Monthly Archives: March 2013

What’s With Pop Music “Jumping The Shark” Lately?

It’s easy to dispair at the state of pop music at any given moment – just one glance at the singles chart is usually enough – but there have been some particularly desperate examples of terrible pop recently. I’m talking about pop songs that are ridiculous beyond the usual level you’d expect of such things – the musical equivalent of “jumping the shark,” if you will.

Leading the vanguard is, of course, Will.I.Am‘s atrocious yet ubiquitous ‘Scream And Shout’ single, which “features” Britney Spears in little more than a muffled two-word sample – the irony being that it’s simultaneously the most pointless featured artist credit in history and the song’s only really memorable moment. The rest is just obnoxious electro, Will.I.Am being his usual, blandly hedonistic self, and some unknown woman spouting lines about being “up in the club” in a received-pronunciation accent that borders on parody. Speaking of parody, Adam Buxton sends up the song quite spectacularly by covering it in the style of Scott Walker (see below).

Then came Macklemore & Ryan Lewis with ‘Thrift Shop’ – a song which purports to mock hip-hop’s bling-obsessed culture but comes across as a comedy rap version of ‘Being A Dickhead’s Cool’ thanks to its parping hook and goofy delivery. Its inclusion here is perhaps a little harsh given that it is, at least, intentionally funny, but I only ever feel like I’m enjoying it in an ironic way.

The real atrocities, however, are yet to come. Beyoncé has a lot to answer for with her new track ‘Bow Down’/’I Been On’,  and I’m not even talking about the “oooh she’s supposed to be about female empowerment, but she said bitches!” controversy. Indeed, the song’s supposed contradictions – such as naming her tour the “Mrs Carter Tour” then singing that she’s “not just his little wife” – could be chalked up as playful self-awareness. What can’t be forgiven, however, is the fact that the song is utter garbage – somehow managing to include both ear-searing pitched-up vocals and a laughable pitched down rap section that sounds like an A$AP Rocky outtake spliced with whatever was left on Timbaland’s cutting room floor. It’s basically an audio representation of Beyoncé smacking her ass right in our faces – but unlike ‘Run The World (Girls)’, it fails to make that image even remotely sexy. The end result just smacks of trying far too hard to be edgy.

Finally we have Azealia Banks, who’s now looking increasingly resigned to being more famous for starting Twitter drama with the likes of Angel Haze and Perez Hilton – though to be fair, if there’s one person on earth deserving of being called a “messy faggot” it’s probably Perez Hilton. Anyway, her latest attempt to rekindle interest in her music post ‘212’ (ok, maybe that’s a bit unfair…) is a track called ‘Yung Rapunxel’, which features a pulsating EDM backdrop that’s not so much a catchy earworm as it is just plain irritating.  It’s the the screamo bits that are the most laughable though – a lol-worthy attempt to ape Kelis (I HATE YOU SO MUCH RIGHT NOW!) if I’m feeling generous, or veering dangerously into Brokencyde territory if I’m not.

I can’t really put it better than Drowned In Sound’s Robert Leedham though:

“The sound of a Polydor A&R executive being fired, a former hype starlet self-destructing in the most garish fashion imaginable and Angel Haze cackling herself to an early night’s sleep. Dreadful.”

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Filed under Music, Songs

Juffage To Cook Up A ‘Sonic Cauldron’ In One-Off Leeds Show

When I interviewed Juffage (aka Jeff T Smith) before his UK tour last year, he mentioned that he had a special performance planned at Left Bank in Leeds – he’s now revealed that this this one-off performance will take place on the 26th April, as well as unveiling more details about the show. Building on his previous ambisonic exhibitions at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival and the University of Leeds, Juffage plans create a ‘sonic cauldron’ by surrounding the audience with an array of amps, speakers, ghetto blasters, and even the odd Leslie speaker cabinet in an effort to turn the venue itself into an instrument. Given that Left Bank is a former church, its spacious acoustics will be an excellent fit for such an experiment – if you want a brief peak into the kind of sonic scale you can expect at the performance, check out the teaser video below:

Joining Juffage for this performance will be special guests including Katie Harkin of indie-pop gems Sky Larkin (who you may have also spotted playing keyboards for Wild Beasts), and Tom Evans of post-rock stalwarts Vessels. Together they will perform unique interpretations of Juffage’s material, transforming his already engaging live shows into something truly immersive. The night also features a strong support bill, with Ten, These Men, Steve Lawson and Andy Williamson all lined up to play.

Juffage Poster

Having seen Juffage play in York on his last tour, I can say with confidence that he’s a truly inventive performer, and this show promises to take his sonic innovation to a new level. It’s also going to be his only show of the year and quite possibly his last for some time, so if you’re already a fan of his work or simply intrigued by the concept, you definitely won’t want to miss it.

Tickets for Juffage’s Left Bank show are available from Crash Records and Jumbo Records.

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Filed under Live, Music