The sax solo as we know it today would not exist without Gerry Rafferty. His 1978 soft-rock classic 'Baker Street' has to be the 'Ulysses' of rock & roll saxophone, giving the entire chorus over to Raphael Ravenscroft's sax solo, creating one of the Seventies' most enduringly creepy sounds.
Every now and then, Prince decides to try being a normal rock star. You know, the kind who does a professional arena tour where he plays the hits. But part of what makes him such an eternally fascinating star is that he lives in his own private purple world, even when he sets out to make the house quake.
Davy Jones was the grooviest of the Monkees, which makes him one of the grooviest pop stars who ever existed. He was the best dancer in the Monkees, the Cute One, the one with the coy English accent, the bowl-cut boy-child who shook those cherry-red maracas and always got the girl. He was also the guy who stole David Bowie's original name.
One of the things that make Liars so fascinating after five albums, each one so completely different from the others, is that even though they play around with all the classic tropes of art-damaged angst-noise perv-rock, they exude a totally cheery and boyish enthusiasm onstage, goofing around with their keyboards and beatboxes.
When I started out as a music journalist, at the end of the 1980s, it was generally assumed that we were living through the lamest music era the world would ever see. But those were also the years when hip-hop exploded, beatbox disco soared, indie rock took off, and new wave invented a language of teen angst.
Rebecca Black might sing like a robot, but that's just proof she has evolved beyond us. Her vocal is just a slightly exaggerated version of the robot glitch-twitch stutter that's been mainstream pop vocalese for the past 10 years or so.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus is just perfect in 'Veep.' She gets to show off the spiky claws beneath her patrician finesse. The obvious way to play 'Veep' would be to make Louis-Dreyfus a folksy heroine, one with more common sense or populist heart than her enemies. But she isn't one.
God bless America - what other civilization would give Patrick Dempsey another shot to rule as a sex symbol, twenty years after 'Meatballs III: Summer Job?' His reign as Dr. McDreamy on 'Grey's Anatomy' is proof that there's nothing we love more than giving Eighties celebs a heartwarming second stab at life.
Baseball's Opening Day is full of time-honored traditions: the President throws out the first ball, the Cubs' starting pitcher walks away with a 54.00 ERA, the Royals get mathematically eliminated from the pennant race.
Big Star invented a vision of bohemian rock & roll cool that had nothing to do with New York, Los Angeles or London, which made them completely out of style in the 1970s, but also made them an inspiration to generations of weird Southern kids.
Ron Swanson is more than the MVP of the 'Parks and Recreation' squad, more than just the funniest character on TV - he's the perfect depiction of aggrieved American manhood at the twilight of the empire.
Sending Paris Hilton to jail for being the most loathed celeprosy lesion in the history of the species seems like a happening idea at first - forty-five days at Century Regional Detention Center is so the new thirty days at Promises Malibu! But it sets a dangerous precedent to jail celebs just because someone hates them.
'The Voice' has lots of singers who fit the 'Idol' mold of young, innocent ingenues with psycho stage moms. But it also has long-suffering adult pros, with a whiff of thirtysomething despair in their voices. That adds an edge of realness.
Do you believe in Madonna? Because Lady Gaga has got something to say about 'Express Yourself,' and she's turned Madonna's fourth-best single of 1989 into her own instant-classic club anthem, 'Born This Way.'
'The Sopranos' gets praised as novelistic, but it follows the most banal of life patterns, showing the sheer tedium of being a mobster. It has dead spots, boring plotlines, weak episodes. Characters develop slowly, or don't. Like viewers, a gangster might get bored, fade out of the action, then come back to find none of his debts forgotten.
'American Horror' goes for a very specific kind of Seventies suburban downer ambience - 'Flowers in the Attic' paperbacks, Black Sabbath album covers and late-night flicks like 'Let's Scare Jessica to Death.' It even has 'Go Ask Alice'-era urban legends.
The first season of 'Community' stumbled a bit because the plotlines too often veered into realism, but that is not a problem anymore. Not when prize episodes concern a campuswide blanket fort, or a secret garden with a magic trampoline.
'Revenge' is a shameless soap in the style of Eighties shoulder-pad slap-offs like 'Dallas,' 'Dynasty' and 'Falcon Crest.' Yet there's no wink-wink camp.
I've built my whole life around loving music. I'm a writer for 'Rolling Stone,' so I am constantly searching for new bands and soaking up new sounds.
At an incredibly divisive point in pop history, Donna Summer managed to create an undeniable across-the-board experience of mass pleasure - after 'Bad Girls,' nobody ever tried claiming disco sucked again. It set the template for what Michael Jackson would do a few months later with 'Off The Wall.'