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The Year in Pop

Industry Star: Josh Deutsch
The year belonged to brand-new label Downtown Records, which music-biz veteran Josh Deutsch started in his living room and which has not yet broken double digits in staff. Immediately after hearing their single “Crazy,” Deutsch signed smash-hit duo Gnarls Barkley, and the album went platinum. Quickly showing that was no fluke, he demonstrated his broad taste by signing buzz-bands Art Brut and the Cold War Kids, then landed the soundtrack rights to Borat. Most impressive, though, is the label’s prescient marketing strategies; yes, Downtown is active on MySpace and other community sites, but they also plan to promote their most recent signee, R&B talent Kevin Michael, on the virtual-reality site Second Life and the online nightclub Doppelgänger. As The OC soundtrack juggernaut runs out of gas, this is the song-placement model du jour—any music exec worth his extravagant salary should be taking notes.

Stinker
Not long after The Killer’s irresistible synth-heavy debut, Hot Fuss, broke the top ten, painfully insecure front man Brandon Flowers began feuding with teenage emo bands and attempting to grow a beard. On the desperate follow-up, Sam’s Town, the Killers grasp for shreds of credibility by openly and ineptly emulating Bruce Springsteen, right down to the boss’s glockenspiel and open-road metaphors. They’re from Las Vegas, and they still can’t pull this off.

By Sara Cardace, Nick Catucci, Hugo Lindgren, Ben Mathis-Lilley, and Ben Williams


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