by Mr Moth
Britney Spears – Till the World Ends
Britney! Yeah, Britney’s back again. Hurrah! There’s something fascinating about Britney Spears; the self-destructive bête noire of the glossies never seems to connect to the airbrushed dolly of the videos. She’s fat! She’s a terrible mother! She’s bald! She has terrible skin! She’s losing it! Yet put her on a set and she’s the most professional, presentable pop star on the planet. This disconnect keeps people coming back to her, whether she turns out something perfunctory (Circus) or revelatory (Blackout). How long this can last is uncertain, but here we are in 2011 still excited for her return so she’s doing something right.
Comeback single Hold It Against Me, sadly, fell into the perfunctory category for me, being immediately forgettable and weak in the chorus. Even the video, directed by Telephone and Smack My Bitch Up auteur Jonas Åkerlund, had little to say for it beyond high production values (woah, really?) and, again, the appearance of Robo-Britney where you might expect a broken husk. Second single Till The World Ends is slightly more interesting but, you know, only just. With a video which on first glance appears to be a low-rent Black Eyed Peas clip (I mean that to sting), but on repeated viewings shows itself to be even less than that, the song chugs along without ever becoming something more than album filler. A wordless chant of a chorus lifts it slightly out of the mire; it’s not enough. Britney needs to get way crazier to come back with something this ordinary.
20/20 – Love to Life
20/20, oh you’ve probably never heard of them. I hadn’t. Why would you, if you’re not concentrating and/or a teenage girl? But I must – simply must – talk to you about Love to Life. It’s a deeply boring song, so boring I actually forgot how it went while I was listening to it and couldn’t hum it now at gunpoint, but the video is worth watching. Well, it was worth me watching to tell you about, I can’t really recommend you seek it out (if you have to, it’s embedded above).
It starts innocuously enough with the boys – yeah, boys, they look like four Justin Biebers and sound like four… Justin Biebers – performing their song in a go-kart shed, intercut with them larking about in the go-karts, their girlfriends cheering them on. Then, about halfway through, the girls go and put on animal suits. Like football mascots. Where’s this going? I thought, slightly worried that 20/20 were some kind of furry fetish band I’d stumbled upon. The answer is – it’s going nowhere. The girls put on the furry suits, wave the chequered flag then skedaddle from the go-kart venue at the end with their boyfriends. Still dressed like Tony the Tiger. Why?
Ke$ha – Blow
Also with animal costumes in the video this week (there’s a sentence), Ke$ha is still here, still giving us dance-inflected pop which, in all honesty, you’d never bother owning but is probably a lot of fun at clubs. Blow makes good use of her usual tricks – stops and starts, autotune madness, nice hooks – and pairs it with an actually relatively amusing video. James van der Beek (DAWSON!) and Ke$ha rendezvous at an upmarket club for unicorns. He offers her cheese, he demonstrates an unusual approach to undressing, they quarrel, laser-fire is exchanged. A cheerfully stupid clip for an undemanding pop song. Perfect.
Lady Gaga – Judas
Lady Gaga was, in many ways, inevitable. A generation brought up not only to like the music and image of Madonna and Michael Jackson but to somehow venerate them as pillars of pop history was always going to produce a pop star plugged in to the legacy of both megastars.
From a relatively low-key start, Gaga has made great strides toward outdoing both her influences. Each new video is an event akin to a Hollywood premiere, every new song drip-fed into cultural significance by social networks and music channels. The frenzy around her second album’s title track Born This Way started weeks before anyone had even heard the finished track. When it was finally released, it was difficult to suppress an immediate ‘is that it?’ feeling. It sounded like Madonna’s Express Yourself, and its lyrical content walked the well-trodden path of ‘you’re great as you are, love yourself’.
Follow-up single Judas, with its Christian-baiting title, promised even more of an uproar. Topically released at Easter, lyrically it’s inflammatory, if you’re a bit simple and are inflamed by inane stuff like ‘Forgive him when his tongue lies through his brain, even after three times, he betrays me’ (personally, I’m only roused by the obvious conflating of Judas and Peter there). Musically, well, eh. It’s all right. It’s no Bad Romance, which one can’t help but notice due to the yodelling, Jimmy Savillesque Juda-Gaga bits that bring the earlier song to mind immediately. I just find it a bit rough and stompy, robotic and, frankly, a bit tuneless until the final minute.
But it’s a mistake to dismiss Gaga too soon, and without the accompanying video you’re only judging half the event. Sadly, no video yet but as it’s Gaga directing herself as Mary Magdalene how can it fail to be anything other than brilliant? Maybe she’ll turn into a motorcycle! Even Jacko didn’t do that! More than once, anyway.
Wretch 32 ft Example – Unorthodox
Wretch 32’s debut single Traktor was a song about tractors. It was! And trains. He said ‘choo choo!’ at one point, so I kind of love him. Also, his rapping is pretty great so I was looking forward to his next single. Unorthodox teams him with Example – a pop star so unprepossessing that it is hard to suppress the feeling that one of the production team has let their little brother be in the video as a favour to their mum – and the loose-limbed bass riff from The Stone Roses’ Fool’s Gold. Lovely.
The video has some nice shots of urban London, probably Wretch 32’s native Tottenham, and a cute twist on the idea of individuality. By the time the music has wound itself up into a bouncy jump-along, the crowd are indeed following Wretch and Example (do people just not have real names at all now? Is it just words? I think I’ll insist my name for this post is credited as “shopping”), their previously-spotlighted quirks smothered by the black and white 32 baseball jackets.
Snoop Dogg vs David Guetta – Sweat
Ugh, can David Guetta fuck off now, please? His basically unlikeable brand of Euro-house, a style at which we would rightly point and laugh were it attempting to storm our charts without the likes of Black Eyed Peas, Rihanna or Akon fronting it, has been stinking up the charts for a few years now. A prize to anyone who goes more than an hour watching a video channel without seeing his lank-haired mush hanging around in one clip or another while the music thumps along predictably and someone who should know better cocks on about “chicks” (a term for women not now used outside the Euro-house genre) and “having a good time”. Christ, he’s doing it to Snoop now! I know Snoop is the ultimate hip-hop chancer, hitching his wagon to whoever’s hot and making a damn good, long career out of it, but this is too far. He’s singing! That can’t be right, he’s no singer.
Taio Cruz – Telling the World
No no no. Who thought this was a good idea? Who replaced Taio Cruz with Taio Cruz’s dad? Who thought a video hinged on badly-integrated clips from the animated film this song is supporting (Rio, a film so generic looking it may as well be called CG-Animated Animal Film 2011) was a workable concept? In 2011? Seriously? No. And that’s before we talk about the song, which we’re not going to do.
Mr Moth is a writer, blogger, tweeter and fool
To see all the videos in one go, check out this month’s playlist.