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Anthony Fantano

Anthony Fantano
A hairless man with black plastic eyeglasses and a red flannel shirt in a room with a picture on the wall
Fantano in 2016
Personal information
Born
Anthony Nicholas Fantano

(1985-10-28) October 28, 1985 (age 38)
Occupations
  • Music critic
  • YouTuber
  • streamer
Websitetheneedledrop.com
YouTube information
Also known as
  • Melon[1]
  • Cal Chuchesta[2]
  • The Internet's Busiest Music Nerd[3]
Channel
Years active2009–present
GenreMusic
Subscribers2.83 million[4]
Total views1.004 billion[4]
100,000 subscribers2012
1,000,000 subscribers2017

Last updated: February 25, 2024

Anthony Nicholas Fantano[5] (/fænˈtæn/ fan-TAN-oh; born October 28, 1985) is an American music critic and internet personality who runs The Needle Drop, a YouTube channel with a tie-in website and Twitch[6] streaming channel. Self-appointed as "The Internet's Busiest Music Nerd", Fantano discusses and reviews music from a variety of genres online. He has a presence on X (formerly Twitter), where he discusses music.

He also runs the channel Fantano where he talks about music with guests (or solo) and conducts interviews.

Early life

Fantano was born and raised in Wolcott, Connecticut.[7] He is of Sicilian descent. His father, Ken Fantano, was a professional power lifter.[8][9] As a teenager, Fantano became interested in politics through the work of the musician Jello Biafra, former lead singer of the punk band Dead Kennedys, calling him "pretty much [his] political idol".[10] Fantano graduated from Southern Connecticut State University with a degree in liberal studies in 2008.

Career

Fantano speaking at a Q&A at Cornell University in 2023.

Fantano started his career in the mid-2000s as a music director for the Southern Connecticut State University college radio station.[11] In 2007, Fantano started working at Connecticut Public Radio (WNPR), where he hosted The Needle Drop.[12] That same year, he launched The Needle Drop in the form of written reviews, eventually launching his series of video reviews on the YouTube channel of the same name in January 2009, starting with a Jay Reatard record.[7][13][14][12] In 2010, Fantano removed older reviews that contained music clips in order to avoid violations of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.[7] At the time, he was working on The Needle Drop at his college radio station, as well as at a pizza restaurant. In late 2011, he decided to pursue The Needle Drop full-time, but kept affiliation with WNPR until 2014.[11][7][12]

Fantano was offered an album review show on Adult Swim but declined.[7] By the end of 2017, Fantano had reached a million subscribers and diversified his content to include weekly "track roundup" videos, livestreamed Q&As, and video think-pieces alongside his album reviews.[14] To earn enough money to pay his editor Austen Walsh, by November 2016, Fantano was recording more regularly on a secondary YouTube channel, "thatistheplan", on which he reviewed memes and recorded "often irreverent videos that don't fall into the record review format", according to Spin.[7]

In October 2017, an article by Ezra Marcus in The Fader accused Fantano of promoting alt-right sentiments in videos on "thatistheplan". Marcus criticized Fantano for the use of Pepe the Frog memes (which had recently been labeled an alt-right symbol) and targeting feminists.[15] After the article was released, multiple scheduled dates of The Needle Drop U.S. tour were cancelled, with at least one ticket booking site for a Brooklyn tour date stating that their cancellation was due to the Fader article.[16][17] Fantano produced a video response calling the article a "hit job". He disputed accusations of sympathizing with the alt right and stated that the videos in question were satirical. The article was deleted by The Fader in March 2018, with both parties saying that the claims were settled.[18] In a later interview, Fantano acknowledged that there had been some "grubby, closed-minded, young, aggressive male" viewers on the "thatistheplan" channel and disavowed what he saw as the "toxic and problematic" side of internet humor, stating that the incident had led him to be more vocal in his advocacy for social justice issues.[19]

In June 2019, Fantano made a cameo appearance in Lil Nas X's video for the Young Thug and Mason Ramsey remix of "Old Town Road", appearing as a security guard for the Area 51 military installation (a reference to the "Storm Area 51" meme).[20][21]

Later that year he curated a charity compilation, The Needle Drop LP, which consists of tracks performed by "artists that have either been featured on the site or reviewed favorably in the past". Profits from the album were donated to The Immigrant Legal Resource Center non-profit.[22]

In 2022, Fantano was referenced on rapper Logic’s track "LaDonda", from his studio album Vinyl Days. He discusses his relationship with Fantano, calling him a "plaid-shirt-wearing motherf**ker" and admitting that he had "fantasized about murdering" him after he had issued negative reviews of his albums Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and Supermarket. During his livestream reaction of the album, Fantano expressed shock after hearing the song, saying that he felt "overemphasized" and that "there never should have been any reason Logic should [have hated] me in the first place".[23]

On September 15, 2022, Fantano uploaded a video on his second channel jokingly claiming that Drake had sent private messages to him on Instagram, specifically recommending Fantano a vegan cookie recipe. In response, Drake posted his genuine messages to Fantano on Instagram Stories, which stated that Fantano’s existence is a "light 1" and that the "1 is cause [he is] alive". Fantano later spoke about the exchange on an Instagram livestream, stating that the video was a "shitpost" and that he had no "hard feelings" toward Drake.[24][25][26]

On July 24, 2023, Fantano was named as a defendant in a lawsuit from video game developer Activision over a viral audio clip he had recorded on TikTok about pizza slices. Activision claimed that Fantano had asked for "substantial monetary damages" for the company's use of the audio in an advertisement for custom Crash Bandicoot trainers, or to be "prepared to defend a lawsuit".[27][28][29] On August 10, Activision dropped the lawsuit with prejudice, meaning it could not be refiled.[30]

Fantano garnered attention for his video on Kanye West and Ty Dolla Sign's album Vultures 1 in February 2024. Declaring the record "unreviewable trash," he talked about West's anti-Semitic views, particularly those expressed in his music, and general attitude preventing him from fully critiquing the record,[31] while also delving into the discourse of West's fan base being generally hostile to criticism and negative reviews. The video subsequently received backlash from West's fans on social media.[32][33]

Albums rating scale

Albums are rated on a standard zero to ten scale, with additional qualifiers ("light", "decent", or "strong"). Fantano will also occasionally give a score outside of the standard scale, such as "NOT GOOD" for albums he deems unworthy of reviewing in full, believing the album to simply be "not good".[34]

Albums rated 10 on release

Artist Title Year Ref
Death Grips The Money Store 2012 [35][19]
Swans To Be Kind 2014 [36][19]
Kendrick Lamar To Pimp a Butterfly 2015 [37][19]
Kids See Ghosts Kids See Ghosts 2018 [38][19]
Daughters You Won't Get What You Want [39][19]
Spellling The Turning Wheel 2021 [40][41]
Lingua Ignota Sinner Get Ready [42][41]

Albums rated 0 on release

Artist Title Year Ref
Kid Cudi Speedin' Bullet 2 Heaven 2015 [43][44]
Chance the Rapper The Big Day 2019 [45][44]
Green Day Father of All Motherfuckers 2020 [46][47]
Tones and I Welcome to the Madhouse 2021 [48][44]
Ken Carson X 2022 [49]
MGK & Trippie Redd Genre: Sadboy 2024 [50]

Reception

Fantano as his alter-ego, "Cal Chuchesta"[2]

The Needle Drop won the 2011 O Music Awards in the "Beyond the Blog" category.[51][52] In 2014, Nick Veronin of Wired said of Fantano: "Instead of deploying ten-dollar words to describe a riff or synth tone, Fantano relies on gestures, clenching his fists or contorting his elastic, expressive face. It gets at some of the more ephemeral qualities of music that written words can't begin to touch".[3]

When asked about the merits of Fantano's reviews, veteran music critic Robert Christgau said in 2019:

[Fantano] seems to have arrived at a plausible brand of 21st-century rockcrit taste that runs toward what I'll call dark prog [...] Nowhere near as insensible to hip-hop/r&b as dark proggers tend to be, but note that very few female artists crack his top 10s, which in 2018 was really missing the action. Fantano seems to have figured out a way to make some kind of living by disseminating his own criticism in the online age.[53]

In his 2019 book Perfect Sound Whatever, comedian James Acaster called Fantano's best albums of 2016 list "a real music fan's Top 50" and said of Fantano: "Perhaps more than anybody else, he appreciates how the reviewer's role has changed since the internet became a thing [...] The job of a reviewer used to be telling people what's worth their money but now it's telling people what's worth their time."[14] In September 2020, New York Times culture correspondent Joe Coscarelli described Fantano as "probably the most popular music critic left standing". According to Coscarelli, Fantano has successfully brought an "old art to a new medium" and has revitalized the record review format for a younger generation of music consumers.[19]

Personal life

Fantano resides in Connecticut.[7]

Fantano is a vegan, having swapped to the diet after initially going vegetarian in his late teens.[11]

In March 2018, Fantano told Polygon that he is a "free speech purist".[54] He endorsed Bernie Sanders in the 2020 United States presidential election.[55]

Discography

This section of a biography of a living person needs additional citations for verification. Please help by adding reliable sources. Contentious material about living persons that is unsourced or poorly sourced must be removed immediately from the article and its talk page, especially if potentially libelous.Find sources: "Anthony Fantano" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (February 2022) (Learn how and when to remove this message)

Albums

  • Taiga (2009) (as bass player)[56]
  • Anthony FanFiction, Vol. 1 (2015)[57]

Guest appearances

  • "21 & Jaded" on Don't Forget Where You Came From by Goody Grace (2021)[58] (as bass player)
  • "Every Drug at Once" on Faster by Lil Texas (2022)[59]
  • "NeedleDrop" on Vinyl Days by Logic (2022)[60]

as Cal Chuchesta

Mixtapes

  • The New CALassic (2015)

Singles

  • "Cal 2 B" (2013)
  • "Mykey Come Back" (2015)
  • "Panda (Remix)" featuring Pink Guy and NFKRZ (2016)
  • "Coin Star" (2018)
  • "Don't Talk to Me" featuring Fellatia Geisha (2018)
  • "Slap Chop" (2018)
  • "On Deck Freestyle" (2018)
  • "I'm in the Club (Lookin' for Some Love)" featuring Joycie (2018)
  • "Advice" featuring Rob Scallon (2018)
  • "Rubber Duck (Pickup Truck)" (2019)
  • "Best Teef?" (2019)[61]
  • "East (Remix)" (2020)
  • "Drake Has 24 Hours to Respond" (2024)

References

  1. ^ "Anthony Fantano Responds To Alt-Right & Racist Accusations". Kill Your Stereo. Archived from the original on November 9, 2021. Retrieved May 29, 2019.
  2. ^ a b Ingham, Tom (March 23, 2014). "Interview: Anthony Fantano (The Needle Drop)". The Mancunion. Archived from the original on November 28, 2020. Retrieved November 20, 2020.
  3. ^ a b Veronin, Nick. (February 18, 2014). "The Hardest Working Critic in Show Business Never Stops Hunting for New Music". Wired. Archived from the original on March 15, 2014. Retrieved March 11, 2017.
  4. ^ a b "About theneedledrop". YouTube.
  5. ^ "Credits / Best Teef? (Anderson .Paak Diss) [feat. Anthony Fantano] / Cal Chuchesta – TIDAL". Tidal. Retrieved January 21, 2024.
  6. ^ theneedledrop - Twitch, archived from the original on May 6, 2023, retrieved May 20, 2023
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Gordon, Jeremy (November 30, 2016). "How Anthony Fantano, aka The Needle Drop, Became Today's Most Successful Music Critic". Spin. Archived from the original on December 1, 2016.
  8. ^ "LET'S ARGUE: The Best Pizza Toppings". Youtube. Retrieved December 15, 2023.
  9. ^ "MELON Fantano on Hasans Italian Hate + Powerlifting Daddy". Youtube. Retrieved December 16, 2023.
  10. ^ Noonan, David (June 1, 2003). "A Generation Finds Its Voice". Newsweek. Archived from the original on February 5, 2015. Retrieved August 11, 2021.
  11. ^ a b c Elabbady, Ali (October 30, 2013). "Interview: Anthony Fantano of The Needle Drop". Green Room. United States. Archived from the original on May 26, 2014.
  12. ^ a b c MADDEN, MICHAEL (October 9, 2014). "Anthony Fantano Wants to Turn You On". Consequence of Sound. Archived from the original on October 30, 2022. Retrieved January 17, 2023.
  13. ^ Johnston, Maura (April 28, 2015). "Anthony Fantano brings Needle Drop to Middle East". The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on August 4, 2019. Retrieved August 4, 2019.
  14. ^ a b c Acaster, James (August 22, 2019). Perfect Sound Whatever. Hachette UK. ISBN 978-1-4722-6032-1.
  15. ^ "Popular music vlogger accused of promoting alt-right sentiment – NME". NME. October 4, 2017. Archived from the original on April 23, 2022. Retrieved August 23, 2018.
  16. ^ "Anthony Fantano's Entire Tour Canceled Over Racist, Alt-Right Allegations". Digital Music News. Archived from the original on September 22, 2020. Retrieved October 2, 2020.
  17. ^ "The Needle Drop Live Shows Cancelled Amid Controversy". Noisey by Vice. October 5, 2017. Archived from the original on November 11, 2020. Retrieved October 2, 2020.
  18. ^ "Fader Removes Article Amid Settlement With Anthony Fantano". Spin. March 21, 2018. Archived from the original on May 1, 2022. Retrieved August 23, 2018.
  19. ^ a b c d e f g Coscarelli, Joe (September 30, 2020). "The Only Music Critic Who Matters (if You're Under 25)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on July 20, 2021. The influential evangelist in question is the YouTuber named Anthony Fantano, 34, who has been speaking album and song reviews directly into a camera for more than a decade on The Needle Drop, his channel with 2.26 million subscribers, making him probably the most popular music critic left standing.
  20. ^ Will, Gottsegen (July 16, 2019). "Lil Nas X Releases Insane Meme-Filled Video for Newest "Old Town Road" Remix". Spin. Archived from the original on February 5, 2022. Retrieved February 5, 2022.
  21. ^ Spearman, Kahron (July 19, 2019). "Area 51 remix video proves it's the summer of Lil Nas X". The Daily Dot. Archived from the original on January 23, 2022. Retrieved February 5, 2022.
  22. ^ Hussey, Allison (September 13, 2019). "Open Mike Eagle Shares New Song to Support Immigrant Legal Resource Center: Listen". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on June 17, 2021. Retrieved June 8, 2021.
  23. ^ "Anthony Fantano stunned by Logic's massive shoutout on new album". Dexerto. June 19, 2022. Archived from the original on April 26, 2023. Retrieved May 20, 2023.
  24. ^ Fu, Eddie (September 16, 2022). "YouTuber Anthony Fantano Trolls Drake Into Revealing Threatening DMs". Consequence. Archived from the original on September 16, 2022. Retrieved September 16, 2022.
  25. ^ Mier, Tomás (September 16, 2022). "Drake Disses Music Critic Anthony Fantano Over Fake DM Video With a Real, 'Salty Ass' Message". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on September 16, 2022. Retrieved September 16, 2022.
  26. ^ Shanfeld, Ethan (September 16, 2022). "Drake Feuds With Music Critic Anthony Fantano: Your 'Existence' Is a 1/10". Variety. Archived from the original on September 16, 2022. Retrieved September 16, 2022.
  27. ^ Brittain, Blake (July 25, 2023). "Activision sues music critic to fend off TikTok audio copying claims". Reuters. Archived from the original on August 27, 2023. Retrieved August 27, 2023.
  28. ^ Paul, Larisha (July 25, 2023). "Anthony Fantano Is Courting Lawsuits Over… His TikTok Pizza Meme". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on July 27, 2023. Retrieved August 27, 2023.
  29. ^ Dunworth, Liberty (July 26, 2023). "'The Needle Drop' critic Anthony Fantano being sued by Activision for pizza meme audio". NME. Archived from the original on August 27, 2023. Retrieved August 27, 2023.
  30. ^ Brittain, Blake (August 11, 2023). "Activision drops lawsuit over viral TikTok audio clip". Reuters. Archived from the original on August 27, 2023. Retrieved August 27, 2023.
  31. ^ "Nessuno prende più sul serio Kanye West". Il Post (in Italian). February 14, 2024. Retrieved February 29, 2024.
  32. ^ Cole, Alexander (February 13, 2024). "Anthony Fantano Goes To War With Kanye West's Fanbase After Calling "Vultures" An "Unreviewable" Album". HotNewHipHop. Retrieved February 14, 2024.
  33. ^ Coleman II, C. Vernon (February 13, 2024). "Popular Album Review YouTuber Anthony Fantano Says Kanye West's Vultures 1 Album Is 'Unreviewable Trash'". XXL. Retrieved February 14, 2024.
  34. ^ Is NOT GOOD Worse Than a 0/10?, retrieved February 14, 2024
  35. ^ Death Grips - The Money Store ALBUM REVIEW, archived from the original on March 14, 2023, retrieved March 28, 2023
  36. ^ Swans - To Be Kind ALBUM REVIEW, archived from the original on March 30, 2023, retrieved March 28, 2023
  37. ^ Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp a Butterfly ALBUM REVIEW, archived from the original on March 14, 2023, retrieved March 28, 2023
  38. ^ KIDS SEE GHOSTS - Self Titled ALBUM REVIEW, archived from the original on March 28, 2023, retrieved March 28, 2023
  39. ^ Daughters - You Won't Get What You Want ALBUM REVIEW, archived from the original on March 28, 2023, retrieved March 28, 2023
  40. ^ Spellling - The Turning Wheel ALBUM REVIEW, archived from the original on March 14, 2023, retrieved March 28, 2023
  41. ^ a b Cuevas, Jailene (November 22, 2022). "CT music critic Anthony Fantano talks life with 2.6M subscribers on YouTube". CT Insider. Hearst Media Services Connecticut. Archived from the original on November 22, 2022. Retrieved October 5, 2023.
  42. ^ Lingua Ignota - Sinner Get Ready ALBUM REVIEW, archived from the original on March 28, 2023, retrieved March 28, 2023
  43. ^ Kid Cudi - Speedin' Bullet 2 Heaven ALBUM REVIEW, archived from the original on December 5, 2015, retrieved September 30, 2023
  44. ^ a b c Earp, Joseph (August 2, 2021). "Anthony Fantano Ranked All His 0/10 Scoring Albums And Gosh, It's Brutal Out Here". Junkee. Archived from the original on November 12, 2022. Retrieved September 30, 2023.
  45. ^ Chance the Rapper - The Big Day ALBUM REVIEW, archived from the original on September 22, 2023, retrieved September 30, 2023
  46. ^ Green Day - Father of All... ALBUM REVIEW, archived from the original on August 13, 2023, retrieved September 30, 2023
  47. ^ Earp, Joseph (February 11, 2020). "Green Day's New Album Is Getting Some Downright Brutal Reviews". Junkee. Archived from the original on March 8, 2021. Retrieved September 30, 2023.
  48. ^ Tones and I - Welcome to the Madhouse ALBUM REVIEW, archived from the original on September 4, 2023, retrieved September 30, 2023
  49. ^ Ken Carson - X ALBUM REVIEW, archived from the original on March 14, 2023, retrieved September 30, 2023
  50. ^ MGK & Trippie Redd - genre : sadboy EP REVIEW, retrieved April 3, 2024
  51. ^ WARNER, KARA (November 1, 2011). "O Music Awards Take Over Halloween's Largest Street Party". MTV News (Press release). Archived from the original on January 22, 2016. Retrieved May 17, 2018.
  52. ^ "Robyn Wows MTV O Music Awards; Bjork & Marilyn Manson's Butt Win Big". Billboard. Archived from the original on July 19, 2020. Retrieved September 8, 2019.
  53. ^ Christgau, Robert (January 15, 2019). "Xgau Sez". Robertchristgau.com. Archived from the original on February 11, 2021. Retrieved August 12, 2021.
  54. ^ Alexander, Julia (March 7, 2018). "Controversial YouTubers head to alternative platforms in wake of 'purge'". Polygon. Archived from the original on March 7, 2018. Retrieved March 17, 2021.
  55. ^ "Social Media Influencers' Role In 2020 Candidate Endorsements". NPR. February 2, 2020. Archived from the original on October 30, 2022. Retrieved February 4, 2022.
  56. ^ "Taiga, by Anthony Fantano and Richard D'Albis". Anthonyfantanoricharddalbis.bandcamp.com. Archived from the original on August 13, 2019. Retrieved August 13, 2019.
  57. ^ "Anthony FanFiction Vol. 1, by Various Artists". The Needle Drop. Archived from the original on May 20, 2023. Retrieved May 20, 2023.
  58. ^ ""I Played Bass On This Album"". YouTube. March 2, 2021. Archived from the original on June 11, 2021. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  59. ^ "COVER ART AND TRACKLIST FOR MY ALBUM "FASTER"". Twitter. Archived from the original on April 15, 2022. Retrieved April 15, 2022.
  60. ^ Logic - NeedleDrop (Audio), archived from the original on October 19, 2022, retrieved October 19, 2022
  61. ^ "Cal Chuchesta - Best Teef? (Anderson .Paak Diss) [ft. Anthony Fantano]". YouTube.
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Anthony Fantano
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