Category: Arts, entertainment and culture


40. Big Wreck – Albatross

39. Die Antwoord – Ten$ion

38. Neil Young with Crazy Horse – Psychedelic Pill

37. Propagandhi – Failed States

36. Our Lady Peace – Curve

35. Periphery – II (This Time It’s Personal)

34. Jimmy Cliff – Rebirth

33. Oberhofer – Time Capsules II

32. Metz – (self titled)

31. The Sword – Apocryphon

30. Metric – Synthetica

29. Rival Sons – Head Down

28. Japandroids – Celebration Rock

27. Slash – Apocalyptic Love

26. Titus Andronicus – Local Business

25. Marilyn Manson – Born Villain

24. Husky – Forever So

23. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros – Here

22. Gallows – (self titled)

21. Crystal Castles – III

20. The Hives – Lex Hives

19. Billy Talent – Dead Silence

18. The Smashing Pumpkins – Oceania

17. Grimes – Visions

16. Aerosmith – Music from Another Dimension

15. Of Montreal – Paralytic Stalks

14. Bloc Party – Four

13. The Cribs – In the Belly of the Brazen Bull

12. Lana Del Rey – Born to Die

11. Pulled Apart by Horses – Tough Love

10. Muse – The 2nd Law

9. Rush – Clockwork Angels

8. Jack White – Blunderbuss

7. Dave Matthews Band – Away From The World

6. Grizzly Bear – Shields

5. The Mars Volta – Noctourniquet

4. Serj Tankian – Harakiri

3. Soundgarden – King Animal

2. Tame Impala – Lonerism

1. Deftones – Koi No Yokan

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10.  Nirvana (Drums: Dave Grohl, Bass: Krist Novoselic)

09. Green Day (Drums/Percussion: Tre Cool, Bass: Mike Dirnt)

08. Red Hot Chili Peppers (Drums: Chad Smith, Bass: Flea)

07. Black Sabbath (Drums: Bill Ward, Bass: Geezer Butler, Keys: Tony Iommi)

06. Primus (Drums: Tim Alexander, Bass: Les Claypool)

05. The Who (Drums/Percussion: Keith Moon, Bass: John Entwistle, Keys: Pete

Townshend/John Entwistle)

04. The Mars Volta (Drums: Jon Theodore, Bass: Flea, Keys: Isaiah Ikey Owens)

03. Tool (Drums: Danny Carey, Bass: Justin Chancellor)

02. Led Zeppelin (Drums: John Bonham, Bass/Keys: John Paul Jones)

01. Rush (Drums/Percussion: Neil Peart,  Bass/Keys: Geddy Lee)

Honorable Mentions: Fugazi (Drums: Brendan Canty, Bass: Joe Lally), Them Crooked Vultures (Drums: Dave Grohl, Bass: John Paul Jones), Dream Theater (Drums/Percussion: Mike Portnoy, Bass: John Myung, Keys: Jordan Rudess), Yes (Drums: Bill Bruford, Bass: Chris Squire, Keys: Rick Wakeman), Megadeth (Drums: Nick Menza, Bass: Dave Ellefson), Rage Against the Machine (Drums: Brad Wilk, Bass: Tim Commerford), The Jimi Hendrix Experience (Drums: Mitch Mitchell, Bass: Noel Redding), The Roots (Drums: Questlove, Bass: Leonard Hubbard, Keys: Kamal Gray), Incubus (Drums: Jose Pasillas II, Bass: Alex Katunich, Keys: Gavin Koppell), Death (Drums: Gene Hoglan, Bass: Steve DiGiorgio).

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is a bill being considered by the US House or Representatives that was introduced on October 26, 2011 by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX). The Senate has their own version of the bill, called the “Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act”, aka the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), introduced on May 12, 2011 by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT).

The goal of these bills is to protect intellectual property markets and the jobs and revenues in these industries.  Proponents of the bills say they are necessary to enforce copyright laws in the digital age, especially when it comes to foreign websites. Although very similar, there are slight differences between the two bills, mainly just in the specific wording.

One provision that SOPA has that PIPA doesn’t is the requirement of search engines to remove “foreign infringing sites” from their indexes. PIPA, on the other hand, requires greater court intervention against accused websites. This makes SOPA slightly more controversial, as it is seen by some as outright censorship, but critics have other problems with both bills.

Both proposed bills would force US based payment services, such as PayPal, to refrain from doing business with foreign sites that are thought to be “dedicated to infringing activities.” This is similar to what happened with the whistle-blowing website, WikiLeaks, when PayPal cut their access for donations.

Both bills also include what is called anti-circumvention provisions, which would make it illegal to inform people on how to access blocked sites. This can be interpreted to require websites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Reddit , whose content comes from the users, to make sure that such information is not posted on their sites, or they could face legal action. This would be nearly impossible for such websites to enforce.

Another provision turns internet service providers into vigilantes, allowing them to block access to websites if the have “credible evidence” that they are distributing copyrighted material. They also give immunity to these providers if they are found to have wrongfully taken action against a website. The potential for abuse and censorship here is overwhelming.

A provision that sponsors of both bills have agreed to drop, due to outcry from many technical experts, allows for service providers to use a technique known as DNS (domain name system) blocking. DNS is, basically, the phone book that attaches a domain name with it’s IP address. Critics say DNS blocking would undermine the infrastructure of the internet.

Because it deals with the world wide web, and it extends the powers of enforcement to go after foreign websites, this issue is not only relevant to the US, but to people all over the world.

An alternative to these bill has been offered that still addresses the issue of intellectual property rights without a lot of the provisions that critics find offensive. The “Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade” or OPEN Act, has been introduced to both the House, and the Senate. This would expand on a the Tariff Act of 1930, which allows the International Trade Commission (ITC) to take action against the distribution of physical good violating intellectual property laws, to include “unfair digital imports or unfair imports that are digitally-facilitated by foreign rogue websites”. Supporters of SOPA and PIPA say this legislation would be ineffective, and so far, it hasn’t gained much support in either the house or the Senate.

At the moment, it doesn’t seem that enough consensus will be reached in the House to pass SOPA any time soon. PIPA, however,  seems much more likely to go forward, and is expected to go to a vote in the Senate on January 24.

The White House has issued at statement on this matter saying that it “will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet,” suggesting that Obama would veto any such bill if it were to pass. However, Obama has also threatened that he would veto the “National Defense Authorization Act” (NDAA) that he signed on New Year’s Eve. Clearly, any statement from the White House cannot be taken seriously.

An online blackout is planned for Wednesday, January 18 in protest against these bills. Sites taking part in the blackout – including Wikipedia, Reddit, Boing Boing, Destructoid, I Heart Chaos, all sites under the Cheezburger Network and others – will display a page warning people of the potential consequences of these bills passing. Also, avaaz.org has a petition, with over 1.5 million signatures (and counting), that you can sign to let members of Congress know about your concerns over SOPA.

SOPA and PIPA have the potential to change the internet as we know it. The unclear wording allows for abuse which could censorship of any website that is seen as a threat. This is not to mention the enormous cost and effort it would require to enforce such legislation. If you value a free and open internet, then please take action against these misguided bills.

UPDATE: Barack Obama refuses to support SOPA, although, Congress will revisit the bill next month. PIPA is still expected to go to a vote on January 24.

Also, there is evidence that the main supporters of the bill, are some of the same people who created, distributed and promoted much of the pirating technology in the first place. They owned the copyrights, made it easy for people to share files, and now support legislation which would allow them to make millions off copyright infringement lawsuits. This video by Micheal Mozart explains:

30. Tom Vek – Leisure Seizure  29. The Horrors – Skying

28. Megadeth – TH1RT3EN  27. Primus – Green Naugahyde  26. Grouplove – Never Trust a Happy Song  25. White Lies – Ritual  24. The Roots – Undun  23. Justice – Audio, Video, Disco 22. Metronomy – The English Riviera 21. Miles Kane – Colour of the Trap 20. R. E. M. – Collapse Into Now 19. Yuck – Yuck 18. Arctic Monkeys – Suck it and See 17. Man Man – Life Fantastic 16. Tom Waits – Bad as Me   15. Girls – Father, Son, Holy Ghost   14. Opeth – Heritage 13. Radiohead – The King of Limbs   12. The Joy Formidable – The Big Roar 11. Battles – Gloss Drop 10. tUnE-yArDs – whokill 09. Foster the People – Torches 08. Puscifer – Conditions of my Parole 07. Sleeper Agent – Celebrasion 06. Foo Fighters – Wasting Light 05. The Strokes – Angles 04. Red Hot Chili Peppers – I’m With You 03. The Black Keys – El Camino 02. Mastodon – The Hunter 01. Black Lips – Arabia Mountain

(All images and videos are used without permission. Please, don’t sue me)

Steve Stoute, a media mogul with 20 years experience as an executive in the music business, put out a full page add in the New York Times, Sunday, February 20th, costing $40,000. In this add, which can be read in full here, he complained about the Grammys for (1) their “over-zealousness to produce a popular show that is at odds with its own system of voting” and (2) their “fundamental disrespect of cultural shifts as being viable and artistic”.

This is apparently a reaction to Arcade Fire winning album of the year over Eminem – who Stoute calls “the Bob Dylan of our time” – last week, even though Eminem’s album sold more copies, and he went into the show with ten nominations, more than any other artist. Stoute also pointed out how Eminem lost to Steely Dan in 2001, in the same category, even though Steely Dan had only 10% of the album sales, and how Kanye West, who went into the 2008 Grammys with the most nominations, lost to Herbie Hancock. Stoute went on to complain that Justin Beiber, who he says “defines what it means to be a modern artist” lost out to jazz singer Esperenza Spalding in the best new artist category. Furthermore, Stoute accuses the show of being rigged, with the winners being known in advance, based solely on Arcade Fire’s readiness to play their song “Ready to Start” at the end of the night.

Stoute asks “Does the Grammys intentionally use artists for their celebrity, popularity and cultural appeal when they already know the winners and then program a show against this expectation?” and accuses them of “using Eminem’s, Kanye West’s or Justin Bieber’s name in the billing to ensure viewership and to deliver the all-too-important ratings for its advertisers”. Although he might have a good point here, it seems hypocritical to me for Stoute to criticize the Grammys for trying to please their advertisers, considering his agency specializes in music oriented advertising for big companies like McDonald’s and Hewlett-Packard. It also strikes me as odd that someone in advertisement would pay $40,000 for an add, simply to try to convince artists to essentially boycott the Grammys. What’s in it for him? I wouldn’t be surprised to find out in the near future that Stoute is planning some kind of reality TV show, perhaps a hip-hop version of American Idol, and that this was simply a part of a plot to gain publicity before hand. Arcade Fire’s manager, Scott Roger responded to the letter, defending the decision and saying that the band did no lobbying to receive the award. He also called Stoute’s letter a “nice piece of  self publicity”.

Stoute with hip-hop artist Jay-Z

Having spent much of his career working with hip-hop artists such as Nas and Jay-Z, Stoute naturally seems to have a bias toward the genre. He feels that artists like Eminem and Kanye West were snubbed and that hip-hop in general is “totally diminished as an art form” by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. I would argue that receiving ten nominations and winning two awards, as Eminem did this year, is a long way from being snubbed, and I would also point out that the hip-hop duo Outkast won album of the year in 2004. Looking through the list of previous winners of the Grammys’ most prestigious award, one can see that many genres are under-represented, for instance: when was the last time the award went to a heavy metal group, a genre which arguably includes some of the most skilled musicians of our time? The answer is, of course, never.

Perhaps the Grammys are a little out of touch with the younger generation, but what seems more obvious to me is that Steve Stoute and the majority of music listeners, who make pop music popular, are out of touch with what good music is (hint: it’s more than record sales and popularity). The bottom line is, nobody is going to fully agree with the collective opinion of many members of an academy. Maybe you think Justin Beiber should have won best new artist, the academy however, which is not made up of fourteen year old girls, but of former Grammy winners, might have a different opinion. I don’t agree with the winners that the academy chooses from year to year anymore than Stoute does, but I respect their decisions and the process behind them.  If Steve Stoute, or anyone else, thinks that the decisions should be based more on record sales or popularity, then I have just one more question for them: do we really need another Billboard or Peoples Choice Awards?