This article appears in our 2015 Summer issue, Blue. Subscribe today!
The cover of Jessica Hopper’s new book makes a statement by title alone: The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic. Hopper calls the title “both flag-waving and flag-planting,” a nod to the lack of women in the rock critic canon and a fresh precedent to inspire any girls stapling zines or blogging album reviews. (It’s also tongue-in-cheek. “We liked ‘female’ because it sounded so clinical,” says Hopper. “It’s like ‘vehicle.’”)
Today, Hopper is the editor-in-chief of The Pitchfork Review, the quarterly print issue of know-it-all music website Pitchfork (where she also runs op-ed section, The Pitch). Spanning 20 years, her byline history makes for the coolest resume ever. She published long-running riot grrrl zine Hit It or Quit It, wrote a Punk Planet column, chose the music for This American Life, served as Rookie’s music editor, and documented an ever-shifting music landscape for two decades (and counting). Read our Q&A with Hopper here.
Who better to put together a playlist for when you’re feeling a bit blue? Here are Hopper’s ten expert picks (with commentary) of songs in monochrome.
1. Linda Ronstadt - “Blue Bayou”
Check out Linda’s rendition of this classic on The Muppet Show where she’s backed by Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem.
2. Lucinda Williams - “Blue”
She’s one of the finest songwriters to ever come out of America. This tough song is no exception.
3. First Aid Kit - “Blue”
I normally do not condone the use of baby-piano in songs, but FAK surpass the twee with that girl truth.
4. R.E.M - “Blue”
Patti Smith cameo, duh. This song feels likes a throwback to prime era R.E.M., to boot.
5. Beyoncé - “Blue”
Bey is often too teflon for me, but this tear-jerking ode to motherhood opens the door a bit, emotionally.
6. Bill Monroe - “Blue Moon of Kentucky”
Been done a million times, but the holler in Monroe’s voice makes this one definitive.
7. New Order - “Blue Monday”
Shows up in every DJ set ever DJ’d since its 1983 release and is still not old.
8. Dolly Parton - “Blue Smoke”
People sleep on late-era Dolly but you cannot eff with this. Her voice is still perfect.
9. Beck - “Blue Moon”
I don’t know when I turned into a dad in my forties, but this song OWNED me last year.
10. Badfinger - “Baby Blue”
Such a cursed band, such a sweet song. Borders on perfect.