Dec 21 2011

The Top 200 Songs of 2011 – 100-51

100. The Strokes – Under Cover of Darkness

When the band sticks to what they know, they sound great. Angles is a hot-and-cold album, but this is the first of two tracks that showcases the former.

99. Born Gold – Wrinklecarver

Originally released as former project Gobble Gobble, nothing has been done to this track in terms or re-mixing or mastering, but it just sounds better in context within the new album Bodysongs.

98. St. Vincent – Cheerleader

Another highlight from Strange Mercy – here Annie Clark shows off her knack for start-stop surprises around what sounds conventional at first, then grows to be beautifully unusual.

97. Drake – Lord Knows (featuring Rick Ross)

The snare hits, the booming bass, the background vocals, that “Just Blaze!” intro, the use of the phrase “Murdercedez Benz.” What’s not to love here?

96. Wiz Khalifa – The Race

One of the more down-tempo tracks on the fun Rolling Papers, Wiz drops a chill-out anthem for the end of the night when you just wanna light one up and take it easy.

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Sep 5 2011

The Songs of Summer 2011

Today is Labor Day and I’m a week into school, so for me, and many others, summer 2011 is over and done with, even though my thermometer and the official calendar would disagree. Last night it cooled down here in Austin to “West Texas evening” degrees, which is good enough for me to declare that autumn approacheth, though it’s probably going to take its sweet time getting here. Anywho, as is the case this time every year, I have compiled a short list of my “songs of the summer.” Some people like lazy-time summers filled with laid-back tunes and relaxing choruses. Me, I’m more of a “let’s dance all season long” kind of guy, and this selection reflects that. What are your favorite songs from the past 3-4 months? What were you rocking while dehydrating?

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Jun 24 2011

Catching Up With the Kids 6/24/11

Occasionally I browse the pop music world/charts/blogs and see what the kids are listening to. Sometimes I am pleased with what I find, most of the time I am not. This is a journal of my discoveries.

In the late 90’s, when grunge, alternative, and gangsta rap were the genres of relevance and, thanks to superstars like Garth Brooks, country was crossing over like never before, the pop world was struggling for identity.  Take a look at charts from the decade and you’ll find a diverse, albeit inconsistent string of hits from an array of forgotten artists. Divas, R&B crooners, softcore rappers, watered-down post-grungers, and Lilith Fair types all battled for airplay and notoriety while the majority of the music listening public had their ears elsewhere.  One genre stuck around for the vast majority of the decade, from the time the kids turned to Nirvana to the resurgence of the “boy band” in 1998.  That genre was “dance pop,” a club-ready sound from Europe that peaked (and almost abruptly disappeared) with the release of A Night At the Roxbury.  We all remember groups like No Mercy, Real McCoy, Aqua, Haddaway, and La Bouche dominating our local Top 40 station.

As I do on most trips away from home, while traveling, I reacquainted myself with the current playlist of conventional pop radio, and it seems, increasingly, this “dance pop” style has resurfaced, not because pop music is having another identity crisis, but because, this time around, it seems the kids really do enjoy this stuff.  While 90’s dance pop had female belters crooning about passion and devotion alongside growling male “rapping,” the new tracks don’t have a trying-too-hard vibe.  In fact, quite the opposite; the beats are loud, the production is slick, the composition is lazy, and the theme? Partying.  Hard. All the fucking time.

Sure, there’s still plenty of hip hop and Avril-types, and a few crossover country tracks, as well as some harder rock tracks from mainstays like Seether and My Chemical Romance.  But the focus is thumping bass, getting wasted, hooking up, and throwing glitter.  Even pop stars from other eras, like Jennifer Lopez and Britney Spears, have adopted the new sound in their recent singles.  Pop radio has always been about mindless, simple escapism, but it seems the past decade it wasn’t as fun….glad to see there’s a change in the tides.