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When it comes to music, arguments can get passionate -- and even heated. In our Soundcheck Smackdown series, guests square off on new releases, controversial artists, or polarizing trends – and we take your calls and comments.

Recently in Smackdown

The New Yorker's Sonny Rollins Satire: Funny Or Infuriating?

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Last week, the New Yorker published a satirical piece called “Sonny Rollins: In His Own Words,” in which this legendary 83-year-old saxophonist supposedly vented about how much he hates jazz. But many jazz fans were not amused by the piece, which made a joke about jazz at the expense of a beloved figure. Others thought the piece was funny. Jazz writer Howard Mandel and saxophonist Ashley Hamer debate in a Soundcheck Smackdown.

Comments [25]

Soundcheck Smackdown: 'The Sign,' 20 Years Later

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Ace Of Base song "The Sign" was everywhere in 1994: but was it a triumph or a travesty? Mario Correa and Julia Cunningham debate the song's merits on a Soundcheck Smackdown. 

Comments [1]

Soundcheck Smackdown: Is The Ukulele Lovely, Or Just Lazy?

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Is the ukulele a charming, portable composer's dream... or a twee novelty whose time has passed? Vulture writer Jesse David Fox, and Ben Greenman, contributing editor to The New Yorker, enter a Soundcheck Smackdown to decide.

Comments [5]

Soundcheck Smackdown: Is The Sound of Music Stale?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

As the world readies itself for the NBC Sound of Music live remake, we debate the merits of the original musical and film.

Comments [7]

A Scariest Musician Smackdown

Thursday, October 31, 2013

All this week in Soundcheck's House of Horrors, we’ve been posing this question: Who is the scariest musician of all time? Today, it’s time to pit some of your nominees for scariest musician against each other in a quickfire Soundcheck Smackdown

Chris Weingarten, senior editor for Spin magazine, and Melissa Locker, freelance music writer for outlets like Time and Rolling Stone, help decide who's the scariest in each round of our smackdown, from Ozzy Osbourne and Alice Cooper, to Insane Clown Posse and Slipknot, to Kenny G and Michael McDonald. 

Who do you think wins each matchup? Who did we leave out? Tell us below. 

 

Comments [1]

Soundcheck Smackdown: Record Store Day Edition

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Every third Saturday in April since 2008, faithful fans of vinyl have lined up at the doors of their local independent record shops to buy limited edition releases in honor of Record Store Day. Before the annual event this Saturday, April 20th, Joe Levy and Ben Greenman debate whether or not we should focus on one day devoted to records.

Comments [1]

Soundcheck Smackdown: Holiday Movie Music Edition

Monday, December 17, 2012

The co-hosts of The Takeaway's Movie Date podcast debate big versus small screen holiday movie music.

Comments [7]

Smackdown: Jeff Bridges vs. Tim Robbins

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Actors Jeff Bridges and Tim Robbins have faced off once before – in the 1999 thriller “Arlington Road.” Now, the two Hollywood stars are squaring off in a different way – this time, with steely, forlorn gazes and guitars strung around their necks. The middle-aged Hollywood hunks are both currently promoting country-tinged albums, and on this Soundcheck Smackdown, we’ll weigh the two against each other. Guests include Sean Manning, editor of the essay collection "Rock and Roll Cage Match: Music's Greatest Rivalries, Decided," and Steve Almond, author of "Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life" and the upcoming book "God Bless America."

Comments [53]

Soundcheck Smackdown: Aja

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Steely Dan’s 1977 album “Aja” rebelled against the disco and rock hits of the day and achieved a new level of smooth. As of this year, the Library of Congress has also deemed it so culturally and aesthetically significant that it's now going to be preserved in the National Recording Registry. In this Soundcheck Smackdown, we debated Steely Dan's "Aja" with St. Petersburg Times media critic Eric Deggans and freelance music critic Alex V. Cook.

Comments [10]

Smackdown: Spotlight on Streaming

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The arrival of the new digital music service Spotify in the U.S. has been heralded as a low-cost way to expose lots of listeners to new music. But what do the artists behind the music get out of it? First, we're joined by Billboard writer Glenn Peoples to take a look at what streaming services like Spotify actually put into artists’ pockets. Then, the smacking down can begin - Time Out New York editor Steve Smith and musician Ben Allison debate whether these services are truly worth it in the end for musicians.

Comments [19]

Smackdown Singles Edition: Bohemian Rhapsody

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

It’s a Soundcheck Smackdown singles edition! We’re throwing Queen’s 1975 hit "Bohemian Rhapsody" into the ring for our weekly debate. Emily Rems, managing editor of Bust magazine, and Entertainment Weekly editor-at-large Ken Tucker join us to debate a song that is either ingenious…or just indulgent. And, Queen biographer Mark Blake explains the story behind the song.

Comments [42]

Web Extra: An Odd Future Smackdown

Friday, May 13, 2011

Please be aware that this podcast contains explicit material that some listeners may find offensive.

With the help of music journalists Laina Dawes and Jaime Lowe, we debate whether Odd Future is a step forward or backward for hip hop in this special Soundcheck Smackdown: Web Edition.


Comments [6]

Smackdown: Whistling

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Whistled melodies have inspired great music from Otis Redding, Paul Simon and others. But whistling has also inspired murderous looks on the subway. We debate the sometimes-awesome, sometimes-annoying art of whistling. Guests include New Yorker editor and writer Ben Greenman and singer, teacher – and competitive-whistling champion – Emily Eagen.

Comments [103]

Soundcheck Smackdown: The "Kiss" Off

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Prince's hit song, "Kiss," is a beloved masterpiece- but could a cover top the original? In this Soundcheck Smackdown, we pit the original version against the 1988 Art of Noise/Tom Jones cover. Representing His Purpleness is Prince biographer Jason Draper, and making doves cry is music reporter Gary Burton.

Comments [23]

Soundcheck Smackdown: Aja

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Steely Dan’s 1977 album “Aja” rebelled against the disco and rock hits of the day and achieved a new level of smooth. As of this year, the Library of Congress has also deemed it so culturally and aesthetically significant that it's now going to be preserved in the National Recording Registry. Following up on our review of the 25 sound recordings that were most recently given this honor, we Smackdown Steely Dan's "Aja" with St. Petersburg Times media critic Eric Deggans and freelance music critic Alex V. Cook.

Comments [56]

Smackdown: The Strokes

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Julian Casablancas and Co. debuted in 2001 with the critically acclaimed album Is This It and helped put New York rock back on the map. Now the Strokes are back - after a puzzling, difficult five-year hiatus - with the new album Angles. J. Edward Keyes, editor-in-chief of eMusic, and Sophie Harris, music writer for Time Out New York, join us to debate this comeback album.

Comments [23]

Smackdown: The Concept Album

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Concept Albums. They’re the pop-music equivalent of the novel. But, sometimes … novels can be really, really boring. On today’s Soundcheck Smackdown, music critic Amanda Petrusich and Steven Wilson of the prog-rock band Porcupine Tree debate whether the concept album is ingenious…or just indulgent. Plus, journalist and biographer James Kaplan tells us about the concept album’s surprising history.

Comments [51]

Soundcheck Smackdown: White Stripes Requiem

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

After a hiatus, the Detroit-born rock duo with the matching outfits and matching names have called it quits -- which makes them ripe for a Smackdown. Emily Rems, managing editor of Bust Magazine, and Phil Freeman, writer of the Headbang metal blog for MSN Music and editor of Burning Ambulance, join us to debate the legacy of The White Stripes. And: music writer Gary Graff tells us about the Detroit scene that Meg and Jack White came up in…and wound their way out of.

Comments [37]

Soundcheck Smackdown: Headphones versus Earbuds

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

We debate the pros and cons of being an “earbud person” (gym rats and rugrats) and a “headphone person” (DJs and wannabe DJs). Mark Katz, author of "Capturing Sound: How Technology Has Changed Music," explains the evolution of ear wear. And music writer Christopher Weingarten and Maura Johnston, writer for Popdust, defend their preferred mode of listening in a Soundcheck Smackdown.

Comments [49]

Smackdown: Taylor Swift

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Taylor Swift called her second album Fearless, and with good reason: the 21-year-old singer seems to be on an unbreakable winning streak. Fearless was the top-selling album of 2009 and snared the Grammy for Album of the Year; Swift followed those successes last year with a blockbuster tour and a chart-topping third album, Speak Now. But not everyone’s got Taylor Fever.

Comments [28]