As far as my ears are concerned, it’s 1967. I very rarely listen to music made after 1970, and I almost never listen to music made after 1982 (the year Combat Rock by the Clash was released). I have only the vaguest understanding of what contemporary popular music sounds like; as I’ve always seen it, what’s the point of going out of my way to listen to music I don’t like when I can listen to music I love whenever I want?
Because, I guess, I’m curious. I don’t expect myself to like the music I’m about to be exposed to, but I’m a big believer in not knocking things ‘til I’ve tried them. If you’re going to knock something, you’ve got to knock it with authority.
On the evening of Monday, July 30th, 2012, I cold-listened to the Top Ten most downloaded songs on American iTunes and wrote down how they made me feel. As follows are my findings.
I had a difficult few moments attempting to grasp whether this song is called “Pontoon” by Little Big Town or “Little Big Town” by Pontoon. Although the band name Little Big Town is nothing to write home about, I’m happy no one ever named their band “Pontoon.”
Oh, they’re a country band. That’s cool. They’re a very hipstery looking country band (I’m watching the video) and it’s confusing me, because the lyrics are doing a Redneck Woman-style “embracing/aggrandizing the redneck lifestyle” thing; the disparity is making them seem ingenuine. I feel like they should have made more of an effort to step up to their stylist so they could wear their regular redneck clothes in the “Pontoon” video.
I like Little Big Town. I like pontoons. I never knew what a pontoon was before I listened to “Pontoon,” but now that I’ve heard it, and Googled “pontoons,” I’m realizing that I agree with Little Big Town: pontoons are fantastic. They’re those flat-bottomed boats, like a regular boat mixed with a patio. Such a chill, great concept! At any given moment, I’d easily choose “being on a pontoon” over “not being on a pontoon.”
Oh! There’s a slide on the “Pontoon” pontoon. The members of Little Big Town are sliding down the slide into the lake. They are barbecuing meat. I envy them.
The lead singer is a severe-looking brunette, the kind of woman who it makes more sense to describe as “handsome” over “pretty.” She looks like she should smoke a hundred cigarettes a day for the entire rest of her life and then tell her grandchildren about how she’s “seen it all.” She just sang “Reach your hand down into the cooler” and smirked at the camera. I guess that’s supposed to be sexual innuendo? How crass. Next she says “Don’t drink it if the mountains aren’t blue”- that’s a reference to Coors Light. I get it! They like Coors Light.
You know, I don’t hate this song- it’s bland, yes, extremely bland, but I guess that’s the point. Little Big Town are not the Beatles, and I think they’re okay with that about themselves. “Pontoon” is not “A Day In The Life;” it’s just a fun little summer party jam. It’s positive. Excellent vibes minus the vagina/cooler comparison, but maybe I’m reading too deep into things. Maybe they just mean coolers. Maybe Little Big Town are pure of heart.
Mostly, this song makes me extremely happy for all the people in the world who have access to a pontoon and get to listen to “Pontoon” on their pontoons this summer.
Oh, hi! I’m in a megaclub! I’m dead now, because I hate this song so much it killed me. It’s one of those simpering pro-you pro-emotional strength anthems in the vein of “Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera and/or “Firework” by Katy Perry: “You shoot me down, but I won’t fall/ I am titanium.” The beginning sounds like The Police, which probably means it was inspired by Gotye. I wish Gotye was on this list. I like Gotye. More than “Pontoon” even!
Listening to “Titanium” reminds me of how I felt when I was a little kid struggling with my math homework. It makes me want to rip all the hair out of my skull and cry tears of frustration. There is a bitter tension in my gut. I keep turning it on and off and pacing across my bedroom, sighing. The semi-inspirational lyrics are a joke. Anyone who has ever been inspired by “Titanium” does not deserve to feel inspired, unless they are a child.
This song is a too-tight white camisole with a built-in bra. I’m dead, and Hell is a megaclub.
Oh my God this person is so boring. This song is so boring. “Lights” is worse than Hell- it’s purgatory.
I thought Ellie Goulding was going to be better than this. I’m not sure why I thought that- maybe because she played at the Royal Wedding? That happened, right? I’m pretty sure that happened. I thought she was going to be more like Adele. Why isn’t Adele one of the Top Ten most downloaded songs on iTunes? I have a lot of nice things to say about Adele.
This song is validating my decision to exist in a safe-space-bubble of Beatles & Bolan & Bowie. How could a person ever choose this over “Let It Bleed” or “The Village Green Preservation Society?” A lyric she just sang sounded like “This donkey’s too hot to eat,” and I hoped it was, but then I looked up the lyrics and it turns out it’s “The dark is too hard to beat”- I doubt that’s true. I doubt Ellie Goulding is suffering from clinical depression; I’m sure she’s rich and boring and happy. This is music for rich, boring, happy people, and that’s why Ellie Goulding played at the Royal Wedding:
This song is the aural equivalent of Kate Middleton.
This fellow won American Idol, I see. I like his name- it’s like Dave Davies, the lead guitarist from the Kinks. And it’s his real name, I just learned on Wikipedia: Phillip LaDon Phillips, Jr. (LaDon. Gross.) I also just learned on Wikipedia that Phillip’s favorite musicians include: Jonny Lang, Dave Matthews, Damien Rice, Mumford and Sons, and Tool (Tool being the obvious wildcard of the group). All I can surmise from this incredibly boring list of influences is that Phillip Phillips’ music is going to be very boring. But will it be more boring than “Lights” by Ellie Goulding? Ummm… Nope! “Lights” is more boring. Way more boring. I kind of like “Home!” Maybe even more than “Pontoon?” No, no, less than “Pontoon.” Definitely less than “Pontoon.” The Dave Matthews influence is palpable. Phillip is clearly the type of dude whose favorite Beatles song is “Blackbird.”
Oh wait! Shit! In the middle it gets kind of good! He sings “Just know you’re not alone, ‘cause I’m gonna make this place your home,” and then it gets smashy. He’s got a good drummer. It’s not garbage. This music isn’t garbage. Phillip Phillips is talented! I’m so excited about this right now. I’m finding it very refreshing to hear music made by someone who appears to be at least somewhat invested in contributing something semi-non-hollow to the contemporary musical landscape. But I think if I heard it in any other context, like if someone said, “Hey, Laura- you have to listen to this new song by this guy Phillip Phillips, I’m so in love with it right now,” I’d think “This is garbage,” but I guess that’s the way it works; the way people consume music. You can’t assume that everyone in the world’s going to go very far out of their way to research every band that ever released a song between the years 1963 and 1981. So they hear Phillip Phillips and think “Well… it’s better than Ellie Goulding,” and then they become a Phillip Phillips fan. I wish I could play them all Stray Cat Blues.
Owl City sounds like a fake band name from a movie. Julianne Moore’s son’s band’s name in a movie about Julianne Moore having a quiet yet profound midlife crisis.
Oh, they suck. Owl City suck. I must admit, I saw this one coming. I never expected Owl City not to suck. Carly Rae Jepsen is my favorite part of this song, and I mean that as an insult to Owl City, not as a compliment to Carly Rae Jepsen. I keep typoing the “Rae” in Carly Rae as “raw”- there is irony in that.
I’m watching the video now. Carly Raw is drinking an orange or maybe peach slushy and I want one. She has a bit of a feral wolf-child look to her. This is the worst song yet. It’s the least boring (not counting “Pontoon,” which I now LOVE), but it’s also the most vapid. “Doesn’t matter when/ It’s always a good time then/ Doesn’t matter where/ It’s always a good time there”- the then and there are extemporaneous; more importantly, it’s just not true! Have Owl City and Carly Rae Jepsen never had a bad time doing anything in their lives? I realize that these people are not poets, but come the fuck on. They just say any words, and then they autotune themselves, and that’s what a song is, in 2012! Ew.
Ew. Ew ew ew ew ew ew. I hate everything, and feel bad about the world. I need a break. I’m going to go read a couple pages of the Molly Bloom soliloquy and listen to the Beatles. I love Beatles. fsjlsdfsa;fihjvfdjfda’lfdgkdfsjgs/ ,ldfaaaahhhhhhhhaaaaabeatles.
Editor’s note: stay tuned for Part 2- songs 5-1- tomorrow or Wednesday. Also I was sad typing in the tags for this column. Except Phillip Phillips. That was fun. [Update: Read Part 2]