With it being January and all, we tend to reflect on our lives and sometimes take a wider view on the happenings of the past year. For me, this is a look back at a year of music. 2015 was a mixed bag, and whilst there was a wealth of good music, obviously, my aim is to highlight some songs from 2015 which have issues. Or, rather, I took issue with them. Don’t think of it as a greatest (s)hits list, think of it as pop songs that made me think too much for the wrong reasons. I’ve got a feeling my resolution this year should be to stop listening to FM radio in the car.
Bad Blood – Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift seems to be lacking the ability to rhyme. Evident by the fact that the following words or short phrases do not: 'bad blood / mad love'; 'done / blood'; 'problems / solve ‘um'; 'deep cut / bad blood'. I am aware that poetry does not have to rhyme, but these are very forced with a blatant pull to make the phonics match. Assonance made asinine. The sample I have taken is the complete (lack of) rhyme structure for the chorus which also repeats Bad Blood three times at irregular intervals in only 8 lines. It’s lazy. Lack of rhyme scheme could have been justified if the words seemed like they mattered but it’s all vague and soft. A title evoking such pain to mention blood should have been a bit more cutting, you would think.
Admittedly the star-gathering video was fun. Still surprising that she has the gravitas to align that many actual celebrities, from various industries even. More surprising that somehow Kendrick Lemar was roped in to guest rap on the remix. His lines sound like they are directed to an individual and hint at a personal conflict between two people. Odd that he seems to float this song when it has been divulged that it is a hiphop style “diss-track” aimed at Katy Perry. Swift’s lyrics have no narrative and are bland clichés about knives in the back, salt in wounds, said wounds lasting and lasting blah blah.
Only positive to take away is that if it is aimed towards Katy Perry, she is at least someone who has demonstrated that she might be tasteless enough to hopefully respond with something interesting and catty. Just don’t enlist Drake as the parallel to Lamar.
See You Again – Wiz Kalifa ft. Charlie Puth
I am puzzled by the huge outcry at Paul Walker’s death (shaky ground but please bear with me). He wasn’t an A-lister and was best known for his involvement in some of the noisiest, plotless, faux-action cash in films of the century. Not to mention irritatingly titled. 1 is THE Fast & THE Furious, 4 is Fast & Furious - sans THE - while 6 is Fast & Furious 6 – surely it should be The Fast & the Furious 4: Fast & Furious 2.
I’m sure the message was well-meaning and was probably written sincerely for a real life friend who has passed on, I’m sure. The hook 'tell you all about it when I see you again' is phrased brilliantly. It’s memorable and just rolls off the tongue. But the rest of the chorus is generic. If the long day without them is so interesting to regale in the afterlife, then why aren’t you talking about the long day? Same for being a long way from where you began. Sounds like the start might have been the interesting part. Elaborate maybe. The bridge is also awfully bland, as is the 'Ah-ah oh, uh' melody. That aside, Puth’s vocal is pleasant. So if there is a strength, it’s that. I first thought Sam Smith had undergone tongue reduction surgery.
Might have noticed I haven’t mentioned Khalifa. That’s 'cos he’s irrelevant. I might be wrong but I’m sure that in the “Paul Walker Tribute Song” he is rapping about Walker’s character from the film but with less narrative. It has nothing to do with Paul Walker. The song is just pandering and worse than the Wizless version you can hear on Heart FM or Free Radio.
Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae) – Silento
I have moaned a fair bit about this one to people and most didn’t even know the song. But it peaked at 19 in the charts so it counts as a hit(ish). People now know it quite well six months later. I also tried to avoid easy targets but this couldn’t pass by.
Issues: his voice is high pitched and irritating, the music is that modern plonky R&B “beat” and the production is overbearing and littered with painful rapper adlibs, all of which follow:
- 'you already know what it is'
- 'stank stank'
- 'break ‘em'
- 'crank that'
- 'to the left, to the right'
- 'can you do i’?'
- 'kill it'
The two remaining standouts are 'duff ‘em' - unintentionally hilarious - and 'what me do i' which is such a poor pronunciation of 'watch me do it', it hurts me.
And the reason behind the song? It’s primarily about two dances, the whip and the nae nae, but it then namechecks a bunch of other modern dances like it’s the We Didn’t Start the Fire of shitty dance moves. Stop writing songs, if you can even count this random assortment of words as a song that is.
The video promotes "Watch Me" as a family fun activity; children, grandmas all doing the moves etc, and I’m sure that if this had been released around the time of Britain’s Got Talent we would have seen a bunch of children’s dance troops push this into the top 10 at least.
Bitch Better Have My Money – Rihanna
No jokes. This one makes me uncomfortable.
Musically, it was a jarring contrast to have heard this soon after the Kanye West/Paul McCartney penned FourFiveSeconds, which I liked. It’s got a southern state US hip-hop sound to the music. It’s drab and unpleasant, which I suppose is at least in keeping with what she is saying. The lyrics co-opt modern club-rapper mentality – that sort of more-ruffian-than-gangsta hip-hop posturing which appeals to white girls throwing gang signs. The constant swearing and 'brraps' really make me cringe. But I digress.
My discomfort comes from the message. I understand that it’s about being popular and ahead of the curve, despite expressing this in the most played out way – another similarity towards the aforementioned mod-hip-hop. But it doesn’t come across that way. It comes across as glorifying brutality towards women and it doesn’t express any social commentary, irony or parody, whether that was the intention or not. And this from a highly publicised victim of domestic violence. I know it was 6 years ago, but she should steer clear of this kind of topic, unless she is highlighting the plight. My opinion. Thinking about young women, her core demographic may I remind you, reciting and enjoying this makes me sickened and appalled. Note that I said recite rather than sing as this is not sung. Her delivery is just forced and obnoxious tuneful speaking.
Last thing, I don’t know basketball, but if she really is 'ballin’ bigger than LeBron', then stop aspiring to be Greg Oden.
Post-breakup Treadmill Inspiration Soundtrack #37 – Kelly Clarkson
Music is an art form and it is difficult to explain why it’s OK to like some things and dislike others as it’s all objective. For me, I rationalise my taste by what I’m left with. Sometimes that can be a wonderfully digestible opus of meaningful lyrics, catchy melody and well-crafted music. Other times it can be just a tasty chord in an otherwise by the numbers type of song.
Considering it’s all a matter of taste, I would describe Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) as bland. A plate of boiled rice. I’m not left with anything here except forgettable chart fodder used only to pad out a wider buffet of tastes.
Why Post-breakup Treadmill Inspiration Soundtrack #37? I imagine scorn lovers running to this at the gym, toning their bodies to impress their ex-beau whom they don’t care about anymore anyways. That and, like a treadmill, Clarkson is somehow in constant motion yet not covering new ground. This song is played out. Kelly Clarkson has released this before. Initially it was called Since You’ve Been Gone, but this rendition is watered down with none of the effort, edge, authenticity or real sounding instruments.
For those that didn’t realise earlier, Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You) was released in 2012, and her release this year was called Heartbeat Song. But my review still stands as it’s the same song rehashed anyway. She followed Heartbeat Song with Invincible. Review still stands.
A few quickies.
Pretty Girls – Iggy Azalea & Britney Spears
Britney sings a limited melody vocal in a rap flow, so why bother with a miniscule eight bar rap from Iggy (Iggy), which is equal in length to the unnecessary 90’s style dance break.
Bills - Lunch Money Lewis
The way he squawks 'work, work, work' with the tunefulness of a seagull from Finding Nemo just cuts through me.
I Really Like You – Carly Rae Jepson
I really really really really really really can’t believe this 30 year old is still pretending to be 17. (I really really really really really really like this song :( - Ed.)
Bitch, I’m Madonna – Madonna
I really really really really can’t believe this 57 year old is still trying to be relevant in such an embarrassing way.
X Factor Winner’s Song – X Factor Winner
This set a new standard for poor. Peaking at number 9 and now the least successful winner’s single. Poor what’ser face. She will be missed.