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: Hate That I Love You
Mike: It seemed realistic to expect a lot from this song, a
duet featuring Rihanna, who’s obviously had a pretty good six months,
and Neyo, who’s annoying as all hell, and whose name sounds like a
character in an 80s movie about video games, but who people seem to
like. Given the title of the song, I’ve gathered they’re supposed to be
a couple that loves each other deeply, even though the relationship as
a whole is maybe a little bit destructive and unhealthy. I got all this
from the title, mind you, because once the song starts, it’s all out
the window. Listening to the lyrics, the two seem to have a nice enough
relationship, with magic and good kisses and deep personal knowledge of
each other, but still, they hate being in love, and we really have no
idea why. To each his own, though… I hate people who don’t think it’s
necessary to write an actual song to accompany the great title they
came up with.
Mark: What Mike said. This is one of those songs where the
mixed-gender duet should probably have been in alternate verses, rather
really close harmonies wherein both parties are saying the same thing.
Mike: I never know where the rockist police draw the line. Like,
am I supposed to say this song is good, or does this qualify as hip-hop
it’s ok not to enjoy? Because I definitely don’t enjoy it, at all.
Cyclone might be talking about a stripper, but I’m not sure.
Regardless, he likes when she twirls around (like a cyclone!), and he
likes that she has hips and an ass and high heels, all of which are
fine things to like about a person. Side note: What the fuck is with
everybody rocking the vocoder these days?
Mark: Hello, ladies. It’s Mark Asch, of The L Magazine.
I’m working on a recurring feature we do called “Popscene,” about the
popular hits of today. And I would like to ask you all a question: when
rappers like Baby Bash and T-Pain do a song like ‘Cyclone’, in which
the physique of an unnamed lady — presumably one who, like you, is a
frequent subject of the male gaze — is admiringly compared to, among
other things, a luxury automobile and a natural disaster, is this
something that you find empowering, or offensive and objectifying? I’m
very curious to hear your response. Email me at email@example.com
with the subject line “Shorty got looks, Shorty got class, Shorty got
hips and Shorty got ass.”
Artist: Timbaland (featuring One Republic)
Mike: When I first went to YouTube to see what this song was all
about, I was confused. Had I accidentally searched for Maroon 5 or
James Blunt or something? Who in god’s name is this embarrassing
white-boy crooner, and shouldn’t the song be billed as One Republic
featuring Tim instead of the other way around? Is One Republic just one
dude, or a full band? Is Tim totally over, by the way? Seems like he
is, and if his ridiculous camera-hogging shenanigans at this year’s
VMAs weren’t the final nail in his coffin, then this piece of shit,
which sounds like a fucking Dido song, surely is.
Mark: Maybe I’m just in a cranky mood because the piano
intro sounds almost like a sample from ‘Don’t Stop Believing’, but, to
its infinite detriment, isn’t, but still: is it wrong of me to expect
that a ballad with the title ‘Apologize’ would consist of the singer,
you know, apologizing for something, rather than telling the song’s
addressee that it’s no use even trying to say that she’s sorry? Hey, maybe you’re both partly to blame — that ever occur to you?
Artist: The Killers
Mike: Said my favorite YouTube commenter, “Very good... probably
better than the Joy Division version... no offence (sic), I like Joy
Division’s version but this takes it to another level.” And I could not
agree more — the Killers have taken the Joy Division classic to another
level, one where it’s been completely robbed of any of the gloomy and
instantly engaging struggles that characterized the band’s enormously
sympathetic frontman, Ian Curtis, remade instead in a way where it’s
impossible to ignore the fact that it’s being performed by a bunch of
egomaniacal Mormons who play arena rock shows for people who have
terrible taste in music.
Mark: I suppose I should be outraged about the poster boys for
all that’s glib and derivative about marquee acts copping critical-fave
genres turning a Joy Division album cut into arena fodder. Thing is,
despite what Joe Unknown Pleasures T-Shirt might say, it’s impossible
to deny the very well-known pleasures people take from Joy Division’s
songs, and I can’t begrudge the Killers for having fun covering one.
This song played over the end credits of Control; Ian Curtis isn’t pirouetting in his grave, he’s cashing New Order royalty checks in Ibiza.
Mike: I’ve not met a single person who doesn’t like this song,
and while, granted, I run in some pretty fucking nerdy indie rock
circles, where Feist is about as divisive as, like, cake, you’ve still
got to give credit to Apple’s marketing department for handpicking it
to be featured in commercials for the iPod Mini. It’s an easily
digested track, and the video on the commercial features lots of
choreography and sparkly blue outfits, which, duh, everyone likes. The
song’s hook is insane, and I think even Sasha Frere-Jones would agree
that it “swings.” But now I’m trying to think about other songs my
friends and I like that would appeal to such a wide audience, and you
know what I’ve got? Nothing.