Pop Scene 

Hey, it’s Pop Scene! Our monthly feature in which Mike Conklin and Mark Asch climb out from under their indie-rockist, um, rock, to find out what regular people all over the country are listening to. This week’s installment features selections from the iTunes music store.

Title: Crank Dat
Artist: Soulja Boy

Mike: Soulja Boy has brilliantly illustrated a very important point: that the very same people who adopt the ever-present tough-guy posturing and studied “mean” faces rappers use to sell records are just as willing to embrace a good old-fashioned dance craze. This, obviously, is heartwarming, because anyone as scary as they purport to be knows that it’s impossible to look tough while using a webcam to record yourself dancing alone in your bedroom. Also, nothing Mark is about to write is true.

Mark: Among the many, many homemade YouTube dance clips inspired by this song (clips that the official video cannily references; this song may be the best and most self-aware internet phenomenon this side of LOLcats) is one called “Crank Dat L Mag,” starring Mike and me, both sporting our customized The L Magazine Neighborhoodies: watch us lean and watch us iChat, then watch us crank dat copy-edit. And then we Superman all the way down the street to the bar for pints of Yuengling. We are, obvs, not as good at dancing as Soulja Boy is. But then again, Soulja Boy is probably the best dancer since MC Hammer.

Title: How Far We’ve Come
Artist: Matchbox 20

Rob Thomas is apparently convinced that we’re all fucked, and that the world is going to burn to the ground at some point in the near future, which may or may not be true. It’s hard to tell. But what’s interesting is that Bob-o doesn’t even seem to realize that the shitty, generic mom-rock he’s been releasing for almost a decade now is the  cause of almost all of the world’s problems.

Mark: Here’s how far I’ve come, Rob: the first time I made fun of your lame food-court rock band was during a seventh-grade math class; now I’m doing it for a magazine with an ACA-audited circulation of 105,000. Also, vis a vis the video for this song: who died and made you ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’?

Title: Bubbly
Colbie Caillat

Mike: I mean, so what? Can't  a guy, a rock critic, even, just like a song because it makes him feel sort of breezy and happy and, well, bubbly? And what’s the big deal? If he’s seriously thinking about using it as his ringtone, even though he doesn’t actually know how people go about using songs as their ringtone, what’s the problem with that?

Mark: Ok, time for a history lesson: back in the days of the Brill Building, prefab pop was in the hands of people like Carole King and Gerry Goffin, and we had hit songs like ‘Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?’ Now we have unsigned 22-year-olds getting famous through MySpace ballads with lyrics like “’Cause every time I see your bubbly face/I get the tinglies in a silly place.” I hate my generation.

Title: Gimme More
Artist: Britney Spears

I would have paid one million dollars to be in the room when Britney and her producers and engineers and handlers and songwriting team came to the conclusion that it was a good idea to start this song with the “It’s Britney, bitch” thing.

Mark: During the course of my research for this joke, I read up on the coverage of Britney Spears’s vajay-flashing, cheez doodle-munching, drug-hoovering, slut-bagging protracted public breakdown. And I even watched that “Leave Britney Alone” video where the blonde kid throws a queeny tantrum. I dunno... do people really enjoy this stuff? Like, can you watch it all the way through, and just snort milk out of your nose instead of, I guess, cringing and feeling sorta uncomfortable being that close to someone else’s humiliation? Maybe I’m just oversensitive — I get a bit squirmy watching movies or TV shows that wring laughs out of painful situations — but still... Ok, this concludes your Popscene lecture. In the future I will endeavor to restrict my snobbery to the realm of pop music.

Title: No One
Artist: Alicia Keys

Mark’s dismissive blurbing of this song is upsetting me greatly, because I’m pretty sure we’re looking at one of the top five singles of the year, so far. The production is tasteful, the melody is unstoppable, and the overall tone manages to suggest both Al Green and Bob Marley. See that? Not one fucking joke. This shit’s good. And as a rule, until now, I’ve hate, hate, hated Alicia Keys.

Mark: So I guess Alicia Keys has stopped wearing her hair in those really tight braids that always reminded me of how every year in high school, after like February or April break, there would always be that one girl who came back from a Caribbean family vacation with her hair braided so that it just looked like her hair was wet for that week before she took them out. Good for her. (Alicia Keys, I mean.)


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