Saturday, July 21, 2012

'Blow Me' Twice - Pink & Jeffree Star as Contrasting Pop Provocateurs

I'm not sure oral sex ever went out of style, but if it did it's currently enjoying a sort of - ahem - comeback in the pop music scene. A pair of pop provocateurs recently released fellatically (and almost identically) titled new singles whose shared nomenclature invites further comparisons that reveal much more than the basic which-one-is-better. Hearing Pink's newest single "Blow Me (One Last Kiss)" alongside Jeffree Star's "Blow Me" exposes a significant difference between a skilled provocateur committed to his mission and a skilled provocateur who shirks it while still attempting to wear the uniform.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Ke$ha Project: The Best of Ke$ha Poll

The life of an ardent Ke$havangelist such as I am demands, of late, a great deal of faith and patience. One ultimately has to find things to do while one waits for the Messiah to unleash her next sermon on the mount. Occasionally I will eschew the urgent pop of the day to bask in the glory of Ke$ha's music, of which we fortunately have a great deal already to light our way, and as often happens when I'm listening to great music, today I got to thinking about the highlights of her short but remarkable published discography thus far, and how my opinions might differ from those of other Kesha Kongregants and non-believers. Twitter queries stirred up enough conversation to prompt me to move the questions here to the blog where they might find some real answers, and it's always a good time to add to The Ke$ha Project.

The Ke$ha Project

So, here is what I pose to all readers out there whom I ask to weigh in to help answer these tough but fascinating questions. As you make your selections, I encourage you to explain, debate or argue in the comments as we try to determine some semblance of an outcome by popular vote. I also encourage you to take the opportunity to go to your iPod or Spotify or YouTube and revisit the music mentioned herein, especially if you have yet to see the light on how brilliant this artist truly is.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Carly Rae Jepsen Immortalized in Sesame Street Sketch Starring Cookie Monster

Remember the beginning of Ke$ha's career when we were all thinking "Jeez, will this girl just go away already? Wait, play "TiK ToK again!" and then the song was featured in one of the better opening sequences of The Simpsons in recent years and we knew she'd be around forever? Well, history has a funny way of repeating itself, because Carly Rae Jepsen's inescapable "Call Me Maybe," the "TiK ToK" of 2012, has been spoofed in a Sesame Street sketch starring Cookie Monster (aka Cookie Rae Jepsen. I made that up), called "Share It Maybe."

Sunday, July 8, 2012

*Listen to This!* Erica Gibson - "I Don't Want You Back" (Single Review)

One of the nice things about pop music is that it's really easy to recognize when someone's gotten it right. There are folks out there who have mastered the form and can crank out hits ad nauseum - we know who they are. But every so often, a newcomer stumbles onto the formula out of nowhere - witness Josh Ramsay and Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe," or Rock Mafia and Selena Gomez and the Scene's "Love You Like a Love Song." When this happens, and these songs become hits, radio folks always claim that all it takes is a fantastic song and they'll play it - no Bieber tweets/relationships or Disney boost required. I'm going to call your bluff, pop radio, because I've found a perfect pop single, truly from nowhere: "I Don't Want You Back," by the thoroughly unknown singer Erica Gibson. Let's hear it!

"I Don't Want You Back" doesn't just follow the ideal structural formula of a pop smash, although it does do that. Lots of songs can be perfect pop on paper - it is a formula, after all - but it takes a delivery and execution to provide the less tangible elements required of a great pop single to become a smash. First, it's got to have the right messenger, one with personality (but not too much), likability and an accessible universal quality to the voice so that everyone can sing along. Check: Gibson has the warmth and earnestness in her vocal to appeal to younger listeners, and clear intelligence and self-awareness (but not too much) to appeal to older or more
cynical ears.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Marina and the Diamonds - "How to Be a Heartbreaker" (Single Review)

There's no magic formula for chart success in the United States, as many a qualified singer has learned. There is, however, at least one basic truth about breaking onto the US pop charts, and with her new single "How to Be a Heartbreaker," Marina Diamandis of the fictional "band" Marina and the Diamonds seems to have finally figured it out. "Rule number one," she sings, coolly, "is that you gotta have fun."

Marina and the Diamonds - "How to Be a Heartbreaker" Review Electra Heart

 Marina has had a fraught relationship with "fun." On her debut album, The Family Jewels, she served a batch of largely well-written pop songs like an omelet made from eggs laid by hens in the coop she'd built in the backyard from toothpicks and superglue and cooked on a stove she powered by riding a bicycle backwards, dyed green, put sprinkles on top and a smiley face made of ketchup, and served on roller skates dressed as Bugs Bunny. So hard did she beat the music over the head with the "fun" sledgehammer (when she wasn't using the "avant-garde" mallet) that it didn't seem like she was really having any fun at all, and it was certainly exhausting to listen to, which is not to say it wasn't at all entertaining.

New Music That Doesn't Suck - July 2012

I've acquired some new music over the last month or two that's not terribly objectionable, and my mother taught me to share. Here's a sampling, and there's a Spotify playlist at the bottom.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Popologist Panel: Justin Bieber, Fiona Apple, Diplo, Katy Perry

It's the first Thursday of the month, which means it's time for a new edition of the Popologist Panel! This month we bring you our sophomore effort, after our exciting debut last month in which we discussed new music from Azealia Banks, Cher Lloyd, Kylie Minogue, Ke$ha, and more, and inadvertently moved a legion of Adam Lambert fans to take up arms against some of our more honest yet controversial thoughts on his album Trespassing. This month we're tackling a somewhat more eclectic batch of new work from the last month, ranging from pop superstar Justin Bieber's new album Believe to techno icon Diplo's much delayed EP to the return of "Mr. Saxobeat" chanteuse Alexandra Stan and the final video from Katy Perry and her Teenage Dream juggernaut; plus, before wrapping up we weigh in on the song of the zeitgeist, Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe."

There's a good crop of new stuff here you probably haven't heard, so we hope you'll check out anything here you think might interest you. As usual, there is not one piece on which we all agree; in fact, we seem to have a few more disagreements than last month! We also welcome our first guest panelist, who offers us a fresh look from a new perspective to keep us all in check. Enjoy, and please share your thoughts, whether you think we're right on or full of shit. We're very likely both.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

"Call Me Maybe" in Real-Life Application (or, "Hunky Nurse Man")

This toes the line between topical and personal (not to mention embarrassing) but ultimately I can justify it as a case study on how pop music permeates even the most basic human instinctive practices, in this case, the mating ritual. To set it up: there is a male nurse who works at the clinic at which I have weekly appointments who is rather attractive in that kind of "shall I remove my clothes?" a la Kylie Minogue's "Fever" kind of way.

A few months ago, I was lucky enough to win a series of shots that traditionally are administered in the rear, which is never pleasant, but, I learned, immensely more tolerable when the task is performed by the hot male nurse. In fact, by my third and final appointment with the needle, I actually balked at the female nurse who initially came in with some excuse about wanting to finish the journey together or some sort of bullshit, but it worked. I have never flirted as shamelessly as I did those next three minutes or so, and it was a total thrill, since while I'm sure there are activities at which I'm poorer than flirting I can't think of any off the top of my head. Since then, the five or ten seconds I get to see him each week have become something I look forward to.

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