER (OR WORSE) THAN THIS

3. Not to be outdone by Tony Bennett's MTV Unplugged session, the Chairman of the Board himself will make an appearance and add a few new wrinkles (okay, a lot more wrinkles) to an already hackneyed formula. In keeping with the program's "no frills, baby" approach, Francis Albert Sinatra will do an acoustic set of hits like "The Lady Is a Tramp" and "New York, New York." The result? Purists will applaud his decision to ditch those electronic TelePrompTers for good, old-fashioned, hand-held cue cards.

4. In 1994, new artists fell all over themselves to perform on tribute albums to older acts that had no influence whatsoever on the younger acts' musical vocabulary. Therefore, few are surprised when tribute albums to great inventors who had nothing at all to do with music will be the big thing in 1995. Witness I Never Picked Cotton: A Tribute to Eli Whitney.

5. Cranberries lead singer Dolores O'Riordan will reveal in a Rolling Stone interview that she lifted her odd singing style from that episode of The Little Rascals in which Alfalfa swallowed a balloon and tooted all during his recital.

6. Bobcat Goldthwait will make his singing debut, but everyone will think it's Counting Crows.

7. Fed up with Prince's mediocre releases and stupid name changes, the press will heretofore refer to him as "The Artist Formerly Known As Talented."

8. In 1994, MTV showed how prudish and reactionary it is by bleeping out the line "let's roll another joint" in a Tom Petty video. This year, it will refuse to play a Faith No More video because it contains the word "cootie."

9. Aretha Franklin's friends will surprise her in 1995 by staging an "intervention" in which they urge her to "let one of us dress you."

10. The Campbell's Soup people will sign up Crash Test Dummies to spearhead their revitalized "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm Good" campaign.

11. Expect a mass exodus of middle-of-the-road performers from Branson, Missouri, when rapper and alleged felon Tu Pac opens his own show palace in mid-July.

Ted Simons
New Times contributor.
1. Love Spit Love. Richard Butler returns in style. His raspy vocals and searching songs are an entree to beautiful melancholy. Butler's finest work since the best of the Psychedelic Furs.

2. Guided by Voices, Bee Thousand. The voices doing the guiding range from Barrett to Chilton to McCartney to Beefheart to Herman's Hermits (!), and they're all sheathed in gloriously blurred psychedelics. Great stuff.

3. Revueltas: The String Quartets. Instantly fascinating quartets by the late Mexican modernist composer. The mood is short, sharp and tense, and it never lets up. Convincingly performed by Cuarteto Latinoamericano.

4. Blue Aeroplanes, Life Model. With spoken-word pieces on some cuts, and above-average rock 'n' pop on others, this one's like a Nineties version of the Velvet Underground with brighter colors, happier faces and a sharp European accent.

5. Gavin Bryars, Vita Nova. Increasingly important new-music composer designs beautiful choral music (performed by the always blissful Hilliard Ensemble), offset by brooding instrumental works. Very nice.

6. Sugar, File Under: Easy Listening. Bob Mould does it again. Another round of fleshy pop hooks cut to bite-size pieces by Mould's trademark buzz-saw guitars. Killer cut: "Your Favorite Thing."

7. Terry Riley, Chanting the Light of Foresight. Weird and wonderful noises from the former architect of minimalism. These new tunings and dronings are as impossible to describe as they are to ignore.

8. Aphex Twin, Selected Ambient Works, Volume II. Trance music with signs of life. It's moody, ethereal and, unlike most ambient efforts, it's got a beat. Disc two is especially captivating.

9. Man or Astro-Man?, Destroy All Astromen!!. Psychotic, sci-fi surf tunes straight from the bowels of Alabama. Joyously absurd, and not to be missed.

10. Freedy Johnston, This Perfect World. Not as honest as his debut, The Trouble Tree, but better than the follow-up, Can You Fly?. Great songwriter and wonderful stylist.

Danielle Hollomon
New Times contributor.
1. Wu-Tang, "C.R.E.A.M." The proof is in the abbreviation: "Cash Rules Everything Around Me"--ain't that the truth!

2. Zhan‚, "Hey Mr. D.J." The name is pronounced "Jah-Nay," the track is "Hey Mr. D.J." and the sound is damn infectious.

3. Mad Lion, "Take It Easy." This jam rocked the reggae masses, though it's thickly laced with hip-hop. Hard-core hip-hoppers couldn't have asked for a better blend in 1994.

4. Aaliyah, "Back & Forth." Prot‚g‚e or prodigy? Allegations of her marriage to Mr. Bump N' Grind (R. Kelly) can't impede this track gone platinum.

5. Fugees, "Nappy Heads." Gone are the days when you could get by with simple drum beats and a James Brown shriek. Fugees come at you with a bumpin' new slick sound.

6. Queen Latifah, "U.N.I.T.Y." Black Reign. With a smooth, flossy jazz tempo and a delivery that says she's still the Queen, this is a high-octane track you can cruise to all year 'round.

7. Gravediggaz, "Diary of a MadMan." Offering the most creative fusion of hip-hop and horror in '94, this jam carried ghostly wails over an earthquake bass line.

8. Craig Mack, "Flava in Ya Ear." A brand-new 1994 flavor in your ear with contemplative chimes, pianos and alluring rhythms that sweep you away like a Barry White interlude.

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