Earlier this year, Vulture compiled the Ultimate New York Playlist, a 30-song mixtape of the greatest New York—promoting anthems of all time. Now, we wonder if it’s already time for a rebuttal. Since Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind” took over the world last fall, a small but fervent movement has arisen within the music community to ask the question — is New York the greatest city in the world?
Julian Casablancas, of all people, got the anti-NYC ball rolling in November with “Ludlow St,” from his solo album Phrazes For the Young. Here, Casablancas focuses his attention on only one New York street in particular, singing “Faces are changing on Ludlow St. / yuppies invading on Ludlow St. / nightlife is raging on Ludlow St. / history’s fading and it’s hard to just move along.”
Then, in February, Gil-Scott Heron widened the target to include the entire city, when he released I’m New Here, his first album in sixteen years, which features the song “New York Is Killing Me.” Sample lyric: “Bunch of doctors come around / they don’t know that New York is killing me.” (Heron also helpfully mentions Jackson, Tennessee as a viable alternative to New York).
Then, just this week Ray LaMontagne’s latest, God Willin’ & The Creek Don’t Rise, echoes Heron’s sentiment with similarly titled “New York City Is Killing Me.” Says Ray: “There’s just something about this hotel / got me wishing I was dead / gotta get out of New York City.” Also: “I was just kicking along the sidewalk / no one looks you in the eyes / no one asks you how you’re doing / don’t seem to care if you live or die.”
Well, what is going on here?! Sure, these could all be unrelated occurrences — perhaps motivated by bad falafel, bad healthcare, and bad room service, respectively — randomly clustered together. Or it could be part of a grander, more nefarious anti-New York musical movement. If its the latter, we have two theories: 1. LCD Soundsystem’s 2007 classic “New York I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down” has belatedly sparked a trend. 2. The deathless ubiquity of “Empire State of Mind” is finally pissing people off.
Did we miss any recent anti-NYC songs?