I remember playing select cuts from my rapidly expanding (and mostly horrible) music collection for my folks as a teenager, and seeing the look on their faces as the songs would end. Confusion. Mild disgust. A shoulder shrug. A raised or furrowed brow depending on how awful or surprising the noise they were hearing might have been.
At the time I had convinced myself that they just "didn't get it," but in retrospect, I realize that there really wasn't much to get. Most of that collection was barely listenable hip-hop, neo-soul, punk rock, and metal, none of which was written with the musical sensibilities and tastes of someone in their late 30s to early 40s in mind. I didn't get their reaction almost as much as they didn't get what they were being subjected to.
But now I get it.
I don't listen to music on the radio. Thankfully, I don't use mainstream radio as a way to discover new music, and admittedly, I'm as out of touch with what's "big" right now as someone that makes music for a living could be. (I'm not sure if that's a good thing.) Curiosity got the best of me over the weekend, as I spent a few minutes of my Saturday night perusing the top three singles on iTunes. There I sat, at my desk, staring at my monitor with the same face reflecting back at me in my monitor screen as I'd seen my parents make almost 20 years ago.
I just don't get it.
1) Ke$ha, "We R Who We R" - 6,326,213 views
The only things I know about Ke$ha are that typing the dollar sign in her name is maddening (and highly unnecessary), and that she looks like she probably smells like a dead stripper farting into a hobo's armpit.
Hygiene notwithstanding, she's managed to sell over two million copies of her debut record Animal, which is a shitload of records, an even larger shitload when you consider the current state of the music industry, and a larger shitload yet, when you realize that it's actually a godawful load of sonic diarrhea that's selling a shitload.
Unfortunately, I find the st-t-t-tuttering in the ch-ch-ch-choruses to be horribly infectious (and mind-numbingly d-d-d-dumb), but not in a traditional melodic pop sense. They're infectious in more of a "Wow. That fire alarm was going off for three hours before they got it to stop. But, wait...are you sure it actually stopped? I swear I can still hear it." sense.
"We R Who We R" is a slight variation of "It is what it is", which has somehow become an acceptable way to avoid saying anything of consequence or interest. It's a way to avoid dead silence, saying "umm...uh...derr" or being totally honest and saying "I really have nothing of value to add to this discourse." That sounds like a great thing to bounce around and sing about.
I've only heard the song once, and I'm 100 percent certain that I don't need to (a) buy the single or (b) listen to it ever again. It's hard for me to imagine why anyone, let alone millions of people would do that, willingly. The perpetual stuttering echo rattling my skull will persist until I perform a mercy killing on my eardrums by blowing them out with an air horn in 3...2...1...
2) Willow, "Whip My Hair" - 10,359,996 views
Will and Jada Smith's daughter says "I whip my hair back and forth" SIXTY-SIX TIMES in three minutes and forty-five seconds. You know what needs to happen 66 times in three minutes and forty-five seconds? NOTHING. AT ALL. EVER. Even the best things, like orgasms and bacon and laughter and all other sorts of amazing and fun stuff don't need to happen that many times in that short of a time span.
There's no substance here. (Or in any of these songs, for that matter.)
The basic gist of this song, based on a quick read of the lyrics (~85 percent of which are, you guessed it... "I whip my hair back and forth.") is that Willow doesn't give a damn about what her haters have to say, because she just wants to have fun and whip her hair back and forth.
Poignant. She's 10 years old and the daughter of a woman that fronted one of the worst metal bands of all-time and a man whose net worth is valued at $188 million. Given that lineage and privilege, haters are probably a given, but I have a feeling it'll be pretty easy for her to "pay no attention" to them, keep whipping her hair back and forth in defiance, and pay for the ensuing chiropractic bills.
3) Far East Movement, "Like a G6" - 14,236,222 views
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Out of touch much?
Granted, I know that as a 35-year-old white male, I'm the polar opposite of the target demographic for this kind of music, but I feel like I should have the ability to at least process what I'm hearing and understand its appeal to the people that have watched the video 14 million+ times. I just can't. I don't get it. At all.
But then again, I don't go to clubs, don't drink sizzurup, and don't listen to KISS FM. It just sounds like the last thing a college coed would remember hearing before she wakes up in someone else's apartment and has to make the walk of shame to the cab waiting for her downstairs.