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2014/07/08

Croon A Tune In June (?): Pop Music Reviews, Part III


Croon A Tune In June (?): 
Pop Music Reviews, Part III

So, here are the rest of those singles I meant to get to in June. Don't worry, most of them are still on the charts, so they are relevant.   

I will give you one guess as to why I didn't get around to reviewing most of these until now.  Yeah... it's not good, kids.  But there are exceptions.

I am totally enamored with Semi Precious Weapons.  Roommate from hell, Lorde continues her gloomy winning streak.  Korr-A makes good use of a great title, while Kylie Minogue reminds us whom she used to be with a bit of genuine nostalgia.  

So, let's dig in.  And if you eat it all, I promise not to review the ones from June that didn't make the cut.  And trust me, kids... you are gonna want to lick your plates today!  

Bon Appetit!

Aviation High
Semi Precious Weapons
‘Aviation’ is definitely a contender for my best of the year list. I have fallen in love with this song.   

The airy vocals, the cryptic lyrics, the wicked pulse; it all adds up to something rather scintillating.  

There’s something vaguely euro-trash about them, as if they are the off-spring of Duran Duran. I’m as intrigued with this group as I am Neon Trees.

2 On
Tinashe Featuring ScHoolboy Q
Hmmm.  This one has me slightly stumped.  It’s hella schizophrenic.  As in, I have no idea what this song is about.  And I’m not alone. 

In an interview Tinashe claimed that the phrase ‘2 On’ means ‘turned on’, but other interpretations include smoking two blunts at once or getting it on with two guys at the same time.  In any case, what does any of that have to do with ‘Get money, get money like the invoice, make the money, make the whip, make the money, make the grip’?  And then there is also a part where she’s paranoid about her enemies… huh? 

Based on the by-the-numbers nasty rap crap provided by ScHoolboy Q, it would seem ‘2 On’ is all about sex, but I still can’t make sense of references like ‘when the tree be strong’.  Is that about the dude’s dick?  Is it about a spliff?

Tinashe coos like an iron butterfly on top of a bed of finger snaps, making her seem like one tough babe, pitching her somewhere between Cassie and Rihanna.  This may end up being a hit for her, as it’s currently eking its way up the Hot 100, but it’s explicit nature along with its inexplicable lyrics will probably prevent it from breaking through to the mainstream in a big way. 

That said, it’s rather boring, like a lover who just lies there and expects you to do all the work.

Cut Her Off
KCamp Featuring 2 Chainz
Mysogynistic stoner rap.

Vaguely interesting.  

KCamp might actually have a personality, but it’s hard to tell through all that haze.  

His hiccup uptick is at least… different.  Lyrically?  Crap rap about a ho. How she’s a bitch.  You know… the usual.  Sigh. 

Because, you know, there’s nothing else to rap about. 

Absolutely nothing.

Somethin' Bad
Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood
By-the-numbers sports stadium boom-boom-clap, sort of in the vein of Carrie’s ‘Before He Cheats’ with a little Alannah Myles thrown in.  Yep, we’ve heard this before.  This is a calculated attempt by the corporate powers that be for Underwood to catch a brief ride on Lambert’s comet tail, while some of Carrie’s crossover cred rubs off on the well-established Miranda.

The big surprise is how shapeless Lambert’s vocals sound when compared to Underwood’s.  Vocally, Carrie is sharp as a tack and her attack is dead on.  And while Miranda is not left in the dust, the unavoidable comparison isn’t flattering.

Somethin’ Bad’ debuted in the Top 40, before falling immediately out.  It continued to fall for a week or two, but then, as of last week, rocketed back into the Top 40.  Could be the country song of the summer.

Drunk On A Plane
Dierks Bentley
You know, country rules the lower twenty of the Top 40.  There seems to be a magical cut-off point at number 15 or so, and there are exceptions to that (Georgia Florida Line), but not many. 

Dierks(?) Bentley (Are you kidding me?  Where did he get that name?  Out of a cereal box?) just entered the Top 40 with this ode to one of America’s favorite past times.  ‘Drunk’ is a story song, all about getting left at the altar and then getting a little mile high club action with a sympathetic stewardess – because, you know – flight attendants do that on flights to Cancun. 

Dierks uses words like ‘feller’, to let you know that he is just a regular country joe, though he’s not above blatantly cribbing a line from Far East Movement’s dance hit ‘Like a G6 

He’s a non-threatening, pleasant looking man with a characterless baritone, so he’s sure to play well on the Country Jam circuit where banality and a hit song will get you on the ticket. 

Musically, eh… nothing new – sounds like a billion other songs.  This one skirts by on the novelty of its title and telling the woman (who was smart enough to dump this bozo) to ‘kiss my ass. 

Clever?  Oh, get serious…

Beat Of The Music
Brett Eldredge
I don’t get it.  When did Nashville relocate to Los Angeles? 

Yet another pleasant-looking, clean man (why do they all look like they used to be on a soap opera?) with a gravely baritone singing a song that goes exactly where you expect it to when you expect it to.  

Is it 1979?  Because I swear that was the last time music was this boilerplate.  Mr. Eldridge brings to mind a time when the likes of Leif Garrett and Rex Smith popped on the charts.

For reasons that escape my ears, this song has graced the lower region of the Top 40.  It is indistinguishable from a ton of other so-called country songs that have met a similar fate, so much so, I can’t really pinpoint what it is that I’m supposed to care about here.  It’s about falling in love on the dance floor with your hand on someone’s hip.  Swaying to the music…

OMG… it is the seventies. 

Oh, well, it will play well on the State Fair circuit, I guess. 

Tennis Court
Lorde
Lorde came up with a pair of winners in the form of ‘Royals’ and ‘Team’, but the I ‘Heart’ Radio crowd are taking their sweet time warming up to her third offering, the lukewarm ‘Tennis Court’.  ‘Court’ has been rumbling around in the lower third of the Hot 100 for weeks, now.  Whether it ever catches fire remains to be seen.

Opening with the line, ‘Don’t you think that it’s boring how people talk’, she continues to strike me as the musical equivalent of ‘Winnie the Pooh’s’ Eeyore, or maybe that woe-is-me dog, Droopy.  ‘Tennis Court’s overall tone feels rather doomed and menacing, playing like Foster the People’s ‘Kicks’ on liquid ‘G’.
 
Still, there is something about her far-removed, alien observer affect which remains potently effective, as are her Delphic, elliptical lyrics.  The thing is… how long before her act gets old?

Come Get It Bae
Pharrell Williams
This is Pharrell’s follow-up to his inescapable ‘Happy’, a song destined to end up on the scrap heap of songs no one ever wants to hear again.  

Making all falsetto and sexy, like Prince and Marvin Gaye, Williams sounds a bit too strained for my comfort level.  Falsetto, to work in this setting, needs to be silky, not static.

He also allows 24 seconds of intro to bop by on a bed of hand claps, shouted out ‘hey’s and percussion similar to ‘Iko Iko’ and Anna Kendrick’s ‘Cups’, before bothering to come in.  It gets more interesting around the two minute mark, which is when I think Miley Cyrus comes in, but by then it’s too late for the radio.  Plus, 'Bae' seems content to go nowhere but where it started and those ‘hey’s wear out their welcome long before they end.

This is a miss as far as I’m concerned.  Sorry, bae.


Jungle
Jamie N Commons & X Ambassadors

More ‘Boom, boom, clap’.  But this time, it’s serious.  At least, that is what these guys and their record label would like us to believe.

The mix is thick and muddy, weighted down further by a Cypress Hill style war chant that runs under the entire song.  In a croon that is little more than a mumbly croak and a shouted/sung chorus, Jamie N Commons & X Ambassadors walk us through the hard knocks of their urban reality.  I have a hard time taking them too seriously, though.  In the video it’s all so neat and clean.  Even the garbage is… clean.  It’s like a faux jungle.

Which is pretty much sums up my first impression of this pair: faux, as in so false I’m not buying it.  They are to (sub)urban white gangsta what Georgia Florida Line are to country.
 
Faux.  So, very, very faux.

You Make Me Dance
Papercha$er Featuring Laura LaRue
Vacuous synths?  Check.  Airy, thin, over-treated female vocals?  Check.  Stale 1998 drum machine beats?  Check. 

I do like the ping-pong stuff after the first chorus.  It reminds me of that old1969  chestnut ‘Popcorn’ by Gershon Kingsley. 

Other than that, this could be any faceless euro-disco offering.

Maybe it plays better remixed. 

F*ck Me Like You Mean It
Korr-A
Coming on like a slice of Disney pop before quickly ramping up into a bit of rave/house music, the very photogenic Korr-A makes the most of that awesome title.  

And then she does the whole thing a second time.  

And then a third!

Yeah, the lyrics are about as deep as a cheerleader on prom night, but who cares.  There’s a bounce to it that is infectious…

…you know, sort of like an STD.

I Was Gonna Cancel
Kylie Minogue
A skittery beat, a fuzzy thin synth line, big bells, twangy guitar and percussion that sounds like something from the way-back machine?  What year is it Kylie?  If it wasn’t for the auto-tuned vocals, I would think it was 1987 and this was your debut.

Cancel’ is slight, but then it wouldn’t be a Kylie Minogue song if it wasn’t.  As is, it’s fine, though nowhere near as eye-opening as her last outing, ‘Into the Blue’.

Something tells me that remixed is the way to go with this one.  And that is the thing with Kylie and her very slight songs – in the right hands, these songs and her vocals can be reinvented many times over, helping to ensure that our diva finds her way into clubland.

In its original mix, it’s rather nostalgic; a sweet paean to a simpler (for some) time.























1 comment:

whkattk said...

I think Lorde has already passed her prime here...16?? Is she serious? Not buyin' it.

Pharrell Williams...nope. As soon as I hear the opening salvo start, the station get changed.

I know, I'm sounding very old right now. Can't help it. LOL.