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Today's Top 40 Spectrum: Things Are Getting Better (Minus The Mraz Comeback)

Things are looking a bit up for the pop music-consuming children and (fake) adults of American this month. Only two out of the five below are downright terrible! Check them out, ranked from best to worst...

"Whatever You Like" by T.I.: The synthesizer is the instrument that is single-handedly keeping mainstream hip-hop from being the wasteland that it was just a year ago or so. Two years ago, "What You Know" proved that whoever was behind T.I.'s mixing board was a cut above the rest of the gangster rappers' producers, because he turned the common abrasive beat into a beast that was still strong and intimidating, but also inflected with a hint of softness. This new single comes on the heels of T.I.'s drug and gun posession charge, which led him to something like a million hours of community service, aka giving lectures to schoolkids about staying away from Walmart parking lots full of sweet cheap firearms that could easily quell your rising paranoia if only the Feds weren't already onto you because you're like totally famous...or something. So he's even stopped rapping a little bit, getting sensual without being overtly perverted (still a little perverted) like so many rappers, which is almost as delightful to hear as those perky and blippy synths that sound like they came straight out of a Boards of Canada record.

"Got Money" by Lil' Wayne feat. T-Pain:
This guy's fame is outta control. I actually really enjoy how dense his beats and polyphonic keyboard loops are, and even though I have absolutely no evidence that proves my hypothesis, I feel like if he walked into any given room in the United States, at least half the people in that room would have aneurysms. He's loved by kids, teens, hipsters, critics, and others of all social classes and varieties. He's like Kanye, except he has street cred. And while it's frustrating that this new smash hit of his is basically just repeating "I have acquried mass amounts of wealth and I would like to brag about it thusly" over and over again, I can't help but think he's so completely over the top that it may be a joke he's aware of on some minute level. Kind of like if VH1's I Love Money had a theme song and yes the number one priority of that song was still to make money, but it also smirked as it did it, like "see how easy this is?" It's agonizing but also there's no denying how extremely satisfying those synths are (almost as good as T.I.'s).

"Hot N' Cold" by Katy Perry: I feel so terrible right now. I kind of like a Katy Perry song. I did that lame indie snob thing where I heard the song on the radio, thought "ooh who's this?," found out it was Perry, then retroactively book-by-its-cover-dismissed it as garbage. But then that same scenario unfolded twice more and I finally admitted defeat. Katy Perry is quite evil in many ways ("I Kissed A Girl," "UR So Gay"), but this song is only mildly offensive and it's way catchier than the other two. It's propulsive in the chorus yet pleasurably lofty in the verse, the production is intensely rigid but in a way that makes it fierce instead of robotic. Sure, she's bordering on irrational and arrogant (see Pink below), but at least she's not fixed on enforcing anti-homosexual male-driven sentiment in a shallow guise of female empowerment. Sure stereotypes abound here with cold feet and much more, but at least she's not making judgment calls or manipulating her audience with fake shock tactics.

"So What" by Pink: Ms. Alecia Moore is exactly the type of person who should be a breath of fresh air in a world of passive and/or oversexed Top 40 female singers, but she just ends up aggravating me to no end. Instead of being justly angry with a cause of ANY kind, she's irrational and arrogant. Which just leads to a dichotomy of girls everywhere learning to either get slutty or get crazy. Lovely. In her latest #1 hit, she's passionate about the following things: 1) starting fights, 2) being a rock star, and 3) referencing Tron Guy. Great, so it's basically a non-underdog rip-off of "One Angry Dwarf" by Ben Folds Five, now with YouTube generation appeal! Also, the first verse commits one of my personal pop song sins: having the vocal and instrumental melodies match EXACTLY for maximum redundancy. I would say I hate this even more than the fart noise that comes as the end of the song. Yes, you read that right: "Da na nuh na na (flatulence)" is the final lyric of the song.

"I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz: This man, his white undershirt, and his dumbass bowler hat need to go back to the mid-00s has-been vat that they somehow found a way out of. How is it that no one cares about Jack Johnson, John Mayer, Dave Matthews, or Keller Williams anymore (correction: no one probably ever cared about that last guy I mentioned, it took me a good 10 seconds to come up with another shoeless smiling cheeseball) but Mraz has shot his way back up into the Top Ten? Is it because his music has this kind of generic pop gloss that oozes over the top of it with chanting background singers and a nasally Maroon 5-esque tinge? Don't get me wrong, all those other waifs are boring and bland as an unsalted organic Triscuit, but at least they didn't so clearly bypass the tried and true hippie-approved system of garnering a fanbase, then breaking into the mainstream like Mraz did. Maybe that's it! He forwent the cult following and went straight to moronic middling acoustic guy for the majors! And of course everyone needs a pet, even the lite-rock divisions of corporate behemoths.

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  1. Blogger Dave | 8:01 AM |  

    Jason Mraz is back??... I'm shaking in my boots over here....

  2. Blogger Adam | 8:31 AM |  

    Actually seeing the videos for these songs (particularly the last two) took me from mild annoyance of them to outright hatred!

  3. Blogger Adam | 8:32 AM |  

    Make that the last three videos/songs

  4. Blogger nicole | 4:35 PM |  

    Jason Mraz is the Dave Matthews Band of emo music for the Abercrombie set. DMB is their alternative or rock band of choice, afraid as they are of straying from top 40. It just shows a general lack of imagination, the same demonstrated by the purchase of a $50 plain t-shirt.

  5. Blogger qualler | 4:46 PM |  

    I actually think Dave Matthews at least brings something somewhat original to the table, and time has probably been kinder to his music than the knockoffs. (You'll see more about how time is kinder to certain movies in my post next Monday!) But I don't think he's done anything in a while.

    Thank goodness Jack Johnson has fallen off the table. Jason Mraz I think is one energy level above Johnson, which is probably why he can continue a career despite the Dave Matthews knockoffs careers plateauing a bit. Do people still shop at Abercrombie? If so, do they still play Jasom Mraz at their stores? That sounds like some interesting field research for snobs.

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