The 2009 “Listen Up!” Awards

Well, with 2009 approaching the ol’ finish line, you’ll start seeing lots of year-end wrap-up lists and things. And since it’s the end of the Double-0 Decade, you’ll be seeing lots of decade recap lists as well. (Some early spoilers: Pitchfork has crowned Radiohead’s Kid A the best album of the Double-0s, while the NME favors Is This It by the Strokes.)

But you won’t find that here, and not now. No, here you will find a year-end recap that dares to be somewhat different. This is the first-ever Listen Up! Year-End Awards ceremony – or you can just name them the Harleys after the adorable little trophy I’m giving out to the winners.

Let's see the Academy beat THIS one.

The fun begins after the jump!

All right, let’s get this show on the road! Bring on the first award!

Most Ridiculous Album Art of the Year

First, let’s have a look at the runner-ups…

Brooke Hogan, The Redemption

Um, wow. This looks like the kind of thing that some Dungeons & Dragons nerd might have airbrushed on the hood of his car back in 1987. I don’t even think people do that anymore. Also, that album title… don’t you have to screw up a successful singing career before you can make a comeback album called The Redemption? Quick, name the last time you heard a Brooke Hogan song. And VH1 doesn’t count.

Adam Lambert, For Your Entertainment

If Aladdin Sane went to the neighborhood mall, got some Glamour Shots photos taken, and then scanned the most ridiculous pose into his computer so he could Photoshop it poorly and add ugly ‘80s hair-metal logo fonts… well, the result still wouldn’t look as stupid as this album cover.

I must give this guy props for letting FYE sponsor his album title, though. If I ever get a record deal, I’m changing my name to Sam Goody and recording an album of techno-pop called Circuit City. The critics will call it a “best buy” even though it will basically sound like a cheesy ripoff of MGMT. Or Weezer’s “Can’t Stop Partying.” You decide.

Chris Brown, Graffiti

What’s the worst crime he commits with this thing? Carrying a guitar even though I’m pretty sure he doesn’t play? Borrowing Adam Lambert’s cheesy-looking font? The pseudo-outer-space scene in the background? The robot hand holding a spray can? No… it’s those ridiculous cartoon characters in the corner that earn this one its WTF status.

And the Harley goes to…

Shwayze, Let It Beat

What the hell is going on here? It looks like they tried to spoof the famous shot of the Statue of Liberty at the end of Planet Of The Apes. Only here, the statue’s been decapitated and dismembered. And she’s wearing a bikini. And she has speakers where her boobs are supposed to be. And her iPod is plugged into her belly button. And she’s apparently visiting the set of Miami Vice.

Most Awesomely Ridiculous Album Art of the Year

And the Harley goes to…

Weezer, Raditude

Just look at it. I mean, what else could you expect for an album that got its title from the guy who plays Dwight on The Office and called Ellen Page “homeskillet” in Juno?

Funniest Song of the Year

And the Harley goes to…

Theory Of A Deadman, “Hate My Life”

I still can’t figure out what to make of this song. On one hand, these lyrics are hilarious: “I hate that I can’t tell/When a girl’s underage/You know, I tell her she’s a nice piece of ass,/Then her daddy punches me in the face.” On the other hand, the singer sounds so sincere that it’s like he really wanted people to relate to this.

If it’s meant to be funny, then it’s a clever parody of angst-ridden post-grunge radio rock – you know, like Theory Of A Deadman’s other songs. If it’s not meant to be funny… well, that just makes it funnier, doesn’t it? And the acoustic version of this song, believe it or not, is even funnier. Unintentionally funny things are always funnier than things that are supposed to be funny. That’s why The Number 23 is the funniest movie Jim Carrey’s made this entire decade. Even with some strong competition from Weird Al, there was no way this wasn’t going to Theory Of A Deadman.

Plus, is it just me, or does the lead singer kind of sound like the guy who sings the songs in Team America?

Biggest Pop Star of the Year That I’ve Still Never Heard Of

And the Harley goes to…

Justin Bieber

I don’t have a clue who this guy is. I don’t know where he came from, and I have no idea whether or not he’s connected to the Disney Channel (the most likely cause for such a meteoric rise to fame). All I know is that he’s suddenly everywhere, I am clueless as to why, and I don’t really care either.

Most Inexplicable Attempt At A Singing Career

And the Harley goes to…

Heidi Montag

Apparently this girl from The Hills has been trying to get a music career off the ground for a while now. So far it has been greeted with the same enthusiasm people reserve for trees falling in the forest that they aren’t around to hear. But bless her heart, she keeps on trucking.

And hey, if this singing thing doesn’t work out, she could always pose for Play… oh, wait. She did that already. Never mind.

Runner-Up: That woman from Real Housewives who sang “Tardy For The Party”

Most Shocking Musical Controversy of the Year

And the Harley goes to…

Britney Spears vs. Australia

What do you mean Britney Spears doesn’t sing live? I for one am absolutely appalled that she lip-syncs! We made Ashlee Simpson a freaking pariah for pulling the same stunt on Saturday Night Live; now people wouldn’t buy her albums if you gave them away for free! You mean to tell me people will actually pay their hard-earned money to watch a singer who pretends to sing?

“If you’re shocked that Britney was lip-syncing at her concert and want your money back, life may continue to be hard for you.”

– John Mayer

For me, the controversy is not about Britney lip-syncing. Much like Mr. Mayer, I’m shocked that people are still shocked about this. Have the Aussies not been paying attention for the last ten years? Come on, Australia. Britney’s been lip-syncing since day one. I don’t even think that’s her real speaking voice. There’s probably someone sitting outside in an RV talking into a headset microphone or something.

Best Supergroup of the Year

And the Harley goes to…

Them Crooked Vultures

And in a stunning upset, Them Crooked Vultures takes home the Harley over… well, how many supergroups actually came out this year? There was Chickenfoot, Monsters Of Folk, and… uh…

I’m only half-kidding about this. Maybe I’m kind of biased since this band features Josh Homme (Kyuss, Queens Of The Stone Age) on guitar and vocals, Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters, lots of other bands) on drums, and John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin) on bass. It’s kind of hard to go wrong with a lineup like that. If you like classic rock like Zeppelin or Cream, or if QOTSA’s Songs For The Deaf ranks among your favorite albums, or if you play an instrument, or if you like rock music in general, you’ll probably like this band.

Runner-Up: Monsters Of Folk

Most Baffling Music Video Trend of the Year

And the Harley goes to…


I’ve never been a fan of censorship, really. That’s why if I ever come up with an idea for a TV show, I’d want it to be on HBO – because they let you do pretty much anything you want. Yet for some reason, this recent trend of NSFW music videos has taken me by surprise. Truly, Rule 34 of the Internet (“If it exists, there is porn of it – no exceptions”) continues to reign supreme.

Would you like to watch Rammstein porn (“Pussy”)? Do you think it would be funny to pretend another person’s penis is a microphone (Girls, “Lust For Life”)? Have you ever wanted to see Wayne Coyne naked (the Flaming Lips, “Watching The Planets”)? Well, guess what? All of these videos have been made just for you. But be warned – what has been seen… cannot be unseen.

Runner-Up: Everything Lady Gaga has ever worn. EVER.

Best Non-Existent Album of the Year

And the Harley goes to…

Radiohead, Wall Of Ice

It must have been interesting to be a member of Radiohead in the days leading up to August 17, 2009. Someone had recently leaked a new song called “These Are My Twisted Words” and the Internet was suddenly all abuzz about a mysterious new EP called Wall Of Ice. This despite the fact that nobody in the band had ever said anything about the leak, the new song, or anything they were planning for August 17. No blog posts on Dead Air Space, no news updates on At Ease Web, no interviews, no press releases, no nothing.

Yet all of a sudden everyone was convinced that Wall Of Ice was coming. After all, this was the band who released In Rainbows pretty much out of nowhere nearly two years earlier. Were they about to pull the same trick again?

Well, no. As it turns out, the Wall Of Ice EP existed only in Internet rumors. And the mysterious event set for August 17? The official release of “These Are My Twisted Words.” Somehow, without even doing anything at all, Radiohead had managed to pull off perhaps the biggest hoax since Orson Welles’ War Of The Worlds broadcast. But if “These Are My Twisted Words” is any indication, Wall Of Ice would have been pretty kickass. And Pitchfork would have given it at least an 8.5 out of 10.

One last Harley award to give out, and then we can all go home! Now, this one may be the last, but it’s certainly not the least. And anyone who’s paid attention to any award shows over the past few years will agree that this is a pretty big award.

The Kanye West Award, for excellence in the field of being Kanye West

And the Harley goes to…

Kanye West

Well, duh. At least now he won’t be throwing any fits backstage (or onstage) about how he should have won something.


4 responses

  1. Nice article good blogue.


    December 7, 2009 at 11:31 pm

  2. Pingback: Colin’s Collection: The Class of 2010 « Listen Up! (with Colin Frattura)

  3. Pingback: The 2011 “Listen Up!” Awards: Handing Out The Harleys « Listen Up! (with Colin Frattura)

  4. Pingback: The 2012 “Listen Up!” Awards: The Triumphant Return of the Harleys « Listen Up! (with Colin Frattura)

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