Hey, it’s Popscene! Our monthly feature in which Mark Asch and Mike Conklin 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 their take on selections from the iTunes top ten and the Hot 97 most played list.
Title: Girlfriend (#3 at iTunes) Artist: Avril Lavigne Mike: If you were asked to choose a favorite line from ‘Girlfriend’ — and if you work in The L Magazine’s office, you probably were — it’d be totally acceptable to go with “I’m the motherfucking princess,” because… well, it’s brilliant. But I much prefer “She’s, like, so whatever,” because, like Avril, I too am sometimes incapable of finding the words to describe why I’m so much better than other high school girls. Oh, and be sure to watch the video: there’s a dance sequence, with knee socks. Mark: It’s like she wrote Adam a note saying “I think U.R.A.Q.T. wanna see my ‘Hey Mickey’ dance?” but was too embarrassed to have Shelley pass it to him, so instead she wadded it up and just chucked it right at his ear. Maybe it’ll work: after all, she is a motherfucking princess (damn right). Also, literally every single email Mike and I have sent each other for the past month has had the subject line “hey hey you you i don’t like your girlfriend.”
Title: This Is Why I’m Hot (#8 at iTunes) Artist: Mims Mike: Mims makes me proud to be from New York. He says point blank that he’s looking to bring credibility back to New York hip-hop, then proceeds to rattle off respectful shout-outs to every other major U.S. rap scene, sampling popular songs from each (‘G Thang’ for L.A., ‘Jesus Walks’ for Chicago, etc), and displaying the kind of well-versed, hyper-aware approach New Yorkers should be able to get behind. Mark: Before you jump on Mike for getting all beard-stroking, you try making a joke about a megahit that has a chorus that goes “I’m hot cuz I’m fly/You ain’t cuz you not” without sounding like a bigger doof than the guy saying it. I just tried for like an hour and drew a blank. Mims transcends our petty ironies. This is why, this is why he’s hot.
Title: Glamorous (#1 at iTunes) Artist: Fergie featuring Ludacris Mike: Well, there’s certainly a lot of mixed messages here. The first verse is more of that ‘Jenny from the Block’ nonsense, where Fergie talks about how she’s keeping it real or something. (She even likes to hang out with her family! And she eats Taco Bell!) But then the chorus is all about how (duh) glamorous she is, with the champagne and the fast lane and all that. Then Ludacris does a verse about how rich he is, and about how he has to be so that he can support his (presumably female) lover’s shoe habit? My head hurts, the chorus is irritating, and this is the first bad single she’s released. Mark: Weirdly, for a song that as Mike notes, is an even more materialist, disingenuous version of ‘Jenny from the Block’, she doesn’t include a line about how, even though she’s super-famous, she’s still so real she pisses herself onstage.
Title: Throw Some Ds (#6 at iTunes) Artist: Rich Boy featuring Plow Da Don Mike: There’s a line in this song I had to listen to about 15 times, after which I remained convinced that Rich Boy was saying “Every preacher have a picture of my dick on they wall.” I didn’t know what he was talking about, but it made me feel really, really dirty. Turns out he actually says, “Every freak should have a picture of my dick on they wall,” and I still feel really, really dirty. But I also can’t get the hook out of my head. My wife’s gonna be soooo mad if I’m still singing the line about the dick when I get home. Mark: I love how at the beginning he yells out “New money!,” like, “Hello, my name is ‘Rich Boy,’ and this is my song about being irresponsible with my finances.” So it’s disappointing that, like every other nouveau riche rapper ever, he ends up spending his cash on insufficiently ridiculous stuff like rims. I want somebody to start rapping about all his Sea-Doos and Edwardian flatware and 10,000-piece pre-built Lego mosiacs and pet lemurs and shit.
Title: Poppin (#1 at Hot 97) Artist: Chris Brown Mike: Well, I guess what we’ve got here is a standard slow jam sung by a dude who I assumed was a woman for about 30 seconds the first time I heard it, which actually might make him even more uniquely qualified to sing slow jams. He keeps referring to the girl he’s gonna “do something” with as “shorty,” and I totally didn’t know people still said that. Good to know, though, obvs. Mark: I realize it’s supposed to be sexy when guys sing in falsetto, but sometimes — especially when they say things like, “I’m about to have a big (!) ‘cuz you’re my number one” — they just sound like a chin-pubed sophomore guy trying way too hard to throw game at a tall senior girl and ending up looking like a little dog yapping at her feet, or like Jeff Van Gundy that time he grabbed onto Alonzo Mourning’s ankle.
Title: Runaway Love (#2 at Hot 97) Artist: Ludacris Mike: So, at the end of a song about how hard it is to grow up as an underprivileged young woman, in a world where there’s rape and unwanted pregnancies and drugs and all sorts of terrible stuff, Luda gets mad creepy and, in his dopiest speaking voice says, “I can only imagine what you goin through, ladies. Sometimes I feel like runnin away myself. So do me a favor and picture us runnin away together. When we come back, everything gonna be ok.” Then he whispers, “Open your eyes,” and it starts to sound like he’s snuck into an 11 year old’s bedroom. Mark: Hold up, Luda got something to say: “Little Lisa’s only nine years old/she’s trying to figure out why the world is so cold.” Um... Additional rhyming couplets pair “world on her own” with “hell is a place called home,” “bruises” with “excuses,” and “shot” with “block.” Oh, I see. This is message rap.
Title: I Luv It (#4 at Hot 97) Artist: Young Jeezy Mike: Well, he’s got “gangsters” in the crowd and “bitches” at his shows, so that’s pretty cool, I guess. And he does get high all day, which is surely better than working all day, so kudos on that, too. Oh, and apparently there’s not only some hundred dollar bills on the table in front of him, but there’s also some twenties on the floor, which I guess he doesn’t even need! Man, Jeezy has it all figured out! Mark: The triumphant rolling synths left over from that T.I. song made me feel like I was back at my high school graduation blowing cigar smoke at the camera every time my parents tried to take a picture of me, so much so that by the time Jeezy said “My P.O. telling me I need a 9-to-5/I already got a job, and that’s stayin’ alive” I really felt like singing along, until I realized that if those lyrics conjure that memory, then this is not really a song I have any business singing along to. Whoops. Back to ‘Jesus Walks,’ I guess.