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Sunday, February 5, 2023

My favorite music (and my favorite magic), 2022 edition

Every year, my faithful sometimes-editor David Levithan conducts his David Music Poll, and every year I faithfully respond. Here are my picks for this year (and here are everyone's). Spoiler: Orville Peck made me start loving music again in a big way. Combined with my other recent obsession, Magic: the Gathering, I made a double-sided card (see above and below). I know these are the two most niche things ever to be spoken of on the internet, but maybe you'll appreciate one or both of them?

Matthue R, Im-peck-able

Most essential:

Orville Peck, Bronco

This came along and swept me away in veils of fringe. I liked his sparse, moody first album, but everything about every song on here perfectly glistens. It stirs you. Rarely have I felt so happy as I do listening to these gay country anthems, and that is not a sentence I ever thought I would write.

Otherwise essential:

Big Thief, Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You

Campfire songs with a severe undercurrent of menace.

Taylor Swift, Midnights

Apologies to Miss Tay that this is no higher on my list. Zoinks, it's hard being a serious artist, especially as one is, forced to live up to one's legacy, and none the greater for it. If I were ranking just the song "Antihero," it may have placed higher, the mightiness of cramming several individually great images and motifs into 4 paltry minutes. It's not great. It's merely good. The best songs are the singles (although I love "Mastermind" [although the single cribbed line "When you fail to plan, you plan to fail" nearly ruins the spell for me]). The whole damn spiel could use an editor. Even, perhaps especially, "Antihero." It is a lesser novel by a writer I will nonetheless read everything by. But I am still here to read everything.

Twice, Between 1 and 2

My partner and I were having an argument about why I can't get into Reputation, Taylor's collection of techno (sorry, electronic dance music) thumpers, but I love Twice. Partly, I think, because these songs are both simple and constantly reinventing themselves: there's no moment of a song that is either hard to digest or understand (there's a perfectly simple hook, but there's a new one about every 5 seconds throughout each song), but also there's such a complete surrender when listening. Twice songs have 3 languages going on at once: Korean, most of which I don't understand (but I probably agree with whatever they're saying); English, most of which I do (likewise: on "Scientist," my insufficient brain hears "[Korean] [Korean] Einstein, [Korean] [Korean] Frankenstein" and, like, I get it), and the immortal and universal "fa la la la la." It's not the language of love. It's not even the language of happiness. It's the language of, I've got a song stuck in my head and you're gonna get it stuck too, and in that regard, as all others, Twice delivers.

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