Welcome to the best music writing of the week. This column is not a new idea, but it’s a predictably great one, and no one is currently compiling a list like this. What can you do when someone writes about the music you love (or hate) in such a compelling way that you have nothing left to add? At that point, I’d argue all you can do is direct your audience toward that kind of writing. And since the music coverage here is pretty much a one-woman-show at the moment, there’s obviously going to be things I don’t have time/resources/bandwith to cover. In those cases particularly, I’d love to use this platform to share other people’s great reporting, writing and story-telling. So without further ado, here’s the best music writing from this week.
05. Q&A: BloodPop (FKA Blood Diamonds) On The Indie/Pop Divide & Working With Grimes, Justin Bieber, & Madonna
BloodPop fka Blood Diamonds is a producer who has worked on several of the year’s biggest pop albums — but he started out as an anonymous Soundcloud producer and video game designer. So how did he get connected to some of the biggest acts in the world? And why the name switch? And what the fuck is happening to the blurred line between pop and indie anyway? He discusses all this and more with Gabriela Tully-Claymore in an interview with Stereogum, and the resulting conversation is fascinating. A snippet:
But with this generation, 18-year-olds who were born close to the thousand mark, they grew up with fucking DSL. You know what I mean? Not only did they have the internet, they had fast internet. They could download terabytes of shit in minutes. That gives you so much access to like, not only sound, but culture.
I also like the part where he explains how his conscience about actual blood diamonds spurred him to change his name. Watch for this one though, he’s on track to be one of those producers who have a hand in everything. Read the whole interview here.
04. Erykah Badu Discusses Her New Mixtape, Relationship with Drake, and Twitter Jokes
Ok, so this one isn’t writing, but I’ll alter the structure when necessary and this interview Brandon Jenkins did with Erykah Badu is very, very necessary. Some people don’t have the composure to be on tape with a huge presence like Badu, and Jenkins just does. He holds his own while she eats chips, hands him her trash and even clowns him on the first question. He doesn’t falter at all, and instead keeps asking the questions we’re all dying to know the answers too: Did her and Drake really have tea together? When are they going to do a song together? What inspired this mixtape? It’s a great interview and timely since Badu’s surprise tape just dropped today. Watch the whole thing here.
03. Redemption Song
Carrie Battan’s take on Bieber is especially intriguing because she looks past the album’s textures and toward the expectations of a pop star’s redemption narrative. We both heard Mayer on the petty-as-fuck “Love Yourself” but instead of falling into disgust like I did, she points out how this feels more like the real Justin than anything else on the album. What if he had explored that instead of faux contrition? Further:
“Love Yourself” points to a well of emotion that Purpose mostly doesn’t tap. The song prompts the listener to wonder what it would sound like if Bieber truly engaged with the ugly side of his downfall.
Read the whole essay here (Tip: you can use an incognito window if you’ve already used up all your free New Yorker articles).
02. How Mia Is A Lifeline In Times Of Terror
If you’re not reading everything Anupa Mistry writes, remedy that immediately and follow her on Twitter to keep up. Mistry is a critic living in Toronto who frequently writes for Pitchfork and plenty of other places. She’s a stunning, sharp voice with an incredible perspective, as her latest piece on M.I.A. illustrates. She unpacks the uneasy atmosphere that terrorist attacks like Paris — or before that, 9/11 — create for Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh people living in western countries, and how M.I.A.’s music is a source of comfort amid the tension. Consider:
When your body is political the issues are no longer abstract.
Read the whole piece here.
01. In Praise Of Adele My Fat, Flawless Heroine
So, the Adele album didn’t do as much for me as I thought it might, but over at Vulture Jill Mapes took an entirely different approach to 25. Mapes explores the way Adele occupies her role as a plus-size female cultural icon with grace and dignity, how she centers her own sexual and romantic desire, how she never lets her body become the butt of a joke. Here’s my favorite passage:
For as classic as her music can sound, every time Adele sings of a great romance, it feels subversive to me. That’s because the most controversial thing a fat woman can do is have someone who proudly loves (and lusts for) her, exactly as she is.
Read the entire essay here — it was the best thing I read all week.