03 August 2008

[oh] waitin' for the hits to hit

something is missing from 2008 so far. not great music - there seems to be plenty of that around, and seemingly even more around every corner you look [whoa!] - but there is a conspicuous dearth of POP AWESOMENESS.

i went out dancing last night, and i recognized nearly every song the djs played. that's not the problem... well, i guess it's a different problem. this problem is what became evident when they played a very large majority of the amazingly excellent mainstream pop/dance hits of the last ten-plus years (and also a bunch from the '80s, the early-mid-'90s, and the jackson five), and... i believe, exactly three songs that were released this year.

i have been feeling a little out of it lately, to be sure, as far as pop POP pop music goes. [been traveling, and finding myself unable to successfully download anything, and focusing my deep-listening attention mostly on un-famous local folk singers and (this week anyway) minor swedish indie-pop albums from 2003-5, you know the drill.] but i'm sneaking to suspect that there just hasn't been much worth keeping-up about anyway, notwithstanding the essential underlying maxim [which i...more or less believe] that there's always an equal amount of equally amazing music out there at any given time, it may just take greater or lesser amount of effort to discover it.

hm. but even that's a little beside the point, because there's something specific about pop music that really is popular; that doesn't require energy to discover; especially if it's not just popular but massive, so much so that the proverbial everybody can't help but be aware of it. that's the kind of thing they were playing last night [and, yknow, every saturday nite, which is why i don't really like to go to those kind of places more than, well, actually about as often as i can get a group to go with me anyway]: "crazy in love" [omg!], "since you been gone" [omg!], "gimme more" [omg!], "work it" [omg!], "got yr money" [odb!], "don't you want me"/"wannabe"/"kiss" [er...yeah!], and no less than three songs by mr. west mr. west [omfj!...i just actually bought graduation, for $5.99, almost worth it for the artwork and cultural sig factor but, jeez... it is such a not-that-good album. i just do not get how ppl see this as primary evidence of hip-hop's vitality...ok whatevs.]

rite. now, there is a sort of standard trope around this time of year (or usually a bit earlier, when more organized folks do the half-year list thing) bemoaning the lack of good music/albumz, until there's an onslaught of high-pro releases (or, more likely, ppl discovering things they'd passed over earlier) and the rush of year-end list thinging and everybody's ready to declare it the best year since whenever. i'm not feeling that now, actually. there have been a dang bunch of good albums that i've already been rocking [see best of 2008 sidebar], and more that i'm sure are good but haven't quite gotten my head around yet... and even a decent number of pretty excellent dance jams [short list: "far away," "ready for the floor," kelley polar's "entropy reigns in the celestial city," ashlee's "boys," juvelen's multiple bangers, most of the hercules album...] [then, complicating things a bit, there's also a number of great things that hit at the end of '07, which might make sense to include in this year's reckoning - including "is it you?," "see you again," sophie ellis-bex and amy diamond's albums, jordin sparks and kylie's x, all of which have continued to improve in my estimation well into this year]

long-rant-reduced, haven't been feeling very poptimistic of late (whaddaya call pop pessimism?), which is i guess why i am relieved, if not actually that surprised, to see that the folks that make it their business to follow this stuff (and whose ranks i would probably join if days [and/or nights] were 48 hours long) more or less agree with me. that thread lays out essentially my thesis above, albeit more with an eye to critics' polls than clubland funtime (also, i am just starting to wonder a little about what will happen to my new years eve dance mix this year - the last two felt so overflowing with pop goodness that they practically made themselves...) they have more candidates/near-misses discussion fodder than me (gotta play me some catchup), so let's take a look at some of that:

curiously, in the roughly 40 tracks they've brought up in the comments thread, they neglected two of the decidedly prominent songs i heard at the club last nite: "i kissed a girl" (which i've actually only heard a couple times, but have been pre-emptively brainwashed into indignantly dismissing by mr. bedbugs, and yeah, whatever, is clearly not in the same league as "girlfriend" or whatever would be comparable, though it's not un-catchy - max/luke pedigree obv. counts for something) and "low" (which, empirically, seems like easily the biggest song of the year so far - i like it only middling - maybe a 6/10 - but i don't mind dancing to it, and i have been enjoying the gradual realization that the artist is not named "florida", nor is he named "flo rida" like "flo'" like as in "hitting tha flo" [like in the lyrics, = floor], but rather "flo rida," as in flow rider. oh yeah, duh. and why didn't somebody think of that before?)

they also neglected probably my personal favorite big pop song of the year, "senxsual sedrupction" [omg it definitely needs to be referred to thus], which i really hope didn't hit too early for people to remember it. [esp. rmx ft. robyn. speaking of, did she strike pop bronze even in the u.s.? guess not?] oh, and they snubbed "in this club", which i at first thought was just preposterously derivative and faceless, and - actually, i still think that, but i now kind of love it, perhaps for those exact qualities. hearing it blasting out of one of the beachfront mall stores in eilat this june, when i was wandering alone and wading into the starlit water, was definitely a turning point in my relationship with it. they also did not mention madonna. i haven't given up on her yet, but i guess they're probably right.

they did mention the third '08 jam that was pumped at silk city last night [twice, i believe]: "american boy", which i would probably like a lot more if it didn't always every time make me think of the will.i.am track from last year on which it is baldfacedly based, and which i apparently think is far superior (hm, i guess i do.) which so far has prevented me from really engaging with it. too bad. i loved estelle's "1980" a few years back, not that anybody heard it in this country.

other things they mentioned to which i say "well yes, there is that...":
"shawty get loose"
"wearing my rolex"
"time to pretend" [i guess...]

things i had not properly heard/processed, but must investigate further:
solange knowles - "sandcastle disco" [heard her other one that sounds like the supremes, and i liked it a good bit. this one jacks the beat from "young folks." so basically she's doing the '60s/motown revivalism, but in a way that sounds surprisingly fresh so far.]
rihanna - "disturbia" [sounded meh at first, especially from the queen of late-'00s summer monster-jams, but we'll see]
missy - "best best" [ditto. what about the other missys though, from step up 2 - i liked them jawns]
ciara - "high price"
mystery jets [liked the sound of this one]
"the rolex sweep" [oh, my goodness... - scroll ahead for the actual dance instructions]
bassline [the genre - i love the name of it but it doesn't seem to be a very apt description of the sound, which is too bad...]


i remain, thus far, pretty much underwhelmed by ms. santogold. have not really given ms. duffy a proper but she doesn't seem terribly exciting either. i like "early winter" but wasn't that like two years ago? and i think i like alphabeat, but not sure yet. apparently sway's got a hot new one? ["f ur x" - it's on the mix he gave me at sxsw!] looking forward for cassie and annie and i guess ryan leslie [and beyonce? now that would probably about clinch it.]

and then there's mr. wayne. oh dear. basically, i am [still?] not [particularly?] a [very big?] lil wayne fan. which makes me feel more out of it than anything. but, really, is he even a pop artist? is his medium "songs"? i can't sing you a single hook of his. "a milli" is what they're liking these days? three listens so far, and not sold... but i guess we'll see there too.

[eta: future research avenues may include checking in on the 2008 output of production heavyweights -

the clutch
bloodshy and avant

who else?]

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