The Village Voice’s Pazz and Jop poll, which catalogues the best music of 2007, came out today. Celebrating artists such as Amy Winehouse, the Arcade Fire, Radiohead, and LCD Soundsystem, their list of top albums lacks any real surprises, and the accompanying essays cover some well-trampled ground.
Still, I’m a sucker for any argument that ascribes geopolitical significance to a pop song, so I’ve got to recommend Julianne Shepherd’s essay on the politics of Rihanna’s “Umbrella.” Shepherd explains that Dream, the songwriter behind “Umbrella,” wrote the song about his friends in Iraq. When she interviewed him this summer, he said:
"I have a best friend that was in the Army. I have another friend that was injured. To me, 'Umbrella' meant a lot emotionally about what the country was going though."
Pazz and Jop was helmed by Robert Christgau until 2006, when the Voice fired him (and pretty much everyone who’d ever worked there). If this year’s poll makes you nostalgic, check out the Christgau-edited Best Music Writing 2007. Again, the social-issue-in-a-pop-song essays are the standouts, especially Daphne A. Brooks’s piece connecting Beyoncé’s self-produced album "B’Day" with Hurricane Katrina.