CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL SCORE: (2) JEFF BUCKLEY 168, (7) Tracy Chapman 159 .......... FINAL FOUR FINAL SCORES: (7) TRACY CHAPMAN 154, (1) Joy Division 90 ..... (2) JEFF BUCKLEY 137, (1) The Cure 89 .......... ELITE EIGHT FINAL SCORES: (1) JOY DIVISION 74, (14) Low 60 ..... (7) TRACY CHAPMAN 85, (1) Elliott Smith 69 ..... THE CURE 65, (2) Radiohead 58 ..... (2) JEFF BUCKLEY 74, (1) Neutral Milk Hotel 44 ..... FINAL SWEET SIXTEEN SCORES: (1) JOY DIVISION 75, (5) PJ Harvey & Nick Cave 24 ..... (14) LOW 73, (2) Concrete Blonde (64) ..... (1) ELLIOTT SMITH 78, (4) Gary Jules 44 ..... (7) TRACY CHAPMAN 74, (6) Kate Bush 53 ..... (1) NEUTRAL MILK HOTEL 54, (13) The Church 49 ..... (2) JEFF BUCKLEY 73, (3) Sinead O’Connor 35 ..... (1) THE CURE 109, (3) Tori Amos 86 ..... (2) RADIOHEAD 76, (6) This Mortal Coil 50 ..... (1) JOY DIVISION 96, (9) Mazzy Star 91 ..... (2) CONCRETE BLONDE 76, (7) Bob Mould 28 ..... (14) LOW 60, (6) Crowded House 51 ..... (5) PJ HARVEY & NICK CAVE 65, (4) Alphaville 38 ..... (1) ELLIOTT SMITH 113, (8) Replacements 88 ..... (6) KATE BUSH 87, (3) Nirvana 64 ..... (7) TRACY CHAPMAN 99, (2) The Eels 62 ..... (3) GARY JULES 103, (12) Morrissey 63 ..... (6) Kate Bush 72, (3) Nirvana 53 ..... (3) SINEAD O'CONNOR 66, (11) Ride 27 ..... (13) THE CHURCH 106, (5) James 44 ..... (2) JEFF BUCKLEY 95, (10) Smashing Pumpkins 40 ..... (1) NEUTRAL MILK HOTEL 80, (9) New Order 56 ..... (2) RADIOHEAD 102, (7) Nine Inch Nails 99 ..... (6) THIS MORTAL COIL 61, (3) Indigo Girls 60 ..... (4) TORI AMOS 89, (5) Swans 40 ..... (1) CURE 82, (8) Tom Waits 68 ............... FINAL 1ST ROUND SCORES: (5) PJ HARVEY & NICK CAVE 93, (12) Midnight Oil 38 ..... (7) BOB MOULD 63, (10) Peter Murphy 47 ..... (1) JOY DIVISION 117, (16) Erasure 19 ..... (6) CROWDED HOUSE 98, (11) Leonard Cohen 54 ..... (7) TRACY CHAPMAN 199, (10) The Smiths 162 ..... (5) MORRISSEY 115, (12) Morphine 83 ..... (3) NIRVANA 137, (14) Slowdive 102 ..... (8) THE REPLACEMENTS 128, (9) Dream Academy 82 ..... (13) THE CHURCH 262, (4) Magnetic Fields 193 ..... (10) SMASHING PUMPKINS 165, (7) Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds 155 ..... (9) NEW ORDER 160, (8) Sarah McLachlan 78 ..... (1) JEFF BUCKLEY 204, (16) Bjork 92 ..... (4) TORI AMOS 78, (13) Echo & the Bunnymen 22 ..... (8) TOM WAITS 72, (9) The Pretenders 22 ..... (6) THIS MORTAL COIL 51, (11) Yaz 31 ..... (3) INDIGO GIRLS 71, (14) Pavement 26 ..... (9) MAZZY STAR 132, (8) REM 46 ..... (2) CONCRETE BLONDE 88, (15) Psychedelic Furs 34 ..... (4) ALPHAVILLE 71, (13) Dead Can Dance 36 ..... (14) LOW 120, (3) U2 65 ..... (1) ELLIOTT SMITH 63, (16) 10,000 Maniacs 24 ..... (2) EELS 50, (15) Counting Crows 46 ..... (4) GARY JULES 62, (13) Depeche Mode 19 ..... (6) KATE BUSH 59, (11) Sisters of Mercy 20 ..... (1) NEUTRAL MILK HOTEL 42, (16) Violent Femmes 12 ..... (11) RIDE 25 (6) Peter Gabriel 24 ..... (3) SINEAD O'CONNOR 37, (14) Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark 17, ..... (5) JAMES 24, (12) Red House Painters 23 ..... (7) NINE INCH NAILS 46, (10) Wilco 31, (5) SWANS 31, (12) Pet Shop Boys 18 ..... (1) THE CURE 50, (16) Gear Daddies 10 ..... (2) RADIOHEAD 40, (15) Liz Phair 35


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Sweet Sixteen Action: (7) TRACY CHAPMAN vs (6) KATE BUSH

FINAL SCORE: (7) TRACY CHAPMAN 74, (6) Kate Bush 53


(7) Tracy Chapman, "Fast Car"

Analysis by Manuel Muñoz

It’s never a good idea to study a bracket too closely, either before or after the playing starts, but Tracy Chapman’s appearance in the Sweet Sixteen suggests unheralded strength rather than an easy draw. I was sure she was going to fall to The Smiths in the first round, but her earnest delivery carried “Fast Car” through. That might suggest (might!) that the voting pool considers the combo of plaintive but warm voice plus easily graspable lyrics more potent than the committee anticipated. Only the voting bloc that witnessed the Chapman/Eels showdown knows for sure.

“Fast Car” might be the most straightforward and story-like of the songs we’ve got left, leaving little room for second-guessing its considerable narrative of burden and responsibility. The previous write-up on Chapman already made mention of the song’s “speed” chorus, its rush of longing and vulnerability. But before that, we hear the speaker lay out how parental failure has forced a guilty hand. “Somebody’s got to take care of him,” says the speaker of an alcoholic, broken-down father, “so I quit school and that’s what I did.” For all its merits as a song of broken hopes and disillusionment, it’s also one that surprisingly insists that bigger family circumstances can matter just as much as a lack of individual options for a person at a crossroads.

For pushing thirty years of age, “Fast Car” has held up well as a song representing the early half of the bracket era. I admire how its folk sensibility managed to crash a couple of boundaries in 1988. Is it college radio or straight-up adult contemporary? Is it 120 Minutes or VH1 during the daytime? However we might answer those questions, the impact of the song and what it meant to a lot of people might best be demonstrated by the “roll call” moment in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing from 1989. Just a year after her big hit and Chapman (thrillingly to my young movie-going ears at the time) got to take a well-earned place on a very deep bench.

Manuel Muñoz is the author of a novel, What You See in the Dark, and two short-story collections. He’s midway through a third, with recent work in the current issue of American Short Fiction.


(6) Kate Bush, “This Woman's Work”

Analysis by Danielle Cadena Deulen

It’s those first sung notes—somehow both sweet and distraught, sharp and tender—an exhale that draws the breath out of a room. It’s a hurt-pleasure like pressing the cut at the tip of your finger, or the anxiety that arises in the moment someone you love touches your shoulder, turns you around because they need to tell you something. Something big. Something that will probably make you cry.
And I do whenever I hear this song.

Admittedly, I’m sentimental. But I don’t think that’s all that’s at work here. Most sad songs are sad to me because I connect them with my own memories of loss, but this song has been floating through my life a long time now, landing my attention in various moments that have no aligning personal narrative. It’s not unlike the aesthetically disjunctive context of the song’s original life, having been written for the 1988 John Hughes film, She’s Having a Baby. 

I watched it on TV as a kid, largely unimpressed by Kevin Bacon’s supposedly comedic performance, his character’s hysterical response to the expectations of fatherhood striking me, even then, as immature—Oh, grow up, thought my eleven-year-old self. Then his wife goes into labor and something is wrong. A drop of blood falls slowly to the hospital’s white floor and Kate Bush’s voice rings out over a montage of scenes that haven’t earned it. For a moment, I forget that I don’t like what I’m watching, that I am bored, only a child, and am merely suspended in her voice, in perpetual present tense.

The song has always arrived to me this way, at moments in my life that should make me resist its emotional call: Drunk at a party, or driving on a bright day through the mountains, or sitting with my high school ex-boyfriend in his Volkswagen Rabbit, still saturated with the stink of cigarettes and Eternity for Men, stifling a laugh because he’s shown up at my childhood house years after we split with an engagement ring for the girl he left me for—to get my opinion, he tells me—but the ring’s so godawful (white-gold dolphins diving around a diamond chip) and his obviousness so ripe (he wants me to be jealous) that I have to clasp my hand over my mouth, when the first notes of “This Woman’s Work” reaches out through the radio—

And I forget where I am, what I was thinking, who I’m with, and despite the context, my eyes well-up. He places his hand on my shoulder sympathetically. “No,” I try to say, “it’s just the song,” but I can tell he doesn’t believe me, that he thinks he’s got what he came for.

What I’m trying to say is this: the song creates its own space. Kate Bush starts singing and even though I know what must come next, I want to know what comes next. This is probably why it keeps resurfacing in the voices of different singers, gender notwithstanding. Its sadness is beautifully arresting, the call of a lone bird, the moan of a train at night. I suppose this is what I want from any song: to be transported so far away that I forget myself to ache into it.

Give me these moments back. Give them back to me.

Danielle Cadena Deulen is the author of two full-length poetry collections, Lovely Asunder and Our Emotions Get Carried Away Beyond Us, and an essay collection, The Riots. She’s the poetry series editor at Acre Books and teaches for Willamette University. You can find out more about her here.



  1. I think turn out is low because you have to click through to the poll to make it work.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Not sure exactly what you mean: that when you click "vote" on the poll above, it sends you to the poll site to see the results? If so, we just fixed that setting. It shouldn't affect the actual recording of votes, but I could see how maybe it doesn't encourage people to vote on both games or just feels wonky. Let me know if the problem persists?

  3. Seems ok now, but earlier today, if you voted here it gave an error screen, and you had to click the link after "trouble voting?" to vote. But anyway, seems all right now!