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The DORF Matrix: Towards a Theory of NPR's Taste in Black Music
Slate ^ | October 12, 2009 | Jody Rosen

Posted on 10/15/2009 12:44:35 PM PDT by a fool in paradise

In August, National Public Radio's flagship music program All Songs Considered published "The Best Music of 2009 (So Far)," a rundown of the top 30 songs and albums of the year-to-date as voted by the show's listeners...

On the Best Songs list, there are no songs that cracked the Top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, and none by African-American performers. Two black artists, Danger Mouse and Mos Def, made the Best Albums list, at numbers 20 and 23, respectively.

None of this is a surprise, of course. NPR's audience skews white and college-educated; so does Animal Collective's fan-base. In matters of musical taste, everyone has a God-given right to provincialism and conservatism, even those NPR listeners who consider themselves cosmopolitan and liberal. The numbers, of course, tell a different story. The NPR list leans not just white, but male—dudes with beards and guitars. So far in 2009, the No. 1 song on the Billboard charts has been by a black or female artist—or by groups featuring both blacks and whites or men and women—a total of 41 out of 42 weeks. (The exception is the current No. 1 hit, "Down," a collaboration between an Anglo-Asian R & B singer, Jay Sean, and an African-American rapper, Lil Wayne.) Who are the progressives again—the public radio crowd or the Top 40 great unwashed?

...It's not that NPR doesn't like black music. It merely maintains a strict preference for black music that few actual living African-Americans listen to.

NPR's taste in these matters may be best represented by something called the DORF Matrix. DORF is an acronym for Dead Old Retro Foreign....

NPR's commitment to DORF can be neatly tracked by examining the archives of its "Song of the Day" feature...

(Excerpt) Read more at slate.com ...


TOPICS: Chit/Chat; Music/Entertainment
KEYWORDS: blackmusic; defundpbsnpr; dorf; music; npr

1 posted on 10/15/2009 12:44:37 PM PDT by a fool in paradise
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the only reason these folks are ‘topping’ the charts is becaused they are being pushed, it’s always done that way when it is more a product than actual music.


2 posted on 10/15/2009 12:46:45 PM PDT by raygunfan
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To: a fool in paradise
Tsk, tsk. All this smacks of racism.
3 posted on 10/15/2009 12:47:44 PM PDT by mojito
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To: a fool in paradise

“It’s not that NPR doesn’t like black music. It merely maintains a strict preference for black music that few actual living African-Americans listen to.”

Well c’mon, have you heard that cRAP? We’re not talking Smoky Robinson here. Hell, we’re not even talkin’ Isaac Hayes! To call it music at all is a stretch.


4 posted on 10/15/2009 12:48:17 PM PDT by Grunthor (Thank YOU George Bush, for giving us the GOP of today!)
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He says that black people don’t listen to these acts. I guess that includes the black performers in these bands.

Also there are a significant number of non-black artists played and profiled in the so called “indie media” that do not chart. Comparing against corporate Hollywood’s lists doesn’t necessarily indicate what people are listening to.

In the 1940s country western and rhythm & blues couldn’t get published by ASCAP. They were openly called “hillbilly” and “race” records. Then BMI started publishing the music (not making the records, registering the songs with a publishing house).

Later BMI, not ASCAP, would also publish the offspring of country and R&B called rock and roll.

Eventually rock and roll got on the air, but first it had to make it to a ready market that the industry deliberately stifled.

Today the industry wants pop icons, not singer songwriters or rock and rollers.

But it’s still popcorn time to watch the Left eating their own.


5 posted on 10/15/2009 12:49:25 PM PDT by a fool in paradise (The character assassination of Rush Limbaugh is worse than what the Left accused Joe McCarthy of.)
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To: Grunthor

One can only handle so many songs about “going to the Cluuuuub”.


6 posted on 10/15/2009 12:50:04 PM PDT by a fool in paradise (The character assassination of Rush Limbaugh is worse than what the Left accused Joe McCarthy of.)
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To: a fool in paradise

Highly recommended by GSWarrior

7 posted on 10/15/2009 12:50:26 PM PDT by GSWarrior
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To: GSWarrior

Daptone Records has put out a number of good acts. But according the critic, they fail because they are “white” musicians (working with older black singers).

Of course, when they later backed up Amy Winehouse, they became “respectable” because they started to approach chart success, I guess according to his logic.

I prefer the unfiltered version.

http://www.daptonerecords.com/

And why the heck should I have to listen to 7-second samples from James Brown records in modern hip hop “grooves” when I can just listen to the full original recordings?


8 posted on 10/15/2009 12:54:20 PM PDT by a fool in paradise (The character assassination of Rush Limbaugh is worse than what the Left accused Joe McCarthy of.)
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To: a fool in paradise

IT IS NICE TO SEE THAT MY TAX MONEY IS BEING SO WELL SPENT.


9 posted on 10/15/2009 1:01:59 PM PDT by San Jacinto
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To: Revolting cat!; 537cant be wrong; Aeronaut; bassmaner; Bella_Bru; Big Guy and Rusty 99; ...

No one ever includes the Dirtbombs among "contemporary black artists" making modern, not retro, music. http://www.amazon.com/gp/recsradio/radio/B0009EM0LY/ref=pd_krex_dp_a

And while they will never chart in today's marketplace, they do get regular radio airplay with a Goodwrench commercial that uses their song "I can't stop thinking about it"

10 posted on 10/15/2009 1:04:05 PM PDT by a fool in paradise (The character assassination of Rush Limbaugh is worse than what the Left accused Joe McCarthy of.)
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To: San Jacinto; Revolting cat!
IT IS NICE TO SEE THAT MY TAX MONEY IS BEING SO WELL SPENT.

Hey, I haven't even GOTTEN to last night's White House concert series (latin music night, the NY Times CLAIMED that the Obama daughters sang along when Los Lobos played La Bamba, who here knows ANY of the words outside of "Ladddadiiidididbamba"?)

11 posted on 10/15/2009 1:06:23 PM PDT by a fool in paradise (The character assassination of Rush Limbaugh is worse than what the Left accused Joe McCarthy of.)
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To: a fool in paradise

Para bailar la bamba
para bailar la bamba
se necessite un poco de gracia
para tu para mi

That’s from memory. Prolly 90% wrong. LOL.


12 posted on 10/15/2009 1:11:45 PM PDT by San Jacinto
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To: San Jacinto

I’ll break it down for you:

Shake it up baby
twist and shout
twist and shout
shake it shake it shake it
baby
twist and shout...


13 posted on 10/15/2009 1:12:59 PM PDT by a fool in paradise (The character assassination of Rush Limbaugh is worse than what the Left accused Joe McCarthy of.)
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To: a fool in paradise
Photobucket
14 posted on 10/15/2009 1:13:46 PM PDT by rfp1234
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To: rfp1234

Enough with the Tom Dasshole jokes!


15 posted on 10/15/2009 1:15:58 PM PDT by a fool in paradise (The character assassination of Rush Limbaugh is worse than what the Left accused Joe McCarthy of.)
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To: a fool in paradise

Last line shoulda been Let’s Work It on Out

At least that was a good song.

I bet I never heard of whatever crap was on the Pansy Broadcasting Network list.


16 posted on 10/15/2009 1:20:03 PM PDT by San Jacinto
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To: a fool in paradise

Nah, Slate understands that Daptone Records is an NPR fav.

The R in DORF stands for Retro. And Sharon Jones is Retro.

Also this section. “It is tempting to expand the DORF formula to “DWORF” to encompass NPR’s blanket coverage of white soul revivalists from the U.K. But that subject merits a separate study.”

Amy Winehouse is a white soul revivalist.


17 posted on 10/15/2009 1:23:56 PM PDT by truthfreedom
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To: San Jacinto

Good question.
They have music links there where you can sample their “picks”. If you are the sort who never understood critics’ adoration of Elvis Costello, all of these choices will fall flat as being a representative “best of 2009” list.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/allsongs/2009/07/poll_results_best_of_the_year.html

Best songs so far of 2009
1. “My Girls” Animal Collective
2. “Two Weeks” Grizzly Bear
3. “Blood Bank” Bon Iver
4. “The Rake’s Song” The Decemberists
5. “Lisztomania” Phoenix
6. “Zero” Yeah Yeah Yeahs
7. “This Tornado Loves You” Neko Case
8. “Sleepyhead” Passion Pit
9. “Laughing With” Regina Spektor
10. “The Wanting Comes In Waves/Repaid” The Decemberists
11. “Train Song” Feist and Ben Gibbard
12. “Knotty Pine” David Byrne & Dirty Projectors
13. “Daniel” Bat For Lashes
14. “Summertime Clothes” Animal Collective
15. “One Wing” Wilco
16. “The Fear” Lily Allen
17. “Heads Will Roll” Yeah Yeah Yeahs
18. “Wilco (The Song)” Wilco
19. “Stillness Is The Move” Dirty Projectors
20. “Help, I’m Alive” Metric
21. “Anonanimal” Andrew Bird
22. “On No” Andrew Bird
23. “No You Girls” Franz Ferdinand
24. “I And Love And You” The Avett Brothers
25. “French Navy” Camera Obscura
26. “Magpie To The Morning” Neko Case
27. “Woods” Bon Iver
28. “Black Hearted Love” PJ Harvey and John Parish
29. “While You Wait For The Others” Grizzly Bear
30. “Panic Switch” Silversun Pickups


Best Albums of 2009 (so far)

1. Merriweather Post Pavilion by Animal Collective
2. The Hazards of Love by The Decemberists
3. Veckatimest by Grizzly Bear
4. Middle Cyclone by Neko Case
5. Wilco (The Album) by Wilco
6. Noble Beast by Andrew Bird
7. Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix by Phoenix
8. It’s Blitz! by Yeah Yeah Yeahs
9. Dark Was The Night by Various Artists
10. Bitte Orca by Dirty Projectors
11. Far by Regina Spektor
12. Actor by St. Vincent
13. Manners by Passion Pit
14. Hold Time by M. Ward
15. Reservoir by Fanfarlo
16. Fever Ray by Fever Ray
17. Fantasies by Metric
18. Two Suns by Bat for Lashes
19. My Maudlin Career by Camera Obscura
20. Dark Night of the Soul by Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse
21. The Crying Light by Antony & The Johnsons
22. The Eternal by Sonic Youth
23. The Ecstatic by Mos Def
24. Outer South by Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band
25. Swoon by Silversun Pickups
26. Together Through Life by Bob Dylan
27. No Line on the Horizon by U2
28. March of the Zapotec by Beirut
29. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart by The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
30. The Mountain by Heartless Bastards


The albums list is a little better at least at having more variety.

I’ve seen three of these artists live (Neco Case years ago on some bill with multiple bands, and then this year Heartless Bastards and Bob Dylan). I can count the Dylan show among the best live shows I saw this year (but not so for Willie Nelson or Johnny Cougar who shared the bill) but not enough to go out and get the album.

Still wondering where the rock is. Not alternative rock. Rock and roll that springs from the same trajectory as the original has survived. I don’t need to hear “alternatives” when the true type doesn’t get wide exposure anymore. It’s still “outsider” music.


18 posted on 10/15/2009 1:30:33 PM PDT by a fool in paradise (The character assassination of Rush Limbaugh is worse than what the Left accused Joe McCarthy of.)
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To: truthfreedom

I have never listened to Amy Winehouse. But I have heard James Hunter.


19 posted on 10/15/2009 1:31:19 PM PDT by a fool in paradise (The character assassination of Rush Limbaugh is worse than what the Left accused Joe McCarthy of.)
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To: a fool in paradise

Reminds me of the Things White People Like blog about white people like black music black people don’t like anymore.

I don’t really get the point, hipsters don’t listen to a lot of rap. Since that is the genre most black artists are in, it makes sense hipsters wouldn’t be putting a lot of black artists on a best of list.

The ones who do get love. I’m sure TV On the Radio was on the 2008 list. Bloc Party got lots of love from these corners as well.

It isn’t racism to prefer (whatever you want to call Animal Collective) over Flo Rida. Some of it may stem from a sense of superiority but it is over the masses and not over minorities.


20 posted on 10/15/2009 1:33:27 PM PDT by Mr. Blonde (You ever thought about being weird for a living?)
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To: Mr. Blonde

The revisionist history is to say that some white people “hated” disco, not because it was prattling pop music for douchebag cokeheads, but because it was recorded by homosexuals and black people.


21 posted on 10/15/2009 1:36:20 PM PDT by a fool in paradise (The character assassination of Rush Limbaugh is worse than what the Left accused Joe McCarthy of.)
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To: a fool in paradise

How basic is your definition of “rock”?

Wilco, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Silversun Pickups fall in what most people consider rock. Wilco has moved well out of alt country. The newest YYYs isn’t as much rock as the first two, but rock none the less. Silversun Pickups is just rock.

There are better examples of straight up rock this year, but some of those albums might not be as strong all the way through as these.


22 posted on 10/15/2009 1:40:31 PM PDT by Mr. Blonde (You ever thought about being weird for a living?)
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To: a fool in paradise
I would have won my bet. Never heard of a single one of them-- song or artist.

For me, the music died The Day the Music Died.

Now days I only listen to what they call "Texas Music". We have two or three local FM stations where that is all they play.

It is kind of remarkable that there are enough songs just about Texas and just by Texans* to keep all those stations going 24/7. But it works for me.

*Cross Canadian Ragweed is technically from Oklahoma, but they make most of their money in Texas. I give them an exemption.

23 posted on 10/15/2009 1:49:24 PM PDT by San Jacinto
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To: a fool in paradise

That list is simply a list of “indie rock / pop”.

See Pitchfork. http://pitchfork.com

In 2009, indie rock has become quite popular for a style of music that is rarely if ever played on commerical radio. Indie and Commercial are quite split these days, fans of Indie do not want commercial radio music at all. (But U2 is on the list - so, that’s not 100%).

I prefer indie, myself. I have downloaded at least 20 of the albums on that list, and they’re good albums worth listening to.


24 posted on 10/15/2009 2:01:49 PM PDT by truthfreedom
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To: a fool in paradise

But you’re obviously familiar with Amy Winehouse, know she’s famous, etc., and know that she’s a big part of the white retro soul revival. I’m not a fan of Amy Winehouse, but i’m not really a big fan of retro soul. I’d take the indie top 30 albums chart as appears on this thread.


25 posted on 10/15/2009 2:08:10 PM PDT by truthfreedom
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To: a fool in paradise

To make a long story short, NPR listeners are eliteist.


26 posted on 10/15/2009 2:21:14 PM PDT by Brookhaven (http://theconservativehand.blogspot.com/)
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To: San Jacinto
The music scene in Texas is amazingly vibrant.

Why Hayes Carll's Trouble In Mind didn't make him the biggest country artist around last year is a mystery to me. But he isn't he first Texas singer/songwriter to not get the acclaim they deserve.

If you did want to branch out of Texas, Virginian Neko Case has an amazing voice, and would be somewhat similar to what I assume you are listening to. If I didn't know who she was I would be tempted to give the album a listen based on artwork alone, I don't know if that will sway you or not,



From the list, my other recommendation would be North Carolina's Avett Brothers. Their Wikipedia page contains a critical comparison to Texans Townes Van Zandt and Buddy Holly. Here is the title track from their newest album. It was produced by Rick Rubin and only continues his streak of producing the best albums of any artist in any genre.
27 posted on 10/15/2009 3:12:37 PM PDT by Mr. Blonde (You ever thought about being weird for a living?)
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To: Mr. Blonde

Couple of pretty nice looking cougars.


28 posted on 10/15/2009 3:25:56 PM PDT by San Jacinto
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To: truthfreedom

Amy Winehouse isn’t big because of talent. The band is the band and they don’t sell half the albums under their own name/label that she does (even though they have the talent).

Her life is a trainwreck and that’s what Hollywood and London likes.


29 posted on 10/16/2009 8:54:35 AM PDT by a fool in paradise (The character assassination of Rush Limbaugh is worse than what the Left accused Joe McCarthy of.)
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To: San Jacinto

The music didn’t die because of Buddy Holly’s plane crash.

Big Bopper had a fluke novelty hit. Chantilly Lace was the FLIP side of his record.

Ritchie Valens may or may not have lasted.

The music died because the suits shut it down. Elvis got drafted. Chuck Berry got arrested. Jerry Lee Lewis got brought down in scandal. Little Richard saw the writing on the wall and switched to gospel (he’s left rock and roll several times in his conflicted life).

They were replaced with homosexual poster idols, communist folk singers, and junkie jazz musicians. The suits always claimed that rock and roll was just a fad. Rock and roll doesn’t need the suits to survive.


30 posted on 10/16/2009 8:58:19 AM PDT by a fool in paradise (The character assassination of Rush Limbaugh is worse than what the Left accused Joe McCarthy of.)
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To: a fool in paradise

I’m not in favor of Amy Winehouse, not defending Amy Winehouse. You’re right about your assessments of Winehouse.
There’s probably something else in Winehouse’s bio that the media likes.


31 posted on 10/16/2009 2:50:27 PM PDT by truthfreedom
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To: a fool in paradise

I think she has a great sounding voice. And she was becoming famous before she became the trainwreck she currently is. Maybe they saw it coming, but she was on the radio before she was all over the tabloids.

Your hypothesis probably does explain why they don’t lock her in rehab for a year though. Back to Black will sell huge the week she dies.


32 posted on 10/16/2009 2:55:07 PM PDT by Mr. Blonde (You ever thought about being weird for a living?)
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To: Mr. Blonde

Apparently she’s cleaned up her act. She divorced that guy she was with, and says now that their whole relationship was based around doing drugs. She’s put some weight back on and looks healthier in general, although that’s relative in her case.


33 posted on 10/16/2009 3:11:30 PM PDT by Bubba Ho-Tep ("More weight!"--Giles Corey)
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