| November 25, 2013
HAIM & Lorde – Strong Enough (Sheryl Crow Cover)

Behold, my early ballot musical time capsule entry for 2013. I’d be shocked if, in the next month or so, a cultural event came along to overtake this as the most telling, most significant, most indicative-of-the-pop-music-landscape moment of this calendar year.

Let’s look back while parenthetically referencing this fantastic video, shall we? In 2013, vocal harmony won music (every time Lorde and Este Haim split a major third, an angel who sang alto in her college a cappella group gets her wings), the 90s won music (I’ll take “Sheryl Crow songs on VH1″ for $200 Alex) and unorthodox percussive textures won music (is there a special significance to that particular milk bottle? Do they use a different one in every city? Does it have to be a milk bottle, or can it be an artisanal soda bottle, like Jones or Boylan? Can’t frigging WAIT for the HAIM AMA so we can all figure this out, right guys?).

Most importantly and most obviously, talented women won music in 2013. HAIM and Lorde, if you don’t know already, are the real deal: theirs is that oh-so-special brand of populist, inclusive music that’s also nuanced, complex and rewarding of near-endless re-listens. Between them, they made arguably (but just barely arguably) the best two albums of the year. Go buy them (which is to say don’t go typing “Pure Heroine ZIP” in your search bar – these women deserve their scrill, no matter what percentage of the purchase that may end up being).

But one can never be too objectively awesome without incurring a little backlash in these internet days, no matter how unassailable your artistic output might be. Much has been made in the last few months of Lorde’s (often unsolicited) opinion of the other female denizens of the contemporary pop ecosystem. She’s been calling folks out – lyrically and otherwise – for gimmickery, anti-feminism, and disingenuousness. But what if she’s the anti-feminist for putting other famous ladies down? Oh snap, blogosphere! Nice take!

Cue this video, and cue digital foots in digital mouths everywhere. Lorde’s not a hater – she may have strong opinions (not uncommon at her age), but what this really boils down to is her good taste (decidedly less common at any age). She’s not going against the sisterhood (these are actual sisters she’s jamming with, so there), she just wants to hang with the girls who put music before the PR pageantry.

Hold on, I haven’t forgotten about HAIM. They put on a pair of killer performances on SNL this weekend – no doubt  more viewers will end up peeping those, ultimately, than the video above. But even though this cover doesn’t appear on their excellent debut album, it feels like the perfect summation of it: HAIM are directly and unabashedly influenced by generational touchstones that are not traditionally “cool” (not a diss, Sheryl, just sayin’), but they become cool when appropriated by a band with the chops and ingenuity that these gals are packin’. I am writing about a Sheryl Crow cover right now; it will go up on the internet and people will no doubt (well, some doubt) see it. This is a fact about which I am not the least bit ashamed. This is a feat. This is how music moves forward.

December can bring what it may, but for me, this is the be-all-end-all. Lorde and HAIM: your Pop Music Hunger Games winners of 2013 (we changed the rules so that they both could win…but they’re both Katniss…nobody in this scenario is Peeta).

Now let’s hope none of these women ever end up with Lance Armstrong.

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