Each January since 1974, the Village Voice has released the Pazz and Jop poll, a list that compiles hundreds of music critics’ votes for the best album of the year, and since 1979, the best singles. Pazz and Jop’s ranking system is daunting: critics are given “100 points to divide among their top 10 picks, with each entry receiving no more than 30 points and no less than five.” Points are totaled, and the album with the most overall wins. The poll is prestigious and storied, with winners across the whole spectrum of genre.
This year, the results were undeniably conclusive: best album was given to hip-hop artist Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp a Butterfly” at 210 points, with Courtney Barnett’s indie-rock album “Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit” coming in second. Best single went to Drake’s “Hotline Bling” at 76 points, nearly followed by Kendrick Lamar’s “King Kunta” with 70. Both Drake and Lamar had several other singles in the Top 50.
To celebrate the release of the much-anticipated issue, the Voice had an issue release party on Jan. 12 at Webster Hall’s Marlin Room. The whole room was packed with music industry figures – notable critics, executives and fans whose adoration was too strong for them to be kept out. To help keep the party going after the year’s winners were announced, Charles Bradley and his Extraordinaires took the stage, followed by DJ Jonathan Toubin.
Bradley, introduced several times as the “screaming eagle of soul,” more than lived up to his name. His Extraordinaires warmed up the stage for one bombastic song before Bradley, in a rhinestone-covered jumpsuit straight out of the heyday of soul, floated up on stage. Instantly, his voice burst through the accompaniment with extreme confidence. His reputation as a screaming eagle was soon confirmed, as his wall of sound burst forth into a stunned crowd when the chorus hit.
Bradley proceeded to woo the crowd, swaying and dancing. The Extraordinaires took advantage of every solo and exposed bar to make the performance even more stunning, even playing for a few minutes on their own while Bradley made a costume change. He finished off a rousing set by handing out a dozen red roses to the ladies in the front, earning himself a few swoons along the way.
DJ Jonathan Toubin, a regular on the New York circuit, finished off the night spinning records. With a masterful touch and some swinging tracks, Toubin eased the crowd down from the raucous soul vibe, smoothing the evening over till the guests drifted out. Another year, another Pazz and Jop that more than lived up to its meteoric expectations.
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