Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Curmudgeon Speaks, or, Why Current Pop Music is Crap

Since our usual independent eclectic mix radio station has been off the air lately, at work we've had to listen to the Top 40 station. It's usually just background noise, but during the times when I have found myself consciously paying attention to it I've been reminded how much I despise Top 40 music. Cases in point:

  • That Katy Perry song about fireworks. While her voice was somewhere between mildly irritating and vaguely discomforting before, this song takes its most horrific qualities and condenses them down into a repetitious, syncopated shriek of a chorus that sounds like a yapping pack-a-day chihuahua being given the heimlich. Such songs so ridiculous that I can almost hear her record company handlers snickering about what they can get the public to lap up next.

  • That one melodramic slog of a tune by that one hipster chick that they always play on VH1. I didn't think people had the attention span for songs like this anymore. Not only is it excruciating to listen to, but if you are unfortunate enough to catch the video you are subjected to a parade of video cliches du jour: everything is in slow motion but they can still lip-sync in perfect time, gratuitous tattoos, synchronized group dancing, stylized fighting-as-choreography, and overwrought middle-school-drama-class acting. Music to slit wrists to.

  • Finally, the most egregious example of what is wrong with pop music today: the cover of Def Leppard's "Photograph" by some American Idol guy. One of the few songs that, upon hearing, I am compulsively moved to extinguish its source immediately. Made all the worse by the fact that the original is one of the most gnarly examples of 80s Camaro rock ever. It was only recently that I was feeling sufficiently masochistic to listen to this clunker in its entirety. Actually I was doing something I couldn't get away from so I had to. Four minutes of my life I'll never get back. Covers can be respectable or even quite good when a band takes another song and makes it their own, so to speak, interpreting and expressing it through their own filter to create something familiar yet unique. This song is not that. There is no originality, rather a rote, paint-by-numbers "update" of the original right down to the vocal fills. Santana should be ashamed of himself. But what should we expect from a sold-out has-been and another nameless product from a televised popularity contest? Write your own songs, people.


Tuesday, December 07, 2010

My favorite songs of 2010

Good year for singles. Albums, not so much.

"Elizabeth Fraser (Cocteau Twins Remix)" -- Star Slinger

"Not In Love" -- Crystal Castles ft. Robert Smith

A melding of old and new: modern-day Robert Smith sings over a remixed forgotten 80s new wave song.

"Birthday Boy" -- Drive-By Truckers

I'm sad to admit that I regularly skip half of the songs on this album, which makes their previous discographic nadir (A Blessing and a Curse) seem that much better in comparison. But what continues to make DBT my favorite band is their ability to keep churning out at least one or two bona fide classic songs per album. This, along with "This F*****' Job", is their latest. And Cooley is still one of the coolest dudes on the planet.

"Is This On Me?" -- Elite Gymnastics

"Odessa" -- Caribou

"Meet the Frownies" -- Twin Sister

A vaguely sinister tune reminiscent of those film strips we used to watch in elementary school that made that little "beep" when it was time to advance the frame.

"Round the Moon" -- Summer Camp

Dance, Swedish kids of the early 70s! Dance! Prance! Pout! Also, smoke cigarettes at 14!

SUMMER CAMP - Round the Moon from Paddy Power on Vimeo.

"On Melancholy Hill" -- Gorillaz

Wistfulness, in musical form.

"Lawless Lands" -- The Sword

Yes, the rock has not left us. Starts out slow, teasing, until the second half lets loose a monster chorus.