Mixed Media

Metacritic Needs to Revise their "Best Albums of 2008" Logarithm

| Tue Oct. 21, 2008 6:26 PM EDT

mojo-photo-metacriticfront.jpgMetacritic is a pretty cool service, tracking down and averaging reviews of all sorts of pop culture output for our convenience. Movies, DVDs, games, TV shows, and music, Metacritic logs 'em all, grabbing reviews from all corners of the press and converting grades or ratings to a 100-point scale. For the busy culture afficionado, it allows for straightforward, easy inspection of critical reaction. For instance, Wall-E and Man on Wire currently top their movie list for 2008, and that makes sense: one's a popular hit, and one's a critical favorite. In 2007, their "Best-Reviewed Albums of the Year" served as a good jumping-off point in analyzing the year in music, but this year, their list has kind of gone off the deep end. After the jump, the Metacritic Top 20 (with score averages in parenthesis) and why it's a little weird.

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Barack Obama: Marketer of the Year

| Mon Oct. 20, 2008 4:36 PM EDT


Sure, Apple's done a good job advertising the ubiqituous iPhone. But according to Advertising Age, Barack Obama's done a better job advertising…Barack Obama.

At this year's annual National Advertisers' conference, hundreds of marketers, agency heads and marketing-service vendors chose Obama as Marketer of the Year, besting Apple, Zappos, Coors, and Nike. The presidential hopeful was honored for his hugely successful web-based campaign, which has utilized Facebook , MySpace, and outreach sites such as voteforchange.com.

Said Advertising Age:

Just weeks before he demonstrates whether his campaign's blend of grass-roots appeal and big media-budget know-how has converted the American electorate, Sen. Barack Obama has shown he's already won over the nation's brand builders.

Obama garnered an impressive 36.1 percent of the vote, compared to second-place Apple's 27.3 percent. As for McCain? He walked away with just 4.5 percent of the vote.

—Nikki Gloudeman

Why Amy Poehler Was the Real Winner of SNL's Sarah Palin/Tiny Fey Palin-Off

| Mon Oct. 20, 2008 2:31 PM EDT

When McCain's VP pick showed up on Saturday Night Live this weekend, was it funny or excruciating? Either way, SNL won—drawing the show's highest ratings in 14 years.

Palin's brief performances yielded a couple chuckles—after Alec Baldwin went off on an anti-Palin rant, she responded with "I must say, your brother Stephen is my favorite Baldwin."

But most of the humor heavy-hitting came from Amy Poehler, who did an Alaskan rap while Palin bobbed along, and Fey. Indeed, with her exaggerated Alaskan twang, wink, and smirks, Fey made for a far more entertaining Sarah Palin than Sarah Palin.

See the videos here:

Google Goggles, YouTube Snobs, and xkcd, Oh My!

| Fri Oct. 17, 2008 3:16 PM EDT

resize.jpgFirst webcomic xkcd tossed off a funny about a virus forcing YouTube commenters to listen to their comments out loud before posting them. (Apparently there are those who believe hearing oneself sound ridiculous will stop one from using asinine words—clearly not true.) Then YouTube actually debuted something similar: Audio Preview, a non-mandatory feature that might make comments more coherent.

Still, there's no guarantee. Annoyed by X number of spelling mistakes, all or no capital letters, or extreme punctuation? Try YouTube Comment Snob, a program that lets you censor the comments you deem idiotic.

If all of that isn't web-nannying for you, check out Google's new drunkmailing prevention feature: Mail Goggles. Requiring you to answer five math questions before you can send an email, the program can be set to watch your back for whatever hour you tend to stumble home. (Its default is Friday and Saturday 10 p.m. to 4 a.m.)

—Brittney Andres

Image from xkcd.com.

Antidote to Too Much Politics on the Riff: M.I.A. Update!

| Thu Oct. 16, 2008 9:11 PM EDT

mojo-photo-miapreg.jpgSure, I'm as guilty as anyone. All of us here tend to get all whipped up into a frenzy every time something silly about Palin pops up over at HuffPo, for instance, but come on, doesn't that say "Arts & Culture" up there under "The Riff"? Commenters (and even other MoJo contributors!) may find this arty little blog a lightweight intrusion into their serious non-profit matters, but I say we take a breather from the campaign and focus on what's really important: what M.I.A.'s been up to. OMG, she's got a wee Arulpragasam in the oven! The singer confirmed her pregnancy to Pitchfork, naturally, over the weekend, saying she's "creating a baby," assumedly with the help of her fiancé Ben Brewer. By the way, not only is Brewer the singer for New York band the Exit, he's also the son of Warner Music Group CEO Edgar Bronfman. Hmm, is M.I.A. pulling a McCain, marrying up, for a little bit of—oh, damn, sorry, I promised I wouldn't talk about politics.

Back to M.I.A.: while the singer grabbed headlines when she appeared to announce her retirement onstage at Bonaroo in June, she emerged from this brief hiatus on Saturday at a Diesel-sponsored shindig in New York to do a few numbers as well as her part in T.I.'s amazing "Swagga Like Us." The party, which also featured Franz Ferdinand and N.E.R.D., was apparently the hottest ticket of the year, with thousands (!) of partygoers reduced to tears when they couldn't get in. Vulture's roundup of the event positively oozes with self-satisfaction at being one of the lucky V.I.P.'s who made it inside, but I admit I'm secreting massive amounts of jealousy. Ahem.

After the jump: More about M.I.A.!!!

Weirdest. Mississippi Political Ad. Ever.

| Thu Oct. 16, 2008 7:37 PM EDT

Lately McCain and Palin (McCalin, if they were a celebrity couple) aren't the only leaders fanning the flames of prejudice among their constituents.

Mississippi's Exhibit A: Republican Sen. Roger Wicker's "zany" ad bashing Democratic rival Ronnie Musgrove for being supported by, (of all people!), The Gays. Who apparently all look like Village People, as imagineered by Walt Disney. (Oh, and cows also support Musgrove. We don't know why.)

Anyway, you can catch the rather surreal video here:

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Can Halloween Mask Sales Predict the Election?

| Thu Oct. 16, 2008 6:19 PM EDT

Obama%20mask.jpgMcCain.jpg According to Fortune magazine, more than one Halloween mask retailer has claimed they can correctly predict who will win the White House. Spirit Halloween, the largest seasonal Halloween vendor in the US, says Bush outsold Kerry two to one in 2004, Gore sold 14 percent fewer masks in 2000, and Clinton masks won with 71 percent in 1996.

We decided to update Fortune's presidential mask findings for 2008 thus far; here's what we found.

Breaking: McCain Almost Missed Tonight's Letterman Appearance

| Thu Oct. 16, 2008 3:48 PM EDT

mojo-photo-letterman.jpgThe New York Times Caucus blog is reporting that John McCain was nearly forced to miss the taping of his "make-up" apperance on "The Late Show With David Letterman" as flights out of Philadelphia were experiencing delays. Dave would have blown his freakin' top. But they turned around and hired a helicopter:

The last time Mr. McCain canceled an appearance on "The Late Show" Mr. Letterman was not amused, and he has not let go of his fury... So when Mr. McCain found himself stuck on the tarmac here in Philadelphia, with what aides described as a two-hour delay on planes flying to Newark, he knew he had to act.
Mr. McCain's campaign plane turned around, and the campaign hired a small helicopter to whisk him, his wife, Cindy, two of their aides, and two Secret Service Agents, to their rendezvous with comedy.

McCain famously cancelled an appearance on Letterman's show three weeks ago as part of his Operation Pretend to Suspend the Campaign, but then turned up on a CBS internal feed preparing for a chat with Katie Couric. Letterman has mocked the senator ferociously since then. Tonight's appearance was to be a last-ditch attempt by McCain to calm Letterman down, but like just about everything these days, it sure seems like a lose-lose for poor old John. After the jump, a couple of choice McCain-skewering moments from recent Late Shows.

Top 5, October 15: New Music

| Wed Oct. 15, 2008 7:48 PM EDT


In this edition: apocalyptic hip-hop, sweeping indie-rock, an inevitable mashup, soaring electro-pop, and, uh, quirky Marxist lounge music, I guess.

1. T.I. feat. Jay-Z, Kanye West and Lil' Wayne – "Swagga Like Us"

Every great rapper working today? Check. A menacing electronic buzz reminiscent of nothing so much as the avant-garde synth soundtrack to '80s cult hit "Liquid Sky"? Check. Auto-tune turned up to "11," forcing the voices into unnatural, robotic stutters? Check. A so-hip-it-hurts sample loop from M.I.A's "Paper Planes," with her always-hypnotic voice providing the only organic counterpoint to the machines in this profoundly strange and apocalyptic piece of music? Check.

2. Margot & the Nuclear So & Sos – "A Children's Crusade on Acid"
At first, it seems a brief flirtation with backwards drums will be the only real reference to LSD-tinged psychedelia on this track from the Indiana combo. But then the simple piano chords suddenly give way to a huge, distorted bass noise, and lead singer Richard Edwards sings, "The children lose their minds/In such uncertain times." Plus it was featured in "One Tree Hill"! (mp3 from The Yellow Stereo)

Obama, Sure. But Will McCain Hit Your Xbox Too?

| Wed Oct. 15, 2008 7:12 PM EDT


As Jonathan Stein pointed out earlier, the Obama campaign is leaving no constituent behind. The campaign has purchased ad space in a slew of online Xbox 360 games, including Madden NFL 09 and Burnout Paradise, in 10 battleground states.

If the Obama ads nudge swing-state gamers to participate in early voting, will McCain then follow Obama's online lead?

Click here for one blogger's rendition of what McCain's Xbox ads might look like. Once he gets over that pesky case of technophobia, anyway.

Nichole Wong