Press for BMW 2010

Best Music Writing 2010 will be out 11/9/10, but the praise is already rolling in. I'll post links here as they come to me.


BMW2010 Review at USA Today (Pop Candy blog)

"But my personal favorite? That would have to be "The Fighter: The Life & Times of Merle Haggard ." In the lengthy and beautifully written piece, Rolling Stone writer Jason Fine gets up close and personal with the music legend to learn what drives him to perform after all these years and how he crafted his memorable tunes for the working man. It's almost worth purchasing the book for this article alone."

[This piece is a perfect example of the art of the profile. The longest non-charticle piece we've published under my term as editor, it reads like water, and the cranky, defiant spirit of Haggard becomes indelible. I've recognized his manner in many since reading and editing this.]


BMW2010 Review at by Greg Boyd (Oct 15, 2010)

"The biggest difference between this year's model and previous volumes of the series however, is that the entries this year represent the broadest, most diverse collection of music criticism offered up to date. There really is something here for just about everybody — whether your tastes run towards indie-rock, country and hip-hop or to more obscure corners of the music spectrum like regional Mexican music, the Louisiana gumbo of BeauSoleil, or even classical and opera."

 [One of the great things Ann said to me while doing the book this year was "I want to represent the conversation we're had about pop music in 2009." I agree that this is one of the strengths of the book: a broad range of stylistic approaches, musical topics, and author points of view.]

Best Music Writing 2010 Table of Contents

At long last, here is the table of contents for the 2010 edition of Best Music Writing, guest edited by Ann Powers.

Best Music Writing 2010

Cover of Best Music Writing 2010

MICHELLE TEA * The Gossip Takes Paris * The Believer

GREG TATE * Michael Jackson: The Man in Our Mirror * The Village Voice

JASON KING * Michael Jackson: An Appreciation of His Talent * Passed the Curve

SASHA FRERE-JONES * Living on the Radio: The-Dream is Everywhere * The New Yorker

CHRISTOPHER R. WEINGARTEN * Twitter & The Death of Rock Criticism * The 140 Characters Conference, New York City, June 17, 2009

ERIKA VILLANI * On “Jay-Z ft. Alicia Keys—Empire State of Mind * The Singles Jukebox

MAURA JOHNSTON * Kanye West: Back to Reality? * Idolator

HUA HSU * The End of White America? * The Atlantic

ROBERT CHRISTGAU * Paisley’s Progress * Barnes & Noble Review

JOSH KUN * Mexican Bands Hear Success Calling * The New York Times

GEOFFREY HIMES * BeauSoleil: Beau Brothers * OffBeat

RANDALL ROBERTS * On the Road to Burma: Globetrotting with Ozomatli, Unlikely U.S. Diplomats * LA Weekly

JESSICA HOPPER * The Passion of David Bazan * Chicago Reader

NITSUH ABEBE * The Decade in Indie * Pitchfork

TIMOTHY QUIRK * My Hilarious Warner Bros. Royalty Statement * Too Much Joy

EVIE NAGY * Biscuits and Jam With a Side of Mud * Billboard

PHILIP S. BRYANT * Stompin’ at The Grand Terrace: Excerpts from a Jazz Memoir in Verse * Utne Reader


BARRY WALTERS * The Revolution Will Be Harmonized * Out

AARON LEITKO * The Orange Line Revolution * Washington City Paper

EUGENE HOLLEY, JR. * One on One with Maria Schneider * PMP: The Annual Magazine of the Philadelphia Music Project

MARK SWED * Conducting 101 * Los Angeles Times

LOLA OGUNNAIKE * Drake: Rookie of the Year * Vibe

PHILLIP MLYNAR * 50 Cent: One Dethroned King Out to Reclaim His Crown * Hip Hop Connection

GREG PRATT * Regret, Divorce, Compromise * Monday Magazine

JASON FINE * The Fighter: The Life and Times of Merle Haggard * Rolling Stone

CHRIS WILLMAN * A Very Dylan Christmas * New York Magazine

NIKKI DARLING * Appropriate for Destruction * Live from the Penis Gallery

JON CARAMANICA * Help from His Friends: The Return of a Fallen Idol * The New York Times

RAQUEL CEPEDA * Another Love TKO: Teens Grapple with Rihanna vs. Chris Brown * The Village Voice

SEAN NELSON * Let’s (Not) Get It On * The Stranger

MARY GAITSKILL * Lady Gaga in Hell * Ryeberg Curated Video

CHRIS ESTEY * Phil Ochs Greatest Hits * Get Well

TAVIA NYONG’O * Adam’s Return * Bully Bloggers

ALEX ROSS * Voice of the Century: Celebrating Marian Anderson * The New Yorker

JODY ROSEN * Vanishing Act: In Search of Eva Tanguay, the First Rock Star * Slate


Pre-order at Powell's (that's an earlier, beach-themed version of the cover)

For a review copy or press questions:

Kate Kazeniac Burke / Associate Director of Publicity

Kate.Burke at PerseusBooks dot com


For series questions, email Daphne Carr

musicwriting at gmail dot com


Call for Papers: EMP Pop Conference 2012, Seattle, WA

Cash Rules Everything Around Me: Music and Money

2011 EMP Pop Conference at UCLA

Feb 24 – 27, 2011

Los Angeles, California

Jointly sponsored by Experience Music Project and the UCLA Department of Musicology

“The best things in life are free, but you can give them to the birds and bees, I need money!” Motown founder Berry Gordy co-wrote it, Barrett Strong sang it, and John Lennon’s vocal in the Beatles cover  offered a fervent affirmation. By the time Wu-Tang Clan recorded “C.R.E.A.M.,” however, chasing bucks in pop found kinship more with high stakes gundowns and teens behind bars.  For this year’s Pop Conference, the tenth annual meeting and first outside of Seattle, we invite presentations on a matter Los Angeles knows well:  the relationship between song and paycheck – or, to invoke the O’Jays hit “For the Love of Money,”  bass line and bottom line. 

Topics can cover any era or style of music and may include, but are not limited to:

 -Selling out:  self-objectification and compromise, but also selling out as breaking out-- codebreaking and innovation

-- The music industry, past, present, and (?) future, from records to radio and retail; impresarios in idolatry; the current slump and pop through boom and bust, affluence and scarcity

--Money, bling, “Life in the Fast Lane,” etc. as a topic in song and discourse: how different genres view commercialism differently; charity and social consciousness as rival impulses

--Class as operating force; profitable music and blurred hierarchy, the working class and “Don’t Get Above Your Raisin’”-- how class-bound assumptions affect musical valuation

--Los Angeles  in the pop imaginary, a place that has never pretended music is a solely artistic enterprise

--“Capital (It Fails Us Now)”: payola blues, the pervasive sense of the business as (to quote Hunter S. Thompson) a “long shallow money trench” and distillation of capitalism’s inequities

--Globalization and monetization: pop as international product, differing national and regional approaches to music merchandising

--Patronage: sponsorships, institutions as  support structures for pop, music in advertising

--Financing musical production: the aesthetics of hi-fi -- as David & David once sang, “all that money makes such a succulent sound”

The EMP Pop Conference, launched in 2002, joins academics, critics, performers, and dedicated fans in a rare common discussion. The conference is jointly sponsored in 2011 by the Department of Musicology at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music and by the Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame. This year’s program committee members are:  Jasen Emmons (EMP/SFM), Robert Fink (UCLA), Gaye Theresa Johnson (UCSB), writer Maura Johnston, Josh Kun (USC), Katherine Meizel (Oberlin), filmmaker Jim Mendiola, Ann Powers (Los Angeles Times), writer-musician Tim Quirk, Jeffrey Rabhan (NYU), and biographer David Ritz.

Please send proposals of 250 words, with 50 word bio, to organizer Eric Weisbard (University of Alabama) at Deadline for proposals is Friday, October 15. Panel proposals, specifying either 90 minutes 120, should include both overview language and individual proposals/ bios, or overview and bios only for roundtable discussions. We welcome unorthodox proposals and proposals aimed explicitly at a general interest audience. Registration is free for presenters and the public.  For more information, go to

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