Mostly Pop – the unstoppable (we’ve tried) juggernaut of low culture commentary – returns with Mr Moth behind the wheel as usual.
Hilary Duff – Sparks
This is the “Fan Demanded Version”. Can there be enough Hilary Duff fans to make demands? I mean, logically there are probably enough to outnumber Hilary in person and force her to create a “Fan demanded” version of a single/video, but why announce it? Why not just call this the normal version and be done with it? This raises the bigger question, though – WHAT IS THE NORMAL VERSION AND WHY DID THE FANS DEMAND THIS ONE? I’ve looked on her VEVO stream and it’s this, only with a load of chatting over the top. I suppose the fans demanded that they release the full video/audio? It’s obvious this had been made and then they dumped a load of talking and stuff over it so it’s hardly as if anyone involved made any effort to produce this, except the fans. Well done fans. That epetition or whatever worked really well.
The song? Slick, overproduced and forgettable, but I like a whistly bit on a song so what the hell? Consider this a basically positive review. There are worse pop songs out there and worse pop stars doing a lot better than ol’ Hils, the perpetual second-rater. Kudos to her for not going all Miley on us, but nor has she turned into Taylor.
Taylor Swift – Bad Blood
SPEAKING OF WHOM you already know this video, I just wanted to embed it on the site and say I think It’s kickass great. Mainly because a lot of people have said it isn’t and they’re all idiots, the massive idiots.
Maroon 5 – This Summer’s Gonna Hurt Like a Motherfucker
Well, within 30 seconds you get “motherfucker” and Alan Maroon’s arse. I was braced for a cock shot but we were spared. I’m going to be honest here, I don’t really get Maroon 5. What’s their musical genre? It’s kind of a rock-pop but it doesn’t really fit in anywhere for me. I guess that’s a good thing, in a way. Hey, they can’t be pigeonholed! Well done, Maroon 5!
On the other hand, this means that their own specific style should be really good, and it isn’t, not even a little bit. I’ll go further – it’s bad. It’s mimsy and ugly while trying to be gutsy and elegant. It goes for soaring stadium-pop but it’s flat footed. They’re a decaff U2, and I mean that to wound. Take this song – it’s a clear attempt at a terrace chant sort of deal, but it’s Alan warbles it a bit too much. He’s pumped up like Freddie Mercury in his pomp, muscular and sweaty but his voice doesn’t match. Yet they persist.
Nicki Minaj – The Night is Still Young
The mainstreaming of Nicki continues. Obviously, she was never an extreme leftfield presence in the charts, but there was something refereshingly crude, acidic and wayward about Pink Friday, say. This is a very staid sort of pop song, the kind of thing Katy Perry might produce with a guest rapper. That Nicki can be her own lead and hype-woman is obviously impressive, and her switch between the two modes is always a joy to watch, but I’m not really going to be returning to this for any further listens now my reviewing duty is done. Technically impressive is not quite impressive enough without a bit of fun.
Also, “the night is young and so are we”? Nicki, you’re 33 this year. Come on. Time to give that shit up.
Little Mix – Black Magic
I know we’re fond of dazzling ourselves with how long ago the Nineties are now – hey, check out this picture of what the baby from the Nevermind cover looks like now
– but I sense that this is because, when you get down to it, the Nineties don’t feel that far off, culturally. Like, a person from that decade could walk down the street right now and not look dated (apart from their accessories. Is that a Discman?). Enter this video to prove us all wrong.
As Iggy Azalea and Charli XCX did with Clueless last year, Little Mix have pastiched The Craft for this video (in an extraordinarily tame way, of course). That it’s recognisable just from the clothes is testament to the fact that, even though it doesn’t really feel like it, fashion has shifted a fair way since then. Culture may feel a bit stagnant, so it’s nice to know it really isn’t.
The song is that strain of breezy pop that might have fitted in the post-Spice Girls end of the decade. Kind of (appropriately) B*Witched with, he typed with leaden fingers, a very 2015 production sensibility. I’m not going to pretend I’ve been much of a fan of Little Mix in the past (the excellent “Move” aside), but this is pretty good in the way only disposable pop can be.
Kelly Clarkson – Invincible
How come Kelly Clarkson is still doing the sort of song you’d expect a freshly-minted American Idol winner would put out? Tell me this isn’t Generic Winner’s Song #37. The massive finale aside, it’s as unmoving as it’s possible to be. I want to like it, because Kelly seems OK (Ron Paul support aside). I want to. I don’t.
Neon Trees – Songs I Can’t Listen To
Oh boy, not often you get an open goal like this, eh? And then the song sounds like a charmless Busted (so… McFly?), and it’s like I CAN’T LISTEN TO THIS – ONE NIL, and the band hits back by making the couple in the video A GAY COUPLE but the song is still shit so TWO NIL your attempt to be interesting and/or thought-provoking was NOT good enough. THREE NIL because you’re still here. Go home, Neon Trees.
Britney Spears and Iggy Azalea – Pretty Girls
Oh boy oh boy, we’re back in the Nineties nostalgia groove. Hey, here’s a picture of the baby from the Nev… wait, I’ve done that. Wait, here’s the boy from Jurassic Park! Check it out, he’s a grown up now
Mad. Anyway, this is very much of the “look at the phones they had back then lol” type of 90s deal. It’s interesting because in the 90s Britney was one of the youngest recording artists to have a number one, fresh face, dressed like a schoolgirl etc etc and now here she is as a kind of Pop Elder, transported to the era of her youth by a woman who was still in primary school at the turn of the century. The styling of Britney seems to be an attempt to restore her to her prime, but ends up framing her as a Soccer Mom (what we in the UK would call a Football Mum). This is an attempt to have a cake and also eat a cake, and this is not a cake than can be haved and eatened.
I don’t know what to do with the song itself. It’s as successful a pastiche of the decade as the video (ie not very), but it’s insistent and exuberant in a way Britney hasn’t been for a while. The style doesn’t come easily to Iggy at all, in much the same way that the acting in the mid-video skit is fucking painful. Like, I know it’s intentionally bad but it’s alsounintentionally bad. Quite an achievement.
Blur – Ong Ong
One more 90s hangover to plough through before we can close this window and salt the earth forever. Blur have reformed because there was massive demand for a tapped-out musical polymath, a petulant guitarist who can’t let it go, a Tory cheesemonger and… the drummer from Blur. This is like they’ve never been away! Make of that what you will. If I wanted to listen to a Blur album track from 1999, I … well, I wouldn’t, obviously.
The video almost avoids one of my pet hates in music videos – getting videogames wrong. Almost, but not quite. Sure, it looks the part of a retro 8-or-16-bit game, mostly, but there are too many frames of animation, too many options for movement, too many perspective changes. It does do a very good job of looking like an indie game circa 2013, though. If it’s intending to do that, it’s definitely succeeded. I suspect it was not intending to do that.