TIME carries the notorious tradition of selecting a Person of the Year each and every year. Their past choices have included Adolf Hitler, George W. Bush, and a number of abstract choices, such as Hungarian Freedom Fighter, American Women, the Computer, and last year’s ridiculously silly second-person pronoun, You.
At The Bygone Bureau, we’ve selected three candidates that are, objectively, better choices than TIME’s 2007 Person of the Year, Vladimir Putin. Other notable persons include Michael Vick, Jamie-Lynne Spears, and Congressman Tom Tancredo.
Kanye West is my pick for Person of the Year not for releasing his third solid rap album in a row, grabbing eight Grammy nominations, nor making 50 Cent threaten retirement. The reason I think Mr. West deserves our undivided attention is for being the world’s most successful secret nerd. You see, Mr. West, though he appears “cool,” may actually be the biggest nerd ever.
“Stronger,” the first single off this year’s Graduation, has the makings of the ultimate geek orgasm. For starters, the song samples Daft Punk’s “Harder Better Faster Stronger.” It’s an excellent sample, but imagine if you had a friend who tried rapping over Daft Punk. Does anything scream “I play World of Warcraft while drinking Mountain Dew and eating Cheetos” louder than that? It also has the line “Heard they’d do anything for a klondike/ Well I’d do anything for a blonde dyke.” Again, it’s brilliant, but this kind of misogyny could only by written by someone who clearly doesn’t spend any time around actual women. (Unless there are girls out there that, in addition to being called a lesbian, also like being compared to an ice cream bar.)
But the most compelling evidence to Mr. West’s nerdiness (nerdocity?) is the music video for “Stronger.” While the sci-fi visuals and cameo by Daft Punk may not tip off the average viewer, the video is an homage to 1988 anime classic Akira in disguise. Scene-by-scene, Mr. West finds himself playing the part of Tetsuo, a juvenile biker kidnapped for government experimentation who, later in the film, mutates into a protoplasmic blob that crushes his girlfriend and explodes.
But seriously, Akira is a great film, and who better to appreciate such a work than Kanye West, the world’s foremost covert nerd?
Radiohead’s pay-what-you-feel model of online distribution for their new album In Rainbows may well prove to be a crucial turning point, marking the moment when the music industry tipped from a major-label driven, physical media-based business to a democratized, independent digital music culture. After this year, it will be impossible for any band or label to look at their industry through the same spectacles they’ve been relying upon for the past half-century.
But this is not why Radiohead is my “Person” of the Year.
No, Radiohead gets the nod from me for the tremendous gift they have bestowed upon music writers everywhere: the ability to write paragraphs like the one you just read. Let’s look at the mileage I alone have gotten from the In Rainbows story.
First, the morning after Yorke & Co. dropped their bombshell announcement, I posted this piece of analysis, which garnered our site a link from my very favorite blogger (and I have the Daring Fireball shirt to prove it), John Gruber. Two weeks later, after listening to the album 30 times over the course of a few days, I filled a gaping hole in the layout of my school newspaper’s Arts & Entertainment section (which I edit) with a ponderous In Rainbows review. Then, after another month and a half, the provocative notion of the price of culture, ignited by Radiohead’s radical monetary meritocracy, inspired this article, which garnered links from exactly no one. And, finally, it has served as the basis for the blurb you are currently reading.
Imagine this effect multiplied a hundred-thousand fold across the keyboards of music bloggers, journalists, columnists, and analysts the world over. That’s a shitload of articles containing the word “democratized” by anyone’s standards. The great thing about In Rainbows is that every aspect of the story is not only radical and fascinating, but also about Radiohead. I don’t care how detached, jaded, or anti-hype you claim to be, if this story doesn’t stir the pretentiousness in your soul, you were never cut out to write about music in the first place. So, on the behalf of media outlets across the globe, from Stereogum to Rolling Stone, from Pitchfork to The New Yorker, I, Nick Martens on behalf of The Bygone Bureau, give my heartfelt thanks to Jonny Greenwood, Colin Greenwood, Phil Selway, Ed O’Brien, and Thom Yorke.
My nomination is NBC as “Person” of the Year. There was initially a tie between President/CEO Jeff Zucker and Chairman Bob Wright of NBC Universal, but I couldn’t figure out the hierarchy of seemingly synonymous titles or who was responsible for the NBC Rewind feature on NBC.com.
This feature is amazing. It lets you watch episodes online that don’t come through on your fuzzy three-channel television! Sure people will tell you the quality is crap, but if you are like me, you’re too lazy (or legalistic) to download free torrents and too cheap to purchase episodes on iTunes. [Of course, NBC Universal pulled their contract with Apple. -- Ed.]
Why should NBC be Person of the Year for making television episodes even more accessible to lazy people like me? Because that is what Americans want. We need entertainment and it had better be convenient. Without NBC Rewind, I would’ve never been able to catch up on the opening eighteen hours of the first season of Heroes, and that show identified a hole in my life that needed to be filled. I am confident that NBC has done the same service for millions of other individuals.