Title: Right Round Artist: Flo Rida Mike: Flo Rida always strikes me as the hip-hop version of those massive, hulking NFL linemen who turn out to be really, really awesome at ballet. He’s muscular enough to make 50 Cent look like David Archuleta, so based on looks alone, he’s scary as fuck, but so thoroughly unintimidating once he opens his mouth that it almost seems like a joke. His flow is even daintier than usual here (ok fine, you got me… I’ve only heard that one other song), accompanied by the hook from Dead or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round” (which, let’s be fair, doesn’t exactly leave much room for tough-guy posturing), as sung by someone named Keisha. Keisha warrants no commentary whatsoever on account of her vocals sounding like they were made by a keyboard on “human” setting. Mark: At the rate rappers are building club bangers out of samples from Time-Life’s Sounds of the 80s, Girl Talk is going to be out of a job real soon. Or, you know, go back to being a biomedical engineer.
Title: Crack a Bottle Artist: Eminem feat. Dr. Dre and 50 Cent Mike: It gives me no great pleasure to make this comparison, because I’ve been a fan of everyone on this track, to varying degrees, throughout their careers, but this is like what would happen if Incubus, Limp Bizkit and Disturbed got together to write a new rock song. Eminem relies on all the same gross-out rhymes you could swear he’s actually just recycling at this point. Dre talks about how he “dipped through” somewhere in his Six-Tre, and about how he’s got a Monte Carlo, an El Camino and an El Dorado — a bunch of cars no one cares about anymore. And 50, well, 50’s verse is actually pretty good. All in all, though, this shit is depressing, like Woodstock ’99. Mark: I had to explain Em’s “fromunda cheese” joke to Mike. Luckily I am familiar with that joke, from summer camp, when I was 16. Coincidentally, the last time I thought Eminem was a good rapper. (Or, actually, that Dr. Dre was still a good producer. So much has never been the same since The Chronic 2000 came out, it’s sad, really.) When Prince talks about “A pocket full of horses, Trojans, some of them used” it is sexy (and kinda scary?), but when nasally, nasally Em shrieks, “Where’s the rubbers? Who’s got the rubbers?” it’s maybe less of a player’s boast than like something a pimply virgin would say instead of “Who’s your daddy?” whilst masturbating to twincest porn on his desktop PC, and then when he shoots all over the monitor he goes “Yeah! Sent from my iPhone!” Also, while it is cool to rap about safe sex, it is arguably incongruous to do so in a song that begins with a hypeman talking up Slim Shady’s “seventeen rapes” (asshole).
Title: Dead and Gone Artist: T.I. feat. Justin Timberlake Mike: I swear to god, if T.I. shoots Justin Timberlake with one of his illegally procured machine guns, my mom is going to be sooooo fucking mad. Mark: Have you noticed how, since his October 2007 arrest on federal weapons charges, T.I.’s singles have become increasingly introspective, from hedonistic “Whatever You Like” to preachy “Live Your Life” to this self-critical musing on the costs of hip-hop’s macho posturing? All these are from the same album, which came out after his sentencing, so with the way he’s released them in succession it’s almost like his upcoming jail sentence is a movie, and he’s leaking set photos to blogs, then the preview goes viral, then the posters start to go up on the subway, and all anybody can talk about in the office all week is like, oh my god, T.I.’s jail sentence starts tomorrow, are you all so excited?!
Title: Poker Face Artist: Lady GaGa Mike: Please, as soon as you get home or to your office or wherever you’re going (Do people still read this mostly on the train? Readership studies are so expensive), go to YouTube and watch the video for this song. You’ll find Ms. GaGa talking all this nonsense about how some dude can’t read her puh-puh-puh-poker face, ‘cause she’s so mysterious and subtle and not at all desperate and obvious, wearing a practically non-existent, sideboob-exposing blue spandex thing while singing the lines “Russian Roulette is not the same without a gun, and baby when it’s love, if it’s not rough it isn’t fun.” It just doesn’t make any sense. Why would you call a song “Poker Face” when its only point is to put all your cards out on the table? Mark: A.) Does she mean “bullet” there? Think about it. B.) Now that people who were at NYU the same time as me are starting to get famous, here is how I cope: I go to nyunews.com, home of our student newspaper, the Washington Square News, and I search for their names. Lady GaGa, real name Stefani Germanotta (Tisch ’08), gets one result, from the article “UltraViolet Live Rocked the Crowd,” a recap of the Inter-Residence Hall Council’s talent contest from the February 7th, 2005 edition. The relevant selection: “Crowd-pleasing singer Stephani Germanotta of Third Avenue North residence hall, won third place for combining robust vocals with speedy fingers on the piano.” The winners were a singer and guitarist/harmonica player doing Damien Rice songs.