No Expectations 037: Get Lucky
Revisiting and reranking my top 10 albums of 2013.
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Why I’m testing out a paywall this week
Once you get to this week’s main essay, you’ll notice there’s a paywall cutting off the rest of the newsletter at the halfway point. That’s not an accident. Ever since I started No Expectations in December, I’ve gone back and forth about what sort of exclusive writing I could do for my paid subscribers. At first, it didn’t make sense to paywall things for only a couple dozen folks but as this blog has grown this year we’ve finally hit 100 paying subscribers. That’s a cool milestone and it feels right to slowly introduce posts just for paid subscribers here. Since there was a bonus edition of the newsletter with Tuesday’s Ratboys interview, I decided to try something new and see if it gets more folks to sign up.
Don’t worry though. If you’re a free subscriber, you’re going to get a full and free edition of the newsletter every week no matter what. As of right now, I don’t see paywalled posts becoming more than an occasional thing to supplement a Taste Profile interview or another free blog. Your support free or paid means the world and I don’t want to pressure anyone to pay for something, especially in uncertain economic times like these. While I’m looking for a full-time job at the moment, I’m still busy with freelance work that pays the bills and as this blog has gotten bigger, the money from subscribers has been a huge financial help this year. With this, I’m just trying to see if paid posts are something I should invest time in going forward. Not do to a “no worries if not!!!” thing, but I’m honestly just happy people are reading and digging it.
I truly appreciate your patience as I figure this out and for everyone sticking with me so far. If you’re only here for the Weekly Chicago Show Calendar, please go see two of my favorite songwriters Merce Lemon and Lily Seabird (Greg Freeman and Dari Bay are in Lily’s band) tonight at Sleeping Village. If you’re here for the weekly playlist, you can find that here. I’m back to a normal blogging schedule next week.
What the hell happened in 2013?
If you read enough music journalism, every year you’re going to see a new crop of essays commemorating the decade anniversary of notable albums. These pieces serve to help you look at an old album in a new way, they make you revisit something you haven’t listened to in years, or at the very least, they just make you feel old. In my case, I’m noticing 10-year album anniversaries popping up for LPs that I wrote about at the time. This is a sobering realization and it has me thinking about 2013 a lot lately.
2013 was kind of a weird year. Obama was President. James Gandolfini, Roger Ebert, Lou Reed, and Nelson Mandela all died. Ed Snowden decided to become a whistleblower. The Supreme Court struck down the “Defense of Marraige” Act. Game of Thrones aired “The Red Wedding” episode. Beyoncé surprise released Beyoncé. People thought House of Cards was good television. You couldn’t escape Pharrell’s voice with songs like “Get Lucky” or “Blurred Lines” playing pretty much everywhere at all times. Compared to 2016 or 2020, not a lot happened.
That year, I graduated college in May and instead of grad school, I decided to “try becoming a freelance music journalist.” Earlier, in the fall of 2012, I interned for the A.V. Club, where I wrote a few pop culture news blogs and did a couple of interviews. It was my favorite website and an absolute dream gig. I knew I wanted to get better at writing and thinking about music so I made a choice to see if I could make it work as a recent graduate. I failed miserably for the first couple of months after college. Most of my pitches never got responses and I couldn’t for the life of me get so much as a job interview for any entry-level writing gig.
I had a lot of free time that summer. My rent was under $500 so I participated in paid research studies at universities or online for money. I listened to as much music and read as much criticism as I possibly could. I had a copy of the 1995 Spin Alternative Record Guide, started from the beginning, and listened to everything rated a 7 or above. I’d go on long headphone walks around Rogers Park. I had roommates but most of my dear friends had moved back home after graduation. It was lonely and isolating but also kind of fun being unemployed and treating listening to music like a full-time job as long as I could swing it. I eventually got a gig with Consequence of Sound writing album reviews, show reviews, and eventually working on their news team.
By Decemeber, CoS had me writing End of Year album and song blurbs. They also had me give out my Best Albums of the Year ballot for their Staff Lists post. Here it is…