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411 Music Fact or Fiction – Is Bob Dylan A Good Choice For The Nobel Prize?

October 21, 2016 | Posted by Joseph Lee

Welcome to the 411 Music Fact or Fiction! This week, Joseph Lee takes on Jeremy Thomas.

Drake’s “One Dance” breaking Spotify streaming records is surprising.

Joseph Lee: FACT – At least, it is to me. That’s not a knock on Drake. He’s very good at what he does. I just think for a song to come out only a few months ago and get streamed so many times it shatters the record is surprising. Especially when Drake has released songs that are both better and arguably more popular on the radio.

Jeremy Thomas: FICTION – I never count Drake out in any capacity when ot comes to commercial metrics. When you add in the number of big artists who aren’t on Spotify for the most part because of their exclusive rights with Tidal or Apple, it makes that much more sense. New content is always going to top old content and you also have to figure in the fact that Spotify’s suscriber base is growing. It won’t hold the record for that long and I wouldn’t have predicted it, but with the insane popularity of the song I’m not especially surprised.

Tupac and Pearl Jam will definitely go into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017.

Joseph Lee: FACT – I’d be surprised if they didn’t. Both are highly successful, highly influential music acts that deserve recognition and it would be ludicrous to snub either one. I would say Journey’s a pretty safe bet too. I’m hoping Bad Brains go in.

Jeremy Thomas: FACT – Yeah, they’re first-ballot Hall of Famers for sure. I know that there’s going to be some of the usual “Rap doesn’t belong in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame” crowd who are upset, but that’s an invalid argument when you consider that rock music is a different genre than rock and roll, and hip-hop has a direct lineage from rock and roll via jazz and funk. Anyway, Tupac is clearly the most obvious choice for a lot of reasons: his influence and legacy, the fact that he’s a universally recognized master of the genre and the iconic status he gained upon his death. It’s a touch less sure on Pearl Jam because it’s easy to argue that they weren’t innovators of grunge the same way Tupac was for rap but Pearl Jam’s lengthy career, popularity, ability to survive the death of grunge and undeniable qualilty of their discography will still get them in without difficulty. They’re elder statesmen of rock at this point and that’s a favorite of the voting experts.

There’s some truth to what Nicki Minaj said about Kanye West.

Joseph Lee: FICTION – I read the quote over and over and I’m still not exactly sure of what Minaj is even trying to say. Kanye’s a hypocrite for joking about black guys dating white women and then doing it (even though Kardashian is of Armenian descent)? I’d rather not offer anything definitive here as it’s out of my element, but her arguement isn’t a strong one.

Jeremy Thomas: FICTION – Excuse me while I tiptoe around this minefield, but ultimately no I don’t think so. Let me be clear on why, though. While she is “more caucasian” than Nicki, the Kardashians are biracial due to their Armenian heritage. Most white Americans look at them and see someone who isn’t white; I’ve heard Kim, Khloe and Kourtney referred to as everything from African-American to Persian to white, and a few highly-misinformed beliefs in-between. So while I can understand Minaj’s point (people probably treat Kim as “more white” than her), I think it’s one of those wierd instances where she’s not wrong from from her perspective, but she’s not necessarily right from Kanye’s either.


Bob Dylan is a great choice to get the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Jeremy Thomas: FACT – I’m a hardcore Dylan fanboy, so yeah my thought is “Well it’s about time!” Okay, not really — no one is really “overdue” for something like the Nobel prize but you certainly can’t argue his qualifications. Bob Dylan is inarguably one of the greatest lyricists in the history of twentieth-century popular music. His writing is so dense and layered; the fact that it is mostly set to music is pretty much moot in this case. In the best of cases, folk is poetry set to music and Dylan is one of those best cases. I could trot out any number of brillant pieces of writing to prove my case, but I’ll just use one: look up “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” a song steep in symbolism and powerful imagery. It was a deconstruction of the Vietnam War but it’s written in such a way as to be timeless and can apply to many things today. And there are dozens upon dozens of more great works of his. Yeah, he definitely deserves it.

Joseph Lee: FACT – I can’t see a problem with it. He’s one of the greatest of all time. He not only inspired multiple generations of musicians but he’s the voice of his generation. He had a hand in changing the political climate of his time with his music. That’s different than your average musician and right in line with great literature authors. This isn’t Elvis or the Rolling Stones getting the award. THAT would be an attempt to stay relevant. It’s Bob Dylan. It makes sense.

You enjoyed The Weeknd’s music video for “False Alarm.”

Jeremy Thomas: FACT – I honestly didn’t expect to dig it, because first-person perspective videos can quickly grate on the nerves. But yeah, this was an interesting, enjoyable video that had a lot of energy and was well-shot. I liked the little storyline that went through it and even found myself emotionally engaged with the characters a tiny bit. The song is a solid one and while I don’t generally like videos that have dialogue over the song, it even worked here for the most part. Good stuff.

Joseph Lee: FACT – It’s fine, I guess. I know that’s not a stellar critical analysis but I’m not sure what to say. It was enjoyable for its short run time but it’s nothing I’d watch again. I am enjoying The Weeknd’s new tracks, though.

Kendrick Lamar and Maroon 5’s “Don’t Wanna Know” was a less-than-stellar collaboration.

Jeremy Thomas: FACT – I don’t think it’s a bad song, to be clear. It’s just not what I would consider to be the best work from either of them by a fairly large margin. I’m a fan of both Maroon 5 and Kendrick and while I enjoyed it okay, it just wasn’t particularly memorable especially when you consider how good it could have been. It was just a mild, standardly decent pop song and I guess I had some higher expectations for them…which is more my problem than the song’s I suppose, but there you have it.

Joseph Lee: FACT – I really hate Maroon 5’s body of work and this is no exception. Really, someone as good as Kendrick Lamar is taking a huge step down by working with them. It’s a bland, generic pop song and he’s better than that.

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