As touted in this week's Backbeat, music editors from across the country asked luminaries from our respective towns to tell us what music they loved this year. Their picks appear below and on the subsequent pages.
Margaret Cho has had her own TV show, a couple of best-selling books, a Grammy-nominated comedy album and two feature films based on her national tours, but 2007 saw a new conquest for the comic: she became a viral-video queen. The Sensuous Woman, a sexy, traveling circus-like spectacle melding music, comedy and burlesque as performed by Cho and a myriad of her talented pals, was a critical success in L.A., New York and Chicago.
But when a clip from Woman showing the comedienne, clad in nothing but pasties and panties, twirling her ta-tas with awe-inspiring speed, was posted on YouTube and subsequently every blog on the Net, Cho became not only a national cyber-sensation, but a champion for voluptuous women everywhere.
"I got really good at twirling those tassels. It was very popular online and quite controversial," she says. "Women loved it and felt empowered, but a few straight guys were furious because I challenge the stripper archetype."
Challenging preconceived notions and stereotypes is what Cho does. The Korean-American funny lady has always had a strong political and cultural viewpoint, and her work has explored not only her Asian background and upbringing, but also her views on homosexuality (currently married, she claims to be bisexual) and the government (big shocker: she's anti-Bush).
Perhaps inspired by the online hubbub her half-naked gyrations caused — but more likely just another extension of her never-ending quest to challenge the status quo — Cho's next project, Beautiful, will be a stand-up show that ponders the age-old question of what real beauty is. It's her first stand-up show since the 2005 Assassin tour, and her own blog will play a role.
"Right now I am doing a big list of who I think is beautiful," she says. "People can log on to margaretcho.com to see if they made the list. It's famous people to friends to anyone who happens to catch my eye."
Surely, there'll be some musicians on the list. Cho, who just got tattooed like a rock star on TLC's L.A. Ink and made a splash emceeing Cyndi Lauper's True Colors tour this past year, is definitely a music enthusiast with diverse tastes. She appears in Dresden Dolls' "Shores of California" video (a parody of David Lee Roth's "California Girls") and even directed a clip for one of her '07 faves. These are the sounds she wiggled to this year.
Ryan Adams, Easy Tiger
"The best album of this year. I just listened to it over and over and over and over. It makes me feel like I am one of those girls who can wear a very, very short dress with cowboy boots and I don't have to wear tights because my legs are perfect and tan. I also saw him play with his band the Cardinals at the Wilshire Theatre and I screamed myself sore."
Girl in a Coma
"So cute...so young. They opened for Morrissey at the Hammerstein Ballroom and rocked it."
Crowded House, Time on Earth
"It's amazing. I love Neil Finn and have had a solid crush on him for nearly 23 years. I got to tell him so after their awesome show at the Greek Theatre this summer. Love them."
The Cliks, Snakehouse
"An incredible record. I went on the True Colors tour with them, and also directed their video 'Eye in the Back of my Head.'"
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"This was in heavy rotation. I love her and she is insanely cute. On the cover she looks really Super Mario Bros. or Donkey Kong. Her fashion sense is crazy. So cool."
Antony Hegarty [frontman, Antony & the Johnsons]
"When he's singing he sounds like he's clutching the pearls around his neck and spilling a gin and tonic all over the place."
-- Lina Lecaro