- I’ll say it: 2005 was a good year for music. It was surprisingly hard limiting myself to just 10 singles and albums.
Narrowing down my favorite albums and singles of the year for the 2005 Village Voice Pazz & Jop poll, I was reminded of Robert Smigel.
Smigel is the comic writer-performer behind Triumph the Insult Comic Dog and the “TV Funhouse” segments that have been running on Saturday Night Live for nearly a decade. Two weeks ago, Smigel’s team debuted the best “TV Funhouse” segment in years, a Phil Spector homage called “Christmastime for the Jews.” Boasting uncannily accurate Rankin/Bass–style stop-motion puppetry, classic-looking black-and-white cinematography and, most amazingly, singer Darlene Love belting a ditty worthy of her work on Spector’s A Christmas Gift for You, “Christmastime for the Jews” blew me away. By all rights, it should have been the watercooler sensation of the holiday season.
And then, 10 minutes later in that same episode, SNL ran another pretaped segment: the wildly funny “Lazy Sunday (The CHRONICles of Narnia)” by would-be rappers Andy Samberg and Chris “Parns” Parnell – and Smigel’s sweet, snarky ditty was instantly swept into the cultural dustbin. The day after the show aired, “Lazy Sunday” was all over the web, and by Christmas weekend, both Slate and The New York Times had opined on the segment, their pundits crediting it with “making Saturday Night Live a cultural touchstone” again. Meanwhile, it took more than a week for anyone on the web even to get around to ripping “Christmastime for the Jews” for online distribution. It was as if Elvis Presley had broadcast his Comeback Special the same night the Beatles were on Ed Sullivan – Elvis who?
If you’d asked me back in June about my favorite records of 2005, I would have been able to give at least 10 favorite singles and a solid start on an albums list. That list would have been topped by Bloc Party’s first-rate debut Silent Alarm, followed by M.I.A.’s first-rate (but ever-so-slightly overhyped) Arular. Half a year later, as I submit my final votes to the Voice, Bloc Party squeaked onto my albums list at #7, pushed down by four albums that came out in the last three months of the year, one from mid-June and one that only got major distribution late last summer. Silent Alarm has become the “Christmastime for the Jews” of my music year. (M.I.A. didn’t make my Top 10 at all.)