A Critic's Night Before Christmas

The Year in Music

A Critic's Night Before Christmas

The Year in Music

A Critic's Night Before Christmas
The year on rewind.
Dec. 15 2003 10:30 AM

The Year in Music

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Slate's second annual year-end Music Club begins today and will run through Wednesday. Here, Slate music columnist Sasha Frere-Jones kicks off the festivities with a verse celebration of the year in music.


'Twas the end of the quarter, when all through the biz
Not a product was moving, not even Les Miz.
The albums were set by the entrance with care,
But the kids were on Soulseek, and no one was there!

The MCs were all trying to spit on Diwali,
And late as they were, it sounded quite jolly;
While 50 in his 'kerchief and I in my fleece
Had just settled down to ogle Kelis.

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When out in UK there arose such a tizzy,
I clicked to confirm that it was just Dizzee.
Straight to the phone, I reassured Justin
"They like you in London when they say Disgusting!"

Beyonce's so crazy, with Jay-Z debatin';
Evanescence has fallen, but can't go for Satan.
And Pink is so sad that "Trouble" 's not afoot,
And Durst's in the coal chute, covered with soot.

I saw a tanned man run past, I could barely chase him
Untouched by time, it was Casey Kasem:
"More rapidly artists, they come and they go
But OutKast don't have to act like they know!"

"Now, CHINGY! now, OBIE! now, FREEWAY and FIFTY!
On, ANDRE! on BIG BOI! On, LUDA and MISSY!
To the top of the charts! To the windows and walls!
Before Lil Jon drops his goblet on all!

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As mergers that before the SEC fly,
Peers to peers trade, under Ashcroft's eye;
12-year-olds tremble, while mothers do curse he
Who would jail children 'cause they copped Beg For Mercy.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard old Mottola
Denying he knew Michael on his Motorola,
While parents burned copies of Bad and of Thriller
Kids waited for Brody, The One, The Distiller.

She was dressed all in black, from her head to her boot;
She'd just driven over Darryl Worley's flag suit.
At the gay bar, she said, "Where can I park this?"
And Carsonsaid, "Over there, on that guy from the Darkness!"

My eyes—how they sparkled! My iPod, how merry!
I was listening, respectfully, to the new Sting and Mary.
A man of the Stone Age was concerned about villains;
"Don't pull a Courtney, Brody, pull a Dylan,

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And remember that standards by seniors are strong.
If you like an old Doobie, is that so wrong?"
"What if I end up," she said, "with a belly?"
He said, "I'll just go and blame R. Kelly!"

Toby Keith's calling to see if Natalie's here.
No, but Christina is, so he'd better steer clear.
I said, "Don't be silly, no one gets past Fido;
Or if they do, they'll just have to hug Dido."

Jack White, he was calling from Renee's little cell:
"Ryan Adams is here, and he's not looking well."
I turned and put on A Rush of Blood to the Head
As tiny wee Paltrows danced in my head.

Brody sprang to the phone and called to Clay Aiken,
"If you think I'm singing with you, you're mistaken!"
Then I heard Brody scream, as she skated out of sight,
"WHAT DO ROCK CRITICS KNOW? C'MON LET'S FIGHT!"

Sasha Frere-Jones is Slate's music critic and a writer and musician in New York.