Bauhaus, Run-DMC, Cocteau Twins, and other should’ve-been hits from 1983

On August 4, 1958, Billboard put Ricky Nelson’s “Poor Little Fool” atop a brand-new chart it dubbed the Hot 100. Prior to that, the industry had relied on a shaky system that aggregated record store sales, radio DJ spins, and jukebox plays to measure a song’s popularity. The Hot 100 finally put all of those competing…

“Thirteen” going on “30 Something”: Growing up according to pop music

Next to sex and death, there’s no more compelling subject for songwriters than the thing that happens in between those two endpoints on the cycle of life. Aging—and all the excitement, confusion, and existential dread that accompanies it—has long captivated the songwriter, whose work within a ruthlessly youth-focused…

Johnny Marr’s autobiography details a life guided by guitar, before and after The Smiths

Johnny Marr’s autobiography Set The Boy Free opens in the summer of 1968, with a 4-year-old Marr staring at a little wooden guitar in a shop window. In a life defined by the guitar, there’s no more fitting place to start the story than with the moment Marr came to possess his first instrument, transfixed beyond…

Advertisement

Chris Gethard’s Morrissey fandom is put to the test in this song-naming challenge

It’s no secret that Chris Gethard is a huge fan of The Smiths. After all, he’s got Smiths lyrics tattooed on his arm, as well as the signature of the band’s singer, Morrissey. It’s why, when he came to Chicago to perform at our comedy festival, we figured we’d put that knowledge to the test. Facing off against two…

“Sunshine on the waste land”: 20 songs about nuclear annihilation

The disturbing use of atomic power to end World War II had folks in the following decades pretty shaken up, leading to the “duck and cover” bomb-shelter era of the 1950s and beyond. Ira and Charlie Louvin—an Alabama gospel duo that helped popularize “close harmony” vocals—captured that feeling on their 1962 album …

What piece of media inspired you to actually do something?

Welcome back to AVQ&A, where we throw out a question for discussion among the staff and readers. Consider this a prompt to compare notes on your interface with pop culture, to reveal your embarrassing tastes and experiences, and to ponder how our diverse lives all led us to convene here together. Got a question you’d…

Micropics: 18 narrowly focused biopics that need to be made

The problem with biopics is that people’s lives don’t easily reduce to 120 minutes of film. While it’s not impossible for a “cradle to grave” biopic to work, it’s exceedingly difficult. That’s why some successful biopics have focused on a smaller part of their subjects’ lives. The biopic Steve Jobs—released this…