The Runners-Up: Laurie Anderson

by Leonard Pierce

When Laurie Anderson distilled elements of her ambitious, impressive performance piece United States into a single album and convinced bewildered Warner execs to release it as Big Science in 1982, it caught the critical establishment entirely by surprise. Here was a record by a quirky, unique, clever and intelligent female voice that grafted the bourgeoning electronic pop format with arty psychedelic elements to create something like—well, that was the point:  there really wasn’t anything like it at the time. It was widely, and rightly, regarded as a minor masterpiece, with the cool, post-modernist ballad “O Superman (For Massanet)” singled out as representative of its unique and strangely appealing tone.

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