Music News

Top 12 Biggest Musical Letdowns of 2012

Page 5 of 6

Best Coast, The Only Place

I have a question for Bethany Cosentino, frontwoman for beach pop outfit Best Coast: If California is "The Only Place" for you, the only place that makes you happy, then why are you always so miserable?

All your songs contain this lethargic desperation, maybe some sort of desperate moping that you self-medicate with red wine and weed and your cat and calls to your mom. Back in 2010, it was really cool, mostly because your vocals were drenched in this sunny, retro fuzz. Maybe I'm just a moron that gets turned on by lo-fi, but something about The Only Place lost its magic and the bitching on songs like "Why I Cry" and "Dreaming My Life Away" got old quick.

Dealing with the pressures of your fame on tracks like "Better Girl" and "How They Want Me To Be" weren't surprising or charming. Your sophomore slump is actually forgivable just because you are Bethany Cosentino and you are beautiful and you are fun and your music is usually fascinating. That's why it sucks to hear you so unhappy.

Maybe you should move to a better place than SoCal. I can give you a few suggestions.-- Troy Farah

The Malian Army

It is 6,638.7 miles from Phoenix, Arizona to Timbuktu, Mali, West Africa -- but it may as well be on the far reaches of the Solar System, because, as Legolas says in The Lord of the Rings, "The way is shut."

The biggest musical letdown of 2012 does not come from a single artist or band, but instead is something larger, something global, and comes compliments of the Malian Army. In March, the army temporarily succeeded with a ridiculous coup attempt that quite literally opened the floodgates for al Qaeda of the Desert and other Islamist factions to lay siege, and ultimately take over Northern Mali, where Timbuktu is located.

Why is this significant? Timbuktu was a musical breeding ground and storehouse for some of the most important music in the world. We're not talking rock or blues or jazz directly, but the deeply spiritual sounds--whether created on guitar, kora, drums, or vocally -- have and continue to profoundly influence almost every form of Western music.

What is sadly ironic is that Touareg nomads -- many of whom are separatists seeking their own country -- initially joined forces with al Qaeda of the Desert to take over Northern Mali when the army revolted. Now that Sharia law has been put into effect, world-renowned Touareg musical artists Tinariwen -- a band which recorded with members of TV on the Radio, and has performed in Arizona in the past 18 months -- and Bombino, another "desert-blues" artist, were threatened with severe punishment for performing.

Other musicians fled. Singer Khaira Arby was told her tongue would be cut out if she didn't stop singing. She and her band lost most of their equipment in their haste to escape. Others sahred similar fates.

Though this musical culture hasn't been entirely destroyed -- mostly it's been uprooted and relocated (and Timbuktu is but one of Mali's many music centers) -- the present and historical loss (particularly recorded material) will prove significant to future generations.-- Glenn BurnSilver

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