Mostly Pop! A semi-regular wander down the highways, byways and alleyways of popular music with your genial and frankly beautiful host MrMoth.
Don Broco – Superlove
In isolation, this isn’t a terrible song. It’s not the best song called Superlove that I’ve ever heard, but it’s ok in a sort of 80s pastiche way. I can’t quite place who it reminds me of – Tears for Fears or INXS or Level 42 or something only definitely not them but that era AREN’T YOU GLAD YOU’RE STILL READING? This is rather at odds with their Wikipedia page that describes them as “post-hardcore” so I guess this is a new direction for them. So that’s the music. Ok. Nothing special. We’re done, right? Let’s just have a look at the video and move on.
Oh dear. That’s really bad. I mean, let’s get past the hipster business and feel defeated and exasperated by the parade of offensive stereotypes sitting around that table. Hey, the band/director may argue. They’re supposed to be stereotypes! We’re challenging something or other and maybe subverting it! Put that in your pipe and vape it! Except, of course, they’re doing nothing of the sort. Every frame is filled with sniggers and sneers. Good to see Blake Backlash of this parish getting some work as a waiter, though.
Skrillex and Yogi – Burial
This is pretty great. I’m not really sure who’s responsible for what, tbh, there are about 3 hundred names credited, but I am confident in saying that when Skrillex Skrillexes it up around the chorus it has a sharp, weird edge to it and Pusha T does some good work around the verses. This is the state of US hip hop right now; there’s some really interesting stuff coming out. It’s like they took the dirty angularity of Grime and smashed it into their revived EDM scene to give us something pleasingly fucked up.
The video is similarly difficult, odd, striking. I won’t walk you through it, but by the time Dennis Rodman turns up to set fire to a double-jointed dancer in a mask I was over having to say “I don’t get it” and just let it happen.
Diplo and Skrillex – Where Are Ü Now?
I was looking forward to this. I LOVE Diplo, and he’s collaborating with Skrillex (Who seems to be flavour of this particular month) so what could go wrong? Oh. Bieber? Really? We’re still letting him make music? Fucking hell.
Carly Rae Jepsen – Run Away With Me
Today’s entry in the “Songs that invite comparison to 1989” contest, and it’s not ending well for the often-reliable Carly Rae. In isolation, I wouldn’t look twice at this track. On the heels of I Really Like You, though, I had to pay attention and it’s not good. It’s not good. I’m trying to sing it in my head right now but I’m getting it mixed up with another song and the worst thing about that is I’m actually listening to it on headphones.
I suppose one of the main problems with sounding a bit like an offcut from a hugely popular album is a) oh come on have a bit of self-respect you’re better than that and b) you have to have a better voice than the singer of that album and… nope, sorry. I realise this is a bit like when I review The Saturdays and end up talking only about Girls Aloud and I’m sorry. By way of apology, here is a video of Paul Merton on a night out:
The Libertines – Gunga Din
The Libertines are back and it’s as if they never went away ie they are still shit. Oh man, ZING, The Libertines. Zing.
Not sure if I can recover from that. This genuinely is just more of the same. Slurred, shouty, shambling, rambling music for Middle England. It’s the musical equivalent of Rick Stein touring former colonies. Yes there’s a decent song in there, but who wants to make the effort to sift for it, to pan for gold in a junkie’s toilet?
Meghan Trainor – Like I’m Gonna Lose You
No one can accuse Meghan Trainor of failing to create a personal brand, by which I mean that, by and large, her songs all sound the fucking same. The first one was a fun novelty but I think we’ve all got the idea now. This is, at least, a bit slower. The disadvantage of that is that it is much less fun than the other, bouncier ones. And this had John Legend on it, a man whose name far outpaces his actual status.
Incidentally, I have a whole big thing about how Meghan Trainor is an object lesson in how the music industry is a terrifying, monolithic monster that utterly annihilates individuality but who wants to hear that? In short – she starts with a song about how great it is to not be thin and within four singles she is a size 8. Because for all that we like to think our culture celebrates individuality and freedom what it REALLY likes is conformity, and don’t you fucking forget it.
Example – Whisky Story
While Example isn’t a bad producer, as a frontman he’s not exactly what you’d call charismatic. His persona is almost aggressively annoying, isn’t it? That makes it quite hard to honestly enjoy his stuff. Take this, for (uh-huhhuh) example. Any virtues it may have are somewhat cancelled out by Example turning up and rapping a load of shit all over it then appearing in the video looking like a pile of unwashed laundry. Notably, the video improves when someone else mimes to the track.
One credit I can give is that this is just barely an attempt to move away from the problem of pop stars in their thirties, with families, singing about their crazy party lifestyle and calling people “baby”. It does get embarrassing, which is why Example’s acceptance of a hangover and hints of maybe not being quite as mad for it as once he was is quite refreshing. By way of contrast, in prep for this column I also watched Bitch, I’m Madonna and good Christ that’s a shocker. Madonna, mate, you’re in your fifties. You don’t have to prove anything. You’re, as you point out, Madonna. We can accept you simply making music for nights out, you don’t have to pretend you’ll be there, too. Have that as a bonus, hidden review, like a secret track on a CD. No I’m not embedding it.