The First Listens of 2012: What We Got Right, What We Got Wrong

The Worst

1. Justin Bieber - Believe

What I said then: "I listen to a lot of pop music. and I'm still genuinely jarred by what a completely empty white room Bieber's tracks evoke. Can I please just keep listing people who deserve the surely Usher-assisted critical reassessment more than Bieber does? Miley Cyrus, Black Eyed Peas, Avril Lavigne, T-Pain's own albums..."

And now: In retrospect, it seems completely ridiculous that I expected anything but processed goo from a dude whose biggest hits had the toothless choruses "Let me tell you one time" and "Baby baby baby baby baby baby," and who called being gay a choice. "Beauty and the Beat" wasn't so bad though.

2. The Flaming Lips - The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends

What I said then: "The synths sound like someone dialing a phone through an overfed amplifier."

And now: I loved Embryonic and the idea of them bumping groins with Ke$ha so much that I was pretty polite on this one. But I was never once compelled to revisit it beyond that first song, because it's slow, indulgent, boring, and made no impact whatsoever. Since Embryonic followed the equally stodgy At War with the Mystics, maybe they'll hit it out of the park next time? Also Wayne Coyne treated Erykah Badu like total ass after that vid, and replacing her with Amanda Palmer looks even douchier in retrospect.

3. Big Boi - Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors

What I said then: "Really, I'm not the guy to argue for conservatism in rap, so you can imagine how annoyed I am at having to tell our hero to shut down all his wacky ideas. And no matter how innocuous and slick he, his flows, or his boasts remain, we're at the close of a 17-track album and this is maybe the fourth good song. Disappointing."

And now: Well it was only a couple days ago. But I'm still pretty sure I never want to hear that Wavves track again.

NEXT: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

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