Tragically Mainstream

No guilt, only pleasure.

Category: Music

The Week in VEVO: A Classic Movie Quote with Your VEVO

by williedollars

If you want to just see all the newest music videos from everyone who matters, no one’s stopping you from going to VEVO.com’s music video premieres page. But if you want a different gimmick each week to add a totally unnecessary new layer of meaning to these videos, well, you’ve probably come to the only place on the internet for that.

This week: SELECTIONS FROM THE AMERICAN FILM INSTITUTE’S 100 YEARS… 100 MOVIE QUOTES LIST TO COMPLEMENT YOUR MUSIC VIDEOS

RELEVANT PEOPLE DIVISION

One Direction – Best Song Ever

“I’m the king of the world!” -Jack Dawson, Titanic

What else you can say when your video beats the VEVO record with 10.9 million views in one day? Like maybe you could pluralize it and make it “We’re the kings of the world!” because there are five Directioners and only one Leo, but that would be deviating from my script of pairing actual movie quotes with these videos, so I’m just going to pretend it was only Harry who yelled it and the rest just kind of nodded in agreement. I’m pretty sure the band in general works that way too.

Since it was a given that they’d break the record, 1D decided to take the self-congratulatory superstar route and make their first “concept” video with acting and stuff. It doesn’t matter whether the opening skit to this video is good though (it’s waaayyy too long), because when you’re superstars, you make your video however you like and people still watch. You name your song Best Song Ever and people still listen. Yet if I’m a Directioner right now, I’m taking heed of the lesson Jack Dawson taught us: you can say you’re king of the world now and mean it and it can still all go bad tomorrow. The fact is, Best Song Ever has a disappointingly generic hook (its only saving grace is the descending guitar riff after the drop). Too many more singles like this will mark a slow descent to irrelevancy like Jack’s descent to the bottom of the sea. And the guys certainly aren’t gonna be saved by their acting skill.

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NOT REAL-LIFE MUSIC VIDEO HOUSE PARTY SHOWDOWN: MILEY VS. SWIFT: PART 2 OF TWO-PART MEGA-POST

by williedollars

Taylor Swift’s 22 vs. Miley Cyrus’ We Can’t Stop: which video featured the least worst fake house party, scientifically speaking. Part 1 ended with the score tied at 2-2. We have five more categories with which to decide a champion. There will be a champion. I’M SO EXCITED I’M JUMPING RIGHT INTO THE SHOWDOWN:

EXERCISE METHOD: It’s not a party until that point past midnight when people start doing weird non-party-related things. Like exercise. Because they’re drunk. When drunk people get this urge, they most typically tend to wander outside and, voila, this is where we find the lovely Ms. Swift and a few friends piggy-back racing bicycles through her backyard.

Taylor's the one raising her arm. Because she's, uhh, the "fun" one. Yeah.

Taylor’s the one raising her arm. Because she’s, uhh, the “fun” one. Yeah.

Obviously this doubles as both orthodox exercise and an odd mating ritual, but alas it’s not particularly inventive. (You might ask how I can be so harsh judging drunk people’s inventiveness, but then I’ll show you this map of the world and you’ll shut up.) While the bikes place a nice modern spin on the practice, teenagers and twenty-somethings have been playing chicken in pools for awhile now. The fact is that Swizzle’s form of exercise still perpetuates old-fashioned gender norms and is waaaay too complicated for the average drunk person to pull off. The second part is more important. I’m about to call bullshit on this ever happening because somebody had to fall down, right?

Whereas on the other hand, it doesn’t take that much concentration to put together a good twerk. I mean, it’s not like it’s simply easy–you need a modicum of consciousness to do it right–but at least no one’s going to fall off your shoulders and onto her face if you slip up a second and also it’s not like Miley hasn’t been practicing this move lately. And why wouldn’t she be practicing it? It’s of the moment, the movement of 2013, which reminds you to ask yourself: What kind of music do I want to dominate the party? The newest, hottest stuff that me and all my friends know or some random 70s Beach Boys slow jam? Taylor’s exercise is the equivalent of the latter while Miley’s is way more fun and, well, fun to watch too. Swift 2 / Miley 3

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MCHG: Jay-Z needs a mid-life crisis more than we need this album.

by sethisan

It took me a while to decide what I felt about Magna Carta… Holy Grail.

The album is currently on display next to one of the original manuscripts of the Magna Carta in an English museum. Would MCHG make it to any sort of museum on its merits? Not really.

It wasn’t bad. It wasn’t great. There’s a Tate Modern reference. There’s yet another foray into the dad-rap genre. There’s the (obligatory) Frank Ocean and the (new BFF) Justin Timberlake as guest crooners.

It feels almost impossible to talk about Magna Carta… Holy Grail in a void, devoid of comparisons with Yeezus. These are their first albums post the Throne collaboration, and while Kanye is going strong, crafting novel soundscapes and an exhilarating new anti-corporate manifesto, Jay-Z is another matter.

Mr. Z, for a man who once spoke the lines:

No lie, just know I chose my own fate
I drove by the fork in the road and went straight

as a promise of artistic coherence and integrity, now seems to be in a place in his career where the case for taking a wrong turn or two is getting stronger with every album he puts out.

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NOT REAL-LIFE MUSIC VIDEO HOUSE PARTY SHOWDOWN: MILEY VS. SWIFT: PART 1 OF TWO-PART MEGA-POST

by williedollars

You know what’s tough? Throwing a good house party. There are lots of variables in play here: you have to have a house, friends, alcohol and… uhh… well, uhh… I guess there’s actually not that much to it. So scratch that. It’s not that hard to throw a good house party. But I’m already on this train of thought and dammit I’m going to stay on it: It is difficult to throw a house party that anybody outside of the people who attended, literally anybody, would ever care to watch a video of. Ever had someone show you some video on their phone from this one time when everyone was drunk and you watch a bunch of kids giggle for like two minutes forty seconds and finally you get a “man, you really just had to be there.” BITCH IF YOUR VIDEO HAS FEWER THAN 20 THOUSAND VIEWS ON YOUTUBE IT JUST WASN’T THAT FUNNY AND YOUR PARTY JUST WASN’T THAT GOOD AND I DON’T WANT TO SEE IT.

This guy is one of the few who've passed the test. Well done Corey Worthington. Click the picture.

This guy however is one of the few who’ve passed the test. Well done, Corey Worthington. Click the picture.

This year Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus both decided to be that girl. And well, yeah, they both got a few more than twenty thousand views, but they’re Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus and that baseline doesn’t count. Of course YouTube views alone can’t determine the quality of  house parties when we’re talking about the house parties filmed as the music videos for 22 and We Can’t Stop, both of which are great (yes, great) pop songs from ridiculously famous (and great?) pop singers. Taylor and Miley decided to film their parties for everyone to see and we just don’t have a good, objective way to determine which was the least worst. Which of these girls would I be least likely to backhand after she finally removed her S4 from my face?

I guess I’ve been left with no choice.

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Yeezus Reviewed

by sethisan

On “Ready to Start”, a song off Arcade Fire’s third album, The Suburbs, there is a line that goes:

“All the kids have always known that the Emperor wears no clothes / but  they bow down to him anyway, ’cause it’s better than being alone”

Kanye West has always been that enfant terrible who refused to “bow down”, and consequently, has often paid the price of “being alone” – a theme frequently explored and indeed, elevated to the status of messianic sacrifice, most notably in his 2010 masterpiece, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

It seems only logical then that Mr. West, having dabbled in comparing himself to superheroes and pharaonic God-Kings, escalates the analogy to the ultimate apotheosis, and this bring us to Yeezus.

Right from the near-paranormal chorus in the first track, “On Sight”, Mr. West makes it abundantly clear:

He’ll give us what we need
It may not be what we want

The song begins with jarring distortions that smack the complacent listener in the jowls, forcing them to pay close attention – Yeezy is back and he knows who’s been naughty. Read the rest of this entry »

Did you REALLY need that guest verse? Ariana Grande featuring Mac Miller – The Way

by williedollars

I don’t think the question of whether Ariana Grande NEEDS Mac Miller’s guest verse on her debut single, The Way, is very hard. Here’s a set of premises which answer it empirically:

PREMISE: The objective merit of any pop song increases exponentially with each mention of Bruce Almighty.

PREMISE: Mac Miller raps the line “Bruce Almighty, that’s groovy” in Ariana Grande’s The Way.

CONCLUSION: The objective merit of Ariana Grande’s The Way increased exponentially with the inclusion of Mac Miller’s line “Bruce Almighty, that’s groovy.”

All right. I think we’re done here.

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Mid-Aughts Throwback: T-Pain featuring Young Joc – Buy U a Drank (Shawty Snappin’)

by williedollars

As far as we’re concerned, pop music started in 2000. So we’re never going to throw it back any further. If you find that troubling, ask yourself, Do I actually want to listen to a guy named williedollars explain The Police to me? If the answer happens to be yes, well we do have a comments section.

Riding the bus in middle school provided a fascinating look into things I typically wasn’t cool enough to know about. The closer to the back of the bus I sat (always looking aloof, pretending like I was more interested in the book in my lap than the conversation behind me), the m0re scandalous the things I heard. A homeschooled version of me would probably be smarter and a more productive member of society, but he wouldn’t know intimately the mechanics of sex with mothers or the proper context in which to use the word faggot (answer: every context). And he wouldn’t have heard the pop music that one cool bus driver played every afternoon. You know that bus driver, the one you prayed to get on your bus at the start of each year because that bus driver turned on the radio. And in early 2007 (my eighth grade year), the radio played Buy U a Drank.

Public school me was cool with that. He was more than cool with it. He felt like he just got in on the ground floor of a revolution. I imagine what I felt the first time I heard T-Pain (and Young Joc!) was like what the Jacobins felt the first time Robespierre rolled out a guillotine. They were probably like, “Robots. Fucking robots.” And then that switched into: “This is the future. Oh my god. This, this is the future.” And that’s what Auto-Tune was like.

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Hey Henry: Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” and What Makes Good Pop Radio

by williedollars

In this new series, williedollars asks Henry a question on facebook chat. Then they talk about it. And they’re probably the only ones who understand what they’re saying. But they post the transcript on the blog anyway.

Wednesday, June 6

8:12pm
williedollars: Hey Henry, what song on the radio is really pissing you off right now?

8:13pm
Henry Gorman: I feel bad about saying this, but
I don’t like that Daft Punk song which is now a hit

8:15pm
williedollars: Oh shit. But I kind of feel you. I spent about seven hours in the car today driving to Houston and it came on around about seven times. I listened once. But still man, people saying RAM is an instant all-time classic and you just dissed it. Explanation? I might give mine if you go first.

8:15pm
Henry Gorman: I feel like Daft Punk has huge goodwill
they’ve done so much excellent stuff
just thinking back to like, Discovery
an amazing album
so we all really, really want them to break out
and now, it’s actually happening
and we’re all really excited about it
but I feel like “Get Lucky” just isn’t a song I want to hear on the radio again and again
It’s too elevator-music-y and ambient-sounding, honestly
for a pop hit
no energy

8:23pm
williedollars: Pharrell’s voice doesn’t do anything for anybody. he’s just there. And then what we’re left with is a EDM meets seventies funk beat (is that inherently good?) with a pretty lame chorus. And once you’ve got that, I see what you’re saving about elevator music, no doubt
That said…
While it’s not a prototypical radio hit…
it’s still undeniable that the song has a great vibe to it and is about as perfectly realized for what it is (electro seventies throwback) as any song will ever be
kind of feels like teenage dream to me for just being so… complete.
or some vampire weekend stuff
and if we’re going to ever get variety on pop radio, shouldn’t it at least be in the form of fully realized songs like these, even if they don’t fit our definition of “radio song”?

8:27pm
Henry Gorman: Well, my definition of “radio song” is less about content than about function
I want a certain… intensity from my pop radio

8:27pm
williedollars: okay, I can dig that
like we have ipods and cds if we want a different feel? like that’s not radio’s inherent function?

8:28pm
Henry Gorman: well, not pop radio’s

8:28pm
williedollars: Pop radio is assumed in these conversations, henry
damn.

8:28pm
Henry Gorman: true, true

8:28pm
williedollars: this is for the fucking website bro!
but anyway, go on

8:29pm
Henry Gorman: but like, even alt-radio shit has a certain mainstreamness now
RAM was a #1 album
and that followed Vampire Weekend
but yeah
like, I want bit strident emotion or celebration
even if it’s really dumb
I think that pop music is fundamentally sort of performative
my appreciation of it is often less about the music itself and more about music-as-performance
(I often find the alt stuff that makes it through to mainstream sort of distasteful
I mean, Imagine Dragons, really?)

8:31pm
williedollars: oh god, yeah..

8:31pm
Henry Gorman: (They’re like Coldplay, but Scandinavian)

8:31pm
williedollars: I feel you so hard
(THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID)
Lyrics don’t matter in pop radio. Agreed?

8:32pm
Henry Gorman: hmmm
I dunno
I think that they’re secondary, but can still play valuable functions

8:32pm
williedollars: Unless they’re just all-time maybe, like meme-spawning, like SHAWTY GOT DEM APPLE BOTTOM JEANS, BOOTS WITH DA FUUUURRRRRR

8:32pm
Henry Gorman: Yeah, like that!
or if they have something like the immense beautiful camp vapidity of “Love You Like A Love Song”

8:33pm
williedollars: oh shit… dinner just got here….. finish that thought and can I get back to you a little later?
Selena is good at camp, btw

8:33pm
Henry Gorman: mmmhmm

8:33pm
williedollars: like, a little toooo good

8:33pm
Henry Gorman: the best

11:40pm
Henry Gorman: shall we resume this, Will?
I actually think that lyrics can really make a song, in some cases
“Somebody That I Used To Know,” for example, subverted the douchey-complaining-about-your-ex breakup song (exhibit A: “Grenade” by Bruno Mars– most ridiculous single line “Bad Woman! Bad Woman! That’s just what you are!”)
by including a verse from the ex’s perspective
and it wound up being way cooler as a result

11:44pm
williedollars: oh shit, sorry man. we ate pizza and drank wine and wattched v for vendetta and i’m kind of out of it. Is there the possibility of doing this tomorrow> i’m sorry

11:52pm
Henry Gorman: mmm, no prob, bro
we can just finish it then

Friday, June 8

10:34pm
williedollars: I think the issue we have to deal with here is that pop music is not monolithic
it’s not all club bangers and ex-disney bubblegum on pop radio
we have our indie rocker mumford-type people too and our alternative gotye guys and rappers like kanye who can manage to be fairly deep while being commercially successful
basically, the guys who supposedly exist on some higher plane of music (just ask your hipster friends, they know) who write a commercial song as a gateway to the non-commerical stuff
sara bareilles is another similar category: single white female with a guitar

10:39pm
Henry Gorman: urgh, I despise single white people with guitars

10:39pm
williedollars: but the point of this is that lyrics seem to matter for these artists, but I wonder if that’s just our idea that they’re “better” than pop radio coloring our impressions of them, making us think they’re smarter than they actually are
and “Love Song” is GOAT
so maybe the question is, why does some more alternative stuff like gotye work and other stuff like ‘get lucky’ not work?

10:41pm
Henry Gorman: well, I feel like it’s because Gotye is… well, intense

10:41pm
williedollars: like how i feel about taylor swift?

10:41pm
Henry Gorman: yeah!

10:41pm
williedollars: so we’re going back to performatives here?

10:41pm
Henry Gorman: in both cases, there’s something plaintive and powerful and authentic
I feel like it’s say, Somebody that I Used to Know vs. We are Young

10:41pm
williedollars: so either the music has to be intense or the emotion has to be intense to make up for it?

10:42pm
Henry Gorman: STIUTK is clearly better-constructed of course
but it’s also way more directed and more meaningful

10:42pm
williedollars: STIUTK… sounds like an eskimo tribe

10:42pm
Henry Gorman: Gotye is their god!

10:43pm
williedollars: here’s the thing though: i always always always prefer we are young. i need to think about why here for a second..
now that i think about it, STIUTK is also an equally great song and my preference simply comes down to taste
what i think they have in common though
is that they both have a high-low dichotomy. Emotion and intensity come through in a completely unexpected chorus in both songs.
that’s the problem with get lucky: it’s too consistent
i can vibe to that but I can’t “pop music” to that

10:45pm
Henry Gorman: hmmmm
I actually like that
I feel like a good hit pop song has some kind of explosive burst
something like an orgasm, really

10:45pm
williedollars: it was the first slightly meaningful thing i’ve written
oh, and like the end of nelly’s verse in cruise, right?
because by the way that might be my favorite song on the radio now. but i digress

10:46pm
Henry Gorman: yeah!
“Get Lucky” is like nice foreplay

10:47pm
Henry Gorman: but, ironically, given its name, it never comes

10:47pm
williedollars: deeeeeep
and maybe it works as foreplay in the context of the album. We should remember that daft punk are supposedly more focused on the album than the hits

10:47pm
Henry Gorman: yeah
and that’s totally fine

10:48pm
williedollars: boring, yes, but fine

10:48pm
Henry Gorman: well, it’s not boring in context
just boring for radio
which pulls songs out of their album context all the time

10:48pm
williedollars: yeah, exactly.
not on my radio: NOMR.
not quite as catchy as NIMBY i guess

10:48pm
Henry Gorman: hmmm
like, Kanye is great because he throws together these whole albums that work really well together
which each have a bunch of songs which totally work well on their own

10:49pm
williedollars: facebook is creepy as fuck. There’s an ad for Fun. in the corner of my screen right now
HOW DO THEY KNOW

10:49pm
Henry Gorman: ewww
but anyway
Fun is basically like Queen
or trying really hard to be like Queen

10:49pm
williedollars: dude, you’re right. Way more similarities there than i’ve ever thought to notice

10:49pm
Henry Gorman: and, like Queen, their songs build to explosions when they work well
(like say, the awesome guitar solo in “Killer Queen,” or that crazy autotune voice guitar-solo like thing in “Some Nights”)

10:50pm
williedollars: yeah, and like queen they might not be the most heart-felt, gut-wrenchingly deep songs ever, but they’re perfectly constructed anthems
which work on pop radio
give me ‘livin on a prayer’ any day back in ’87 and I’d always turn it up
if i were alive, that is

10:51pm
Henry Gorman: mmmhmm
maybe Fun is like the rebirth of ’80s Anthem rock

10:52pm
williedollars: maybe we shouldn’t only rag on daft punk here though. that’s unfair

10:52pm
Henry Gorman: No
you’re right, it really is

10:52pm
williedollars: another song that never hits any high notes for me is that Philip Phillips song

10:52pm
Henry Gorman: which one

10:52pm
williedollars: love you when you’re gone

10:52pm
Henry Gorman: (I despise Philip Philips)

10:52pm
williedollars: when you’re long gone gone
how many “L’s” on his name?
2, 3, or 4?
oh shit it’s 4
says google

10:53pm
Henry Gorman: It’s called “Gone, Gone, Gone,” I think
the song
but it sucks
yes

10:53pm
williedollars: yeah, you’re right

10:54pm
Henry Gorman
really, Phillip Phillips is like Mumford and Sons if Mumford and Sons sucked

10:54pm
williedollars: exactly
so it’s like, there’s space for a banjo on pop radio as mumford have shown.

10:54pm
Henry Gorman: Yeah!
not just banjos
but really pretentious pseudo-intellectual lyrics
that don’t even rhyme
but I really like M&S even though they’re not as deep as they think they are

10:55pm
williedollars: but you need to add ebbs and flows, make songs sound epic. there need to be breakdowns and mumford do that well. Phillip comes a bit short because he’s hasn’t figured that out. And he doesn’t have pseudo-intellectual lyrics to fall back on either.
i’m pretty neutral on mumford in general though.
they still haven’t released anything as good as ‘little lion man’ which worked because the insane banjo in it was just frenetic enough for good pop music. their newer singles are just show-stoppy enough to be passable as anthems, but this is where the banjo hurts them for me. But anthems still have pop appeal.

10:56pm
Henry Gorman: hmmm
true, true
also in banjo-space are the Lumineers

10:57pm
williedollars: ahh, yes.
no way in hell they ever have another hit single, right?
they won’t have another great song because they’re too anonymous. Marcus Mumford’s got a distinctive voice, this guy doesn’t
still, Ho Hey worked because it was explosive in just the right places

10:59pm
Henry Gorman: hmmm
I think that even songs with serious, serious weaknesses can benefit from having the right sort of orgasmic pop
“Can’t Hold Us” is a great example, I think
it’s a huge hit despite Macklemore’s enormous weakness as a rapper
because its structure and hooks and builds are so strong

11:00pm
williedollars: Is ‘skittery’ a word? I don’t think so. But like, the beat just skitters along beneath that track and you want to move and that’s what a lot of pop is about.
the reason is falls short of its potential is because macklemore doesn’t give it time to breath. we never get a build up or a drop. This is a fairly common thing in much of rap music and as a result many of the so-called “best” rap songs ever aren’t successful on pop radio
they’re not following the formula.
but rappers are forced to go commercial for a single or two each album as well and there comes the money.
not suggesting that macklemore’s a good rapper btw
but he made (or hung out around Ryan Lewis making) a great radio hit in thriftshop, which allowed him to put his second single on the air, and while the production on ‘can’t hold us’ is incredibly pop friendly, he didn’t modify his rapping enough to allow it to be so effervescently pop friendly.
he actually almost killed thrift shop this way too imo
and having no flow doesn’t help his cause either

11:04pm
Henry Gorman: hmmm
well
I guess that this raises questions about the role of vocalists vs. producers and so forth
honestly, the record seems to suggest that production is way more important
we just need to think about Katy Perry’s last year
she can’t sing at all

11:05pm
williedollars: yes, she can’t sing

11:05pm
Henry Gorman: but hit after hit after hit!
and you and I both love a lot of those songs
“Teenage Dream” especially
is all-time great

11:05pm
williedollars: okay, but we should also remember TD is like 2009

11:06pm
Henry Gorman: wait, wait, no

11:06pm
williedollars: more recent KP songs have been hits but not quite as big simply because the hook wasn’t there
‘the one that got away’ in particular comes off as trying too hard.

11:06pm
Henry Gorman: true, true

11:06pm
williedollars: was it 2009? or was i off?

11:07pm
Henry Gorman: well, the album came out in 2010
but crazily, it was producing singles for two whole years

11:07pm
williedollars: wow. that is crazy
but it had like six number ones, right?
but i’m digressing
but it was like totally six

11:08pm
Henry Gorman: mmmhmm

11:08pm
williedollars: so, anyway, all this is really just a round-about way of saying that
POP MUSIC NEEDS A HOOK
(or at least some musical or emotional intensity to try to back it up)

11:08pm
Henry Gorman: yeah
I also think that we can say that “Get Lucky” is not a bad song
just not really meant to be listened to in a pop radio context
we can’t hate on Daft Punk for that
they’re swell guys who make good music

11:09pm
williedollars: and helmets too!

11:09pm
Henry Gorman: yeah!

11:09pm
williedollars: but when you only have one chance to impress someone in their car on the radio, you’ve got to reel them in.
And i don’t think ‘get lucky’s’ got that kind of pathos

11:11pm
Henry Gorman: hmmm
does Daft Punk have a single song that does?

11:12pm
williedollars: well, i guess not
And that’s why the only time they’ve ever been in a radio hit was when, again, kanye  samped “better, harder, faster, stronger”

11:12pm
Henry Gorman: yeah, exactly

11:12pm
williedollars: so basically, DAFT PUNK GET OUT OF MY RADIO

any final thoughts?

11:16pm
Henry Gorman: nah, I think that we got this cleared up
we took a single song that didn’t seem right for radio, and spun it into a whole conversation about what “being right for radio” means

11:17pm
williedollars: slightly ambitious for a first conversation
and at least 75% of what we just said was bullshit
but so it goes.
bye henry.

11:19pm
Henry Gorman: later, Will!

The Week in VEVO: A Painting with Your VEVO

by williedollars

If you want to just see all the newest music videos from everyone who matters, no one’s stopping you from going to VEVO.com’s music video premieres page. But if you want a different gimmick each week to add a totally unnecessary new layer of meaning to these videos, well, you’ve probably come to the only place on the internet for that.

This week: ART HISTORICALLY NOTABLE PAINTINGS TO COMPLEMENT YOUR MUSIC VIDEOS

I like to imagine the guys in the thawbs are actually Kanye, Big Sean, and 2 Chainz fresh off the set of the Mercy video, having decided sensibly to resell the car and invest the profits in Baroque paintings. But I guess you can read this photo differently too if you want to.

I like to imagine the guys in the thawbs are actually Kanye, Big Sean, and 2 Chainz fresh off the set of the Mercy video, having decided sensibly to resell the car and invest the profits in Baroque paintings. But I guess you can read this photo differently too if you want to.

Mariah Carey – #Beautiful (Explicit Version) ft. Miguel

Let’s count the ways Mariah phones it in on this song and video: 1. She lets Miguel sing the opening verse AND the chorus! 2. She makes a video that consists of absolutely nothing but her doing a little sexy dance for Miguel! 3. She obviously ad-libs the entire dance! 4. She puts a hashtag in front of the song name!

How could Mariah do this? This seems as preposterous as, I don’t know, like, the formative French impressionist painter  Édouard Manet giving up painting masterpieces like Olympia and Le déjeuner sur l’herbe to paint stalks of asparagus! Something like that would never happ–Oh, wait.

Ke$ha – Crazy Kids ft. will.i.am

Since Ke$ha’s gone RiFF RAFF-style crazy in this video, I figured it’s only appropriate to introduce her to one of modern art’s crazies, the surrealist Yves Tanguy. Why a lesser-known surrealist like Tanguy? Well, because for one thing, Crazy Kids is not as good as some of Ke$ha’s best work, just as Tanguy wasn’t as visionary as someone like Dali. However, it also seems like the song’s slowly building chorus could bounce around nicely in the otherworldly landscape of Tanguy’s Mama, Papa is Wounded! Or at least will.i.am could swim through it I guess.

Il Volo – We Are Love

Frans Hals’ Laughing Cavalier isn’t laughing at them for singing pop opera because hey man, that shit’s HUGE in Austria. He’s laughing at them for guy on the right’s outfit at 1:24.

Jessie J – WILD ft. Big Sean and Dizzee Rascal

Jessie J is a little bit too full of herself much like a certain Young British Artist who covered a platinum skull cast with a couple thousand diamonds, called it “art,” and then couldn’t find any poor sap to buy it off him for his ridiculous asking price. It’s starting to get embarrassing listening to her “show off” her voice by recklessly throwing it at whatever gratuitous power note she can find and coming up with a warble that autotune can just barely save. She does this in Domino too, but that is a much better-composed pop song than WILD, so we overlook it there. WILD simply won’t stay in my head like its predecessor, even if Jessie struts alone like a star for a full minute at the beginning of the video. Speaking of the video, Jessie is apparently surrounded by other over-inflated-ego people including the supposed artiste directing the video, Emil Nava. Dude, Emil, if you’re going to put your name in big letters at the start of the video, at least make sure it’s better than Mariah’s phone it in video from above. I’m not sure it is.

Also, I know that skull’s not a painting.

P9 – My Favorite Girl

This is apparently an up-and-coming boy band from Brazil. I’m truly sorry for having introduced you to them. There are many questions to ask about this video (like what the fuck is every person in the band except the blond kid doing?!) but I will limit my analysis to the lyrics. I don’t fault them for not speaking English as their first language, but there is literally more literal meaning in the “words” in Cy Twombly’s Blackboard Paintings than there is in the lyrics to My Favorite Girl. I don’t know how but there just is. Also, what sounds worse? Fingernails screeching across that painting or P9ers screeching the word “GIRRRRRRRRRRRRLLLL”?

Snoop Lion – Ashtrays and Heartbreaks ft. Miley Cyrus

Apparently there’s enough darkness in the world right now to make Snoop change his name and start kind-of-singing and make Miley Cyrus believe that even she is qualified to help people through their addiction issues and stuff. All these concerning revelations should indicate that the end is near, so prepare yourself by studying the work of Ad Reinhardt which reveals all the subtle little gradiations where lives, and musical careers, can go wrong.

Tyga – For The Road ft. Christ Brown

The video for the catchiest song of the week (mainly because Chris Brown is on fire right now) switches up the color palette from that last downer. The only thing to remember about this video is that while Tyga and Chris may be looking extra fly in all white and about to head to Rack City for one last “fuck for the road,” once the camera turns off and their girls are gone, they’ll look a lot more like Gilles in their white clothes, like lonely, mocked pierrots as painted by Antoine Watteau. And with that, I think I just created an unnecessary downer out of this video too! Mission accomplished for just another week in VEVO.

Did you REALLY need that guest verse? Florida Georgia Line featuring Nelly – Cruise (Remix)

by williedollars

Did you know you can make a pop hit WITHOUT a guest rap verse in it? Haha, that was a joke–in 2013, you can’t! These verses immediately make any song “edgier” and therefore more playable, but do they really make it better? The answer: it depends. That’s why every week I’ll take a look at whatever new hot pop song is tearing up the airwaves and rate from 1 to 10 how much the song REALLY needed its guest verse.

DISCLAIMER: In this post I will attempt to take the band name Florida Georgia Line seriously. It’s way too ridiculous to take seriously in real life, but I’m afraid that if I started unloading every corny joke I’ve got, then well, I’d be here for awhile. So consider this restraint a New Blog Resolution.

Florida Georgia Line had it all: a guy from Florida, a guy from Georgia, a brand-new Chevy with a lift kit, and the most successful debut country single ever in Cruise. But maybe after ten weeks atop the country charts, they grew tired of watching bikinis popping right out of the south Georgia water (did the Florida guy push hard for “north Florida water?”) and admitted to themselves that there was something missing.

They needed a Line.

Wait, shit. I wasn’t supposed to do that … … … Fuck it. Time to take it a step further.

They found one: NELLY.

#nellystrong

The history of country music and hip hop is neither long nor illustrious. (That said, I see you Jason Aldean and Ludacris!) Nevertheless, when Florida and Georgia decided they needed a Line, Nelly saw this as a chance to confirm GOAT status in the country-rap genre (aka CRAP?).  Wait, you say. Confirm? Yes. You see, this is not Nelly’s first CRAP (I’m keeping it) collaboration. The truly ancient among you might remember his first, and still greatest, hit was 2000’s Country Grammar. But that’s not actually CRAP, just a hint that he was open to the idea. His crowning achievement in the genre, in fact THE crowning achievement in the genre, came four years later. I hope I’m not showing you anything new:

Nelly made a statement with this song and video. This isn’t about highlighting the differences between hip hop and country: this is about showing the potential for remarkable similarity, both in musical stylings and life. Tim and Nelly wake up together! They wear do-rags together! They sing the chorus together! Nelly probably made up for at least 75 seconds of slavery with this video, which, trust me, is more than you’ve done. Oh, but just to make sure no one thought that he hadn’t quite ventured the way from CRAP to *whisper it* modern country, he did this too:

God, was 2004 a great year or what?

God, was 2004 a great year or what?

Not simply awkward. Not boringly seamless. But awkward to the point of seamlessness.

That’s why Over and Over was the CRAP GOAT.

Was.

With the Cruise remix, NelLine outdid himself. Let’s remember seamless awkwardness and go through a video checklist: 1. Plausible rapport established between Line and FlaGa via a phone call in which Nelly replaces the words “All right,” with something like “Oaheh” and then says “Yo I was checkin out the Cruise video mane, hey dat thing the deal bruh. I think we need to turn it up though, whadcha think?” Check.  2. Equal-opportunity objectification of women via the inclusion of both white and black models in skimpy outfits? Check. 3. Country solidarity via Line donning a denim shirt? Check. 4. Hip hop solidarity via Line and Georgia making swagged out circular motions while Florida shouts an obscenity?

Delicious Check.

Of course, I could analyze the video all day long, but then I’d be missing the point of this exercise. The question is whether Nelly’s verse makes the song itself better. When I’m driving around with my radio turned up, what gets me more excited: the original Cruise or CRAP Cruise? It’s best to look at what Nelly’s verse replaces. In the original’s bridge, FlaGa break it down into a classic modern country campfire sing-along ballad complete with parked cars and loving looks between artist and muse. Instantly, we’ve switched from rollicking good time buddy song to Alabama-style let’s-get-serious monogamous crooning. It just feels off for this particular song and even more off for any kind of a pop radio adaptation.

Nelly, what with his keen feel for the sentiment at the heart of any song, understands that what’s most needed is the complete opposite: a verse to speed things up. Sexual excitement has only been building since the song’s first chord, so why doesn’t he ratchet it up all the way, faster, faster, faster, with a bunch of little “Yeah, yeah, yeahs” before his verse and then slobbering lines like “I like saw all that, all that / head to toe, you all that” and “So come on shawty let me show you what the fast like” until, and this is the genius part… he catches himself. It’s as if one of Fla and Ga tapped him on the shoulder mid-verse and said “Whoa whoa whoa Line! Remember, this song is called Cruise.” Snap back to reality (mid-verse!) and Line’s back posin’ with his new boys, cooly rap-singing the almost definitely metaphorical line “Whipping ‘cross the border / Florida into Georgia” before bouncing back and setting them up before the final chorus with one of pop music’s great, shit’s-about-to-explode break-downs: “‘Cause you make me wanna roll my / Roll my / ROLL MY / RA-RA-RA-OHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ROLL MY WINDOWS DOWN...  AND CRUUUUUUUUUUUISE

ROLL MY WINDOWS DOWN…
AND CRUUUUUUUUUUUISE

Questions remain about the future viability of CRAP. But no questions remain as to its reigning king. Florida and Georgia put out a song that got Nelly hot and bothered, and rather than wither back into his safe space of generic sing-song radio hip hop, he realized that all three of these country boys wanted the same damn thing and powered through with a verse that unceasingly escalated into the bombastic orgasmic climax that Cruise always deserved. Long live Line.

Rating: 9 out of 10.