Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Mike Posner ft. Big Sean - "Cooler Than Me" (Single Review)

I was fortunate enough to have access to a car this past week that a friend let me use while she spent a week out of town, and as I flipped through the preset radio stations I realized that due to a combination of my own decision to rid my life and ears of any Clear Channel owned pop radio and the subsequent premature death of my own car, it had easily been nine or ten months at least since I last listened to Top 40 radio at all. Of course, I now follow the current pop music scene closely and regularly enough to have a general idea of what is currently running in the typically limited and repetitive repertory, and for the most part I found no surprises over the week in what was played.

There was, however, one notable exception. I first heard the track while driving with the significant other, whose musical sensitivities have gotten similarly alert as his input has proven increasingly useful to this blog, and for whatever reason both of us paid attention. I commented near the song's conclusion that I had no idea what song or artist it was and that I particularly enjoyed it, although I suspected I would have been even more won over were it to be a different singer performing, not initially much enthralled with the unique, raspy, racially ambiguous young male voice performing the lead vocal. Then today I heard the tune a second time, this time on the wonderful relatively new non-Clear Channel station, which is the first and only station to survive as long and solidly as it has despite being a direct competitor with the mighty Clear Channel flagship KIIS-FM (in the past, competition on the Los Angeles airwaves has been sporadic and reliably short-lived due to Clear Channel's "nip it in the bud" approach to potentially competitive new media), and I was fully sold on the mid-tempo mid-tempo lightly humorous ode to/denouncement of a narcissistic, insufferable but yet addictively appealing femme fatale
Mike Posner (who I must admit not having heard of before this, but after a bit of research reveals that the 22 year old is just getting started) has put together a thoroughly enjoyable track with the equally skillful talents of rapper Big Sean (who proves that the art of the featured rap is not a dead one), and its apparent success at winning precious airtime on a major Top 40 station whose usual M.O. involves a greatly limited repertoire at any given time - maximizing airplay by minimizing variety is cheaper and more efficient in promoting favored artists - suggests to me that "Cooler Than Me" could be a the heir to Kevin Rudolph's unlikely success of the genre-spanning hit "Let It Rock" last year. The writing is clever enough to please the indie music songwriting snobs, too, meaning it could even get a little crossover attention.

Perhaps most importantly on the record's side is a pair of simple qualities "Cooler Than Me" has: first, it's catchy as heck, with lyrics and attitude interesting enough to capture a first-time listener's attention and a simple and clever chorus repeated just the right number of times to facilitate memorization without activating fatigue (yes, we get it Rihanna, you're "hard"...e.g.). And second, it's four minutes of plain old fun, neither too mean-spirited nor too stickily romantic, maintaining a tone and tempo with more universal appeal than most of what is currently in rotation on the radio. It's the kind of record that teems with so much personality that it makes my excitement about a split second of facial expression in Britney Spears' latest video seem exhausting.

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