The 2006 Macaca Music Poll: The Results Are In!

YES YES YÂ’ALL, and you donÂ’t stop! ItÂ’s the moment youÂ’ve been waiting for. I am happy to bring you the results of the 2006 Inaugural Sepia Mutiny Macaca Music Poll. It took me some time to compile the results, a task made both necessary and pleasant by the high quality and fabulous diversity of your submissions. The best part of all, for me, was that you forced me to listen to a whole lot of music IÂ’d never heard of, or not gotten around to hear. Dhanyawad, bahut dhanyawad, for expanding my ears.

After weeding out submissions of music that came out earlier than 2006, and disregarding entries of a trollish or spamlike nature, we were left with 56 valid ballots. They seem to divide evenly among men and women, confirming that music geekery is a democratic and universal condition. Regulars and lurkers are evenly represented as well. The full list of voters is at the end of this post.

And now…drumroll please…the results:

Your favorite music of 2006 came from Gnarls Barkley, the dynamic duo project of Atlanta hip-hop mavericks Cee-Lo and Danger Mouse. Their song “Crazy” was a ubiquitous hit of 2006, the year’s best song according to Rolling Stone, and the album, “St. Elsewhere” made numerous critic’s lists. It seems like the Sepia crowd agrees.

Tied for second place were Ali Farka Touré, for his beautiful final album “Savane,” and – and this one surprised me – the Russian-raised, New York-based “antifolk” singer Regina Spektor, for her album “Begin to Hope” and the song “Fidelity.”

Fourth place went to the “Omkara” soundtrack featuring the song “Beedi.” This was the highest ranked desi entry, rounding out a very cool top foursome of alt-hip-hop, African, alt-folk, and filmi.

The cluster of acts tied for fifth place only underscore the diversity: Arctic Monkeys, Decemberists, Ghostface Killah, the “Guru” soundtrack, Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins, John Legend, Kailash Kher, Lily Allen, Nelly Furtado, The Roots, and TV on the Radio.


Lots of music direct from the desh. The filmi mavens loved the music from “Omkara,” “Guru,” and “Rang de Basanti.” Several other Hindi and Tamil films earned isolated mentions.

The top individual artist from desh was Kailash Kher for his album “Kailasa” as well as specific song contributions to films. Jai Singh, Msichana and Sonia Kaur all enthusiastically recommended this brother, and I’m thrilled they did. I didn’t know of him, and I love what I’ve now heard.

Again a whole bunch of individual artists earned single mentions, and you can be sure weÂ’ll be tracking their work and writing posts about them when the time is right!


Your fellow macacas diasporic desis were all up in this piece. Among the four favorites were two who do desi-infused music, Karsh Kale and Susheela Raman, one in a folk band, Nicky Mehta of the Wailin’ Jennys and one who leads a good olÂ’ rock and roll band, Ramesh Srivastava and his band Voxtrot.

Also getting their propers were, among others, MC Kabir, Prasanna, and our own SriramÂ’s Duology Band. From across the water, Red Snapper tips us to Britons Vijay Kishore and the band Bat for Lashes, featuring Natasha Khan.


Acts earning multiple mentions that I havenÂ’t listed yet included DeVotchKa, Hot Chip, Justin Timberlake (donÂ’t hate!), Lady Sovereign, Lupe Fiasco, Osvaldo Golijov, Strokes, Tom Waits, The Weepies, and Yo La Tengo.

In all, you recommended 161 different artists, groups or soundtracks, from genres including rock, hip-hop, R&B, electronica, jazz, opera, folk, filmi, African, Latin, Sufi and more.


Some of you took the time to write comments alongside your submissions. ThereÂ’s some really good music criticism out there in Sepia-land. But the comment that really struck me the most wasnÂ’t to do with a specific song or artist. It was about the way people experience music in real life: spontaneous, disorganized, and free of the curatorial biases of critics, labels, genres, tastemakers, and year-end lists. From the real world of Virginia where she does the LordÂ’s work edumaca(ca)tinÂ’ the youth, Coach Diesel reports:

My kids are mixing Punjabi MC/ Bhangra mixes with live snare samba rhythms on the playing field. The bandleader sets up turntables, a DVD player/burner and then they mix it up with the marching band. So we got samba (Brazilian), Bhangra (Indian) and Southern American Hip-Hop when the Bandleader starts rhyming along with the steppers, who add percussion.


You KNOW folks were late submitting their ballots, and you KNOW they played the IST card to excuse their procrastination. But the IST prize goes to Terence, whose entry arrived this morning. Sorry, man, IÂ’m done with my spreadsheet. But your choices matched up nicely with the final list!


Maximum respect to: Abhi, AC, Ali, Amelie-Freak, Ankur, Arti, Arun, Ashvin, AT, Brimful, Camille, Cicatrix, Coach Diesel, Daniel, Deepa, Deepak, DesiDancer, Dhaavak, DJ Drrrty Poonjabi, Drac, DTK, Hemant, Hemu, Himali, Jai Singh, Jeet, Kenyandesi, Kurma, Milind, Msichana, Neal S., Neale, Neha, Nik, Nikhil, PG, Pied Piper, Pooja, Rano, Red Snapper, Rekha, Saheli, Sarosh, Shireen, Shodan, Shree, Shruti, Sonia Kaur, Sriram, Suneer, Talia, Tamasha, Tapti, Taz, Tony, Ylrsings.

If anyone would like to help make this post more interactive, please suggest links or web pages for the various artists in the comment thread.

Peace to James Brown! WeÂ’ll play again next year!

89 thoughts on “The 2006 Macaca Music Poll: The Results Are In!

  1. I have an original edition of The Smiths ‘The Queen is Dead’, you know

    Oh, sure, Snapper, sure. But I tell you, you have it easy. I have the first Solti Ring. You don’t know what it is to live in dread of an accidental scratch.

    And don’t get me started on my wax cylinders. I’ve got Caruso doing Vesti la giubba in 1903. Mind you I can only play it at night, in case the subway makes the floor rumble. And only once every three years, so as not to wear out the grooves.

  2. Neale that’s not vicious, alot of truth in that piece

    I couldn’t agree more, I have it framed.

  3. What kind of ghetto MP3 player are you using?

    The kind that plays mp3s. Now, sir, I refuse to discuss religion further with you.

  4. Talking of religion. Here’s a miracle. I have a iPod shuffle that emerged unscathed through a complete wash cycle with my gym clothes.

  5. There are these thingies called iPods you might check out. Or if you prefer to dance with the devil, Zune.

    I love the way conversations with Mac cultists always end up with them saying you should by an Apple product. Oh if everyone just bought iStuff, the world would solve itself. As I said, I’m an atheist, and your religion bores me.

    Baas! Back to music!

  6. Mr Kobayashi

    Check out your parents or uncle and aunties collections of Hindi film vinyl from the 1960′s and 1970′s for brown retro chic. Sexy as hell.

    You only have the first Solti Ring? That’s nothing. I used mine as a frisbee. I actually have the stuffed body of the original HMV dog.

  7. m4p aint mp3. And that sheez don’t convert easy. Come out of the cult, my brother, come into the light.
    What kind of ghetto MP3 player are you using? I’m going to have to have a word with Mrs Kobayashi about a birthday present for you.
    There are these thingies called iPods you might check out. Or if you prefer to dance with the devil, Zune.

    And not a single mention of lossless audio formats, compression algorithms, intercompatibility (well, you almost went there), or any real geek-talk from either of you? For shame! I was expecting more.

    FYI, Siddartha, expect my absentee ballot from rural North Carolina any minute. Confound this stupid Wilkesboro place! Confound it, I say! Oh wait, I think it’s been confounded for some time.

    Since Mr. K. is being all polite and shit, let me just add that most iTunes files do not transfer easily, thanks to the annoying idiot child that is DRM. And don’t even mention the goddamn Zune…or hey, how come Bluetooth has been out for years now, and there are ZERO mp3 players with bluetooth headphones? Stupid paranoid companies; they think they can prevent us from sharing music, but really all they can do is prevent you from having fun with their product.

    So with sharing music in mind, thanks for writing up this list, guy. Great stuff! I can’t wait to go download a bunch of it illegally, decide how much I like it, and subsequently purchase or neglect the album. :-)

  8. I love the way conversations with Mac cultists always end up with them saying you should by an Apple product. Oh if everyone just bought iStuff, the world would solve itself. As I said, I’m an atheist, and your religion bores me.

    Oh Mr K. If you only knew… You better sit down for this.

  9. This thread is the place to dissect the results and lobby for your under-appreciated faves!

    Neither of these two are 06 artists but what the hey… Indian Classical Music seems under-represented. Sanjeev Abhyankar. Pandit Jasraj’s chela. Amazing voice and skills. Check out Megh.

    Brother Ali is still getting slept on :( Ant is still a janitor :(

    26: Tamasha Bassist Jason ChronisÂ’ demo is very in unVoxtrotlike but worth checking out. If diligent websurfing doesnÂ’t unearth it, I can help offline.

    30: terence Did you get a chance to check Ghostface / Fishscale / Whip You With A Strap? It has a lovely J Dilla beat. Free JAYLIB VS. J ROCC here.

    31 · Neale Give eMusic a shot. SaReGaMa’s song credits suck, but it’s a good place to buy old desi tunes. Bad audio quality and all.

  10. Fantastic! Thank you for pulling this together Siddhartha.

    Estrella Morente’s Mujeres didn’t garner more than a single mention? Well here she is performing Zambra live. Or you can watch her perform live in NYC in 2007.

  11. Siddartha,

    Thanks for the you tube clip of James Brown. I’m from GA, so this put a tear in my eye. I was playing JB CDs all day long after Christmas Day, at work. My co-workers didn’t seem to mind, since they were big JB fans also.

    You made my day!

  12. Siddartha: thanks for putting this together…good fun..

    Gatamala: Brilliant call with Atericopilados’ “Oye”…great great album.

    Arti: Niraj Chag – thanks for the the link..totally forgot about him. Used to love his Outcaste works. Just realized that Karsh Kale sampled that the same vocals in the DnB “Destroy the Icon – Bone Cruise Mix” (which I wish I could post-share with you) off of the 2002 remix album: “Redesign” That track “Bangle”.

    MP4/WAV: An audiophile’s anecdote: Earlier this year, I finally got a big pay check after one my clients signed to an indie and I spent a nice portion of this payout (with the wife’s blessing of course) on Part 1 of my dream audio system: A British-made integrated amp (Exposure) and two hand made speakers by (Brooklyn’s Devore Fidelity) connected by Oval 8 cables all from In Living Stereo in the City ( Albums that I have been listening to all my life suddenly came back to life. It is nothing less than stunning. My ears never get tired.

    At first I assumed I would never have to go through the nearly 4000 CD’s again since I had uploaded most onto a couple external HD’s – most of them in AAC format/160kpbs compression. The moment I played a CD from my average cd player and compared it to the same track playing from the Ipod, I noticed a world of a difference. Compression of the data from WAV to MP4/AAC/MP3 squashes the signal. That’s why a really well-mixed album that has not been mastered can often sound better than a “par” mastered album..(mastering compresses the signal, filters out the highs and lows of the bandwith..badly done can muddle an album). Now when I am casually listening to music, I throw on the Ipod. When I want to really “listen”..I use the CD. Listening to CD’s also reigns in my ADD: forcing me to listen to an album the way the artist intended it – from beginning to end. Part 2 of my dream system will have to wait until a client of mine signs to a Major: a Shindo Lab Tub Amp and a high end turntable rig..nothing sounds like vinyl.

  13. Thanks for the you tube clip of James Brown. I’m from GA, so this put a tear in my eye. I was playing JB CDs all day long after Christmas Day, at work. My co-workers didn’t seem to mind, since they were big JB fans also. You made my day!

    You’re welcome! In that spirit, here are images from this afternoon on 125…

  14. …ok, it wasn’t me that brought down iTunes .

    Last year I read a lot about Beirut and Istanbul being big party places. And I am a sucker for club/dance/electronica music that incorporates Arabic and Middle Eastern influences. Any recommendations anyone?

  15. I swear this blew me away!

    Yogi B n Nachathira Feat Lock Up – Madai Thiranthu

    How did this genre come about? Jaffna? Toronto? Chennai? I am intrigued.

  16. More on Nirag Chag. I sent the link out to this post to several friends, and my friend Vishal K. reminded me that Nirag Chag was the man behind Dum Dum Project. I sat around Vishal’s place with Shanti from DDP a few nights, I think, after watching them play. Great show, that kid can rock it out! Arti, good call. It’s a small brown world, man.

  17. Having heard Niraj Chag’s recommended rendition, I’m honestly not convinced about such numbers hitting it big. The problem with the song is that it reduces the human voice to a mere “sound effect”. The Punjabi lyric is nearly mauled by the sound arrangement and remains largely incomprehensible. Likewise, the voice of the singer is sadly drowned within a ceremonial of “sounding good” – which is more a matter of arranging things than anything else. If one were to compare this to the James Brown number at the top, one would know how intense the human voice could get following even a very predictable lyric. I love the energy of the singer even as he repeated the opening phrase thrice. The material core of music instantly came alive.

  18. It’s here at last ! — the post that I’m frantically scrolling down, looking for, after a few days of forced isolation from these internets. The only one of my 5 picks that didn’t make a mention is Sufjan Stevens. Call me superficial, but I like you all a little more because you like the music I like.

    I look forward to exploring all the suggestions on this page as soon as I get back to the comfort of my home broadband connection. Thanks Siddhartha !

  19. siddhartha and huey:

    i just got back from the public funeral for mr james brown in augusta, ga.. THE godfather of was amazing… seriously…one of the most fantastic afternoons i’ve ever, movement, laughter, and cheers…from michael jackson to rev al sharpton and jesse was an african american who’s who… the pics are here…i think i was the only macaca in the entire 9000 person audience..representing the brown… ;)

    RIP mr godfather… you were ‘it’…the sex machine, the one that felt good, and the one that made the black (brown) man (woman) proud.

  20. mr siddharata and miss shruti:

    how could i not?
    this man taught me how to dance.

    memories of a lifetime… simply amazing…

    yours, the bean

  21. Neale #75

    How did this genre come about? Jaffna? Toronto? Chennai? I am intrigued

    . I too was surprised to see a hip-hop version from Malaysia of Madai Thiranthu, which was a classic Ilaiyaraja tune from the movie ‘Nizhalgal‘ – 1980. Interesting! I searched a little and found this thread on them at the tfmpage.

  22. great post! i’m a youtubeaholic and looking forward to checking out new music!

    tamil movie songs have been covered fairly well so i thought i should contribute with some telugu, the other huge industry.

    a personal favorite is one siddharth from RDB actually sang himself called ‘appudo ippudo‘.
    the other good song from that film – ‘bommani geeste‘.

    pilinchina ranantava devuda muvvula navvakala uppongole godavari

    other songs from the films are good too. check them out on raaga or musicindiaonline.

  23. I keep an iPod Nano which I load up only with the most recent stuff that I need to listen to for professional reasons.

    Dude, what do you do for a living and can I have a job like yours?

  24. I know i’m a very late – but i’ve just returned to the US from the motherland…and i immediately went to scour the SM postings to learn of the results of the macaca music poll…i like/love most of the pics, and am glad to see my pics (even if it is in an honorable-mention-and-more capacity) made the cut – reaffirms my faith in the SM crew. I’m a lurker, but find solidarity in those who can appreciate and like both lady sovereign and the game theory (i specifically mention this album because it brought the roots BACK to why we “fell in love with hip hop”) in one go.

    great great great idea, siddhartha – a thousand times over. what fun.