How Kanye Bested Jay-Z This Summer

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This summer has seen a number of interesting music releases, from the much-hyped debut of Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories,” to the return of Black Sabbath. But perhaps the most interesting aspect of these releases has been the direct competition between friends and “Watch The Throne” collaborators Jay-Z and Kanye West.

With both releasing albums this summer – “Yeezus” by Kanye West, and “Magna Carta Holy Grail” by Jay-Z – it was always inevitable that the releases would be compared down to the last musical note. But in the end, there’s an argument to be made that one stands head and shoulders above the other as an album. Here are the 3 main reasons that “Yeezus” is miles ahead of “MCHG.”

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LIVE: Mumford & Sons @ Le Trianon

 

Mumford (in France)

Mumford (in France)

This post was written by a guest writer (and our old school mate) Ed Benson. He’s in Paris, saving the world. You can (and should!) follow him on his twitter account: The_Ed_Benson.

Theatrical setting, UK folk rock megastars and a small, intimate audience? We are definitely not in England anymore. We’re in the heart of Paris, anglophobic to the core, where Mumford & Sons with their waistcoats and broken French, should have been totally out of place. It could have been a car crash. How did it work so brilliantly? Je ne sais pas.

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2012’s Best (And Worst) Trends

We'll let you decide which of these were the best or worst from the year.

We’ll let you decide which of these were the best or worst from the year.

Oh boy, there was some stuff in 2012. And lots of that stuff can stay the hell in 2012. Ubiquitous four to the floor tracks, annoygin vocal ticks and Emeli Sande got on our writers’ nerves this year. But as ever we liked a lot, too. In fact, 2012 was a bumper year for trends. R&B’s landscape was redefined, artists returned second albums that didn’t suck (easier said than recorded) and the pop tracks that dominated were actually pretty sophisticated (we’re talking about those violin strings at the start of “Call Me Maybe”). So let’s carry that forward to 2013 please, music. And if the world doesn’t grind to a stop come Friday, let’s still leave all the irritating trends behind.

Henry:

A few things I’d like to leave in 2012:

  • Whistling. I’ve always been suspicious of songs that use ‘la la la’ as a legitimate chorus but that has nothing on songs that use whistling as a legitimate chorus. And it wasn’t even just those big pop songs (you know which ones I’m talking about) that are guilty. Tucked away on countless albums are songs full of easy-to-achieve but lazy-as-hell whistling. It’s not big, it’s certainly not clever and it’s really difficult to replicate three gin and tonics through a night on a crowded dance-floor.
But more importantly, the things I loved:
  • The concept of a ‘hater-proof’ song (Scooter Braun’s words not mine). Justin Bieber’s Believe was pretty darn good but that didn’t stop your classic slew of ‘Justin Bieber is the seventh sign of the apocalpse’ style rants. Hopefully, “Die In Your Arms” will change that. But it’s unlikely. And yet, if enough of these
  • The lack of sophomore slumps in 2012 was refreshing. Even if Grizzly Bear and Mumford’s albums didn’t dazzle critics like their first efforts, they didn’t bomb. And that may seem like faint praise but other artists blazed their well-worn path to triumphant albums. Hot Chip’s In Our Heads victoriously proved that, like a fine wine, bands age well. Or delivery pizza, whatever.

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2012 Countdown: Our Videos Of The Year

The final countdown: Which videos rocked our worlds?

Videos continued to grow in importance in 2012 thanks to the ever-growing reliance on the internet as a means of distribution. And if that sounds like a lazy way for artists to hawk their music, it’s not. Every video on this list is on a creative par with the song upon which it’s based. There’ll always be lazy tie-ins – ‘hey, we made a video so like it and buy the record please?’ – but there’ll also always be creativity. From The Shoes’ bizarro ultra-violent Gyllenhaal blood-fest to Grizzly Bear’s majestically weird (or weirdly majestic) ode to competitive ice-skating in “Yet Again”, 2012’s better videos never fell short of great.

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2012 Countdown: Our Artists Of The Year

The biggie: Who’s the artist of the year?

Where’s an artist’s place in the music industry of 2012? Increasingly, pop-stars, indie bands and rappers are filtered through Twitter feeds, Instagram feeds and Facebook feeds so it’s hard to know just how candid everything is. Do they take that many drugs? Are they having that much sex? Do we really care that much? The answer to all three of these questions is probably yes but that’s peripherary.

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2012 Countdown: Our Albums Of The Year

Which of these folks’ albums made 2012?

Consensus on the website is divided about the quality of this year’s albums. And it’s not that hard to see why. Plenty of big name acts have released albums that – even if some of us rather liked them – weren’t exciting in a way that sophomore albums should be. You don’t always have to re-define your sounds and expansion is a goal; the worst thing to feel about an album is that it’s lacking ambition. Ambition is good. And it could be found in abundance in 2012. Robert Glasper’s Black Radio, Purity Ring’s Shrines and Passion Pit’s Gossamer dared and won critical acclaim. And for every big name artist that failed, a Taylor Swift succeeded. So we leave 2012 with a few ‘must try harders’ but just as many ‘great jobs.’ Check out our choices after the jump.

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2012 Countdown: Our Songs Of The Year

Just a few of those that shone the brightest this year: Frank Ocean, the xx, Taylor Swift, The Weeknd, Meg Myers and Kanye.

2012 has been framed by three major singles. In the fresh days of spring, “Call Me Maybe” phoned its friend, Justin Bieber, and took over … everything. Then when we had had enough of chanting Cary Rae’s ode to tech-flirting, we moved onto something way, way different. PSY’s “Gangnam Style” came, pretty ladied all over the place and cowboy danced out of town. But gloriously waving its arm in unison above those two was fun.’s “We Are Young.” If anything epitomised the heady, youth-centered, sentimental 2012 days of pop than “We Are Young”, let me know. But pop music is only one umbrella, and there is variety on this panel as to what constituted the song of the year. For some it was political, and others personal. But what underlines them all is that they’re good. From indie-breakthroughs to R&B polish by honest-to-god rock anthems, 2012 had its highlights. Here are some of the best from 2012.

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