E's NYC Music Milestones of 2010, Pt. 1: Kanye, Joanna Newsom…

10: Pianos Everywhere

In June, “Play Me, I’m Yours,” a musical art installation by British artist Luke Jerram presented with nonprofit Sing for Hope, came to NYC, scattering 60 pianos across all five boroughs for the public to play. Alicia Keys, the cast of HAIR, actress/cabaret-jazz singer Lauren Ambrose and other famous New Yorkers gave impromptu concerts, but it was the everyday Joes whose ivory-tickling made the project such a heart-lifting success.

9. Lauryn Hill Returns?

On August 28, the elusive Ms. Lauryn Hill gave what was effectively her first bona fide public NYC performance in years at the Rock the Bells hip hop festival on Governor's Island, onstage with Mary J. Blige, Beyoncé, Alicia Keys, John Legend, Jay-Z…and her five children. Then in December, Hill announced a spate of early-2011 area shows. Don’t want to jinx it, but a genuine comeback for this ultra-talented, ultra-inscrutable artist might be on the horizon.

8. R.I.P. Monkey Town

Citing “landlord issues,” excellently gonzo Williamsburg art space Monkey Town signed off in late January after seven years of doing whatever the hell they wanted—including booking envelope-pushing musical acts—with a night where Dirty Dancing was screened alongside its Bollywood remake. Williamsburg’s art-cred shark had been practice-jumping for years, but this was the real thing.

7. Joanna Newsom sells out Carnegie Hall

In the early-to-mid ’00s, when it seemed Autotune was everywhere, people started throwing around the term “freak folk” to talk about fringey lo-fi talents like Joanna Newsom with her mountain-girl warble, her harp-playing, her polyrhythms and her songs that sounded like nursery rhymes. In November 2010, she played a sold-out show at Carnegie Hall.

6. Kanye West’s surprise 2:30AM Brooklyn Bowl show

Love him or hate him, if you were at Brooklyn Bowl in the wee hours of October 24, your world pretty much got rocked when Kanye West showed up for a surprise set just hours after MTV premiered his short film Runaway. (GZA followed him. It was quite a night.)

Tomorrow: No. 5 through 1


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