Year-end lists -- most of which have already emerged -- generally calculate the best in recorded music, celebrating the albums and songs critics deem most innovative and most skillful. But in many ways, it’s the live performances of these recordings that tell us the most about both the artists making them and the fans consuming them.
Today, as YouTube has replaced MTV as the primary outlet for music videos, the lyrics-only clip has become one of the most important marketing tools online, with a few generating more than 100 million views without a single shot of the artist. Unlike elaborate MTV-style videos (a 1998 clip for "Victory" by Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs cost his label $2.5 million), lyric videos are dirt cheap, and the words add an element beyond what fans get on radio or Pandora.
Last year, while touring for 2011 album "Vice Verses," Switchfoot visited famous surfing locales in New Zealand, Indonesia and South Africa, looking to inspire a new album and document how the Southern California Christian rock band's passions for waves and soundwaves collide.