Tonight was supposed to be Listening Club, but it didn't quite work out that way. Half our usual crew was out of commission somehow or other--work, injury, prior commitment. It ended up being only five of us: Jen (the host, whose new house is spectacular, or will be when everything's moved in), Rickey, Jill, Rodney, and I. (Josh was sleeping off a freelancing all-nighter.) But the backyard, where we ate, is a destination in itself. We ended up playing our selections back-to-back: both my picks, both Rickey's, etc. Things got more interesting toward the end, when we played stuff for fun. Jill went into horrific contortions when I played Reba McEntire & Kenny Chesney's "Every Other Weekend," telling me afterward how horrible it was, a response I wasn't one bit surprised by--I've been waiting for it to happen. The record is completely shameless, and the first time I heard it, having no idea what was going to happen, was overwhelming. I worked harder to convince myself I didn't love it than the opposite.
Rodney took issue with my distaste for Leona Lewis. "It sounds like bad early Mariah, like 'Vision of Love,'" I said. Well, he responded, exactly: Rodney likes "Vision of Love." This is one of the things I notice with increasing frequency: Mariah Carey has been almost completely critically rehabbed. She is taken seriously as a vocal stylist and her early singles are considered classics. This fascinates me. Mariah wasn't widely liked in most of the '90s crit I've read, but it doesn't mean she didn't have fans in those quarters that I missed. Nevertheless, she's attained classic rock status--she's classic the way BTO or Boston are, by being the music you grew up on and therefore will always feel affectionate toward. For someone like Rodney, who's 21, it's literally what he grew up on. And no, I'm not accusing Rodney (or anyone else) of faulty decision-making based on nostalgia. I do it too, and anyway, I'm sure they're all hearing something I'm not. But that doesn't mean I necessarily want to start hearing it too.