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The Needle Drop

The Needle Drop

Anthony Fantano (/fænˈtænoʊ/; born October 28, 1985) is an American music critic, video producer, bassist and journalist best known for creating The Needle Drop, a music-related video blog. He is self-described as "the internet's busiest music nerd".[7] Fantano's website and YouTube channel review a variety of music genres, including pop, hip hop, rock, metal, indie, electronic, folk, jazz and experimental.

Anthony Fantano
Personal information
Born(1985-10-28)October 28, 1985
Houston, Texas, U.S.
EducationSouthern Connecticut State University
ResidenceMiddletown, Connecticut, U.S.
OccupationMusic journalist
Websitetheneedledrop.com [46]
YouTube information
Also known asCal Chuchesta[1], Melon[2], The Worst Feet in The Game, The Best Teeth in the Game[3]
Years active2007–present
Subscribers1.95 million (theneedledrop) 788,000 (fantano)
Total views490,895,763 (theneedledrop) 133,741,014 (fantano)
(August 8, 2019)
Play buttons
YouTube Silver Play Button 2.svg100,000 subscribers2012
YouTube Gold Play Button 2.svg1,000,000 subscribers2017
The Needle Drop
Type of site
Music reviewing
Available inEnglish
Created byAnthony Fantano
Alexa rankIncrease51,991 (May 2018)[6]
Launched2007 (2007)
Current statusActive
Updated August 8, 2019

Early life

Fantano grew up in Connecticut and spent his teenage years in Wolcott.[8] He is of Sicilian and French-Canadian descent.[9] As a child he had a desire to become a cartoonist, stating he was a fan of The Simpsons.[10]


Fantano started his career in the mid-2000s as a music director for the Southern Connecticut State University college radio station. He stated, "I've always loved music, but working there got me turned onto a lot of different styles, and got me pushing my tastes into different areas".[11] In 2007, Fantano started working at Connecticut Public Radio in which he hosted The Needle Drop.[12] That same year, he launched The Needle Drop in text reviews, eventually starting as video reviews in early 2009, starting with a Jay Reatard record.[13][14] Fantano's review for Flying Lotus' 2010 album Cosmogramma appearing next to other Flying Lotus videos in YouTube's "Featured Videos" section gave him the "hint" to continue making video reviews.[15] In 2010, Fantano took down older reviews that contained music clips in order to avoid DMCA violations.[13] At the time, he was working on The Needle Drop at the 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][13][15]

He was interviewed at SXSW in 2011 about the rise of music vlogging, along with Matt Galloway of the Rock It Out! blog and Michael Roffman, president and editor-in-chief of Consequence of Sound.[16] In March 2011, he was featured in an article from The Guardian also about the rise of music vlogging.[17] The Needle Drop won the 2011 O Music Awards in the "Beyond the Blog" category.[18][19] Fantano was offered an album review show on Adult Swim but did not go through with it.[13]

Fantano had a cameo in Lil Nas X's video for Old Town Road's Young Thug and Mason Ramsey remix, appearing as a worker for the Area 51 military installation.[20]

Response from other media

In order to earn enough money to pay his editor Austin Walsh, by November 2016 Fantano had recorded 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.[13] In October 2017, Fantano was accused of promoting alt-right and racist sentiments in videos on "thatistheplan" in an article by music magazine The Fader, which criticized Fantano for the use of Pepe the Frog memes (which was recently labeled for being an alt-right symbol), targeting feminists, and belittling the work of black musicians.[21] Fantano uploaded a video to The Needle Drop YouTube channel in response, claiming that the article was a "hit job" and that the videos in question were "satirical". He disputed the idea that he had aligned himself with the far right, claiming that his videos actually have a "pretty obvious liberal slant" and responded to accusations of racism stating that he had "harshly critiqued and clowned on white artists and rock musicians in the past". He also posted on social media his displeasure with future edits of the article, including one claiming he laughed at a description of the murder and rape of a woman being changed to "violence towards a woman," after the video.[22] The article was later deleted by The Fader, with both parties saying that the claims were settled.[23]

When asked about the merits of Fantano's reviews, Robert Christgau said in 2019, "he seems to have arrived at a plausible brand of 21st-century rockcrit taste that runs toward what I'll call dark prog--the godfathering Swans, this year's number one Daughters, on the rap end his beloved Death Grips. But clearly he's broader than that. Little apparent interest in the pop end or indeed tune or indeed fun, however--always a tragic and psychologically revealing lacuna. 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. That's an achievement."[24]

Personal life

Fantano lives in Middletown, Connecticut. He is a vegan, having grown into the diet since becoming vegetarian around 18–19.[11] He is married to Dominique Boxley.[8][25]

Politically, Fantano is an anti-war social democrat in line with the policies of Bernie Sanders.[26] He supports raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour as a "living wage"[27] as well as single-payer healthcare.[28] He identifies as an atheist.[29]

Reviews and ratings

Fantano rates albums and tracks on a scale from 0 to 10, with an accompanying adjective, either "light", "decent", or "strong", for further qualification of its score. Often in his reviews, Cal Chuchesta, Fantano's "roommate" (a character played by Fantano himself), appears to make a lighthearted quip, often to Fantano's dismay. Occasionally he will do parody reviews of albums such as I'm Gay (I'm Happy) by Lil B[34] and Born This Way by Lady Gaga.[35] Although Fantano has awarded albums with the maximum score of 10/10, he has done so only a handful of times. With a "perfect" score being so extraordinarily rare, Fantano giving such a rating is considered quite noteworthy. Thus far, he has only ever awarded the score to six albums. In 2010, the first ever 10/10 rating was given in retrospect to Pink Flag by Wire in a special "classics review", the first Fantano had done. All five other albums have been new releases, with The Money Store by Death Grips in 2012 receiving the first 10/10 to be given to a newly released album. Chronologically, the other recipients are To Be Kind by Swans in 2014, To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar in 2015, then both Kids See Ghosts' self-titled album and You Won't Get What You Want by Daughters in 2018. He has also only given two 0/10 ratings in his reviews (Speedin' Bullet 2 Heaven by Kid Cudi, and The Big Day by Chance the Rapper). Additionally, Fantano will also review albums that are considered "classic" music releases. These are reviewed without a rating during a yearly segment known as Classics Week. The review of Pink Flag by Wire was done years prior to the introduction of Classics Week and remains the only classic album to have been given a numbered rating. TheNeedleDrop is also home to another segment called Lists Week, in which Fantano lists his favorite and least favorite albums of the year, as well as his favorite and least favorite singles of the year. This segment traditionally happens near the end of the year. All of Fantano's album ratings have never been formally changed, with the exception of The Life of Pablo by Kanye West which received a "redux review." [30] Occasionally, Fantano ranks an artist's album discography in a segment known as Worst to Best.

In July 2016, a new rating dubbed "Not Good" was introduced, which is not based on a numeric score and is assigned to albums on which Fantano does not feel like giving a proper negative review.[36] The first album to receive the rating was Desiigner's New English.[37] He also did a near-unedited 50-minute "Not Good" review of Angelic 2 the Core by Corey Feldman, in which he dubbed the album the worst of 2016.[38]

Fantano's review of Floral Shoppe by Macintosh Plus has been cited as important in the diminished use of the term vaporwave.[31]



  • Taiga (2009, as bass player)[32][33]

  • Anthony FanFiction Vol.1 (2015)

  • The New CALassic (2015, as Cal Chuchesta)


  • "Cal 2 B" (2013, as Cal Chuchesta)

  • "Cocoa" (2014, as Cal Chuchesta)

  • "Mykey Come Back" (2015, as Cal Chuchesta)

  • "Panda (Remix)" ft. Pink Guy & NFKRZ (2016, as Cal Chuchesta)

  • "Coin Star" (2018, as Cal Chuchesta)

  • "Don't Talk To Me" ft. Fellatia Geisha (2018, as Cal Chuchesta)

  • "Slap Chop" (2018, as Cal Chuchesta)

  • ”Rubber Duck (Pickup Truck)” (2019, as Cal Chuchesta)

  • ”Best Teef” (2019, as Cal Chuchesta)


  • $CALxTAPExONE$ (2013, as Cal Chuchesta)

  • ∆CALxTAPExTWO∆ (2013, as Cal Chuchesta)

  • #CALxTAPExTHREE# (2013, as Cal Chuchesta)


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