By Alex Ross & Daphne Carr
Da Capo Press, 311 pages, $16.00

Celebrate Musical Writing

Music enthusiasts generally expect more from a critical analysis than just a Facebook “Like” or a few hundred word tweet. Best Music Writing of 2011 gives readers 32 selections written by novelists, journalists, poets, biographers, bloggers, professors, musicians, reporters and writers at The New Yorker. In the Introduction, editor Alex Ross discusses how the arrival of the internet has changed mainstream music. He labels today’s music scene as a “micromusical landscape.” The book’s articles cover all types of genres. No prior knowledge is needed to enjoy the essays. Most of them have been published before in other sources. The book opens with Justin Davidson’s look at Beethoven’s Third Symphony and is followed by Jonathan Bogart’s in-depth analysis of the work of pop artist Ke$ha. Learn about Lady Gaga’s early years and how she has constructed herself into a pop icon in “Growing Up Gaga” by Vanessa Grigoriadis. “Word”, by Kelefa Sanneh, decodes the language of hip-hop. Morad Mansouri’s piece “The Underground Rises” looks at the underground music scene in Tehran and the mixture of hip-hop and ancient Persian texts. Other writers cover jazz, heavy metal, classical, rock and roll and country. Duke Ellington, Fred Hersch, Nicki Minaj, Michael Jackson, Will.i.am, Neil Young, Miles Davis, Sade, Sandy West, Nina Simone and others are featured.

Reviewed by Kathryn Franklin