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: Party in the U.S.A.
Artist: Miley Cyrus
Conklin: Yes, this is the song she performed at the Kids Choice Awards while allegedly pole-dancing. Truth is she barely touched the pole, of course, and that there was a lot of fuss made over absolutely nothing. Would have been nice, though, if some fuss had been made about how completely full of shit this girl is, singing a song about how out of place she feels in Los Angeles because, omigod, she swears she’s just a regular girl from Nashville — you know, despite being one of the most famous and patently artificial human beings alive. During the performance in question, she enters the stage from a trailer home, in order to illustrate just how out of place she is among the rich and fancy, and we’re supposed to ignore the fact that she grew up the daughter of a famous and wealthy singer. We’re also supposed to ignore the fact that she doesn’t know how to sing, like, at all.
Dougherty: Here, we learn Miley has a couple favorite songs — one is Britney, sure, and the other is apparently Jay-Z. Which is totally believable; it’s probably “Hard Knock Life” or something, but can we imagine, just for a second, Miley going word-for-word on, like, “Money, Cash, Hoes”? I would have memorized a lot more DMX verses if Billy Ray were my dad, too.
Artist: Jay Sean (feat. Lil Wayne)
Conklin: My favorite thing about Jay Sean is that in his Wikipedia entry he’s referred to as “the first British-Asian singer to sign with an American label,” as if he’ll one day be looked at in the same light as Sandra Day O’Connor or Jackie Robinson. My least favorite thing about Jay Sean is this song, which is sort of the quintessential R&B song of 2009, at least in that it’s tinny as all hell, there’s a whole bunch of auto-tune, it expresses only one thought throughout its entire three and a half minutes, and, most importantly, it features a guest spot from Weezy, which is so dialed-in it’s ridiculous. Someone should do a study evaluating the staying power of pop singers relative to the quality of Lil Wayne’s guest verse on their singles.
Dougherty: This song, especially the video of Sean and his dancers throwing around weird little orbs of light, is basically a rehash of “Forever,” that last huge hit Chris Brown had before he did that other song about beating the crap out of Rihanna and being the worst dude on the planet. Oh wait, my bad, that wasn’t a song... that was real fucking life. I understand the need to do a rush job on whatever beefy dude who can sort of dance to occupy the Chris Brown market share, but can’t it be done without imitating him so exactly? Next thing you know, Jay Sean will be on TV pimping Fruit Stripe, Keri Hilson will be in stitches, and “Down” will be the soundtrack to some viral video of people dancing through a childbirth. Please don’t let history repeat itself, America.
Title: She Wolf
Conklin: This song is ok, I guess. I don’t know what it’s about, and I can’t really understand any of the words, but there’s one part where Shakira goes “a-oooooh!” like Warren Zevon, and it is very enjoyable. The rest of it, though… I’m just not sure. Truthfully? The only time I’ve ever heard it was just a few minutes ago, and I was distracted by the video, during which Shakira dances around in a cage and seems to be saying over and over again, “Oh, look at me, these are some of the super weird things I would do with my body if we were to have sex.”
Dougherty:There was a trend piece about vampires in the Times a couple months ago, which must mean we’re now years deep into supposedly caring about them (if a national fixation on Robert Pattinson’s bone structure and Anna Paquin’s half-nakedness really constitutes an interest in vampires, that is). Apparently, though, no one told Shakira, who in this song is so undersexed that she skips vampire altogether and turns into a she wolf, so hard that she uses the word “lycanthropy,” which werewolves presumably do all the time. I hope her next single is a response to the hipster beer belly article, because seriously, somebody needs to shut that thing down.
Title: Hotel Room Service
Conklin: You are never going to guess what Pitbull is doing in his hotel room. He’s having sex! With strangers! In ways that I am ashamed to admit I don’t understand! There’s this one line about how one of the women likes “freaky stuff,” such as “two in the O and one in the eye.” I have no idea what this means, but I suspect she should consider looking into some goggles. I also suspect Pitbull will be the next to have one of those VH-1 shows like Rock of Love or My Antonio, just ‘cause he seems like he’d be really good at that.
Dougherty:So Pitbull is in the hotel — no, wait, motel... nope, even worse, Holiday Inn — and he’s getting dozens and dozens of girls to come get naked with him. I wonder, has Pitbull ever been to a Holiday Inn? For one thing, they don’t have room service. At best, they do the continental breakfast buffet in the morning, where you get plastic-wrapped muffins and, if you’re really lucky, a cereal bar. The beds in a given Holiday Inn room could probably accommodate four or five girls — still a lot, admittedly, but not for Pitbull, from the sound of it. They also don’t have lobbies big enough for afterparties, unless your afterparties involve browsing the brochures of local tourist attractions. Pit, telling you, give hotels.com a shot.
Title: Love Drunk
Artist: Boys Like Girls
Conklin: A little known fact about mall/emo band Boys Like Girls: they were originally called “God Made Adam and Eve, Not Adam and Steve, Faggot.”
Dougherty:Remember like two years ago, when you were shopping for the hottest new back-to-school fashions at JC Penney, and you heard a song over the PA that was the best song you had ever heard? And then you found out it was called “The Great Escape” by a band called Boys Like Girls? Well, now they have another song, and it’s basically the same as the old one, only the chorus is swapped with that Killers song, “Somebody Told Me.” Which is also several years old. Don’t malls still get new stores when the old ones stop being cool? Shouldn’t they get new pop songs too? And no, Pacsun is still Pacific Sunwear, kids, they just shortened the name.