I appreciate pop music for what it is and who it serves. Its target audience probably doesn’t wish Apple would create an iPod larger than 160gb to house an eclectic array of musical tastes. Many are quick to call it garbage or a play at the least common denominator, which I don’t necessarily disagree with, but that doesn’t imply it has no merit. I have no shame in admitting I’ve always been somewhat familiar with pop music and still find it a more entertaining style to play on the piano; at least to a more inebriated audience. Pop music is like cheese pizza or vanilla ice cream; most people like them but for the most part people move away to find more interesting toppings and flavors. Still though, it’s a refreshing surprise to go back to the simplicities of plain pizza or pop music. As I listen to top 20 radio I tend to form my own judgment and opinions on what I’m hearing, but back off as I’m aware that the target audience isn’t a 31-year-old male. However, on my car ride in to work this Thursday morning I thought I’d collect these thoughts. If you do not have a working knowledge of pop music from the past 12 months, the rest of this writing may be boring.
Pink “Raise Your Glass“
I was quick to reject this song as Pink’s response to Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” but at this point of exposure I’ve separated the two and accepted both. The timing in this song sounds odd at first but separates conveniently into groups of 8 with consistent measures of 3/4 and 5/4. At least this is the way it feels. What irks me about this song is the intentional mistakes added towards the entrance of the final chorus (2:29). Like all pop songs, Raise your Glass is polished and over-produced to the point where no instrument is distinguishable from the next. It’s one constant hum of flawless sound only a machine could produce. To add a few carefully-placed mistakes is a juxtaposition to this perfection, though I may be alone in this thought.
Miley Cyrus “Party in the USA“
So hard with my girls not around me
Its definitely not a Nashville party
Cause’ all I see are stilettos
I guess I never got the memo
Yes, everything about this song is ridiculous but I think that’s what has made it so successful. It may be a year old now but it’s still played about once per hour at my gym and I make every attempt not to be seen watching the video. What makes me wonder is the use of the dated phrase “never got the memo”. The song was written by 37 year-old Dr. Luke for a then 16 year-old. As a 31 year-old I have never received a memo, or given a memo… until now.
Memo To: Miley Ray Cyrus From: Jason McGorty Date: January 21, 2011 Re: Stilettos People in Los Angeles wear Stilettos. Apparently more so than in Nashville. Please plan your trip accordingly.
B.o.B. “Airplanes” and Eminem “Love the Way you Lie“
I have never been a fan of rap music and I don’t see that ever changing. However, it seems a new trend is to include a very catchy chorus sung by a celebrity of the opposite gender. Though while catchy, the formula for these choruses are extremely minimalistic. The lyrics in these choruses are repetitive and become stale after the 3rd or 4th run-through. In a genre so dependent on creative lyrics I would expect a more lyrically diverse chorus. I think the genre could open up to a wider audience, myself included, if a bit more diversity was added. The musical “In the Heights” does a perfect job of this and incorporates rap into rock, latin, jazz and pure modern show tunes. While I’m no lyrical expert to judge Eminem, I do cringe every time I hear this pun in his song; “Now you get to watch her leave, Out the window, Guess that’s why they call it window pane”.
Brad Paisley “This is Country Music“
You’re not supposed to say the word “cancer” in a song.
And tellin’ folks Jesus is the answer can rub ’em wrong.
It ain’t hip to sing about tractors, trucks, little towns, and mama,
yeah that might be true.
But this is country music and we do
Well you like to drink a cold one on the weekend and get a little loud
Do you wanna say I’m sorry or I love ya but you don’t know how?
Do you wish somebody had the nerve to tell that stupid boss of yours
to shove it next time he yells at you?
Well this is country music and we do
So turn it on, turn it up, and sing along
This is real; this is your life in a song
Yeah this is country music.
I can tolerate the songs referenced above but what I can’t stomach is modern, popular country music. It’s the only genre where it’s acceptable to sing about the genre being sung, and the corresponding lifestyle, without being a novelty song. The Brad Paisley song is one of many recursive meta songs I could have chosen discussing Country music as the underdog with its simplistic blue-collar lifestyle. But country music is ridiculously popular and leaks into all masturbatory award shows. The music itself is best described as drabble, but I can’t help but think that the people who can relate least to these songs are the singers themselves.
This is where Tim McGraw has lived. The monthly mortgage payments with tax would be $44,000. With a blue collar minimum wage of $8/hr you would have to work 183 hours per day, every day, to afford this house. This is where Brad Paisley lives. Alan Jackson’s mansion is here. Kenny Chesney sings “She thinks my tractor’s sexy” while living in this not-so-tractor-friendly home. If they sang about their real-life gilded-age lifestyles they wouldn’t be able to relate to their blue collar audience base. If they didn’t sing about blue-collar America, they wouldn’t have their mansions.