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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

Music Critics: Irreplaceable or Irrelevant?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Everyone's a critic -- a music critic, in particular. Blogs and social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook serve some of the curatorial roles once held by music critics. Meanwhile, staff cuts at print media organizations have eliminated many music columnists and arts reporters. In another Soundcheck Smackdown, two guests ...

Comments [17]

Battle of the Media Players

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

A Philadelphia-based blogger caused a minor controversy when he claimed he spotted President-elect Barack Obama -- an avowed iPod user -- using Microsoft's Zune MP3 player in a local gym. In another installment of our weekly Soundcheck Smackdown series, we debate the merits of the iPod and the Zune. Joining ...

Comments [53]

Smackdown: Chinese Democracy

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Seventeen years. Thirteen million dollars. One Axl Rose. This week, the once-mythical Guns 'n' Roses album "Chinese Democracy" finally sees the light of day. But was it worth the wait? In another Soundcheck Smackdown, Lizzy Goodman of Blender magazine and rock writer Sean Manning ("Rock and Roll Cage Match") square ...

Comments [15]

Soundcheck Smackdown: iTunes

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

iTunes recently surpassed Wal-Mart as the top music retailer in the country, and it has made under-performing genres –- like classical and jazz –- sexy again. But the online music store's critics complain of poor sound quality and harsh copy protection. In another Soundcheck Smackdown, Blender magazine editor in chief ...

Comments [38]

Smackdown in Aisle Four: Wal-Mart

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Wal-Mart was the top music seller in the country until recently. But the retail chain is still selling CDs at a steep discount and cutting exclusive deals with artists like AC/DC and the Eagles. In the second of a four-part Smackdown on music buying, we debate Wal-Mart's music power. We're ...

Comments [26]

The MySpace Debate

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The popular social networking website has always been a place for small bands to reach out to fans and in many cases, achieve success. But the website is now owned by Ruphert Murdoch and when it launched its online music store last month it left the indies out. In the ...

Comments [11]

Booze: Music's Friend or Foe?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

In another edition of Soundcheck Smackdown, we debate the role of alcohol in live music. Some venues are allowing audience members to bring glasses of wine into once-dry concert halls. But Van Morrison has banned alcohol consumption from his concerts in England. Joining us to weigh in is Limor Tomer, ...

Comments [26]

A '70s Smackdown

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

In another installment of Soundcheck Smackdown we look back to that much-maligned period of popular music: the 1970s. Author Dave Thompson talks about his new book, "I Hate New Music: The Classic Rock Manifesto," and music critic Jim DeRogatis tells us why he’d rather forget that era altogether.

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Comments [18]

Soundcheck Smackdown: Metallica

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

For more than a decade, Metallica has thrived on controversy. Each new album is greeted with intense scrutiny and analysis. On their latest release, "Death Magnetic," the godfathers of thrash hark back to their 1980s glory. In a Soundcheck Smackdown that threatens to tear the metal universe in half, we ...

Comments [18]

Careers in the Music Business: Doomed or Dazzling?

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

With double-digit declines in album sales and darkening clouds on the fiscal horizon, the music business might seem a bad place to start a career. Yet a recent poll in the UK revealed that one-fifth of Brits would swap their jobs for one in the music industry. In another Soundcheck ...

Comments [17]

Smackdown: Music Leaks

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Some artists, like Bono and Deerhunter, accidentally leak their forthcoming albums. Others boost their songs over the release-date transom. And fans who know where to find leaked music will gobble it up. In another Soundcheck Smackdown, we debate whether music leaks are ultimately good or bad for music fans. We're ...

Comments [4]

Soundcheck Smackdown: Aces of Bass

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

In the rock world, bass guitar is a bit like Rodney Dangerfield: no respect. Bassists often live in the shadow of flashy guitarists and charismatic singers. Now, some of rock's most successful acts -- the White Stripes, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the Black Keys among them -- don't even ...

Comments [39]

Soundcheck Smackdown: Baby Boomers vs. Generation X

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The poet and philosopher George Santayana once said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." To ensure that future generations don't forget the triumphs and tragedies of pop music's past, we host another Soundcheck Smackdown over the musical legacies of baby boomers and Generation X. Joining ...

Comments [28]

iPhone Smackdown

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Apple's new iPhone G3 is earning praise from some music fans for its ability to let you listen to live radio, identify songs you hear or even hum, and build playlists of favorite artists or genres. But there's also a growing backlash from iPhone haters who argue that it's all ...

Comments [34]

Soundcheck Smackdown: When Contemporary Met Classical

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Like vegetables stuck into a delicious meal, contemporary classical music is forced on concert audiences before they are allowed to enjoy their Brahms. So says humorist, critic and author Joe Queenan. Today, Queenan and John Berry, Artistic Director with English National Opera, join us for a Soundcheck Smackdown debate on ...

Comments [25]

Live Albums on Life Support

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Back in the swingin’ ‘70s, Peter Frampton won his fanbase on the strength of "Frampton Comes Alive." Today's concert recordings and DVDs don’t pack the same punch -- they often round out "deluxe editions" and pad record contracts. In another Soundcheck Smackdown, we debate the live album format with writer ...

Comments [44]

Soundcheck Smackdown: Coldplay

Thursday, July 03, 2008

In a time when CD sales are tanking, British rock band Coldplay's new album is a hotseller. "Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends" is the number one record in America for a second week in a row. But is the record really that good? We debate Coldplay’s ...

Comments [30]

Mobile Madness

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

At many pop concerts, the audience is so busy filming and recording the experience with their cell phones, they forget to pay attention to the music. Today, a "Soundcheck Smackdown" debate over whether cell phones are enhancing or ruining concerts. We're joined by Thor Christensen, pop music critic for the ...

Comments [37]

Soundcheck Smackdown: Lil' Wayne

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Lil’ Wayne claims to be the best rapper alive, but it took New Orleans' most famous guest MC two years to put out his new album. In another Soundcheck Smackdown, we debate Lil’ Wayne’s claim to greatness and his new album, "Tha Carter III." Joining us in studio: Sasha Frere-Jones, ...

Comments [47]

Soundcheck Smackdown: European versus American jazz

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Some say the vanguard of jazz, America's quintessential music, is now coming out of Europe. Today, a Soundcheck Smackdown debate on whether European jazz is threatening the dominance of the US as the cradle of the art form. Joining us is Will Layman, a jazz critic who writes for Popmatters.com, ...

Comments [19]