It’s been a while since I last wrote about the dreadful state of what gets classified as “popular music” here in the USA. I’m firmly convinced that Top 40 is a microcosm of everything that is wrong with humanity. Empty, hollow, meaningless drivel from people with no real discernable talent, fed through Auto Tune and rolled in powdered sugar. No nutritional value but it looks good.
So…let’s wander through the Billboard Top 40 and see what nuggets of crap we discover.
10. Glad You Came—The Wanted
Thanks, England. Just what we needed; another pre-programmed pointless boy band. Now that The Backstreet Boys and Nsync are all grown up and forgotten, the next wave hits our shores. Sadly, these kids aren’t even all that good-looking and the songwriting is wretched, like something written by a 7th grader. “So have another drink, drink it if you can…” and it's plastered on top of some rehashed Latin accordion riff. Total crap.
9. Where Have You Been? – Rihanna
The hit factory that churns out a new single from Rihanna every three months seems to have hit a wall. That, or I am just completely worn out on her. She’s a talented kid but I’m so tired of her. I like lobster but if you eat it every day you soon tire of even that. The main riff of this little ditty is taken directly from a #1 Country single, the 1962 Hank Snow song “I’ve Been Everywhere” (which in itself is taken from a 1959 song written by Geoff Mack) . Creativity is dead so resurrect ancient country songs and add a backbeat. Sounds like a winner.
8. Boyfriend – Justin Bieber
Undeniable, incontrovertible proof that Canada holds us in low esteem. When will this kid go away? This is 2:52 of your life that you will never, ever get back. Now that he’s turned 18 and engaging in fisticuffs with paparazzi the Beebster is trying for a sultry seductive sound, just what his 13-year old fan base needs...or is he now trying to bed their minivan-driving moms?
7. Flo Rida featuring Sia – Wild Ones
I’ve heard worse. I actually don't hate this one yet. Flo Rida has pumped out a slew of uber-catchy pop-rap tracks that feature his rapid-fire raps paired with a pop hook sung by pop divas like Ke$ha and Nicole Scherzinger or a guest appearrance by a DJ like David Guetta. This time it’s Australian pop chanteuse Sia crooning in between the rap lines. Sia has been around for awhile but mostly unheard in the States, and with her releasing a new album & single recently this track will probably help it out a lot.
6. What Makes You Beautiful – One Direction
The other pre-fab boy band from the UK in the Top 10. Less annoying than the afore-slagged “Glad You Came”, with the band being younger and prettier, like little Bieber-esque clones. That said, I’d still rather have a gall bladder attack than be subjected to this.
5. Starships – Nicki Minaj
Known more for her amazing curves, neon makeup/wig/clothes combo and monotone goofy rap style, Nicki actually can sing and when she does so, her voice is actually rather melodic. There’s so many different styles mixed into this track though that it’s almost confused, starting with the trademark goofy rap and then nonsensical party lyrics, and then after the family-friendly line “We’re higher than a motherfucker” (which has been garbled for radio play) we get this aggro-techno beat. I shudder to think of how many teen boys have made the fap-fap-fap to the video to this song.
4. We Are Young –Fun. (featuring Janelle Monae)
This song has been kicking around since last September and got lots of airplay on alternative stations like KROQ in Los Angeles. It was featured in a Chevy Sonic ad during the Super Bowl and then it just went haywire. I started playing it in maybe March, and loved it, and then Top 40 radio started to play it every 56 minutes ad nauseum. Now I cringe when I hear the opening drums. It’s a great, infectious party anthem with an amusing, clever video, but I’ve heard it wayyyy too many times now. Sadly, I also think this will be their sole big hit.
3. Payphone –Maroon 5 (featuring Wiz Khalifa)
I’m actually kinda sick of hearing Adam Levine’s falsetto. After that ri-donk-u-lous “Moves Like Jagger” crapfest with a screaming Christina Aguilera), America’s youth are now confusedly Googling the word “payphone” to find out what this ancient relic of a bygone era is, since with the advent of cell phones most people under 30 have likely never seen a payphone, phone booth, or a phone with a cord. I dislike this song so much that I’m pretty sure I’ve never even heard it all the way through, as I change the channel as soon as it comes on.
Adam, what's that strange box you're in and are you calling Carly Rae?
2. Call Me Maybe –Carly Rae Jepsen
Anyone who wears socks & heels should be throat-punched...
Still further proof that Canada hates us. To recreate this song, go over to your cat’s litter box and scoop out a turd. Place the turd on the kitchen counter and roll it in sugar. Then take that sugar- coated shit and cram it into a cd player. Repeat till insanity strikes. This song is a dentist’s wet dream as it’s so syrupy your teeth will rot as you listen. “Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy, so here’s my number, so call me maybe”. Wretched. “Before you came into my life I missed you so bad, I missed you so so bad”…um, wait a second, Princess; how can you miss someone you’d never met?
Somebody That I Used To Know – Gotye featuring Kimbra
I guess I first heard this for myself a couple months ago. I’d been reading about this mysterious Gotye person (Belgian-Aussie Wouter "Wally" De Backer) but hadn’t heard anything from him till I caught it in the car as I was channel surfing. Heard that the song was gaining popularity via the quirky video. Yeah, the video is interesting, Kimbra is cute and has a nice voice, and the song as a whole is refreshingly different from standard Top 40 drivel. But….and there’s always a but……the song is EVERYWHERE. It’s inescapable. Death, taxes, Gotye. I also think this will be another one-hitter. In the meanwhile, I’ll still have to deal with hearing this every 34 minutes.
So, what ELSE is there to listen to? Of course I can’t bash Top 40 without giving you some sort of alternative to what the industry is force feeding everyone.
Blood for Poppies—Garbage
First track off their long-awaited album “Not Your Kind of People”. It’s got that grinding groove that Garbage is famous for and Shirley Manson could sing the phone book and I’d listen.
No Light, No Light –Florence and the Machine
Another ethereal, pounding track from the juggernaut that is FloMa. I was slow in getting aboard the FloMa Train but I’m glad I finally boarded.
Midnight City – M83
French band M83 have been around for most of the 2000s, but I really only knew them from remixing the 2006 Depeche Mode single “Suffer Well”.
Shooting Star –Owl City
In the past I have been extremely critical of Owl City as being syrupy & estrogenic. This single is much more danceable and thumping. I’m willing to give them a second chance.
And in other snippets: Erasure’s live album from their recent Tomorrow’s World tour is available from the band’s website. There is a new album on the way from Pet Shop Boys. The Cure added guitarist Reeves Gabrels to the lineup for a slew of outdoor festival dates this summer. UK duo Tenek are recording a new album. Shiny Toy Guns have finished their new album and are preparing for the release. And, finally, Depeche Mode are back in the studio working on another new album and according to singer Dave Gahan things are going really well.
So, while Top 40 music may be in the sewer, there are still good bands out there making good music.