No disrespect to Fiona Apple and her (rather great) new album The Idler Wheel..., but it would be a mistake to think that the oft-morose singer-songwriter has the market cornered on hurt feelings in 2012.
In recent months, we've also heard a diverse range of artists getting down in the dumps, from Lee Ranaldo to E-40 -- the former moaning over a lost connection he hopes to meet again out on the road, and the latter attending to his raw ego in light of what he takes to be the East Coast's indifference to his catalogue. (Buck up, Earl! I know lots of folks who love your slaps in NYC.) Meanwhile, Meshell Ndegeocello has teamed up with modern jazz ensemble The Robert Glasper Experiment to narrate what happens when a romantic partner tires of another's jealous paranoia, and we can surmise that a one-time intimate of Sleigh Bells' Alexis Krauss is now lost to her.
The hopefully inspiring upshot of a playlist so dedicated to bad vibes is the stylistic diversity on offer. Whether it's Jeremy Denk playing some of Gyorgy Ligeti's fiendishly difficult etudes for piano (with haunted titles like "Disorder," "Vertigo" and "The Devil's Staircase"), or Rufus Wainwright's cheerful processing of an ex-pal's spurning impulses via the fuzzbox-waltz "Rashida," the apparently infinite variety of ways to express frustration may help us remember how universal these feelings are, and how many solutions there might be in our own individual cases. Except for maybe Ms. Apple. Did you hear that screamed part in the middle of "Regret"? I'm not sure it made her feel any better, but it sure works for us.