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December 2012 Archives

William Shatner brings his life and music to stage

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theshat.JPGWilliam Shatner's on the phone, and here's one of the first things he says: "I just put down the phone with Ben Folds."

I'm a "Star Trek" fan but it's not, you know, a lifestyle. I like the franchise just fine, and my favorites are the third series and the sixth film. It's a pleasure to be speaking with Capt. James T. Kirk, sure, but I'm less interested in "Trek" than other things. He's one of the few Enterprise captains, after all, who's done many, many, many other things -- which is why his life story has thus far supported three memoirs and, on tour now, a one-man autobiographical stage show titled, with typical humility, "Shatner's World: We Just Live In It."

So when he mentions Folds, with whom the often musically maligned Shatner recorded one supremely excellent album -- 2004's "Has Been," an evocative and emotional set of 11 tracks based on Shatner's unique. way. of delivering. the spoken. word, featuring Aimee Mann, Joe Jackson, Henry Rollins, Brad Paisley and others -- my music side beams up more than a little.

2012: A Chicago POV on the year in music

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2012 could go on the books with not one but numerous major musical headlines.

It was the year electronic dance music supposedly broke through (again). It was the year YouTube took the wheel, driving some of the chart's biggest hits ("Call Me Maybe," "Somebody That I Used to Know," the record-setting "Gangnam Style"). It was the year we lost Whitney Houston, the Beastie Boys' Adam Yauch, Jenni Rivera. It was the year hip-hop seemed to chill out about homosexuality. It was the year of a generational stalemate between a hardy crop of teen stars (Bieber, One Direction, Carly Rae Jepsen) and aging boomers who refused to go gently (the Rolling Stones, the Who, nearly everyone who played the 12-12-12 benefit concert). It was the year pop music finally became transparent -- in the form of a "holographic" Tupac Shakur.

Not a slow musical news year, for sure.

Here's a look back at some of 2012's biggest musical moments from our particular perspective here on the third coast ...

Best of 2012: 10 pop songs

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One final ranked list looking back on 2012: 10 great pop songs (you can listen to) ...

Best of 2012: 20 overall albums

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Thumbnail image for lollafrank.JPG

The 2013 Grammy nominations are diverse -- finally -- with no clear frontrunner and at least six leading artists. That reflects a diverse and decentralized pop music culture, one showcased throughout 2012.

Here are my picks for the best albums of this whirlwind year ...

Best of 2012: 10 Chicago albums

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The Sea & Cake

2012 saw dozens of great records by Chicago artists, from local indies to big household names.

Here are my picks for the cream of this bumper crop ...

Plan now for New Year's Eve 2012 Chicago concerts

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The GAP Band's Charlie Wilson is among Cchicago's NYE offerings this year. (AP)

Chicago's a great New Year's Eve town -- for music. So many great bands call this city home, and when they come home for the holidays they book a hometown hootenanny. Others come for the champagne and party hats because, hey, it's Chicago. Either way, your NYE concert choices are far above a basic covers band at the hotel ballroom.

Plus, there are two great shows for early birds: Either catch the Queen of Soul, who's past years of health issues and back to full-throated glory (8 p.m. Dec. 29 in the Venue at the Horseshoe Casino, 777 Casino Center Dr. in Hammond, Ind., $45-$90, 800-745-3000,, or enjoy Chicago's own talented and hilarious singer-songwriter Robbie Fulks, performing his annual spot-on summation of the year's news in Robbie Fulks Raps Up 2012 (8 p.m. Dec. 29 at Fitzgerald's, 6615 W. Roosevelt in Berwyn, $15, 866-777-8932,

Otherwise, here's a selection of shows for Dec. 31 ...

Review: Chief Keef, 'Finally Rich'

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(Interscope) 2<br />

keefrich.jpgThe opening of "Ballin'" -- a deep track on Chief Keef's hotly anticipated major-label debut, "Finally Rich," out Tuesday -- finds Keef, aka South Sider Keith Cozart, ruminating on paths not taken. Mentioning his 13-year-old sister, Keef says, "She thought I was gonna be a lawyer before I be a rapper or something. She crazy."

Chief Keef, however, already has learned a few things about the law.

PSY in '02: 'Kill Yankees!' PSY in '12: Yay, dollars!

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This year's annual B96 (96.3-FM) Jingle Bash concert features a couple of notable losers.

Nominations for the Grammy Awards came in last week, and the list failed to include two of pop music's biggest current stars: Justin Bieber and PSY.

Neither act has anything to cry about, especially PSY. In fact, while the Jingle Bash marketing keeps Bieber front and center, it's PSY everyone's talking about, downloading and watching online. Shortly before the Grammy snub, in fact, the South Korean rap-pop phenomenon drubbed the Cannuck kid in sales and YouTube records. PSY's meme-tastic single, "Gangnam Style," is now the most-watched video on YouTube, surpassing Bieber's "Baby" and logging more than 930 million views (as of Dec. 10). The video no doubt will hit a billion by year's end.

No wonder Bieber's manager, Scooter Braun, signed PSY to his own label.

Rock Hall inductees: Heart, Rush, Quincy Jones, more

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The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced its next class of inductees this afternoon, and they are ...

The Rolling Stones' last great rebellion: not stopping

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Mick Jagger paused during the Nov. 25 London concert by the Rolling Stones and looked at the throng, nearly 20,000 strong.

"It's amazing that we're still doing this, and it's amazing that you're still buying our records and coming to our shows," he said. "Thank you, thank you, thank you."

An understatement as big as his mouth.

Amazing is certainly one superlative for it, on both counts -- the band's geriatric activity and its sales. While there's a strong case to be made against the money-grubbing and possibly cynical reality of the latter, any grumbling about the band's mere continued existence is pretentious prattle.

Celebrate 'Merry Mex-mas' with El Vez

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El Vez, "the Mexican Elvis," is driving around Los Angeles looking for snow.

"I'm trying to find a snowy backdrop for my photos with Santa at the show," says El Vez, a k a Robert Lopez. "The only ones I can find in Hollywood are plastic ones that look like bricks. I want blue sky and a snow scene. I want something that looks like a 'Mad Men' cigarette ad. It's the details!"

Concertline: the Faint, Carrie Underwood, more

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A look ahead at shows worth seeing (and hearing) this week ...

That the "Popular" band has maintained a cult following and been able to continue recording albums of its smart and now suddenly sunnier guitar pop is one of life's occasional lil' blessings. New York's Nada Surf remains one of the most dependably satisfying working bands. "The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy," released earlier this year, is the band's seventh album.
Bailiff and Eternal Summers open at 9 p.m. Dec. 8 at Metro, 3730 N. Clark. Tickets: $23. Call (800) 514-ETIX;

Modern Southern rock band 3 Doors Down continues having the time of their life, this time on a split bill with Chris Daughtry, the closest thing to actual rock "American Idol" ever saw. Not much recently new from either artist, but the riffs should be loud enough to clear any gathering tinsel from your ears.
P.O.D. opens at 7 p.m. Dec. 9 at the Akoo Theatre (formerly Rosemont Theatre), 5400 N. River Rd. in Rosemont. Tickets: $38-$58. Call (800) 745-3000;


Singer Nate Ruess of fun. performs during the Grammy nominations concert broadcast Wednesday night from Nashville. (Christopher Polk/Getty Images)

It's been a nail-biting year for Grammy handicappers. Leading up to Wednesday night's revelation of the nominations, there was no clear frontrunner -- and the best-selling album of 2012 was also the best-seller of 2011, Adele's "21," which already gobbled up six Grammys.

Now the nominations are in -- and still no one leads the pack.

Six artists top the list with six nominations each: Chicago rapper Kanye West, hip-hop titan Jay-Z, Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys (five for the duo, plus a producer nod for Auerbach), British folk-rock phenoms Mumford & Sons, and the night's two biggest success stories: R&B singer Frank Ocean and pop-rock band fun.

Reviews: Peter Buck, Paul Buchanan, more

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Peter Buck, "Peter Buck" (Mississippi-MRP) 2<br />
Paul Buchanan, "Mid Air" (Essential) 2<br />
and a half stars
Martin Rossiter, "The Defenestration of St. Martin" (Drop Anchor) 2<br />
and a half stars

'Tis the season for solo debuts from longtime iconic band figures, each outing recommended for die-hard fans only.

buckbuck.jpgFirst, guitarist Peter Buck -- now free since R.E.M. collapsed into last year -- cranked out this solo debut in just five days. Buck always has been an impatient old cuss, and he chafed against R.E.M.'s much slower, considered mode of creative development. (See him kvetch about that at length in "Sex, Food, Death ... and Insects," a documentary about working with Robyn Hitchcock, one of Buck's many side projects.) Buck's unfettered haste results in pleasantly authentic-seeming performances on this self-titled platter, even if they range widely over the stylistic map. Careening gleefully between cowpunk ("Nowhere No Way"), garage rock ("10 Million B.C."), mid-'80s paisley underground ("Some Kind of Velvet Sunday Morning") and a few Stipe-worthy singles ("Nothing Means Nothing," sung by Corin Tucker from Sleater-Kinney), "Peter Buck" avoids overthinking anything. Thus, it's fun but hardly memorable. The pretentious kicker: "Peter Buck" is available only on vinyl.

Christmas 2012 pop concerts in Chicago

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Christmas concerts aren't all choirs and kid's stuff. Here's the run-down of actual concert fare this holiday season ...

Thomas Conner

Thomas Conner covers pop music for the Chicago Sun-Times. Contact him via e-mail.


About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from December 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

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