Mostly Pop – May 2014

Once again it is time for Mr Moth to venture into the unknown territory of popular music for young people. This time it goes badly until a last-minute rescue saves the day.

"Can't see this backfiring."
“Can’t see this backfiring.”

Katy Perry – Birthday

Haha, ok, so that’s the B-Side, where’s the… NO! You’re kidding? That’s a single? OK, well… um. I guess I should review it on its merits, then? Shouldn’t take long.

Thing is, Katy Perry, well, you may not like her (I don’t, for the record) but she gets pop done. Look at Roar – crafted to perfection – or Dark Horse – a somewhat odd piece of music that still manages to sound perfectly at home in the charts – and marvel at a hit machine working at full capacity. For a song like Birthday to flop out in the middle of this run is a baffling anomaly. Because I’m not crazy I haven’t listened to Prism, but it bodes ill if this seemed like the next natural choice for a single. I mean, jeepers, is there a less attractive sound than “corporate, easy-listening Chic pastiche”? It tries to build and drop, but it’s like an asthmatic Labrador having a lie down halfway up the stairs. This makes Last Friday Night sound like a barnstorming anthem.

And let’s just talk about the video. There are two options here – one is that it is as it presents, a hidden-camera prank with Perry as a vaguely anti-Semitic Jeremy Beadle. Or it is all staged. If it is staged it is basically pointless and a bit naff. If it is real it is one of the most mean spirited concepts in a music video for a long time. Coming in, fucking over multiple birthday parties, making children cry, baffling a 90 year old dude who won’t have a clue who you are, dressing as a Jewish caricature* at a Bar Mitzvah… It all feels really badly misjudged.

*Or, you know, Borat but who cares as long as you do the funny accent, right?

 Eminem – Headlights

Eminem, mate, no one gives a shit about you and your mum. Give it a rest. Another song where you rap in a voice that increasingly sounds like an angry Muppet, only this time you’re saying “OHHHHH! Maybe my mum had mental health issues andthat is why she wasn’t Mum of The Year as I expected her to be. Maybe I shouldn’t have done all them raps and that film about how awful she was when I was growing up…” like that makes it any more interesting to anyone who isn’t your therapist or actual family.

The presence of Nate Ruess from Fun. doesn’t help, to be honest. I like Fun., but his verses come over as awkwardly out of place in such an intimately personal song. He can’t sing about your stuff! Leave him alone. Poor lad doesn’t even show up for the video, although to be fair Eminem barely does either. He turns up near the end with his now-weird face to hug an actress playing his mum (but you only see the back of her head). It’s an affecting moment; an Action Man doll hugging a Girl’s World.

LATE EDIT: Holy shit, the video was directed by Spike Lee.

 Clean Bandit – Extraordinary

Rave Piano! Not proper “let’s go crazy” Rave Piano, but it’s there. Front and centre. This now feels quite old-skool and nostalgia-inducing, doesn’t it? Mind you, Rave Piano was badly dated by the mid 90s so it was due a rehabilitation. It makes it all feel a bit stale, though. There’s no reinvigoration here, just reuse.

A couple of points in favour of this – there is a PIGLET on a piano in the video, although it does seem to disappear part way through. I dock a couple of points for that. Don’t promise me Rave Piglet then take it back. There is some endearingly amateurish group dancing, too – nothing too slick, but it looks like fun. With the “We’re in Havana! Look! Vintage cars!” setting, it’s all very summery and gentle and inconsequential.

 Metronomy – Reservoir

I have heard Metronomy’s name bandied about in approving terms by people I respect, so I honestly came to this with a bit of goodwill. AND I WAS DISAPPOINTED. Wanna see?

That was so bad, to paraphrase the mighty Calculon, I think it gave me cancer. So unutterably mimsy I felt my insides collapsing under the weight of a gigantic sigh and my eyes straining from a powerful, almost painful eyeroll. Like listening to OMD while in a coma, with actually I think the worst music video I’ve ever seen. If you woke from your OMD coma and saw that you’d quickly close your eyes and hope to slip back into the numbing embrace of living death.

Kwabs – Pray For Love

Do I have to? I… I can’t keep reviewing this stuff. This is ALL AWFUL. The best thing has been Clean Bandit, who were basically average. This is the worst yet. I’ve got Arcade Fire and fucking Pitbull to review too. Right, here we go: Pitbull’s is a football anthem and Arcade Fire’s is Into The Groove rewired as a trans-protest song. That’ll do for them, I could tweet those reviews. I want something good to end on, so I’m going to bend the release date rules, reach back a week or so and…

Lady Gaga – G.U.Y.

Aww, yeah. This is way more like it. Look at it! Marvel at its lavish, bonkers excellence:

Did you see? Did you see the video? I don’t really know what went on there – a load of businessmen in their suits and ties have been  playing in some sort of outdoor Crystal Dome and hunting angels for a lark? With bows and arrows? Is this right? And they shot GagaAngel, who then got… taken in by some binbag Jawas and revived by a cult of some sort? By being put in a pool with some flowers? Then she revived Jesus, Gandhi and MOTHERFUCKIN’ JACKO with the power of Minecraft? And then they killed the businessmen and replaced them with clones? Of which there are now thousands? Whatever, the best bit is the dude in the clouds who turns up on the spoken line “Son of Aphrodite” and gives a “yeah, bro” nod. THAT’S HIS BIT, it’s magnificent. Well directed, Gaga (we know she directed the video because there is a three-and-a-half-minute credits sequence telling you so).

cloud guy

The best bit, musically, wasn’t even the song that is being sold, it was when it broke out into Venus. Venus is the obvious Next Single Off Of ARTPOP, and it’s a bit of a shame that this means it won’t be an actual single but still! There it is, being great. Then G.U.Y., which in fairness is the obvious Single After Venus Off Of ARTPOP, kicks in properly and yeah that’s good too. By this point you either love Gaga or you’re indifferent, so that’s what you’ll think of the song. I think it’s pretty great. And the other two songs I haven’t even mentioned that are part of this video.

As you may have noticed, this is way out of hand now. An artist right on the edge of self-immolation, Gaga is way too indulged and indulgent, extravagant beyond her means. Soon she’ll have an outright flop and all this will suddenly look like grand folly, but my God what folly, and how grand it all is.

About Thom Willis

Thom is the curator of #microwrites - - and writes his own stories for He lives in London because, given the choice, who wouldn't?

4 thoughts on “Mostly Pop – May 2014

  1. The Katy Perry is an audition showreel, no? And it will get played at birthday discos all year. To me, it looks like a super-smart move both ways.

  2. The Gaga teack/video is all kinds of awful though. Ok I’m not a fan and yes you’re right it’s a grandness that only an artist disappearing up their own arse can offer. But seriously that’s bad.

    Bless clean bandit and their let’s all shop together and share some fabric…

    1. It’s great you philistine! You just don’t appreciate ARTPOP. I actually have a whole post about Gaga’s self-absorption and stuff ready to go (once I’ve written it) that I won’t inflict on MF. But it will be on my own blog! Soon!

Leave a Reply to Mr Moth Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s