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Today's Top 40 Spectrum: Turns Out Mainstream Pop is Terrible Again

Ugh. I knew things were going too well for too long in Top 40 land. I mean it was only July and I already had a solid Top 10 Top 40 Singles of 2010 list going in Excel (don't judge). Then August came along and reminded me why I went almost a decade trying to avoid mainstream pop music. Maybe this is for the best, though. Perhaps I needed to, before the school year begins, have my summertime fun deflated by the lack of genuinely enjoyable vacuous pop melody, so as to mentally prepare me for not having weekdays off anymore. Plus, if I really needed it I could go back to earlier 2010 jams to get my fix, such as Avril's "What the Hell" or Jessie J's "Price Tag". It also doesn't help that I've been YouTubing 80s Billboard hits searching for the perfect cover song opportunity for the new band (featuring two other Blogulator contributors - shameless promotion alert!). Man everything was better in the past. Anyway, here's Today's Top 40 Spectrum, ranked from most tolerable to least tolerable for the month of August...

"She Ain't You" by Chris Brown: You know the pickings are slim when Chris Brown is at the top of the spectrum. In truth, however, take away the AutoTune trills, the periodic Euro-synth bursts, and Brown's destructive personality and you have a pretty nice 90s throwback R&B song. In fact, if it didn't have that undercurrent of Brown's generic yet somehow signature sound, I might actually say it's a great song. Part of the problem, unfortunately, is that it's pretty limp because Brown either cannot or chooses not to out of laziness to really bring the house down during the chorus. The melodic potential is there, and the groove almost gets going a number of times, but the AutoTuning shows he's more determined to coast and detract from any possible real emotion baring. Too bad. I, along with half the world, am still waiting for the next generation's D'Angelo.

"Don't Wanna Go Home" by Jason Derulo: You may recall that this young man's past singles from his 2010 debut album were always top-of-the-spectrum contenders. The Imogen Heap-sampled "Whatcha Say" was cheesy, but incredibly effective. "In My Head" was a near-perfect upbeat love anthem. And "Ridin' Solo" was a furious rush-to-the-finish-line antithetical to the aforementioned, showing that the kid truly had some game. And now we have a second album on the horizon an equally obnoxious homage trifling a new first single. But while Imogen Heap was only canonized to The O.C. fans, Harry frakking Belafonte is a bit harder of a sell to the masses. And by masses, I mean people my age and older. The kids are probably eating it up. But oh how it ruins some good electroclash-tinged verses. This is the kind of riff that just does not belong in any other song besides the original because it's way too over saturated to become reinvented into something else. Sorry, Derulo, I hope the next one's better.

"Lighters" by Bad Meets Evil feat. Bruno Mars: The first time my wife Jerksica and I heard this song in the car we looked at each other in a lurid combination of fear, disgust, and bewilderment. And one of us actually maintains to this musty August morning that "Grenade" is one of, if not the best mainstream ballad of the year. To make it simple, upon first impression, it sounded like such a forced collaboration that it confused as much as it grabbed our attention. I get Mars with B.O.B. I even get Mars with Travie McCoy, even though I can't stand that crap. I could potentially even get behind Mars with just Royce da 5'9" (the less aggressive half of the new duo Bad Meets Evil), because while he's clearly got some anger issues, at least he doesn't grunt 90% of what he raps. Yes, if you haven't figured it out by now, Eminem is apparently supposed to complement Mars' piano-twinkle prissy chorus about raising cell phones loaded with the lighter app to the sky to show solidarity, or whatever. Sure at least the wordplay is entertaining to listen to, even if it doesn't say as much as they make it sound like they're trying to, but this is a three-way collaboration that is so obviously manufactured that it hurts to hear.

"I Wanna Go" by Britney Spears: There are two redeeming factors about this song. The first is the whistling, which I'm almost certain will start to become unfathomably annoying around the 22nd time I hear it. The second actually isn't in the song - it's in the video. At one point Britney's sexy superpowers are being deployed in a traffic jam in front of a movie theater, playing Crossroads 2: Cross Harder. I found that chuckle-worthy. Too bad that piece of clever callback self-deprecation is canceled out by the opening skit, in which during a press conference Spears makes a sorry attempt at replicating an expletive-laden line from the 1998 stoner comedy Half Baked, and the original actor responsible for it, Guillermo Diaz, gets a bit reaction shot. Between these two decade-old-or-more pop culture references, I can only posit that either Spears really is disconnected from the act of being a pop star in 2011 or she's trying to be tongue-in-cheek and regain the affection of those that were teens upon her first rise to fame. Either way, she still is churning out boring club banger after boring club banger nowadays.

"Moves Like Jagger" by Maroon 5 feat. Christina Aguilera: I originally heard this one when it was performed live on NBC's The Voice, which was one too many times already. I had hoped that perhaps the show and Adam Levine's career would finally take a nosedive because he was being overly haphazard about the amount and what kind of press he was doing for his band, going so far as letting Aguilera have a verse on a track with a titular Rolling Stones reference that's performed on a network second-rate singing competition show. There are just too many target markets packed into this sad attempt, yet? Apparently not, because it seems like the band formerly known as Kara's Flowers did right in throwing as many pieces of proverbial spaghetti at the wall as possible. It resulted a truly atrocious song with a terrible hooky refrain (again with the whistling, except it's used far too much here to be appealing, even if it's buried further in the mix than Britney's) that is one of the biggest insults to a legendary rock band that I don't even like that much. So there's your lesson, kids in garage bands that want to be pop stars someday: just do whatever. As long as it's a lot of it, actually far too much of it, you'll succeed.

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  1. Blogger DoktorPeace | 5:33 PM |  

    *cough* Robbie Robb's "In Time" from Bill & Ted *cough*

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