Hey, it’s Pop Scene! Our monthly feature in which Mike Conklin and, this week, contributor Mike Dougherty, 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.
Conklin: Hmm. Maybe I was getting Buckcherry confused with Neneh Cherry? I don’t know, but I definitely thought Buckcherry was a black dude. Turns out it’s an alt-rock band in the truest, most embarrassing sense of the term. Like, to the point where the singer actually goes so far as to sing the lines, “And when I see you cry, it makes me want to die-eee-iy-iy-IY!” They alternate between sounding like Oasis and like any of those other tough-but-sensitive-but-actually-just-stupid-and-desperate-to-get-pussy rock bands like Staind or Fuel or Creed that everyone liked a bunch of years ago. It’s not good. And I just found out they had a ton of success with a song called ‘Crazy Bitch’ a few years ago? Wtf, man… wtf?
Dougherty: That Buckcherry song ‘For the Movies’ came out when I was a freshman in high school, and I remember liking it ok. But I never really knew anything about them, nor would I have guessed that any shitty guitar band that could easily be confused with Fuel would still be kicking around nine years later. So in trying to glean what backstory about this limp power ballad I could, I got the following history lesson on Wikipedia: “Buckcherry was formed after Josh Todd met guitarist Keith Nelson through their tattoo artist after discovering a common love of AC/DC.” That pretty much sums it up. Thanks, English-speaking world public!
Title: Love Song
Artist: Sara Bareilles
Conklin: I ain’t gonna front. I’ve got a serious weakness for this kind of crap. This kind of crap being women playing horrifically over-produced piano/guitar pop. Vanessa Carlton, Michelle Branch, all of them. And now Sara Bareilles. She might look a little like Debbie Gibson, too, which is definitely not hurting.
Dougherty: It’s hard to tell which major label folly here is worse: that they saw an apparent need to “nurture” yet another wishy-washy female singer-songwriter to brief fame, or that they picked one who’s almost 30, has a last name no one knows how to pronounce, and has no distinguishing characteristics except for the two I just listed. Has Idol really snatched up all the eligible candidates who not only sound like they’re 17 but actually are 17?
Title: Can’t Help But Wait
Artist: Trey Songz
Conklin: Time for a little Popscene confessional: We don’t ever actually pay for these songs we write about because that would be silly. We either steal them somehow or we find them on YouTube, which is what I just did for this one. And ho-ly shit, this dude looks exactly like LL Cool J. And before he sings the first line, he even does that totally sexy LL lip-lick. Anyway, we’ve got a slow-jam here, and it’s not a very good one, for many reasons: a forgettable melody, indifferent production, and, most of all, the lines, “What can I do? I gotta stay true, ‘cause deep down I’m still a G.” I get his point, obviously (ok, no I don’t), but his sudden abandonment of the rhyme scheme is troubling. It would have worked better if he had said, “Deep down I’m still a Jew,” and shockingly, it wouldn’t have made any less sense, either.
Dougherty: This song has a pretty obvious message: that being in an abusive relationships sucks, and that seeing someone you love become a party to one sucks too. But what’s weird is that his defense for standing stupidly by until this girl realizes she’s being manipulated is that he’s “still a G” — since, you know, being a gangster implies nothing if not the patience to let bad situations just work themselves out.
Title: Touch My Body
Artist: Mariah Carey
Conklin: Is this even Mariah Carey? And if it is, why isn’t she doing any of the crazy vocal things that have made her the biggest selling female artist of all-time? And what the hell is she talking about? Is she agreeing to have sex with a stranger as long as he doesn’t put it on YouTube? Did she just threaten to kill the dude if he brags about sleeping with her? Yes, and yes.
Dougherty: I was all ready to make some cracks about how no one really cares how high Mariah Carey can sing anymore, but it turns out she, or her writer The-Dream, may have already come to this realization. There are barely any vocal runs, and she doesn’t even do any of the random “ehhs” and “oohs” that he, of “ella, ella, ella, eh, eh, eh” fame, usually tosses into the mix — and actually, the song kind of wants for them. I guess this is one of those “don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone” situations.
Title: Crying Out For Me (remix)
Artist: Mario featuring Lil Wayne
Conklin: Alright, what Wayne does to this song is amazing: he takes a totally average, characterless R&B track and turns it upside down, with blown-out-sounding percussion and a melody that’s light years better than the original. But can we talk about Mario’s performance in the video? First of all, every time he says the word “for,” which he does a lot, he holds up four fingers, which is probably supposed to be clever, but is actually very stupid. Also, he flaunts an iPhone, which seems kinda stupid too. There should be a rule against flaunting new tech gadgets, because you’re pretty much guaranteeing that in six months it won’t have quite the desired effect, and that in one year you will look like a complete idiot, like Zack Morris in Saved By the Bell.
Dougherty: Weezy gets a little bit real on this verse — after the hilarious booty call dialogue, he’s suddenly all tender and sympathetic, even, strangely, when he’s comparing the girl to a valet service. This isn’t his first turn as a softie, either — there were rumors going around for a while that he was engaged, which is starting to sound less and less surprising. Though it would still be terrible for his fiancée, who probably has to deal with her wedding being delayed month after month after month.