or Music Rant Part Twelve
I realise it's been a while since my last music rant, but I guess because it took all of 2015 to actually give me something to work with, and enough of that something to write a post that's a decent length. I guess I wasn't exposed to enough new pop records that were remarkable either way, and in terms of pop music 2015 was generally pretty insipid.
Noel Gallagher was right about pop music taking a nosedive into blandness, but then he turned around and said he loved Coldplay, who are about as bland as you can get. Furthermore he cited Adele as an example of this blandness, accusing her of making "music for grannies" and she's one of the few contemporary pop singers worth listening to in the last decade or two and one of a handful since the '60s - okay then, the '70s. To top it off, he and his band Oasis only made one album that could actually be called great and one or two others anyone other than die-hard fans gave a toss about, and that was about twenty years ago. Nowadays he seems to have done a Boy George, resurfacing long enough to slag off other musicians long after his own star has faded. (To his credit Noel Gallagher looks much the same pushing fifty as he did when he was young - sure, he and Liam were both average looking then and now but better that than Boy George, who was disturbingly pretty when he was young and is still an egotistical wanker even though he's now fat, bald, ugly and old).
Nonetheless, as bland and unremarkable as a lot of pop records were in the past year there were exceptions, and notable ones at that (and no, I'm not doing Justin Bieber or One Direction, as others have already slagged them off in spades, I doubt I'd be contributing anything new to any discussion on either Bieber or 1D and I'm not here to flog old jokes to death. Besides, neither act released anything in the last twelve months that moved me in any way, good or bad). So without further ado...
- Do You Remember by Jarryd James: or "that sensitive New Age fascist song" as I've come to know it - I wouldn't insult the LGBT community by calling it "that gay fascist song" and thereby associating it with them. We have poor little Jarrykins pining for a love gone wrong and wanting to talk about feelings and shit while in the background it sounds like one or many arseholes goose-stepping, immediately evoking mental images of Hitler feeling a bit delicate and being all, "Be gentle with me, I'm a sensitive boy deep down. Sure, I'm a fascist dictator hell-bent on world domination and genocide but I have feelings too you know." Furthermore, the autotuning/multi-tracking/whatever studio trick was used does nothing to disguise what a weak and whiny voice this special little snowflake has. Not to mention the lyrical content - for starters, "Call me when you made up your mind/But you won't" is clumsy at best, an insult to grammar at worst, mixing future tense with present, but in any event coming off pissy and whiny, if not passive-aggressive. Then he has the gall to say "Nobody knows what we know about it/No one needs to know". We don't need to know about this situation? Then shut up about it! Why did you write and record a song about it, and release it to the general public? Snivelling dickhead!
- Bills by LunchMoney Lewis: Sure, bills are a thing for grown-ups to deal with (generally speaking) but this monosyllabic, two-chord ditty could've been composed by a child (or at least one that isn't Wolfgang Mozart). However, it might have still been a half-decent r'n'b song but for that bloody annoying siren thing punctuating the non-vocal parts and thereby ruining the record completely. Yeah, I think I'll stick with the likes of Muddy Waters or John Lee Hooker when it comes to songs about financial matters.
- Cheerleader by OMI: This song glorifying fidelity in the face of women throwing themselves at our subject is fundamentally just like Johnny Cash's I Walk The Line, only without the decisiveness or conviction (comparing and contrasting "I think I found myself a cheerleader" with "I keep a close watch on this heart of mine...Because you're mine, I walk the line. Mmmmmm..."). Or the talent. This track is riddled with autotuning, which is to music what performance-enhancing drugs are to sport, thus making this record the electronic equivalent of one of those Chinese Olympic female swimmers from the '90s who took so many steroids she ended up looking like a man. It's completely wrong and the powers that be need to put a stop to it.
- Alive by Sia: I think she should've left this song to Adele, who has a vocal range broad enough to carry off such a soulful number, hitting the highest notes and making it sound operatic. Nothing wrong with Sia's voice as such, it's just this song is beyond her range, and descends into howling and screeching which is uncomfortable to listen to. On the other hand, hats off to Sia for succeeding where Yoko Ono has failed: releasing a record where she shreiks and not only does it actually sell, it becomes a hit, having already made it on her own with material more palatable. (Yoko, on the other hand, would've never even seen the inside of a recording studio if she wasn't involved with John Lennon, much less achieved the level of fame that she did. And if John was alive today his back would be shot from carrying her).
- The Weeknd: When I first read the name I thought it looked like it was pronounced "weakened". Appropriate, considering he has several songs in his body of work which glorify drug use, either on himself (Can't Feel My Face, a song about getting rat-arsed on cocaine) or on women in order to then have sex with them (High For This, XO/Host and Initiation). Even if these are true to life in the same way as Johnny Cash shooting a man in Reno just to watch him die (Folsom Prison Blues) or Mick Jagger being Satan (The Rolling Stones' Sympathy For The Devil), The Weeknd has still done a bang-up job of being a creepy bastard by treating such behaviour as something to be proud of. Does he think it's a compliment when someone calls him a "piece of shit"?
Such a shame that popular music tended to be so mediocre if not horrible during the centennial year since the births of Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, Mae Boren Axton (one of the authors of the Elvis Presley breakthrough hit Heartbreak Hotel), Les Paul (guitarist and inventor of the electric guitar) and David "Honeyboy" Edwards (bluesman whose career in music was longer than most people have been alive, plus he was a friend and colleague of Robert Johnson). (Muddy Waters gave his birthdate as April 4, 1915 but I didn't include him because he was actually born in 1913).
And that's all from me, at least for now. *steps off soap box*