Hey, it's Pop Scene! Our monthly feature in which Mike Conklin and Ben Sutton 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: Sexy Bitch
Artist: David Guetta feat. Akon
Mike: Honestly, I can't even tell the difference between David Guetta and Akon here, which maybe says more about me than it does about these two performers, but regardless, one of them is trying to figure out a way to describe a woman without being disrespectful to her, which I know because of the line, "I'm trying to find the words to describe this girl without being disrespectful." It's an admirable undertaking, of course, if also one that probably shouldn't be quite as difficult as it's made out to be. We're told that she doesn't compare to "your neighborhood whore," that she does really cool things with her ass, and ultimately, yes, that she's a sexy bitch. So one could probably say he did not achieve his goal.
Ben: I love how this fairly benign but enjoyable club track is just about Akon trying really hard to suppress his impulse to objectify a really attractive woman. The chorus (or rather the song's few looped and tweaked lyrics) go like so: "I'm trying to find the words to describe this girl without being disrespectful... Damn you's a sexy bitch." That's not how we talk about women Akon! To be fair, if the video—which looks something like Terry Richardson shooting a rap video—is anything to go by, Akon and David Guetta are actually 12 years old, and would rather throw each other into a pool repeatedly and party with laser-powered robots than try talking to the dozens of beautiful women chilling nearby.
Artist: Young Money (feat. Lloyd)
Mike: Eh, another song where a bunch of dudes talk about how good they are at having the sex, which as far as I'm concerned, accomplishes very little other than perhaps setting unreasonably high expectations. What if one night dude has had too much to drink or he's just a bit preoccupied, and he actually can't make her bed rock as if he were Fred Flinstone? I feel like it would be smarter for rappers to be all like, "Yeah, I think I'm pretty ok at having sex... I mean, I try my best, but I also recognize that some people just don't really connect on that level, you know? Not everyone's compatible." That way, at least no one gets their hopes up.
Ben: This is actually a fairly decent marquee-rapper-introducing-his-posse track (so much better than "Every Girl")although Lloyd's hilarious Flinstones reference on the chorus ("call me Mr. Flinstone/I can make your bed rock") only underlines how unfunny Lil Wayne's lil friends are. Happily I can't tell which verse is Drake, but Gudda Gudda and Nicki Minaj have a hard enough time following Weezy's third-rate opener. Gudda just gives up on formulating anything resembling a complete metaphor, closing his section with: "She don't even wonder/cause she know she bad/and I got her, nigga/grocery bag." I guess he's into autoerotic asphyxia. Nicki, playing the token hyper-sexual female rapper, reveals some unusual kinks too when she promises "to put this pussy on your sideburns." I don't remember that ever happening on The Flinstones.
Title: Last Christmas
Artist: Glee Cast
Mike: I'm a pretty big fan of Glee, for the fearless way it addresses stereotypes with the knowledge that there are comedic and tragic aspects to all of them, and that to focus on only one would be either offensive or boring. The show's tone shifts constantly, from absurdist po-mo humor to after-school special moral grandstanding, and it's unsettling if also generally very enjoyable. Admittedly, I cringe and cover my face with a pillow every time they break into song, because it's all so schlocky and earnest and embarrassing, but it's also part of the charm: there is something to be said for a show that's willing to take shots at everything except for the most basic, joyful elements of listening to and performing music. Oh, right... "Last Christmas." It's better than the Jimmy Eat World version, anyway.
Ben: I haven't watched Glee that much, but for a show whose greatest pleasures come from watching a group of self-conscious, hormonally unhinged teens played by super-talented actors and dancers perform beloved pop hits, this seems like the perfect Christmas-y love song, with all the self-doubt, angst, and intense, short-lived pain of high school romance. I hope if they perform it on the show the glee club from that all-girls school in the ghetto turns up and does "Ludacrismas," which is also all about pain, uncertainty and loss. And then Eve, who plays their club director, and Sue (Jane Lynch) would have a song-and-dance duel, and it would be the best Christmas episode ever.