Anthony Fantano, AKA “Melon”, AKA “best teeth in the game”, AKA “The internet’s busiest music nerd” is one of the most popular and important music gurus on the web. For millions of dedicated followers, he provides fun, quirky entertainment as well as thoughtful takes on both popular and lesser known music. On January 18th, 2020, fans eagerly watched the finale to his end of the decade music series on his YouTube channel, The Needle Drop. The round off to the series was a monumental, near thirty minute long “Top 200 Albums of the 2010’s” list which turned out to be an exciting and refreshing take on the decade’s best music.
Surveying Melon’s massive list of 200 albums is daunting. His choices were sometimes unexpected, but always deliberate and interesting. That being said, some of the most surprising album placements were Tyler the Creator’s Igor at number twenty and Kamasi Washington’s three hour, aptly titled collection The Epic at number twenty four. Despite Fantano praising Tyler for his smash-hit album of heavy bangers and emotional deep-cuts when it came out, it still came as a surprise to see it ranked where it was. Similarly, The Epic was an incredible jazz behemoth that absolutely deserved a mention, but due to jazz not being a popular genre for Fantano or for our present culture generally, it also felt like a pleasant surprise.
Some of Fantano’s other album rankings didn’t raise too many eyebrows, but they were still fun to see. His decision to rank Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly at number one didn’t really come at much of a surprise. Lamar’s esteemed work of hip-hop/jazz/soul fusion won the hearts of millions and has cemented him as one of the most respected and admired artists of the century. Plus, Fantano’s review of TPAB is one of his most watched ever and he’s a big hip-hop head. Some other welcome additions were Kanye West and Kid Cudi’s Kids See Ghosts, Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool, the late, eternal legend David Bowie’s last record, and Plastic Beach from Gorillaz.
The vast musical vocabulary and appreciation that Fantano displays for different genres enables him to come across as both expert and relatable. As a reviewer, he comfortably flirts the balance between the eclectic, niched music connoisseur and the chill guy who’s also down with a lot of what’s playing on pop radio stations. Just by examining his top 200 album list, he’s as ready to praise experimental industrial hip-hop group Death Grips (emphasis on experimental) as much as he will Billie Eilish’s When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? (Which just won several Grammys).
Many of Fantano’s picks also reflect the power of NPR’s popular “Tiny Desk” series. The inclusion of the wonderful music of Mexican artist, Natalia Lafourcade is a great example of how Fantano and NPR bring lesser known artists to global attention. Fantano has been a gateway to so much great and relatively unknown music for his fans. Comments from his Top 200 list video reflect this, with people writing things like “I know most of these comments are just memes, but I’d like to genuinely thank you for helping me fall in love with so much music over the past couple of years that I may have never heard without your videos”.
Beyond music critique, there’s a ton of banter, inside jokes, and memes shared between Fantano and his audience. Whether it’s the trademark edits on his videos, references to his “meme review” segments, or his signature “forever” sign off at the end of each video, Melon connects with his fans over more than just music. The past few decades have given rise to many beloved and popular YouTubers who give us their thoughts and opinions about anything and everything, including music. Undoubtedly, new voices in the music review game will emerge in the coming years, but Anthony Fantan seems like he’s going to be sticking around, “forever”.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment