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Initially pegged as something as a voice of a generation when "Loser" turned into a smash crossover success, Beck did wind up crystallizing much of the postmodern ruckus of the '90s alternative explosion, but in unexpected ways. Based in the underground anti-folk and noise rock worlds, Beck encompassed all manner of modern music, drawing in hip-hop, blues, trash rock, pop, soul, lounge music...pretty much any found sound or vinyl dug up from a dusty crate, blurring boundaries and encapsulating how '90s hipsters looked toward the future by foraging through the past. In another time, Beck may have stayed the province of the underground, but he surfaced just as alternative rock turned mainstream, with his 1994 debut Mellow Gold launching "Loser," a hit that crossed over with the velocity of a novelty, a notion Beck quickly punctured with a succession of indie LPs delivered in the wake of Mellow Gold, including the lo-fi folk of One Foot in the Grave, delivered on the K imprint. But the album that truly cemented Beck's place in the pantheon was 1996's Odelay, a co-production with the Dust Brothers that touched upon all of his obsessions, providing a cultural keystone for the decade while telegraphing all his future moves, from the soul prankster of Midnite Vultures to the melancholy troubadour of Sea Change.
Fittingly, Beck came from a distinctly artistic background, the son of string arranger/conductor David Campbell and Bibbe Hansen, a regular at Andy Warhol's Factory whose father was a pivotal contributor to the Fluxus art movement. Adopting the Hansen surname after his father left, Beck grew up in Los Angeles, dropping out of school in the tenth grade to play as a street busker and attend poetry slams. Bashing out blues and folk, Beck wound up assembling a home tape called The Banjo Story before departing for New York, where he operated on the margins of the anti-folk scene without ever breaking into it.
He returned to Los Angeles, where he continued to play clubs, eventually gaining the attention of Bong Load Records, an independent operated by Tom Rothrock and Rob Schnapf. All parties agreed to pair Beck's fledgling folk with hip-hop beats assembled by producer Karl Stephenson, whose kitchen provided the studio for their first efforts, including "Loser." These tapes remained unreleased as Beck recorded an album's worth of material with Calvin Johnson for the latter's K label, but the first release Beck had was the Flipside single "MTV Makes Me Want to Smoke Crack" and Sonic Enemy's cassette release of Golden Feelings. But what really broke the doors open was Bong Load's 12" single of "Loser," which garnered considerable play in L.A., coinciding with increased underground attention. Soon, Beck signed with Geffen, striking a deal that allowed him to release on independent labels. One of these immediately followed -- Fingerpaint released a 10" record A Western Harvest Field by Moonlight in January 1994 -- before the Geffen debut Mellow Gold appeared in March of 1994.
Naturally, "Loser" was the lead single from Mellow Gold and it turned into an instant smash, boasting a hook that worked as an ironic underground rallying cry and a novelty crossover. Despite many positive reviews, Beck worked overtime to dispel the notion he was a novelty, quickly releasing two indie albums in succession: the noise-skronk Stereopathetic Soul Manure and One Foot in the Grave. Stereopathetic made few waves, but the stripped-back, folky One Foot in the Grave acted as a counterbalance to the gonzo Mellow Gold, illustrating the depths of his talents.
After a furious 1994, Beck laid relatively low in 1995, touring with the fifth Lollapalooza in between working on a new album with the production team the Dust Brothers, who had collaborated with the Beastie Boys on their landmark 1989 Paul's Boutique. The resulting album, Odelay, appeared in June 1996, preceded by the lanky, funky single "Where It's At," which would go on to win the Grammy for Best Male Rock Vocal. Odelay piled up acclaim and hits -- "Devil's Haircut," "Jack-Ass," and "The New Pollution" all charted around the world -- and the record went double platinum, becoming a touchstone of '90s alternative rock. An outtake from the album, "Deadweight," appeared on the soundtrack to Danny Boyle's 1997 film A Life Less Ordinary, then Beck set to work on his next album with producer Nigel Godrich, who had just worked with Radiohead on OK Computer. Their collaboration, originally slated for an indie release but moved to Geffen, thereby setting a precedent where no future Beck LP would be released on an indie (something worked out in the courts the following year), traded futuristic rock -- either the joyous collage of Odelay or the dystopia of OK Computer -- for a quiet, pulsating, psychedelic folk-rock album called Mutations. Riding high on Odelay, the album charted well without turning out any major hits, although it did garner a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Performance.
Beck took another abrupt change in musical direction in 1999 with Midnite Vultures, a garish party record that was part satire and part salute to soul and funk, particularly Prince. Reviews were divided between ecstatic and skeptical, but the album had some real hits with "Sexx Laws" and "Deborah," and in some ways it was the apex of Beck's hipster prankster phase, a persona he shed with his next album, 2002's Sea Change. Recorded in the wake of a romantic breakup, Sea Change was another Godrich production, but it was gentle and mournful, lacking some of the gritty underpinnings of Mutations yet retaining the psychedelia -- and that psychedelic edge was brought out in the supporting tour when Beck hired the Flaming Lips as his supporting band. The tour was well received but there were some tensions, as reported by Lips leader Wayne Coyne later.
After an extended break -- the longest he had taken between albums to date -- Beck returned in 2005 with Guero, an album that reunited him with the Dust Brothers and consciously evoked Odelay. Guero launched a few hits, including "E-Pro" and "Hell Yes," and was followed within months by Guerolito, a remixed version of the entire album. Beck continued in this direction the following year with The Information, but its Nigel Godrich production kept the album streamlined and emphasized the darker undercurrents in the songs. Some of that darkness could be heard on his eighth album, Modern Guilt, a 2008 release produced by Danger Mouse, marking his first time in 14 years that he worked with a producer who wasn't the Dust Brothers or Godrich.
Modern Guilt performed respectably -- it debuted at eight on the U.S. Billboard charts and received strong reviews -- but Beck spent the next several years relatively quiet. In 2009, he began actively pursuing a career as a producer, collaborating with Charlotte Gainsbourg on her acclaimed IRM album; two years later, he produced Thurston Moore's Demolished Thoughts and Mirror Traffic by Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks. He dipped his toe back into solo recording on the soundtrack to the 2010 Edgar Wright film Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, but between 2009 and 2010 much of his studio energy was devoted to his Record Club, where he and a loose collective of friends covered classic albums in their entirety; the albums covered included The Velvet Underground & Nico, The Songs of Leonard Cohen, and INXS' Kick. Beck returned to original material in 2012 via Song Reader, a collection of sheet music of 20 new, unrecorded songs; Beck did not record versions of these songs but did appear at Song Reader concerts featuring other musicians. Early in 2014, Beck released Morning Phase, his first new album in nearly six years and first album for Capitol Records. Described by the singer/songwriter as a "companion piece" to 2002's Sea Change, Morning Phase was released in February 2014, preceded by the singles "Blue Moon" and "Waking Light."
Wikipedia:This article is about the American musician. For other uses, see Beck (disambiguation).Not to be confused with Jeff Beck.
Beck Hansen (born Bek David Campbell; July 8, 1970), known by the stage name Beck, is an American musician, singer-songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. He rose to fame in the early 1990s with his lo-fi, sonically experimental style, and he became well known for creating musical collages of a wide range of styles. His later recordings encompass folk, funk, soul, hip hop, alternative rock, country, and psychedelia. He has released 12 studio albums, as well as several non-album singles and a book of sheet music.
Born in Los Angeles in 1970, Beck discovered hip hop and folk music in his teens and began to perform locally at coffeehouses and clubs. He moved to New York City in 1989 and became involved in the city's small but intense anti-folk movement. After returning to his hometown in the early 1990s, he cut his breakthrough single "Loser", which became a worldwide hit in 1994. His 1996 release Odelay produced hit singles, topped critic polls and won several awards. He released the stripped-down Mutations in 1998, and the funk-infused Midnite Vultures in 1999. The downcast, acoustic Sea Change (2002) showcased a more serious Beck, and 2005's Guero returned to sample-based production. The Information (2006) was inspired by electro-funk and hip hop, and Modern Guilt (2008), likewise, by 1960s music. In February 2014, Beck released the album Morning Phase.
With a pop art collage of musical styles, oblique and ironic lyrics, and postmodern arrangements incorporating samples, drum machines, live instrumentation and sound effects, Beck has been hailed by critics and the public throughout his musical career as being amongst the most creative and idiosyncratic musicians of 1990s and 2000s alternative rock. Two of Beck's most popular and acclaimed recordings are Odelay and Sea Change, both of which were ranked on Rolling Stone 's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. The four-time platinum artist has collaborated with several artists and has made several contributions to soundtracks. Beck is married to actress Marissa Ribisi, and is a Scientologist."DanoCelebs Danelectro & DiPinto Guitar, Bass, Parts & Accessories". Web.archive.org. 2008-04-18. Archived from the original on 2008-04-18. Retrieved 2011-07-18. "Beck". TV.com. Archived from the original on May 7, 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-25. "Rocking the Catskills". Jews Rock. Archived from the original on June 11, 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-25. Ancestry.com. California Birth Index, 1905–1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005.
Beck was born in Los Angeles, California, to David Campbell, a Canadian-born musician, and Bibbe Hansen, a visual artist and former Warhol superstar. Bibbe's maternal grandmother was Jewish, while Bibbe's father, Al Hansen, was partly of Norwegian descent. Beck has said that he was "raised celebrating Jewish holidays", and that he considers himself Jewish. Beck's mother grew up amid New York's Andy Warhol Factory art scene of the 1960s, but moved to California at age 17, where she met Campbell. His father is a Canadian-born arranger, composer and conductor who worked on hundreds of albums and numerous films.
Beck began life in a rooming house near downtown Los Angeles. As a child, he lived in a declining neighborhood just off Hollywood Boulevard. "By the time we left there, they were ripping out miles of houses en masse and building low-rent, giant apartment blocks," he later recalled. The lower-class family struggled financially, moving to Hoover and Ninth Street, a neighborhood populated primarily by Koreans and Salvadorian refugees. He was sent for a time to live with his paternal grandparents in Kansas, with Beck later remarking that "I think they were kind of concerned" about his "weird" home life. Since his paternal grandfather was a Presbyterian minister, Beck grew up influenced by church music and hymns. Beck also spent time in Europe with his maternal grandfather, Al Hansen, a visual collage artist and a pioneer in the avant-garde Fluxus movement.
After his parents separated when he was ten, Beck stayed with his mother and brother in Los Angeles, where he was influenced by the city's diverse musical offerings—everything from hip hop to Latin music and his mother's art scene—all of which would later reappear in his recorded and published work. Beck obtained his first guitar at 16 and became a street musician, often playing Lead Belly covers at Lafayette Park. During his teens, Beck discovered the music of Sonic Youth, Pussy Galore and , but remained uninterested in most music outside folk until many years into his career. The first contemporary music that made a direct connection with Beck was hip hop, which he first heard on Grandmaster Flash records in the early 1980s. Growing up in a predominantly Latin district, he found himself the only white child at his school, and he quickly learned to breakdance. When he was 17, Beck grew fascinated after hearing a Mississippi John Hurt record at a friend's house, and spent hours in his room trying to emulate the finger picking of the country-blues guitarist. Shortly thereafter, Beck explored blues and folk music further, discovering Woody Guthrie and Blind Willie Johnson.
Feeling like "a total outcast", Beck dropped out of school after junior high. He later said that although he felt school was important, he felt unsafe there. When he applied to the new performing arts high school downtown, he was rejected. His brother, Channing, took him to post-Beat jazz places in Echo Park and Silver Lake. He hung out at the Los Angeles City College, perusing records, books and old sheet music in its library. He used a fake I.D. to sit in on classes there, and he also befriended a literature instructor and his poet wife. He soon began a stream of menial jobs, including loading trucks and operating a leaf blower.Davis, Vaginal (1999). "Bibbe Hansen, 1999". Indexmagazine.com. Archived from the original on 8 March 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-04. Higgins, Dick (June 30, 1995). "Obituary: Al Hansen". The Independent (London). McAlley, John (2008-09-01). "Reverberation: The Beck Sessions (September 2008 cover story)". spin.com. Spin Magazine. Retrieved 2014-09-29. George-Warren, Holly and Romanowski, Patricia. (2001). The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll. New York: Fireside, 1136 pp. First edition, 2001. Cite error: The named reference q97 was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Cite error: The named reference rs97 was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Wild, David (April 21, 1994). "Meet Beck: The Unlikely Success Story of a Hip-Hop Folk Rocker". Rolling Stone (680) (New York City: Wenner Media LLC). pp. 79–80. ISSN 0035-791X. Retrieved July 11, 2013. Cite error: The named reference rs96 was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Cite error: The named reference lat94 was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Lee, Dan P. (December 23, 2012). "Listening to Beck: The Artist on His New Album, Which Isn't Really an Album At All". New York (New York City: New York Media, LLC). ISSN 0028-7369. Retrieved July 11, 2013.
ContentsCareer1.1 Early performing and first releases (1985–1993)1.2 Mellow Gold, and independent albums (1993–1994)1.3 Backlash and Odelay (1994–1997)1.4 Mutations and Midnite Vultures (1998–2001)1.5 Sea Change (2002–2003)1.6 Guero and The Information (2004–2007)1.7 Modern Guilt, Song Reader and independent production work (2008–2012)1.8 Twelfth and thirteenth studio albums (2013–present)
Early performing and first releases (1985–1993)
Beck began as a folk musician, switching between country blues, Delta blues and more traditional rural folk music in his teens. He began performing on city buses, often covering Mississippi John Hurt alongside original, sometimes improvisational compositions. "I'd get on the bus and start playing Mississippi John Hurt with totally improvised lyrics. Some drunk would start yelling at me, calling me Axl Rose. So I'd start singing about Axl Rose and the levee and bus passes and strychnine, mixing the whole thing up," he later recalled. He was also in a band called Youthless that hosted Dadaist-inspired freeform events at city coffee shops. "We had Radio Shack mics and this homemade speaker and we'd draft people in the audience to recite comic books or do a beatbox thing, or we'd tie the whole audience up in masking tape," Beck recalled.
In 1989, Beck caught a bus to New York City with little more than eight dollars and a guitar. He spent the summer attempting to find a job and a place to live with little success. Beck eventually began to frequent Manhattan's Lower East Side and stumbled upon the tail end of the East Village's anti-folk scene's first wave. Beck became involved in a loose posse of acoustic musicians—including Cindy Lee Berryhill, Kirk Kelly, Paleface, and Lach, headed by Roger Manning—whose raggedness and eccentricity placed them well outside the acoustic mainstream. "The whole mission was to destroy all the clichés and make up some new ones," said Beck of his New York years. "Everybody knew each other. You could go up onstage and say anything, and you wouldn't feel weird or feel any pressure." Inspired by that freedom and by the local spoken-word performers, Beck began to write free-associative, surrealistic songs about pizza, MTV, and working at McDonald's, turning even the most apparently mundane thoughts into songs. Beck was roommates with Paleface, sleeping on his couch and attending open mic nights together. Daunted by the prospect of another homeless New York winter, Beck returned to his home of Los Angeles in early 1991. "I was tired of being cold, tired of getting beat up," he later remarked. "It was hard to be in New York with no money, no place[....] I kinda used up all the friends I had. Everyone on the scene got sick of me."
Back in Los Angeles, Beck began to work at a video store in Silver Lake "doing things like alphabetizing the pornography section". He began performing in arthouse clubs and coffeehouses such as Al's Bar and Raji's. In order to keep indifferent audiences engaged in his music, Beck would play in a spontaneous, joking manner. "I'd be banging away on a Son House tune and the whole audience would be talking. So maybe out of desperation or boredom, or the audience's boredom, I'd make up these ridiculous songs just to see if people were listening," he later remarked. Virtually an unknown to the public and an enigma to those who met him, Beck would hop onstage between acts in local clubs and play "strange folk songs", accompanied by "what could best be described as performance art" while sometimes wearing a Star Wars stormtrooper mask. Beck met someone who offered to help record demos in his living room, and he began to pass cassette tapes around.
Eventually, Beck gained key boosters in Margaret Mittleman, the West Coast's director of talent acquisitions for BMG Music Publishing, and the partners behind independent record label Bong Load Custom Records: Tom Rothrock, Rob Schnapf and Brad Lambert. Schnapf saw Beck perform at Jabberjaw and felt he would suit their small venture. Beck expressed a loose interest in hip hop, and Rothrock introduced him to Carl Stephenson, a record producer for Rap-A-Lot Records. In 1992, Beck visited Stephenson's home to collaborate. The result—the slide-sampling hip hop track "Loser"—was a one-off experiment that Beck set aside, going back to his folk songs, making his home tapes, such as Golden Feelings, and releasing several independent singles.
Mellow Gold, and independent albums (1993–1994)
By 1993, Beck was living in a rat-infested shed near a Los Angeles alleyway with little money. Bong Load issued "Loser" as a single in March 1993 on 12" vinyl with only 500 copies pressed. Beck felt that "Loser" was mediocre, and only agreed to its release at Rothrock's insistence. "Loser" unexpectedly received radio airplay, starting in Los Angeles, where college radio station KXLU was the first to play it, and later on Santa Monica College radio station KCRW, where radio host Chris Douridas played the song on Morning Becomes Eclectic, the station's flagship music program. "I called the record label that day and asked to have Beck play live on the air," Douridas said. "He came in that Friday, rapped to a tape of 'Loser' and did his song 'MTV Makes Me Want to Smoke Crack.'" That night, Beck performed at the Los Angeles club Cafe Troy to a packed audience and talent scouts from major labels. The song then spread to Seattle through KNDD, and KROQ-FM began playing the song on an almost hourly basis. As Bong Load struggled to press more copies of "Loser", Beck was beset with offers to sign with major labels. During the fierce bidding war in November, Beck spent several days in Olympia, Washington, recording material with Calvin Johnson of Beat Happening, which would later see release the following year on Johnson's K Records as One Foot in the Grave.
A fierce bidding war ensued, with Geffen Records A&R director Mark Kates signing Beck in December 1993 despite intense competition from Warner Bros. and Capitol. Beck's non-exclusive contract with Geffen allowed him an unusual amount of creative freedom, with Beck remaining free to release material through such small, independent labels as Flipside, which issued the sprawling, 25-track collection of pre-"Loser" recordings titled Stereopathetic Soulmanure on February 22 the following year. By the time Beck released his first album for Geffen, the low-budget, genre-blending Mellow Gold on March 1, "Loser" was already in the top 40 and its video in MTV's Buzz Bin. "Loser" quickly ascended the charts in the US, reaching a peak of number ten on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart and topping the Modern Rock Tracks chart. The song also charted in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and throughout Europe. Beck's newfound position of attention led to his characterization as the "King of Slackers", as the media dubbed him the center of the new so-called "slacker" movement. Critics, feeling it the essential follow-up to Radiohead's "Creep", found vacantness in the lyrics of "Loser" strongly associated with Generation X, although Beck himself strongly contested his position as the face of the "slacker" generation: "Slacker my ass. I mean, I never had any slack. I was working a $4-an-hour job trying to stay alive. That slacker stuff is for people who have the time to be depressed about everything."
Backlash and Odelay (1994–1997)
Feeling as though he were "constantly trying to prove myself", Beck suffered a backlash, with skeptics denouncing him as a self-indulgent fake and the latest marketing opportunity. In the summer of 1994, Beck was struggling and many of his fellow musicians thought he had lost his way. Combined with the song's wildly popular music video and the world tour, Beck reacted believing the attention could not last, resulting in a status as a "one-hit wonder". At other concerts, crowds were treated to twenty minutes of reggae or Miles Davis or jazz-punk iterations of "Loser". At one-day festivals in California, he surrounded himself with an artnoise combo. The drummer set fire to his cymbals; the lead guitarist "played" his char with the strings faced towards his body; and Beck changed the words to "Loser" so that nobody could sing along. "I can't tell you how many times I was looking at faces that were looking back at me with complete bewilderment—or just pointing and shaking their heads and laughing—while performing during that period," he later recalled. Despite this, Beck gained the respect of his peers, such as Tom Petty and Johnny Cash, and created an entire wave of bands determined to recapture the Mellow Gold sound. Feeling his previous releases were just collections of demos recorded over the course of several years, Beck desired to enter the studio and record an album in a continuous linear fashion, which became Odelay.
Beck blends country, blues, rap, jazz and rock on Odelay, the result of a year and half of feverish "cutting, pasting, layering, dubbing, and, of course, sampling". Each day, the musicians started from scratch, often working on songs for 16 hours straight. Odelay's conception lies in an unfinished studio album Beck first embarked on following the success of "Loser", chronicling the difficult time he experienced: "There was a cycle of everyone dying around me," he recalled later. He was constantly recording, and eventually put together an album of somber, orchestrated folk tunes; one that, perhaps, "could have been a commercial blockbuster along with similarly themed work by Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails and Nirvana". Instead, Beck plucked one song from it—the Odelay album closer "Ramshackle"—and shelved the rest. Beck was introduced to the Dust Brothers, producers of the Beastie Boys' album Paul's Boutique, whose cut-and-paste, sample-heavy production suited Beck's vision of a more fun, accessible album. After a record executive explained that Odelay would be a "huge mistake", he spent many months thinking "that I'd blown it forever".
Odelay was released on June 18, 1996, to commercial success and critical acclaim. The record produced several hit singles, including "Where It's At", "Devils Haircut", and "The New Pollution", and was nominated for the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1997, winning a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album as well as a Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance for "Where It's At". During one busy week in January 1997, he landed his Grammy nominations, appeared on Saturday Night Live and Howard Stern, and did a last-minute trot on The Rosie O'Donnell Show. The combined buzz gave Odelay a second wind, leading to an expanded fan base and additional exposure. Beck enjoyed but, like several executives at Geffen, was bewildered by the success of Odelay. He would often get recognized in public, which made him feel strange. "It's just weird. It doesn't feel right. It doesn't feel natural to me. I don't think I was made for that. I was never good at that," he later told Pitchfork. Odelay sold two million copies and put "one-hit wonder" criticisms to rest. During this time, he contributed "Deadweight" to the soundtrack of the film A Life Less Ordinary (1997).
Mutations and Midnite Vultures (1998–2001)
Having not been in a proper studio since "Deadweight", Beck felt anxious to "go in and just do some stuff real quick", and compiled several songs he had had for years. Beck and his bandmates hammered out fourteen songs in fourteen days, although just twelve made it onto the album, 1998's Mutations. Beck decided on Nigel Godrich, producer for Radiohead's OK Computer the previous year, to be behind the boards for the project. Godrich was leaving the United States for England in a short time, which led to the album's quick production schedule—"No looking back, no doctoring anything". The whole point of the record was to capture the performance of the musicians live, an uncharacteristic far-cry from the cut-and-paste aesthetic of Odelay. Though the album was originally slated for release by Bong Load Records, Geffen intervened and issued the record against Beck's wishes. The artist then sought to void his contracts with both record labels, and in turn the labels sued him for breach of contract. The litigation went on for years and it remains unclear to this day if it has ever been completely resolved. Beck was later awarded Best Alternative Music Performance for Mutations at the 42nd Grammy Awards.
Midnite Vultures, Beck's next studio effort, was originally recorded as a double album, and more than 25 nearly completed songs were left behind. In the studio, Beck and producers studied contemporary hip hop and R&B, specifically R. Kelly, in order to embrace and incorporate those influences in the way Al Green and Stax records had done in previous decades. In July 1998, a core group began to assemble at Beck's Pasadena home: bassist Justin Meldal-Johnsen, keyboardist Roger Joseph Manning Jr., and producer-engineers Mickey Petralia and Tony Hoffer. Dozens of session players passed through, including Beck's father, David Campbell, who played viola and arranged some of the strings. The musicians held communal meals and mountain-bike rides on dusty trails nearby, but remained focused on Beck's instructions: to make an up-tempo album that would be fun to play on tour night after night. "I had so many things going on", said Beck of the recording process. "I had a couple of rooms of computers hooked up, I was doing B sides for Japan, I was programming beats in one room and someone would be cooking dinner in the other room." In November 1999, Geffen released the much-anticipated Midnite Vultures, which attracted confusion: "fans and critics misguidedly worried whether it was serious or a goof," and as a result, The New York Times wrote that the album "never won the audience it deserved". The record was supported by an extensive world tour. For Beck, it was a return to the high-energy performances that had been his trademark as far back as Lollapalooza. The live stage set included a red bed that descended from the ceiling for the song "Debra", and the touring band was complemented by a brass section. Midnite Vultures was nominated for Best Album at the 43rd Annual Grammy Awards.
Sea Change (2002–2003)
In 2000, Beck and his fiancée, stylist Leigh Limon, ended their nine-year relationship. Beck lapsed into a period of melancholy and introspection, during which he wrote the bleak, acoustic-based tracks later found on Sea Change. Beck sat on the songs, not wanting to talk about his personal life; he later said that he wanted to focus on music and "not really strew my baggage across the public lobby". Eventually, however, he decided the songs spoke to a common experience (a relationship breakup), and that it would not seem self-indulgent to record them. In 2001, Beck drifted back to the songs and called producer Nigel Godrich.
Retailers initially predicted that the album would not receive much radio support, but they also believed that Beck's maverick reputation and critical acclaim, in addition to the possibility of multiple Grammy nominations, might offset Sea Change's uncommercial sound. Sea Change, issued by Geffen in September 2002, was regardless a commercial hit and critical darling, with Rolling Stone revering it as "the best album Beck has ever made, [...] an impeccable album of truth and light from the end of love. This is his Blood on the Tracks." The album was later listed by the magazine as one of the best records of the decade and of all-time, and it also placed second on the year's Pazz & Jop Critics Poll. Sea Change yielded a low-key, theater-based acoustic tour, as well as a larger tour with The Flaming Lips as Beck's opening and backing band. Beck was playful and energetic, sometimes throwing in covers of The Rolling Stones, Big Star, The Zombies and The Velvet Underground.
Following the release of Sea Change, Beck felt newer compositions were sketches for something more evolved in the same direction, and wrote nearly 35 more songs in the coming months, keeping demos of them on tapes in a suitcase. During his solo tour, the tapes were left backstage during a stop in Washington, D.C., and Beck was never able to recover them. It was disheartening to the musician, who felt the two years of songwriting represented something more technically complex. As a result, Beck took a break and wrote no original compositions in 2003. Feeling as though it might take him a while to "get back to that [songwriting] territory", he entered the studio with Dust Brothers to complete a project that dated back to Odelay. Nearly half of the songs had existed since the 1990s.
Guero and The Information (2004–2007)
Guero, Beck's eighth studio album, was recorded over the span of nine months during which several significant events occurred in his life: his girlfriend, Marissa Ribisi, became pregnant; they were married; their son, Cosimo, was born; and they moved out of Silver Lake. The collaboration with the Dust Brothers, his second, was notable for their use of high-tech measures to achieve a low-fi sound. For example, after recording a "sonically perfect" version of a song at one of the nicest recording studios in Hollywood, the Dust Brothers processed it in an Echoplex to create a gritty, reverb-heavy sound: "We did this high-tech recording and ran it through a transistor radio. It sounded too good, that was the problem." Initially due to be released in October 2004, Guero faced delays and did not come out till March 2005, though unmastered copies of the tracks surfaced online in January.
Guero debuted at number two on the Billboard 200, selling 162,000 copies, an all-time sales high. Lead single "E-Pro" peaked at number one at Modern Rock radio, making it his first chart-topper since "Loser". Beck, inspired by the Nintendocore remix scene and feeling a connection with its lo-fi, home-recording method, collaborated with artists 8-Bit and Paza on Hell Yes, an EP issued in February 2005. In December 2005, Geffen also issued Guerolito, a fully reworked version of Guero featuring remixes by the Beastie Boys' Ad-Rock, the Dust Brothers' John King and Scottish electronic duo Boards of Canada. Guerolito combines remixes previously heard as B-sides and new versions of album tracks to make a track-by-track reconfiguration of the album.
The Information, Beck's ninth studio album, began production around the same time as Guero, in 2003. Working with producer Nigel Godrich, Beck built a studio in his garden, where they wrote many of the tracks. "The idea was to get people in a room together recording live, hitting bad notes and screaming," said Beck, adding that the album is best described as "introspective hip hop". Beck described the recording process as "painful", noting that he edited down songs constantly and he perhaps recorded the album three times. For the release, Beck was allowed for the first time to fulfill a long-running wish for an unconventional rollout: he made low-budget videos to accompany each song, packaged the CD with sheets of stickers so buyers could customize the cover, and leaked tracks and videos on his website months ahead of the album's release. Digital download releases automatically downloaded the song's additional video for each single sale, and physical copies came bundled with an additional DVD featuring fifteen videos.
Modern Guilt, Song Reader and independent production work (2008–2012)
In 2007, Beck released the single "Timebomb", which was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance. For his next studio effort, his tenth, Beck tapped Danger Mouse to produce, and the two first met in December 2007 to record. The duo knocked out two tracks in two days, but the notion that the album would be finished in a timely fashion soon evaporated. Beck had known Danger Mouse casually before, as many of his former musicians ended up working with Danger Mouse's side project, Gnarls Barkley. Still, the musicians were surprised at how well they got along. Following the grueling recording schedule, Beck was exhausted, calling it "the most intense work I've ever done on anything", relating that he "did at least 10 weeks with no days off, until four or five in the morning every night." Beck's original vision was a short 10-track burst with two-minute songs, but the songs gradually grew as he fit 'two years of songwriting into two and a half months."
Modern Guilt (2008), "full of off-kilter rhythms and left-field breakdowns, with an overall 1960s vibe", was the final release in his contract with Geffen Records. Beck, then 38, had held the contract since his early 20s. Released from his label contract and going independent, Beck began working more heavily on his own seven-year-old label, which went through a variety of names. His focus on smaller, more quixotic projects, Beck moonlighted as a producer, working with artists such as Charlotte Gainsbourg, Thurston Moore and Stephen Malkmus. He worked for five or six days a week at the small studio on his property in Malibu, and founded Record Club, a project whereby an entire classic album—by The Velvet Underground, Leonard Cohen, INXS, Yanni—would be covered by another singer in the span of a single day. Beck provided four songs for the film Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010), each attributed to the title character's fictional band, Sex Bob-Omb. Beck also collaborated with Philip Glass, Jack White, Tobacco of Black Moth Super Rainbow, Jamie Lidell, Seu Jorge, Childish Gambino, and The Lonely Island.
Song Reader, a project Beck released in December 2012, is 20 songs presented only as sheet music, in the hopes that enterprising musicians will record their own versions. The idea of Song Reader came about nearly fifteen years prior, shortly after the release of Odelay. When sent a book of transcribed sheet music for that album, Beck decided to play through it and grew interested in the world before recorded sound. He aimed to keep the arrangements as open as possible, to re-create the simplicity of the standards, and became preoccupied with creating only pieces that could fit within the Great American Songbook. In 2013 Beck began playing special Song Reader concerts with a variety of guests and announced he was working on a record of Song Reader material with other musicians as well as possibly a compilation of fan versions.
Twelfth and thirteenth studio albums (2013–present)
In the summer of 2013, Beck was reported to be working on two new studio albums: one a more self-contained acoustic disc in the vein of One Foot in the Grave and another described as a "proper follow-up" to Modern Guilt. Beck expects to release both albums independently. He released two standalone singles over the course of the summer: the electro ballad "Defriended" and the chorus-heavy "I Won't Be Long". A third single, "Gimme", appeared on September 17.
In October 2013, it was announced that Beck signed to Capitol Records. Beck released his twelfth studio album entitled Morning Phase on 21 February 2014. For the recording of Morning Phase, Beck reunited with many of the same musicians with whom he had worked on the critically acclaimed 2002 album Sea Change. On January 20, 2014, the album's first single "Blue Moon" was released. Beck released the second single, "Waking Light", on February 4, 2014.
In January of 2015, it was announced that Beck will be headlining the Boston Calling Music Festival in May 2015.Cavanagh, David (July 1997). "The Devil Inside". (London: Bauer Media Group). pp. 92–99. Cite error: The named reference rs94 was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Cite error: The named reference rsencyclopedia was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Hochman, Steve (February 20, 1994). "Don't Get Bitter on Us, Beck". Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles: Tribune Company). ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved July 11, 2013. Rotondi, James (September 1994). "Beck & Roger Manning: "Set Your Guitars and Banjos on Fire"". Guitar Player 28 (9) (San Bruno: New Bay Media). pp. 113–116. ISSN 0017-5463. Leibovitz, Annie. American Music. New York: Random House, 264 pp. First edition, 2003. ISBN 978-0-375-50507-2. Palacios, Julian. Beck: Beautiful Monstrosity, p.67. Boxtree, 2000. ISBN 978-0-7522-7143-9. Palacios 2000, p. 71 Browne, David (February 14, 1997). "Beck In The High Life". Entertainment Weekly (366) (New York City: Time Inc.). pp. 32–35. ISSN 1049-0434. Palacios 2000, p. 72 Palacios 2000, p. 77 Palacios 2000, p. 74 Palacios 2000, p. 80 Rosen, Craig (November 27, 1993). "Labels are at Beck's call; "Loser" may win deal for new artist". Billboard 105 (48) (New York City: Prometheus Global Media). ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved July 11, 2013. Kemp, Mark (April 17, 1997). "Beck: The Rolling Stone Interview". Rolling Stone (758) (New York City: Wenner Media LLC). pp. 58–64; 94; 97. ISSN 0035-791X. "Beck—Artist Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved December 21, 2008. Palacios 2000, p. 84 Lewman, Mark (April 8, 1994). ""Loser" Takes All". Entertainment Weekly (217) (New York City: Time Inc.). p. 14. ISSN 1049-0434. Cite error: The named reference nym12 was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Dombal, Ryan (August 17, 2011). "Beck: 15 Years". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved July 11, 2013. Brown, Mark (October 9, 1996). "Beck Lives Through the Hype That Would Have Killed Most Losers". The Orange County Register (Santa Ana: Freedom Communications). ISSN 0886-4934. Dunn, Jancee (July 11, 1996). "Beck: Resident Alien". Rolling Stone (738/739) (New York City: Wenner Media LLC). pp. 50–51; 53. ISSN 0035-791X. Healy, Mark (December 9, 1999). "Beck: Notes on a Full-Grown Man". Rolling Stone (827) (New York City: Wenner Media LLC). pp. 38–40. ISSN 0035-791X. DeCurtis, Anthony (November 26, 1998). "Q&A: Beck". Rolling Stone (800) (New York City: Wenner Media LLC). p. 39. ISSN 0035-791X. "Beck on top". Now. Retrieved 2008-04-25. "Beck to the Base". The Village Voice. Archived from the original on 20 April 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-25. "Beck Battles Labels Over Business, Artistic Issues". MTV. 1999-05-04. Archived from the original on February 25, 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-25. "The Grammys 2000; Other Winners". Los Angeles Times. 2000-02-24. Retrieved 2008-04-25. "Midnite Vultures, Review". BBC. 2010-01-05. Retrieved 2008-04-25. Lubow, Arthur (March 6, 2005). "Beck at a Certain Age". The New York Times (New York City: Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr.). ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 11, 2013. "Beck Revives Soul of '70s, Singer Keeps Crowd Rocking". Los Angeles Daily News. 2000-05-08. Retrieved 2008-04-25. Boucher, Geoff (January 4, 2001). "The 43rd Annual Grammy Nominations; Grammys Cast a Wider Net Than Usual; Awards * Breaking recent tradition, the academy's nominations are spread out among many acts.". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2008-04-25. Paul Lester (September 29, 2002). "Beck to basics". Melbourne: The Age. Retrieved February 13, 2011. Jon Wiederhorn (September 26, 2002). "Beck Shoots For Feel-Good Acoustic Heartbreak LP". MTV News. Retrieved February 13, 2011. Issac Guzman (September 29, 2002). "Beck Checks in to Heartbreak Hotel". Daily News (New York). Josh Tyrangial (September 22, 2002). "Beck Gets (Kind of) Blue". Time. Retrieved February 13, 2011. David Fricke (October 3, 2002). "Review: Sea Change, Beck". Rolling Stone (906) (New York City: Wenner Media LLC). pp. 97–98. ISSN 0035-791X. Retrieved July 11, 2013. Jon Wiederhorn (July 10, 2002). "Beck Previewing New Songs On Acoustic Tour". MTV News. Retrieved February 13, 2011. Jon Wiederhorn (August 14, 2002). "Beck's Plan For Keeping Everyone Awake: The Flaming Lips". MTV News. Retrieved February 13, 2011. Christina Fuoco (August 12, 2002). "Beck Gets The Giggles, White Stripes' Jack At Michigan Gig". MTV News. Retrieved February 13, 2011. Montgomery, James (October 19, 2005). "Beastie Boys, Dust Brothers Get Their Hands On Beck's Guero". MTV News. Archived from the original on April 8, 2008. Retrieved July 12, 2013. Perez, Rodrigo (2005-01-19). "Finished Version Of That Beck LP You Downloaded Due In March". MTV News. Retrieved 2008-05-07. "50's Massacre Staves Off Beck's Guero". MTV News. April 6, 2005. Retrieved July 12, 2013. "Beck's GUERO Debuts at #2" (Press release). Los Angeles: PR Newswire. April 6, 2005. Retrieved July 12, 2013. The numbers and critical acclaim have aligned: Beck's Guero entered the Top 200 albums at #2 today, representing an all-time sales high for the three-time Grammy winner. Serpick, Evan (October 5, 2006). "Beck Breaks New Ground". Rolling Stone (1010) (New York City: Wenner Media LLC). p. 16. ISSN 0035-791X. Retrieved July 12, 2013. "Fall Music Preview: Beck, The Information". Rolling Stone (1008) (New York City: Wenner Media LLC). September 7, 2006. p. 32. ISSN 0035-791X. "Beck's 'Painful' Album". BBC. October 2, 2006. Retrieved 2006-10-16. Montgomery, James (2006-06-26). "Beck Giving Fans Sticky Fingers With Quasi-Hip-Hop Album". MTV. Archived from the original on 2 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-25. Itzkoff, Dave (July 6, 2008). "In a Chaotic Industry, Beck Abides". The New York Times (New York City: Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr.). ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 11, 2013. Edwards, Gavin (May 29, 2008). "Beck, Danger Mouse Craft '60s-Style Disc". Rolling Stone (1053) (New York City). p. 20. ISSN 0035-791X. Retrieved July 12, 2013. Brittain, Jace (June 21, 2010). "Beck and Michael Cera team up on Scott Pilgrim soundtrack". Entertainment Weekly (New York City: Time Inc.). ISSN 1049-0434. Retrieved July 11, 2013. Battan, Carrie (October 3, 2012). "Listen to Beck's Epic 20-Minute Philip Glass Remix". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved July 11, 2013. Battan, Carrie (May 23, 2012). "Beck to Release New Single on Jack White's Third Man Records, Hear Clips Now". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved July 11, 2013. Breihan, Tom (February 19, 2010). "Beck to Guest on New Tobacco Album". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved July 11, 2013. Fitzmaurice, Larry (May 10, 2011). "Listen: Beck Remixes Jamie Lidell". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved July 11, 2013. Breihan, Tom (May 4, 2011). "Red Hot + Rio 2 Tropicália Tribute Compilation Tracklist Revealed, Collaborations Abound". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved July 11, 2013. Hogan, Mark (May 31, 2012). "Even Beck Can't Save Childish Gambino's Messy 'Silk Pillow'". Spin. Retrieved July 11, 2013. Fitzmaurice, Larry (May 3, 2011). "Listen to Beck's Collab With the Lonely Island". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved July 11, 2013. NPR staff (December 29, 2012). "Beck Explains Song Reader, An Album Fans Perform Themselves". NPR. Retrieved July 11, 2013. "Beck Working on "Song Reader" Record; Reveals "Morning Phase" Details". The Future Heart. November 21, 2013. "Beck Planning Two New Albums; Listen to New Song 'Defriended'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 10 July 2013. "Beck Hands Out New Song 'I Won't Be Long'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 11 July 2013. Nephilim (18 September 2013). "Gimme: il nuovo sorprendente singolo di Beck (anteprima audio)" [Gimme: the amazing new single by Beck (Audio Preview)] (in Italian). Radio Musik. "Morning Phase: Beck". Amazon.com. February 25, 2014. Retrieved March 2, 2014. "Why Beck’s ‘Morning Phase’ Is Already Among the Best Albums of 2014 « Radio.com News". News.radio.com. 2013-11-26. Retrieved 2014-02-24. "Blue Moon: Beck". Amazon.com. January 20, 2014. Retrieved January 23, 2014. "Waking Light: Beck". Amazon.com. February 4, 2014. Retrieved February 4, 2014. Minsker, Evan (February 4, 2014). "Listen: Beck: "Waking Light"". Pitchfork. Retrieved February 4, 2014. Ollman, Jonah. "Boston Calling Announces May 2015 Lineup". Sound of Boston. Retrieved 15 January 2015.
Collaborations and contributions
In 1999, Beck contributed to a tribute album for Bruce Haack and Esther Nelson and their label Dimension 5 Records. The album, Dimension Mix, released in 2005, was a benefit for Cure Autism Now that was produced by Ross Harris, an early collaborator who designed the artwork for "Mellow Gold".
On June 18, 2009, Beck announced that he was starting an experiment called Record Club, in which he and other musicians would record cover versions of entire albums in one day. The first album covered by Beck's Record Club was The Velvet Underground & Nico. Starting on June 18, the club began posting covers of songs from the album on Thursday evenings, each with its own video. On September 4, 2009, Beck announced the second Record Club album, Songs of Leonard Cohen. Contributors included MGMT, Devendra Banhart, Andrew Stockdale of Wolfmother and Binki Shapiro of Little Joy. In the third Record Club venture, Wilco, Feist, Jamie Lidell and James Gadson joined Beck to cover Skip Spence's Oar. The first song, "Little Hands", was posted on Beck's website on November 12, 2009. The Record Club has since covered albums by INXS and Yanni.
On June 19, 2009, Beck announced Planned Obsolescence, a weekly DJ set put together by Beck or guest DJs. Soon after, on July 7, Beck announced that his website would be featuring "extended informal conversations with musicians, artists, filmmakers, and other various persons" in a section called Irrelevant Topics. Then, on July 12, he added a section called Videotheque, which he said would contain "promotional videos from each album, as well as live clips, TV show appearances and other rarities".
Also in 2009, Beck collaborated with Charlotte Gainsbourg on her album IRM, which was released in January 2010. Beck wrote the music, co-wrote the lyrics, and produced and mixed the album. The lead single, "Heaven Can Wait", is a duet by Beck and Gainsbourg.
In late February 2010, it was announced that electronic artist Tobacco of Black Moth Super Rainbow had collaborated with Beck on two songs, "Fresh Hex" and "Grape Aerosmith", on his upcoming album Maniac Meat. Tobacco revealed that in making the album, Beck sent the vocal parts to him, and that they had never actually met.
In March 2010, Beck revealed that he had produced songs for the new Jamie Lidell album, Compass.
In the summer of 2010, Beck contributed songs to both The Twilight Saga: Eclipse soundtrack, with "Let's Get Lost" (a duet with Bat for Lashes), and True Blood (HBO Original Series Soundtrack, Vol. 2), with "Bad Blood". He also contributed songs to the soundtrack of the movie Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, which was released in August 2010. Two of the songs that Beck specifically wrote for the film appeared in its theatrical trailer.
In 2011, he collaborated with Seu Jorge on a track titled "Tropicália (Mario C. 2011 Remix)" for the Red Hot Organization's most recent charitable album Red Hot+Rio 2. The album is a follow-up to the 1996 Red Hot + Rio. Proceeds from the sales will be donated to raise awareness and money to fight AIDS/HIV and related health and social issues. He also contributed on the song "Attracted to Us" on Turtleneck & Chain, the second album from The Lonely Island.
Also in 2011, Beck produced a solo album by Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth called Demolished Thoughts. An album he produced for Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, Mirror Traffic, was released in August 2011.
In October 2011, it was widely reported that Beck and producer Hector Castillo were collaborating with American composer Philip Glass to produce a remix album of the composer's works in honor of his 75th birthday. The album, Rework Philip Glass Remixed, was released on October 23, 2012, to critical acclaim, and featured Beck as both a curator and a performer. In particular, Pitchfork described Beck's 22-minute contribution to the album, "NYC: 73-78", as "a fantasia ... the most startling and original piece of music with Beck's name on it in a while, and the first new work to bear his own spirit in even longer." Reflecting on Beck's contribution to the album, Glass remarked that he was "impressed by the novelty and freshness of a lot of the ideas". Beyond his work as a performer, Beck acted as the album's curator, bringing together a diverse collection of artists—including Amon Tobin, Tyondai Braxton, Nosaj Thing, and Memory Tapes—whose work had also been influenced by Glass. In December 2012, an interactive iPhone app titled "Rework_" was released to complement the album.
Beck has contributed three new songs—"Cities", "Touch the People" and "Spiral Staircase"—to the video game Sound Shapes for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation Vita.
Beck collaborated on two songs for Childish Gambino's "Royalty" mixtape in 2012.
In 2014, Back collaborated with Sia for the song "Moonquake Lake", which is featured in the soundtrack for the 2014 Annie film."Beck Hansen on Vimeo". Vimeo.com. Archived from the original on 16 September 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-01. Lindsay, Andrew. "Beck, MGMT & Banhart cover Leonard Cohen". stereokill.net. Retrieved 2010-11-21. "Beck and Wilco Cover Skip Spence". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2009-09-01. "New Charlotte Gainsbourg (With Beck): 'IRM'". Pitchfork Media. 2009-10-09. Archived from the original on 26 January 2010. Retrieved 2010-02-01. "Beck To Produce New Jamie Lidell". idiomag. Retrieved 2010-03-16. Adams, Gregory (2011-05-04). "Red Hot + Rio 2 Reveals Tracklisting Featuring Beck, Beirut, David Byrne". Exclaim!. Retrieved 2011-08-26. Michaels, Sean (October 18, 2011). "Philip Glass, Beck (musician),Music,Pop and rock (Music genre),Classical music (Music genre),Electronic music (Music genre),Culture". The Guardian (London). Rao, Mallika (October 17, 2011). "Beck Is Remixing Philip Glass Songs". Huffington Post.  "Beck And Producer Hector Castillo Putting Together Tribute Remix Album In Honor Of Philip Glass | FEELguide | Film, Music, Design, Science, Style, Psychology, and More". FEELguide. Retrieved 2013-10-25. "Details of Beck-Inspired Philip Glass Remix Album Announced | News". Pitchfork. 2012-08-07. Retrieved 2013-10-25. Nicole Oran (2012-08-09). "Beck's Philip Glass Remix Album Set for October Release :: Music :: News :: Paste". Pastemagazine.com. Retrieved 2013-10-25. "Philip Glass: "73 - 78 (Beck Remix)" | Tracks". Pitchfork. 2012-10-09. Retrieved 2013-10-25. "Beck & Philip Glass". Dazed Digital. 2013-10-14. Retrieved 2013-10-25. "Behind The Release: Philip Glass Rework : SonicScoop – Creative, Technical & Business Connections For NYC's Music & Sound Community". Sonicscoop.com. 2013-01-24. Retrieved 2013-10-25. "Rework: Beck and Others Remix the Music of Philip Glass for the Iconic Composer's 75th Birthday". Brain Pickings. 2012-10-23. Retrieved 2013-10-25. "A Magical App For Exploring A Philip Glass Remix By Beck | Co. Design | business + design". Fastcodesign.com. 2012-12-12. Retrieved 2013-10-25. Mark Teo (2013-03-05). "APP OF THE MONTH: Rework_, a whole new way to enjoy Philip Glass's music". Aux.tv. Retrieved 2013-10-25.  Even Beck Can't Save Childish Gambino's Messy 'Silk Pillow' Rigby, Sam. "Sia and Beck Join Stars on Annie Movie Soundtrack". digitalspy.com. Digital Spy. Retrieved 3 November 2014.
Beck's musical style has been considered alternative and indie. He has played many of the instruments in his music himself. Beck has also done some remixes for fellow artists, notably David Bowie and Björk. He has been known to synthesize several musical elements together in his music, including folk, psychedelia, electronic, country, Latin music, hip hop, funk, soul, blues, and many types of rock. He has also taken music from Los Angeles as a reference point in his songs.
Beck has an irreverent style of sampling, often using such sources as obscure films to splice together cuts of people talking in the background of his music, or various other found sounds to create sound collages in the background of his music.
Pitchfork Media applauded Midnite Vultures, saying, "Beck wonderfully blends Prince, Talking Heads, Paul's Boutique, 'Shake Your Bon-Bon', and Mathlete on Midnite Vultures, his most consistent and playful album yet." The review continued to comment on Beck, saying that his mix of goofy piety and ambiguous intent helped the album.
A Beck song called "Harry Partch", a tribute to the composer and his "Corporeal" music, employs Partch's 43-tone scale."Beck, Braxton, Babyface Share Grammy Wealth". MTV. 1997-02-27. Retrieved 2008-05-06. Hochman, Steve (2005-02-27). "Old school night for 'The O.C.'". Los Angeles Times. p. E47. "The Information review". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on April 22, 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-06. Beato, Greg (2005-03-28). "White-Boy Shuffle". New York. Retrieved 2008-05-06. "Midnite Vultures review". Pitchfork Media. Archived from the original on 2008-04-06. Retrieved 2008-05-06. Beck.com Beck salutes Harry Partch
During 1998, Beck's art collaborations with his grandfather Al Hansen were featured in an exhibition titled "Beck & Al Hansen: Playing With Matches", which showcased solo and collaborative collage, assemblage, drawing and poetry works. The show toured from the Santa Monica Museum of Art to galleries in New York City and Winnipeg, Manitoba, in Canada. A catalog of the show was published by Plug In Editions/Smart Art Press."Playing with Matches". Stewoo. Archived from the original on 9 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-25. McKenna, Kristine (1998-05-03). "ART; Beck's First Sampling; The pop star learned about collage from his larger-than life grandfather, Al Hansen. A Santa Monica show connects their careers.". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2008-04-25.
Beck's nine-year relationship with designer Leigh Limon and their subsequent breakup is said to have inspired his 2002 album, Sea Change. He wrote most of the songs for the album in one week after the breakup. Beck married actress Marissa Ribisi, the twin sister of actor Giovanni Ribisi, in April 2004, shortly before the birth of their son, Cosimo Henri. Ribisi gave birth to their daughter, Tuesday, in 2007. Marissa and Giovanni Ribisi were delivered by Beck's mother, Bibbe Hansen.
In November 2013 Beck revealed he had suffered a severe injury to his spine a few years earlier but is now doing better.
Beck has self-identified both as Jewish and as a Scientologist.
Beck has been involved in Scientology for most of his life; his wife, Marissa, is also a second-generation Scientologist. Beck publicly acknowledged his affiliation with Scientology for the first time in an interview published in The New York Times Magazine on March 6, 2005. Further confirmation came in an interview with the Irish Sunday Tribune's i Magazine on June 11, 2005, where he was quoted as saying, "Yeah, I'm a Scientologist. My father has been a Scientologist for about 35 years, so I grew up in and around it." When questioned by the interviewer about Scientology's core beliefs, he replied:
What it actually is is just sort of, uh, you know, I think it's about philosophy and sort of, uh, all these kinds of, you know, ideals that are common to a lot of religions.... There's nothing fantastical ... just a real deep grassroots concerted effort for humanitarian causes. I don't know if you know the stuff they have. It's unbelievable the stuff they are doing. Education ... they have free centres all over the place for poor kids. They have the number one drug rehabilitation programme in the entire world (called Narconon). It has a 90-something percent success rate.... When you look at the actual facts and not what's conjured in people's minds that's all bullshit to me because I've actually seen stuff first hand."Guess I'm Doing Fine". Salon.com. 2002-10-02. "Beck Gets (Kind of) Blue". Time. 2002-09-22. "Beck Marries Marissa Ribisi". United Press International. 2004-04-20. Retrieved 2008-04-26. "Beck Expecting Baby No. 2?". Spin. 2006-10-18. Retrieved 2008-07-13. Cite error: The named reference nyt08 was invoked but never defined (see the help page). "Scientologists Beck & Marissa Ribisi had their second child, daughter Tuesday in June 2007". Celebrific. Cite error: The named reference Future_Heart was invoked but never defined (see the help page). "Beck Details Spinal Injury That Nearly Ended His Touring Career". Rolling Stone. March 14, 2014. Cite error: The named reference Spin_2008-09 was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Dunphy, Neil (2005-06-12). "A sort of homecoming". tribune.ie. Sunday Tribune. Archived from the original on 2010-09-15. Retrieved 2014-09-29. 'Yeah, I'm a Scientologist,' Beck resumes…
Appearances in media
The 1986 punk rock musical film Population: 1, starring Tomata du Plenty of The Screamers, features a young Beck in a small nonspeaking role. Beck also appears in Southlander (2001), an American independent film by Steve Hanft and Ross Harris.
Beck has performed on Saturday Night Live seven times. During his 2006 performance in the Hugh Laurie episode, Beck was accompanied by the puppets that had been used onstage during his world tour. He has made two cameo appearances as himself on Saturday Night Live: one in a sketch about medicinal marijuana, and one in a VH1 Behind the Music parody that featured "Fat Albert & the Junkyard Gang".
Beck performed a guest voice as himself on Matt Groening's animated show Futurama, in the episode "Bendin' in the Wind". He performed in episode 11 of the fourth season of The Larry Sanders Show, in which the producer character Artie (Rip Torn) referred to him as a "hillbilly from outer space". He also made a very brief voice appearance in the 1998 cartoon feature film The Rugrats Movie, and guest-starred as himself in a 1997 episode of Space Ghost Coast to Coast titled "Edelweiss".
Beck has also made appearances on the Adult Swim show Mission Hill. Accepting an award, he comes up onstage wearing the new "Spicy pants" trend. In consequence the main character begins throwing all of his "Beck" albums out his upper-story window.
In an episode of Celebrity Deathmatch, Beck was featured fighting Björk in a "battle to be the best monosyllabic musician of all time", which ended with both of them slain by Bach, who appeared via a time machine.
On January 22, 2010, Beck appeared on The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien's last show as a backup guitarist for a Will Ferrell–led rendition of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird" alongside ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons, Ben Harper, and O'Brien himself on guitar.
On March 1, 2014, Beck was the musical guest on a Saturday Night Live episode hosted by Jim Parsons."AgitPop and Cult Epics present Population: 1". Population1movie.com. Retrieved 2009-09-01. Ryan, Maureen (2006-10-30). "Bright spots scarce on 'SNL'.". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on July 7, 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-26. "Futurama Volume Three DVD". Sci Fi. 2004-05-03. Archived from the original on July 1, 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-26. "Beck: 'Gamma Ray'". LastBroadcast.co.uk. 2008-08-11. Retrieved 2009-09-01. IMDB entry for The Rugrats Movie full cast & crew. IMDB entry for "Edelweiss". Roberts, Soraya (2010-01-23). "Will Ferrell and wife Viveca Paulin perform 'Free Bird' with Conan O'Brien on last 'Tonight Show'". New York: Nydailynews.com. Retrieved 2010-11-21. Leo, Alex (2010-01-23). "Will Ferrell Sings Free Bird On Conan's Last Show (VIDEO)". New York: Huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2013-05-06.