The 2010 Bollocks! Awards, Part 2

Did you miss Part One? Check it out here.

Now let’s keep the ball rolling by presenting the “In the Beginning” Award for Best Opening Track. I had a hard time picking a winner for this award, but I went with a track that not only is an excellent way to open the album on which it appears, but is also a pretty excellent snapshot of everything that makes this particular band great. So the award goes to The New Pornographers for “Moves”, the track which opens their stellar album Together. Honorable mention goes to Ted Leo for “The Mighty Sparrow”, Menomena for “Queen  Black Acid”, and The National for “Terrible Love”.

If I’m going to have an award for an album opener, it only makes sense to have an award for an album closer. Hence, the Coffee is for Closers Award for Best Closing Track. This award was won in a landslide by Wolf Parade, because “Caveosapien” is a badass way to end Expo 86, which is a badass album. Honorable Mention: Ted Leo for “Last Days” (Mr. Leo has garnered a lot of honorable mentions at the Bollocks! Awards because he is indeed an honorable man) and The Hold Steady for “A Slight Discomfort.”

Some critics shy away from paying a backhanded compliment, but I certainly don’t. That’s one of the reasons I made up the Semisonic Award for a Brilliant Song on a Boring Album (Semisonic, astute readers will recall, is responsible for the catchy late ’90s anthem “Closing Time” which opened an album that was so boring it’s not legal to listen to it while operating heavy machinery). This year’s winner is The Besnard Lakes in yet another landslide. “Albatross” is one of the best songs of the year, but it sits smack in the middle of one of the most boring albums I’ve ever heard. The song should be the absolute blueprint for the Besnard Lakes’ continued existence, but something tells me their future sounds a lot more like the boring bits of The Besnard Lakes are the Roaring Night.

Sometimes, when you’re trying to pay homage to a hero, you can end up parodying that hero and – occasionally – yourself, so I like to make mention of artists who honor their heroes with dignity. So I’m presenting LCD Soundsystem with the Marilyn Manson Award for the Best David Bowie Impersonation. LCD Soundsystem mostly gets this award for “All I Want,” but the more I listen to This is Happening, the more I hear post-Young Americans Bowie, which is not a bad thing at all.

This year, I heard a really shitty cover of Don Henley’s “Boy’s of Summer.” Turns out that really shitty cover was by the Ataris. Now, I don’t like Henley’s original, but the Ataris’ version is pure suck. By way of contrast, none of the songs I considered for the Smothered and Covered Award for Best Cover Song suck even a little bit. After much debate, I’ve chosen to give this award to Mavis Staples for her cover of CCR’s “Wrote A Song for Everyone.” Staples goes one better than a faithful rendition of the tune – she takes ownership of it and truly makes it a song for everyone. Honorable Mention goes to Esperanza Spalding for a beautiful rendition of “Wild is the Wind” on her Chamber Music Society album and also to Bettye LaVette for basically all of Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook.

But now that I think about it, one of my favorite covers I heard all year is not available on any album. Good thing I just made up the Ted Leo Finally Wins One Award for the Best Live Cover Song. As you might have guessed, Ted Leo wins this award for his stirring rendition of “Fisherman’s Blues” by the Waterboys. Leo performed this as part of his encore at the Troubadour last spring and it made me want to run home and play guitar really loud. Well done, Mr. Leo. Well done.

So few awards left to hand out! By the way, the winner’s don’t get statuettes or anything – they just get the honor and prestige that doesn’t come from winning a Bollocks! Award. You’re welcome, winners!

Some albums don’t get the recognition they deserve when they come out, so I thought it might be nice to create the Delgados Award for Most Totally Underrated Album of the Year. It’s pretty clear from where I sit that MGMT should win this award for Congratulations. A lot of people wanted more sugary pop from the weird duo and what they got instead was an album of psychedelic freakitude that actually has a lot more going for it than their debut did. Honorable Mention: The Hold Steady for Heaven is Whenever, Jesca Hoop for Hunting My Dress, and The Black Keys for Brothers.

And what’s this over here? Why, we have Another Tom Waits Award, This Time for Best Lyricist of the Year. The winner won’t surprise anyone who’s read more than two posts on this blog: Craig Finn, the singer and chief songwriter for The Hold Steady, is probably the best writer in all of rock music today. Heaven is Whenever, like all four of its predecessors, is littered with gems like, “In the end, I bet no one learns a lesson” from “Weekenders” and “you can’t tell people what they wanna hear/ if you also wanna tell the truth” from “Soft in the Center.” And the ostensible title track, “We Can Get Together”, is one of the sweetest things Finn’s ever written. Honorable Mention: Nick Cave (Grinderman) and Matt Berninger (The National).

I don’t make a lot of genre distinctions here at Bollocks! but I made up the Thriller Award for Best Pop Album because I am often accused of hating pop music. Cee Lo Green is the clear winner in this category because The Ladykiller is pure pop candy and I end up listening to it about three times in a row every time I start listening to it. Yes, “Fuck You” is the best song, but the other songs are not far behind it. Green still doesn’t get the credit he deserves as a pop mastermind and winning this award will definitely not change that. Honorable Mention: New Pornographers Together and She & Him Volume Two.

And so we come to the last Bollocks! Award for 2010, which means I can stop abusing the bold text for another year. The final award is every bit as unprestigious as the ones that came before it – it’s the Bollocks! Album of the Year Award. Though competition was stiff, there’s really only one album I can give this award to and that’s High Violet by The National. That album is still stunning to me every time I put it on and it’s still the album from this year that I listen to the most, which is saying something indeed. I could give several Honorable Mentions but I will point out two that I think also qualify as essential listening to people who like joy and they are This is Happening by LCD Soundsystem and Castle Talk by the Screaming Females. More on those albums later when I publish my arbitrary, old-fashioned top ten albums list.

That does it for the 2010 Bollocks! Awards, but the year-end madness will continue with favorite-album write-ups from a couple of my guest contributors, my top ten albums list, and a look ahead to 2011. If you’ve enjoyed Bollocks! this year, why not give your friends the gift of our web address (https://chorpenning.wordpress.com) so they can enjoy the hyperbole and vitriol for themselves? It’s totally free and it’s the kind of gift that says, “I want you to read the word ‘fuck’  ninety times in the next five minutes.” Hey, it’s the thought that counts, right?



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One thought on “The 2010 Bollocks! Awards, Part 2

  1. Pingback: Rumors of Our Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated (Possibly by the Illuminati) « Bollocks!

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