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 and the Hot 97 most-played list.
Title: Sexy Can I
Artist: Ray J feat. Yung Berg
Mike: So, my initial assumption about this song was that it was going to be made up largely of a man referring to a woman as “Sexy,” as in, “Hey, Sexy, I really like your messenger bag!” then asking her permission to do things, like, “Hey Sexy, can I borrow your DVD of the first season of The Wire?” And I was right! Only, he doesn’t seem to care much about The Wire. He is, understandably, I guess, more concerned with whether she (Sexy) is going to let him hit it from the front, and then again from the back. Though perhaps I’m selling Ray J short. He also wants to visit her at work, where she (Sexy) slides up and down a pole, sans “panties” and shirt and does splits and, also, makes her booty talk, which is fucking disgusting. So, I’m sorry Ray J, for pre-judging you. Mark: Mike is actually referring to the clean version of this song; in the uncensored version, the talking body part is definitely not the booty: “How you make that pussy talk,” says Ray J, admiringly. If these vaginal walls could talk, what would they say? Probably “Ray, having the video for your new single reference your recent sex scandal — in your case, the sex tape you made with Kim Kardashian — is an excellent idea, though it would have helped if you had included models dressed up as Slutty Cops like that time George Michael got busy in the Beverly Hills bathroom.”
Title: I Won’t Tell
Artist: Fat Joe feat. Holiday
Mike: Trends come and go pretty quickly in hip-hop. If you don’t pay attention for a few months, you could be left literally incapable of even understanding the words being used, and, to an extent, that’s what people like so much about it. So I don’t really understand why people are so into this song, which, taken in video form, features these things: a private jet, champagne, close-ups of a fancy watch, a Bentley, a massive gold chain, Diddy, careless pouring out of said champagne, plus mentions of Jacob (the jeweler!) and Louis Vuitton. Isn’t all of this very, very outdated? Also: I wish I had the confidence to make a video where a bunch of really foxy women stand around a bathroom, applying makeup and discussing how good I look on that particular night. Mark: Sorry, but there will never be anything sexy about a large man in a baseball cap telling you that this’ll just be your little secret.
Title: Bleeding Love
Artist: Leona Lewis
Mike: Well, at least now we know that in order to win those televised singing competitions in England, it’s no more important to have an actual personality than it is here with American Idol. Songs like this drive me crazy — it’s a standard ballady-whatever thing where the female character talks about how some dude keeps doing bad things to her and how all her friends keep telling her she should be done with him, but how none of them understand that every time he hurts her, she winds up loving him even more, ultimately conveying to listeners that it’s ok to be treated poorly and that it’s ok to treat others poorly. All that aside, I will concede that Lewis has really nice hair. Mark: Is anybody getting a real Phil Collins vibe from the production of this song? The atmospheric synth fade that’s somehow both spare and histrionic? The stuttering, echoing drums? Huh. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about if when I’m old I’ll have Alzheimer’s, and I’m increasingly and disconcertingly certain that even after every other memory is mush, you’ll still be able to get a glimmer of recognition out of my cloudy, dull eyes by playing adult-contemporary ballads from the radio station my parents listened to in their cars. Yup, soft-rock cockroaches burrowing into my brain in preparation for cognitive Armageddon.
Artist: Lil’ Wayne
Mike: It just occurred to me that Lil’ Wayne is the Ryan Adams of hip-hop. He records more songs than seems humanly possible, and as a result, the quality suffers — not to the point where any of it’s bad, but where the variations on the same old themes get smaller and smaller over time. This song, for instance, is pretty much the same as all the others, only his voice is run through a vocoder, which, by the way, is to 2007-2008 hip-hop what the finger-tapped guitar solo was to 80s metal. Mark: So where does this rank in the “Hip-hop Songs In Which Rappers Compare Their Genitals to Lollipops” canon? Let’s ask Mr. Owl! [Mr. Owl: “The Martian production whips the groping single entendres of 50 Cent’s ‘Candy Shop,’ but there are least a dozen rhymes in Lil’ Kim’s ‘How Many Licks?’ that’d be the best thing about the verses here.”] The world may never… oh.
Title: Beat It
Artist: Fall Out Boy feat. John Mayer
Mike: Don’t ask me how, but they didn’t completely fuck this up. And I hate him as much as (ok, slightly less than) the next guy, but John Mayer totally kills on the solo, but that might only be because I can’t stop picturing all the hilarious guitar-faces he must have been making while playing it. Mark: But… but… the whole genius of ‘Beat It’ is that it already sounds like a Wonderbread-thin arena rock classic. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with bands getting drunk and doing karaoke — hi my name is Mark Asch and my favorite band is The Replacements — but please: unless you’re going to take this seriously enough to film a reenactment of the original video, gang jackets and all, then save it for the box set.