<body><script type="text/javascript"> function setAttributeOnload(object, attribute, val) { if(window.addEventListener) { window.addEventListener('load', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }, false); } else { window.attachEvent('onload', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }); } } </script> <div id="navbar-iframe-container"></div> <script type="text/javascript" src="https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> gapi.load("gapi.iframes:gapi.iframes.style.bubble", function() { if (gapi.iframes && gapi.iframes.getContext) { gapi.iframes.getContext().openChild({ url: 'https://www.blogger.com/navbar.g?targetBlogID\x3d16149408\x26blogName\x3dThe+Blogulator\x26publishMode\x3dPUBLISH_MODE_BLOGSPOT\x26navbarType\x3dBLACK\x26layoutType\x3dCLASSIC\x26searchRoot\x3dhttp://chrisandqualler.blogspot.com/search\x26blogLocale\x3den_US\x26v\x3d2\x26homepageUrl\x3dhttp://chrisandqualler.blogspot.com/\x26vt\x3d7090024357285529333', where: document.getElementById("navbar-iframe-container"), id: "navbar-iframe" }); } }); </script>

« Home | Next » | Next » | Next » | Next » | Next » | Next » | Next » | Next » | Next » | Next »

Today's Top 40 Spectrum: Obnoxiousness Is The Theme For This Year, Apparently

Another year, another weary outlook for Top 40. Actually, last year around this time I was still high off December 2009's introduction of Ke$ha to the landscape of pop radio, and it turned out her reign had only just begun, not to mention some other nice early surprises such as the underrated fast-food-as-metaphor anthem "Carry Out" by JT. But this year I think we're reverting back to old habits. First, only one of the artists below is new to the charts, so we're dealing with a lot of obnoxiousness that is just retread from previous hits, second, that one new artist has possibly the most obnoxious song of the five, and third, none of the tracks venture outside the hip-pop/R&B wheelhouse that Top 40 has been clinging to so fiercely lately. Nonetheless, here I go, searching for the tidbits of genuine sugary goodness in each, in our latest spectrum, ranked from the most enjoyable kind of obnoxiousness to the least enjoyable kind below...


"Bottoms Up" by Trey Songz & Nicki Minaj: No matter what, I think Nicki Minaj will always be a slightly unique form of obnoxious, so she almost earns the top spot with Mr. Songz by default. It saddens me that she's blown up so much (to the point of being the musical guest on SNL this weekend) but has yet to have one of her proper solo songs really hit it big, at least in Minnesota. Even worse is the word on the street (meaning I think I read it in Pitchfork) that she barely raps on her full-length debut, but instead is auto-tuned per industry standard. Regardless, the twisty-turny bits in this song, not just from The Naj, are equal parts delightfully weird ("all around the world" being the key phrase that digs into your skull) and hopelessly demented, which is enough for me to crown it champ for the month.


"Yeah 3x" by Chris Brown: Yes, that's seriously what the song is called, as if he realized there was already that Usher song so he decided to just tack on what all those lyric sites will print to signify repetition in the chorus to differentiate. In addition to this redundancy (oh what I'd give for a Top 40 song to have an interesting title), it is indeed also the exact same faux-distorted/woozy keyboard effect used for 90% of anthemic hip-pop jams in the past several months, including both Usher and Flo Rida's 2010 nominees for most ignorable songs of the year. Lucky for him that despite all of this plus the use of obnoxiously adorable children in his video, that the crescendos and releases are so expertly placed that I actually end up paying attention to the abuser's (never forget!) voice for more than a millisecond. Congrats, fellow Chris, your producer made you kinda almost not suck a lot.


"Grenade" by Bruno Mars: One of my favorite Onion AV Club TV reviews was of the SNL episode featuring Bruno Mars. The writer dissected the nuances of the show's sketches with passion and aplomb, something that the show arguably stopped deserving long ago, but then ended the article by finally commenting on the night's musical guest thusly: "I have nothing to say about Bruno Mars." Oh how I laughed. Because it's true - there is nary a phrase that could be uttered that could be construed in any possibly way as meaning regarding this person. We can say he sings. We can say he sings well. But I swear everything else is white noise. The drums rollicking along with chorus - are they cool? I really cannot say. They're something all right. Does anything in my body chemistry change when I hear this song on the radio? I cannot tell because I would never take the time to notice.


"Black and Yellow" by Wiz Khalifa: Oh how my students love this silly goof. And if you are removed from this culture at all, I'm sure you will press play and concede that yes, he is silly, yes, he is a good, and yes, it's clear why the kids are gaga over him. Furthermore, all you football spectators are sure to be either bored or agitated by his slacker pride for Pittsburgh in the throes of the impending Super Bowl. Indeed, the colors could stand for a number of things besides his hometown pride, especially if you pay attention to the imagery in the video, from gold to cars to race and more, but when it boils down, here's the real twist - it's about nothing. Absolutely nothing. If I cared, I might dare say this is the rise of absurdist/nihilist hip hop, but then I'd hear that cling-clangy xylophone loop in the background and crack a smile, chanting black and yellow and imagining I'm a bumblebee.


"Tonight (I'm Lovin' You)" by Enrique Iglesias & Ludacris: Who is Enrique's fanbase nowadays? I'm not quite I understand how he fits into this puzzle other than the fact that he was previously popular and rides a steady wave of popularity (never dipping quite off the radar, yet not amassing enough wild fandom to make anyone notice that he's boring) so that he never really fizzles out. I'll admit I admire the persistence and consistency, but that's where the awe ends. Ludacris is sounding lazier and lazier with every guest verse, but he really takes the cake here, not even injecting a single line delivered faster than half time. I mean this man at least did one double-time lyric for Bieber, but he can't muster up anything more than a "hey old man let's change the station" (possibly a soft meta or unconscious blow to Iglesias?) transition to make sure listener knows that Ludacris is going to start "rapping" now. Oh well, it works as part of Enrique's oeuvre and it's a smash, so let's just let it pass and wait for the next hit from someone more deserving of our time.

Labels: , ,

  1. Blogger qualler | 10:39 AM |  

    I am neither bored nor agitated by the "Black and Yellow" theme song by Wiz Khalifa. Every time the Steelers sack Aaron Rodgers, I'm gonna blast this song in Chaney's face! Or if I go to an all-Packer Super Bowl party, I'll just keep it to myself and quietly eat some brats and drink some beer.

    My two cents on Nicki Minaj (heavily swayed by Mpls female hip-hop extraordinaire Desdamona): it's hard to respect a woman in hip-hop whose image is so meticulously put together by dudes, and for someone who, despite having interesting vocal stylings, (allegedly) does not write her own rhymes. The "word on the street" that her record is mostly auto-tuned is also disappointing. She's definitely a star, but it just further highlights the lack of true female MCs in the spotlight.

    Enrique and Luda need to both retire to the early 00's where they came from.

  2. Blogger chris | 2:35 PM |  

    Haha it may just be that hearing teenagers randomly interrupt periods of silence by half-singing the words "black & yellow, black & yellow!" keeps me from hearing it anything more than a deathly earworm. Also I think I'm legally obligated to root for the Pack, having grown up in WI.

    All very fair and important points about Minaj, but to play devil's advocate, I'd rather have Minaj (or her handlers/producers) at least shaking it up aesthetically in Top 40 land than most/all other viable guest verse possibilities, even if she doesn't count as a female MC. Not everyone can be B.O.B. and invite Rivers and Hayley Williams on their songs and get away with it.

    But yes, I too long for the day when we get actual female MCs on mainstream radio. In the meantime, we'll just have to save what's actually good for the local/indie scene. And even there, they're outnumbered unfortunately.

  3. Blogger qualler | 2:44 PM |  

    Dammit Chris! I almost had you sorta caring about the Vikings last year. I am disappointed they could not do anything to make you sorta care about them this year.

    Agreed on all accounts RE: Minaj in a Top 40 Spectrum and underground/indie. Two thumbs up!

  4. Blogger chris | 2:46 PM |  

    Haha oh Qualler, you should know by now: I like whatever team's winning!

  5. Blogger .molly. | 6:45 PM |  

    Top 40!! What's up with EVERY SINGLE POP SONG being backed by that generic "club/house/dance" beat [i.e. Chris Brown Yeah x3, Black Eyed Peas, Rihanna "Only Girl in The World" et al]? It's like the 90s all over again. La Bouche and Paul Oakenfold are going to make a comeback!
    Too much you guys, too much.

leave a response