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Today's Top 40 Spectrum: Black Eyed Peace

Things are bad, folks. Things are really, truly, horribly craptastical. Not only are there once again absolutely no quality songs on Top 40 radio right now (actually the first time since September 2008, according to my records) but the top three artists on this month's countdown include both the group that penned "My Humps" and a pint-sized brat that we assumed just a few months ago would have disappeared by now with her one hit wonder claim to fame "Just Dance" being her only pop landmark. Oh how wrong we were and seem to be in the near future. "How do you do that to yourself?" a friend asked me this weekend in regards to this feature. My default answer is "think of the children!" but today my answer is "because humanity's demise must be documented." Enjoy this month's Top 40 Spectrum, ranked as best as I could muster from most tolerable to most abhorrent...

"Boom Boom Pow" by Black Eyed Peas: Yesterday's pop slime heroes are so half-a-step behind the pop trends of today that I can't help but laugh at their attempts to stay relevant. Autotune? Check. Grimey dancehall M.I.A.-ish female delivered verses using the word "swagger"? Check. Earnest-to-a-fault Kanye-ish minimalism in the chorus? Checkarooney. And yet, everyone's eaten it up, including myself, and they remain at the top of the charts despite their inability to be original. Why? Because once upon a time, before their members starred in Wolverine or Planet Terror or as holograms during historic presidental elections, Black Eyed Peas were actually an innovative hip hop collective. But that was the past. Now their talents lie in making vapid songs with adequately rump-shaking beats. Congrats, a-holes.

"Halo" by Beyonce: This is the definition of mediocrity. There are exactly two interesting things about this song - 1) the overlapping wailing of Beyonce's plain jane but undeniable powerful voice as she repeats the title ad nauseum over a galloping percussive section and 2) the flashy channel-panning keyboard riff that sits in the middle of the mix, but ultimately overpowered by generic swells and bland atmospheric surges. Fortunately it's way better than the flat "If I Were A Boy", but unfortunately, it holds no candle to the fist-pumping jam of 2008, "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)".

"Poker Face" by Lady Gaga: And that's where the tolerable songs end. Yes, there are at least four songs on Top 40 radio right now that are worse than "Poker Face" - that's how bad it's gotten out there. So apparently Mademoiselle Gaga is here to stay, at least while they play out every single-worthy (how that is determined with such tripe is unclear to me) track from her debut. We already are seeing the next one ("LoveGame") inch up toward the Top 10 singles chart, so hold on tight, everyone. It's gonna be a rollercoaster ride of despair and sadness all the way through these half-assed sassy attitude romps of processed melodies and plastic rhythm.

"Sugar" by Flo Rida & Wynter: This song would actually be at the top of the list if it weren't for one tiny problem - it samples "Blue" by Eiffel 65 profusely and very obviously without remorse. No joke. We are, as Jerksica pointed out to me when I discovered that this song indeed does include the novelty "da boo dee da boo da" line over and over again between choruses, officially so old that rappers are now sampling songs from our youth. It felt weird enough when Kanye "borrowed" the Daft Punk riff, but at least that was a good song utilizing with deserved reverence another good song. The operative word here - good. "Blue" by all accounts is up there with "Macarena" and "Mambo No. 5" on the charts of embarrassing points of the late 90s. Why can't we let it stay in the past?

"Come On Get Higher" by Matt Nathanson: Okay, now I know where I've heard this guy's name before. He's just now experiencing superstardom as the latest in a looooooong line of "your body make my acoustic guitar go SCHWING!" crooners, but I know him from using his CDs as coasters during my stint as Music Director at the local college radio station. He was originally heavily promoted as an independent artist along with many other sandal-toed hippies of his kind to stations around the country that universally dismissed the genre, but who probably didn't understand when they willingly gave their money to promoters who said they'd "try their best to pitch to the stations that are willing to give independent artists a shot." I feel bad for these dudes for obviously having no grasp of the indie (often just as bigoted as the mainstream business) music industry, but I'm glad I can now let go of my guilt for tossing Nathanson's discs aside. Someone finally figured out how to get his important message to 18-year-old suburban girls with orange skin everywhere.

"I Know You Want Me" by Pitbull: Speaking of "Macarena" and "Mambo No. 5" just a bit ago - welcome the first entry to this canon of "foreign" sorrow in quite some time now. I put "foreign" in quotes because I cannot help but assume that this is not indicative of Portuguese pop music, regardless of the fact that I, like most pop radio consumers, have no knowledge of Portuguese culture, much less their popular musicians. This video in particular is equal parts haunting, hilariously off-putting, and at least partially inspired by the novelty act Crazy Dogggz from Flight of the Conchords. If this is for real, let us bow our heads in a moment of silence for the dearly departed entity formerly known as "common decency".

"Second Chance" by Shinedown: I don't have enough energy to get into this. I can't not at least mention it here, because it's currently the 4th most popular song on our local Top 40 station, KDWB. How that is possible I cannot even behind to comprehend, but I did see a half-page ad for the new 3 Doors Down record in The Onion. So apparently there's still a market for that strange purgatory of rock music that lands somewhere between grunge, lite rock, and the sound my gut makes when I've given it too much chili.

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  1. Blogger Brigitte | 10:25 AM |  

    ahh, so Lady Gaga is a SINGER...i've seen her in the gossip mags but i wasn't sure who she was or what she did. interesting.

  2. Blogger qualler | 2:47 PM |  

    Amazing. I listened to each of these songs, and each one is terrible in its own way, and yet somehow the one that rips off the music we genuinely like completely and embarrassingly is indeed by far the best song here. That Beyonce song seems to think it's 1999 and hanging out with Vitamin D. And I love how hardcore Shinedown tries to look in that picture -- I imagine them sitting around saying "Yeah, the way to really rock hard is by playing drum fills super loud and have soaring strings, cuz that one time Metallica played with an orchestra." Ah, brutal Top 40 music.

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