The Year in Music, Part 2


Handsome Boy Modeling School/White People
Gorillaz/Demon Days

These two albums have a lot in common: Both are the product of concept bands fronted by imaginary characters; both are follow-ups to highly successful debuts; and both were made by a core duo augmented by numerous guest stars.

Handsome Boy Modeling School is the creation of superstar hip-hop producers Prince Paul and Dan the Automator, who for the purposes of this project wear fake moustaches and call themselves Nathaniel Merriweather and Chest Rockwell. The first Handsome Boy album, 1999’s So…How’s Your Girl?, was a star-studded mix of hip-hop, trip-hop, and comedy inspired by an episode of the Chris Elliott sitcom “Get a Life.” White People is even more star-studded, almost ridiculously so; at times it seems less like music than a way for Nate and Chest to show off the contents of their rolodexes. (Wait a minute…nobody uses rolodexes anymore…I mean the contents of their Blackberries, or their cell phones, or their assistants’ cell phones, or wherever high-powered producers keep their phone numbers these days.) Don Novello a/k/a Father Guido Sarducci reprises his role as Handsome Boy’s most successful graduate, while Tim Meadows does a version of the Ladies Man on between-song skits. Del the Funkyhomosapien, reggae star Barrington Levy, and Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos all appear — on one song, “The World’s Gone Mad.” Julee Cruise, who we last heard from on the “Twin Peaks” soundtrack circa 1989, duets with uber-hip Pharrell Williams on “Class System.” There’s not enough room on the Internet to name everybody else who shows up here, but a partial list would include De La Soul, Mike Patton, Cat Power, Jack Johnson, the RZA, John Oates, and two of the guys from Linkin Park.