The Year In Music… In One Handy Chart!

From GQ’s human boombox Will Welch, this very funny, very user-friendly chart recaps the entire year in music by splitting the universe into two simple categories: the music everyone was talking about (think: Radiohead), and the music that we actually listened to (think: The Kills). As usual, the two columns rarely intersect. Click here and scroll down to get the full chart.

Louis CK: Funny Man, Entrepreneurial Genius

If you downloaded Louis CK’s latest comedy special—available for $5 exclusively at his personal website—then you received this fascinating email yesterday from the man himself (who also just so happens to be one of GQ’s 2011 Men of the Year). We’re passing along a portion of Louis’s email not just because it’s funny but also because it’s a rare, revealingly candid insight into the business of being funny. Basically, it’s Louis explaining why he’s selling this concert film in such a unique way. And it’s working—in fact, the film is such a hit that at this very moment the website appears to be overloaded. Anyway, here’s Louis:

The show went on sale at noon on Saturday, December 10th. 12 hours later, we had over 50,000 purchases and had earned $250,000, breaking even on the cost of production and website. As of Today, we’ve sold over 110,000 copies for a total of over $500,000. Minus some money for PayPal charges etc, I have a profit around $200,000 (after taxes $75.58). This is less than I would have been paid by a large company to simply perform the show and let them sell it to you, but they would have charged you about $20 for the video. They would have given you an encrypted and regionally restricted video of limited value, and they would have owned your private information for their own use. They would have withheld international availability indefinitely. This way, you only paid $5, you can use the video any way you want, and you can watch it in Dublin, whatever the city is in Belgium, or Dubai. I got paid nice, and I still own the video (as do you). You never have to join anything, and you never have to hear from us again.

I really hope people keep buying it a lot, so I can have shitloads of money, but at this point I think we can safely say that the experiment really worked. If anybody stole it, it wasn’t many of you. Pretty much everybody bought it. And so now we all get to know that about people and stuff. I’m really glad I put this out here this way and I’ll certainly do it again. If the trend continues with sales on this video, my goal is that i can reach the point where when I sell anything, be it videos, CDs or tickets to my tours, I’ll do it here and I’ll continue to follow the model of keeping my price as far down as possible, not overmarketing to you, keeping as few people between you and me as possible in the transaction. (Of course i reserve the right to go back on all of this and sign a massive deal with a company that pays me fat coin and charges you straight up the ass.). (This is you: yes Louie. And we’ll all enjoy torrenting that content. You fat sweaty dolt).

[…]

I learned that money can be a lot of things. It can be something that is hoarded, fought over, protected, stolen and withheld. Or it can be like an energy, fueled by the desire, will, creative interest, need to laugh, of large groups of people. And it can be shuffled and pushed around and pooled together to fuel a common interest, jokes about garbage, penises and parenthood.

GQ’s Stud of the Year: Peter Dinklage

Yeah, goddamn right: Peter Dinklage. If you watched even one episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones this year, you’d know why, and you’d be nodding your head. Even if the mighty Mr. Dinklage himself is a bit skeptical. Click here to read GQ contributor Lindy West’s full story; below is the actor’s response when he hears how we’ve anointed him:

"[T]he actor proceeds to shout "STUD?!" for what seems like minutes. “I feel as much of a stud as… I can’t come up with a metaphor. That’s how lacking in studliness I am.”

GQ’s Badasses of the Year:
The Men of Breaking Bad

Our culture critic Tom Carson on the AMC meth-dealer-in-the-desert epic’s ensemble cast and its mesmerizing fourth season. A quick bit from Carson below. His full take is here.

With just one season left to go, Breaking Bad has shifted from being all about Bryan Cranston’s triple-Emmy’d (so far) lead performance to the best ensemble show on TV. This year, we were spun around four compromised points of the male compass: brains (the increasingly Machiavellian Walt), ego (Giancarlo Esposito’s drug kingpin Gus), heart (Aaron Paul’s Jesse, Walt’s reluctant sorcerer’s apprentice), and pure testosterone (Dean Norris as Hank, Walt’s DEA-agent brother-in-law—who’s got a supernally wise dark-side twin in Jonathan Banks, Gus’s head enforcer). Which one we get off on most says as much about us as picking our favorite Beatle.

[Photograph by Robert Maxwell]

GQ’s Comic Genius of the Year: Louis CK

Few comics have ever had a better year than this guy. On top of another killer stand-up special, Louis CK pulled off something unprecedented in television: the perfect season. The second season of his FX series, Louie, didn’t have a single less-than-great episode. To pay tribute, we got one of his most memorable guest stars from the season: Joan Rivers. Her full piece is here. A taste below:

Judging from the way he dresses, I’m not sure Louis C.K. ever reads GQ, but just in case he picks this up by mistake during one of his late night newsstand porno runs, here’s my advice:

Dear Louis:

Here’s the good news, kid: You’re here to stay. The bad news? Your chosen life’s work, comedy, is a steaming shithole of cruelty and degeneracy owned and operated by deranged, unattractive thieves. Ignore them. Push forward. Play by your rules and KEEP GOING. Wear blinders if necessary, but KEEP GOING. Don’t let other people tell you what’s funny. Don’t read your reviews— the bad ones hurt too much and the good ones make you weak. It’s all about ego and the moment you start to think you’re wonderful, it’s over—you’ve peaked.

[Photograph by Martin Schoeller]