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.”