Title: The Way I Are Artist: Timbaland Mike: First, the positives: It’s all about this dude who doesn’t have substantial material wealth, and a woman who loves him anyway, so that’s a nice, refreshing change of pace. And also, there’s this crazy vocoder-sounding effect on Tim’s parts, so that’s kind of fun, if possibly in horrendous taste. But who are these clowns singing with him? The dude sounds like he was in 98 Degrees. Mark: Not only does Tim say, “I’m about to strip and I want it quick/Can you handle me the way I’m are,” he says it specifically so he can rhyme “are” with “are.” Also, when Kraftwerk locks up their studio and goes home for the night, all their computers come to life and start playing this song and ordering bottle service Cris and standing up on the tables freaking each other.
Title: Lip Gloss Artist: Lil Mama Mike: It’s inconceivable that a song featuring only a bass drum, hand-claps and a 17-year-old’s loving description of her lip gloss (and her ability to apply it) would be perpetually stuck in the head of a 28-year-old white rock critic, but, well, there you go. Mark: I mean, I was pretty scared of girls in high school, but I can’t even imagine being a student at Midwood’s Edward R. Murrow H.S. and seeing Lil Mama walking the halls to the accompaniment of fuzzy-amped bass, trailing a posse of boys salivating over her watermelon lip gloss, and shooting looks at the girls rolling their eyes by their lockers, like, “It ain’t my fault, but I can upgrade ya, show ya how to use nice things with nice flavors.” Even the principal wants to know ‘bout her lip gloss. God, if she had ever asked if she could look at my notes from U.S. History II, I probably would have creamed my pants.
Title: Hey There Delilah Artist: Plain White T’s Mike: Plain White T’s what? Does something belong to this Plain White T? I have to assume so, because otherwise, that apostrophe has no business being there. Idiots. Anyway, this guy keeps telling this woman that he’s going to pay her bills with his guitar, even though he also mentions that she’ll be graduating in two years, which leads me to believe she’d be able to pay her own fucking bills. He also says “be good” at one point, and I officially decide, for the purpose of Popscene, anyway, that he hates women and is currently wearing a t-shirt with the word Holister emblazoned across the front. Mark: The most underrated Spinal Tap songs are the ones like ‘Hell Hole’ which don’t overtly tip their hands, so if you heard them out of context you’d think, “Wait, this can’t possibly be a real song by a real band... can it?” I mention this because: “A thousand miles seems pretty far/but they’ve got planes and trains and cars”? If this singer was a tree, he would be a weeping willow tree, because he is emo as fuck. (“Emo as fuck”? Maybe, “emo as holding hands.”)
Title: Doomsday Clock Artist: Smashing Pumpkins Mike: Sample lyric: “Please don’t stop/It’s lonely at the top.” Really, Billy? Did you purposely fall this far off your game so that you could be in the presence of all the other middling alt-rock bands out there? If so, congratulations. Mark: Wow, Billy, really nice use of chiasmus in “Please don’t stop/It’s lonely at the top/These lonely days/Will they ever stop?” Also like the image of the “jackals lick[ing] their paws” as a metaphor for the world’s carnivorousness. (Do they have anything to do with the vampires in that other thing of yours?) And the Kafka reference: really erudite. Also, stepping out of poetry workshop mode, I’m glad to see you apparently liked that song from the Batman and Robin soundtrack as much as I did.