Like A Fledgling Slime Demon, The 2023 Pop Music Abstract Has Hatched

Some people wait a lunchtime for a moment like this. Friends, the 2023 Pop Music Abstract has arrived:

Forty-one thousand words on one hundred and eighty-seven records. A record for excess; Tales From Topographic Me. After a year of writing constructive, wholesome things, I committed a few nights to a thoroughly corrosive and irresponsible activity. Call it a compensatory gesture. You didn’t think I became a solid citizen in my old age, did you? Gosh, no chance.

For this who are curious, the Pop Music Abstract is an exercise in automatic writing in which I line up all the albums of the year with which I have some familiarity and get down the first thing that pops into my head about them. I do this as fast as I can. The rule is that I can’t backspace. I can fix spelling errors and glaring grammar mistakes, but I cannot edit my thoughts. Once they’re thunk, they can’t be unthunk. They just have to sit there, accusingly, on the screen. If I reach the end of the Abstract and I’m not ashamed of myself, I’ve done it wrong. For those who are incurious, well, I hope you are proud of yourselves there in your ivory tower. You think you’re so much better than the rest of us. I bet you don’t even know the price of a carton of eggs. I mean, I don’t, either; I’m a vegetarian.

As you’ll suss out if you poke around, this annual exercise was done around the Thanksgiving break. I’m sure I’ve already changed my mind about most of it. I didn’t post it immediately, choosing instead to burnish my rep via tony, sophisticated prose about the arts in fine Jer-Z publications. I also traveled to Italy so I could eat arancini while thinking derogatory thoughts about various Renaissance masterpieces. That was fun. Back here in my sunny bunny corner of Jersey City, I am afraid that Mr. Alphabet has determined to make me look even worse than I am. I didn’t have many positive things to say about A and B albums. The albums at the very end weren’t much better. Thus Abstract ’23 begins with an acrid odor and leaves a bitter, aspartame-like aftertaste.

But the middle part heats up nicely! The longest entry is devoted to the transgender-critical controversy surrounding Róisín Murphy, which was a sorry episode, and you might also like to check out this one about the year’s two worst songs. My paranoid but not unreasoned rantings about the state of humanity relative to its microbial enemy are here and here. Also, there’s this — the only thing I will ever have to say on the benighted subject of artificial intelligence. In between, you’ll find the usual reflections on popular albums by such Abstract-favorite artists such as Lana Del Rey (yes), Morgan Wallen (yes), Carly Rae Jepsen (ooh yes), Travis Scott (sorta yes), Drake (eeeh), and Boygenius (nah). Who am I to hold such off-the-cuff opinions? Who am I to hold such cipollini onions? A big-nosed fella from the Garden State, that’s who. We are intimately acquainted with onions here.

You might also start from the top and read it from beginning to end. Scientists have discovered that this is something that was done by prior cultures, and thus it may come back into vogue, as egg tempera and decimation have. It is all about what you have time for. Are you too busy for the likes of me? Surely you are. But are you in the mood to goof off in the company of my prose? Could be. As I like to do, I have reactivated prior Abstracts from 2020, 2021, and 2022, which means you can read the Helena Deland entry from a few years ago that’ll help you understand why I am always banging on about mushrock. I’ll stop when they stop. Not a second before.

Irascible, but mostly harmless, like a groggy red panda,

Tris McCall