Pop Scene: Date Rape! Fake Death Cab! 

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Hey, it's Pop Scene! Our monthly feature in which Mike Conklin and Mike Dougherty climb out from under their indie-rockist, um, rock, to find out what regular people all over the country are listening to. This installment features selections from the iTunes music store.

TITLE: Fireflies
ARTIST: Owl City

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Conklin: So Owl City is just one dude, Adam Young, who simply cannot manage to get the Postal Service's "Such Great Heights"out of his head, which is understandable, of course, on account of it being one of the best pop songs of the decade. Young sounds exactly like Ben Gibbard, to the point where you're almost embarrassed for him: Gibbard's style——his phrasing, his tone—is distinctive enough that, in indie/emo circles, it's about as easy to recognize as someone doing a Bob Dylan or Cher impersonation. "Fireflies"is full of exactly the same type of lighthearted electronic indie-pop that made the Postal Service so likable, but it's also about how awesome fireflies are, so, you know, it's not even a little bit likable.

Dougherty: A couple years ago, when hellogoodbye had that one pretty great song, it almost seemed like auto-tune and whatever program the Postal Service were using could actually make commercial emo more fun, at least when the people making it had a sense of humor. Instead, we got so-goofy-it's-ignorant bullshit like 3OH!3 and, on the other end, this weak sort of fantasy poetry about wanting to dream more because, you know, whimsy. Huh? If a grown man really wrote this line about getting "a thousand hugs from 10,000 lightning bugs,"then I don't know, maybe misogyny and deaf-bashing are the way to go.

TITLE: Replay
ARTIST: Iyaz

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Conklin: Iyaz has some sort of connection to Sean Kingston, and the internet even seems to think Kingston may have written this song. It would make sense, I guess, since it's exactly the type of big-budget, high-gloss "reggae"that Kingston has singlehandedly made my favorite genre of music. It's about shorties, mostly: loving shorties, talking on the phone with shorties, meeting shorties at the mall...lots of things having to do with shorties. Anyway, Iyaz thinks this one particular shorty is like a melody that's stuck in his head, or like an iPod that's stuck on replay, even though the actual iPod function is called repeat, not replay. Silly, yes, but I will definitely never change the station if this song comes on.

Dougherty: Iyaz was apparently discovered by Sean Kingston, and most listings of "Replay,"which is mostly harmless but no "Beautiful Girls,"say Kingston appears somewhere on the track. But thank god this is (probably) not true, because that would be one crazy, J.R. Rotem-meets-Parent Trap mindfuck, where it'd be impossible to tell where one fake-Jamaican dude ends and the other fake-Jamaican dude begins. Iyaz's MySpace bio details how he was discovered by Kingston, how they "grubbed on delicious chicken"together, and how his music is inspired by "island shorties."NB: Miami is not an island.

TITLE: Tik Tok
ARTIST: Ke$ha

Conklin: I could be mistaken, but I think this song is actually about wanting to be date-raped, right? But only by guys who look like Mick Jagger? My favorite part is when she says, "Errybody getting crunk/Boys trying to touch my junk/Gonna smack him if he gettin' too drunk."Got that, fellas? As long as you're sober, you can touch her junk as much as you want! Just make sure you're wearing a glove.

Dougherty: First off, does she rhyme "Tik Tok"with clock? Does she? Yes, yes she does.

But wow, getting there: Ke$ha, whose stage name was coined by a New York Post headline writer, seems really, uncomfortably similar to Casey from True Life: I'm an Alcoholic, one of the saddest, most helplessly addicted people I've ever seen on that show, Staten Island girls included.

Ke$ha even sings something about brushing her teeth with a bottle of Jack Daniel's, which real-life Casey (Ca$ey?) actually does, only with Natty Ice. It's a downright offensive song that tries to paint passing out in bathtubs and getting felt up by random dudes as funny and goofy, when there are all kinds of kids who grow up listening to this kind of shit who end up genuinely, irreparably fucked up, probably as a result of lots of other factors, sure, but no doubt eased along by supposedly innocuous partytime jock jams. Amazing what gets a parental advisory now and what doesn't.

TITLE: Whatcha Say
ARTIST: Jason Derulo

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Conklin: I already read what Dougherty had to say about this song, and what he leaves out is that the Imogen Heap sample it employs was featured not only in the stupid OC, but in Last Kiss, the Zach Braff movie about how all women are crazy bitches and all men are emotionally stunted malcontents. Can we keep talking about how offensive and awful that movie was so that I don't have to talk about how, in six months when I go back and read old editions of Pop Scene, I will have exactly zero recollection of this song ever existing? Dougherty: Weird that Imogen Heap, who's basically known for having songs in Garden State and The OC, is getting the Eminem/Dido treatment here. Even weirder, though, that it actually works—the song, your basic, post-cheating R&B plea for forgiveness, samples only the part of Heap's rambling """Hide and Seek'""""that actually makes sense. That is, the part from the OC finale. Anyone who looked up that song back when it was on TV probably found the same jumbled, a capella mess with only about 30 seconds of redeemable audio—which, hey, is what a good sample is made of. So kudos, Jason Derulo, for letting The OC's music supervisors do your work for you. Now, stop fucking around on your girl.

TITLE: Meet Me Halfway
ARTIST: Black Eyed Peas

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Conklin: Some day soon, someone with a far higher tolerance for this kind of bullshit will sit down and come up with a scientific explanation for the vice-like grip the Black Eyed Peas held on popular music in 2009. My guess is that it has something to do with their weird tendency to write songs that have at least a half-dozen parts, none of which have any musical relation to one another whatsoever. They basically cram six songs, with completely different styles, into one, thereby greatly increasing the number of people to whom they might appeal. Or maybe it's just the awesome robot voice in this song? Yes, it's definitely the awesome robot voice.

Dougherty: So far this year, the Black Eyed Peas held the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 for an insane 26 weeks, broke all kinds of digital download records, played for Oprah, shilled for Target, traveled to the year 3008, and added an eighth day to the previously seven-day week (it was Saturday, again). Now, apparently, they've traveled into space, bringing with them only an elephant, an ancient scroll, and a working print of James Cameron''''s Avatar, in which Fergie now lives. Are there haters in space? Does the moon have a Billboard chart? Fear not, we need only wait 99 years to find out.

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