Pop Scene 

Hey, it’s Pop Scene! 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 list.

Title: Never Again
Artist:  Kelly Clarkson
Mike:  Kelly’s not making much sense here. She’s all pissed off ‘cause some dude cheated on her or just kicked her to the curb or whatever, which is totally fine. Except she opens the song with the line, “I hope that ring you give her turns her finger green,” which is sort of childish and definitely mean. But then she says “I would never wish bad things,” even though she clearly already has! Both lines are shitty, obviously, so at the very least she could have ditched one of them for the sake of logic and clarity. Regardless, I checked, and ‘Since You Been Gone’ is still super good.
Mark: I like that this song takes ‘You Oughta Know’ and turns it into the super-dramatic dance-floor kiss-off it should probably have been all along. I hear Kelly’s singing about Dave Coulier, too.

Title:  Makes Me Wonder
Artist:  Maroon 5
Mike: OMG, is this the Cold War Kids!?! Alright, alright… I know it’s not. And actually, this is way worse than even those toolboxes. In fact, it’s sort of gross. It’s an embarrassing display of white-boy funk complete with the lines, “Wake up with bloodshot eyes, struggle to memorize the way it felt between your thighs. That pleasure that made you cry.” Eeeew.
Mark: The combination of the Chic drumming and the chicken-scratch and trunk-rattling bass had me all ready to induct them into the blue-eyed pantheon, but then the lead singer with the corn-syrup voice had to go and sing about “the way it felt between [some girl’s] thighs” and make another pervy video where he frolics with some or other anodyne fembots.

Title: Because of You
Artist: Ne-Yo
Mike: My man Ne-Yo has a lot of shit on his mind, for sure, but nothing weighs quite as heavily as wondering when exactly he’s going to be able to “get [him] some” again. Also, he needs it when he wants it, and wants it when he don’t, which is almost Mims-level philosophizing. 
Mark: Lyrics drawing parallels between physical attraction and chemical dependency are always a good idea — as well as one of the few instances in which it is ok to make a video in which the singer frolics with some or other anodyne fembots. I mean, assuming we’re using Robert Palmer’s ‘Addicted to Love’ as a barometer of what’s appropriate here. (As we so often do.)

I’ll Stand By You
Artist: Carrie Underwood
Mike: I was going to do this in the style of American Idol
judge Randy Jackson, but I couldn’t get past “I don’t know dawg, that was just aiight for me.” Anyway, it’s possible that I’m being too kind, but I don’t completely hate this. It’s overwrought and I assume this crazy Jesus-freak is missing the point in some sort of “Footsteps” way, but still, she’s not doing any of those horrible vocal runs that hurt my head all the time. (Vocal runs… Randy taught me that.)
Mark: When I saw the artist and title of this song, my first thought was, “I really, really hope this is a sobby-twangy, strings-and-strums cover of that AOR Pretenders hit that my aunt and uncle slow-danced to at their wedding in 1994.” Apparently this song is for charity. Do poor people not have self-respect anymore, or what?

Title: Icky Thump
Artist: White Stripes
Mike: I’m not even sure I like this song just yet, but at the very least, we’ve got to give old Jack credit for inspiring such loyalty that sooooo many people would download a song that features no discernible chorus, but a series of noisy, disjointed guitar solos and the line “You can’t be a pimp and a prostitute too.” Side note: After hanging out with the Raconteurs and wearing regular-people clothes for so long, dude must be kicking himself for implementing the stupid dress code gimmick all those years ago. “These relaxed fit Gap jeans are so soft!”
Mark: In the ongoing White Stripes Double Entendre Power Rankings ‘Icky Thump’ would have to rank somewhere above ‘Ball and Biscuit’ and below ‘Jack Shows Meg His Tesla Coil’, right?


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