July 20, 2012 Mostly Pop – July 2012
by Mr Moth
This month we have fun discussing hookahs, hookers, wedding singers and cake-consumption conundrums.
Pound the Alarm
First of all, apologies that there is no video for this. Usually that’s an immediate fail, but Nicki Minaj is frankly awful at getting videos out on time and I can’t keep disqualifying her on that technicality. Besides which, you only need to look at the above live performance to see that this shit is IMMENSE. Yes, not exactly forging into unexplored territory, but it’s Nicki Minaj not David Bowie. Solid, uptempo, hands in the air ravey business, which gosh the Americans still are totally into. The chorus hits like a brick. Approved, with the usual reservations.
To whit – Minaj’s rapping remains a rapidfire delight, but her hyper-Barbie styling remains a teeth-grinding annoyance. I can’t unconditionally enjoy her stuff while she pulls that. Yes, yes, it’s all so overdone it’s kind of parodic I guess, but AT THE SAME TIME it also is the thing it is parodying. A cake-consumption conundrum. I wonder what she thinks of it all? I wonder that anyone involved gives it a second thought. I imagine there’s some ideological guff about her being a strong woman, unafraid of her sexuality. The usual justification.
I was thinking recently how mainstream UK grime still sounds fresh compared to the mainstream US hip hop scene. Sure, Kanye is a skilful rapper and Jay-Z is… also there, but how lumbering and safe* it all seems compared to even this obvious mindless summer banger from Wiley. Hell, didn’t I already review this last month? Isn’t this just Dizzee’s The Power? Eh, whatever. Bikini babes vid a bit disappointing – I always feel a bit let down when our gruff urban blokes decide to do a big, tits-out Ibiza track. YOUR VIDEOS SHOULD CONTAIN LOTS OF PEOPLE IN HOODIES ON COUNCIL ESTATES. OK, bit stereotypical but at least they’re not embarrassing in front of your girlfriend.
Here’s the thing, though – I can’t get past the chorus’s similarity to Barbie Girl by Aqua. It’s really quite astonishing. Am I wrong? I don’t think I am. Is that where we are now? We’ve moved on from classic soul, through Sting and Phil Collins and now we’re expected to like songs that sample mid-90s novelty records? What next? Will Tinie’s next track be based around a sample of Mr Blobby? Rita Ora/Bob the Builder? Can we fix this? No, we can’t.
Turn up the Radio
Bit obsessed with videos that take forever to get going – did we really need a whole minute (yes, I timed it. yes, I do get out occasionally) of Madonna getting into a car in slo-mo? Doing backflips into the car might have justified it, or maybe cartwheels – but all she was doing was sitting down. Then there’s all this party party stuff, but the song isn’t much of a party song, is it? Compare the Ibiza-inflected backing here with the face-pummelling barrage of Nicki Minaj’s single and this looks pretty thin. AND she says ‘the maddening crowd’, which I can only hope is a sort of play on words and not just fucking stupid.
Holy cow, though, imagine being Madonna’s chauffeur. I mean, not only do you have to put up with her mood swings, but she also insists you pick up every fucking drifter and chancer she takes a shine to, from contortionist buskers to a man who is so PIMP he is even ostentatiously smoking a hookah. It’s a visual pun. Not a good one. And after all that, she and her gang of wasters push you out of the car. Balls to that.
Calvin Harris and Example
We’ll Be Coming Back
Wow, Calvin Harris’s schtick is becoming extremely well-worn, as dull in its own way as bloody Guetta. He’s going to have to move things on a bit if he’s not going to just become a wedding DJ with an expensive taste in sunglasses. As for Example, well, I’m not sure how he’s become a pop star. Did someone leave the gate unlocked?
Well. It’s a brave move away from the standard X Factor loser stuff, I guess. As I have to say every time, I don’t and will not watch X Factor, but I understand that this was Misha B’s style throughout. Honestly, X Factor makes me feel like a fucking High Court judge. I review pop singles once a month – how hard can it be to keep up? Anyway, this is interesting, because it doesn’t fit the mould and so far hasn’t been squeezed to do so. It should do well and it, in many ways, deserves to. I hope the machine doesn’t roll over the energetic quasi-dancehall style too hard; look at Cher Lloyd’s intense blandification for an example of how that can happen.
Having said all that, this didn’t hold my attention, particularly. I was checking Twitter a lot by about a minute in. Video does some interesting stuff on an obviously limited budget – compare to Marcus whatsit a few months back. You know. Marcus. Thingy. Did Seven Nation Army.
Lana Del Rey
I DO NOT GET IT. Ok, so the Chris Isaak of the 21st Century has discovered trip hop. SO WHAT? Also, two minutes before the song starts? This really is getting ridiculous.
Hamfisted commentary on the nature of success? Anachronistic evocation of a bygone era? Marilyn comparisons?? She’s like Marina and the Diamonds if Marina had a really really boring singing voice, no real ideas and a complete humour bypass. Also, there is a fucking huge monologue in this song. It’s like Orb’s Little Fluffy Clouds and it goes on forever. We’re not here to hear you talk, Del Rey. You’re paid to sing. Boringly.
*Note – Nicki Minaj is from Trinidad, so exempt from this shocking generalisation.