Ear Burns: Our critics spew some haterade about 2008’s bummer songs, albums and events
This year Michael Stipe announced, unequivocally, that he is gay. Mr. Stipe, you are brave to declare your snuggling preferences and you handled the situation with sincerity and grace. But why did you have to break my heart? As a straight female R.E.M. fan, I’ve been spending the last fifteen or so years imagining that you were murmuring to me. Your wiggly hips, bright blue eyes and unfathomably long Snuffleupagus eyelashes really do it for me. I’d like you to put your man on my moon. Sigh. I guess I’ll have to get over it. Hey — Peter Buck…call me.
— Jaime Lees
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Casual Concrete Blonde fans know two things about the band: It was named by R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe and it had a surprise hit song with “Joey,” a bittersweet ode to an addict. Johnette Napolitano (Concrete Blonde’s main singer and songwriter) has remained prolific both with and without the band. She’s contributed songs to movies, friends’ albums and, most impressively, was even accepted as the lead singer (read: David Byrne’s replacement) for a Talking Heads project. These opportunities likely arrive due to the strength of her voice, a set of powerful pipes that sounds like a glorious combination of Patti Smith and Heart’s Ann Wilson. Napolitano is touring in support of her new solo album Scarred, on which she even makes a cover of Coldplay’s tedious ballad “The Scientist” sound soulful and authentic. Now that’s talent.