No introductions needed, save for this: if you stumbled across this post first, go back and read “My Outlook on ‘Pop’ Music: Part 1” before continuing here.
Have you noticed that in nearly every music video made by, or should I say starring ‘pop stars’, they always feel compelled to write out their name in giant letters before the video starts? We obviously know who it is, guys, you don’t have to force it down our throats. Then again, we have J. to thank for that.
J. is a terrible singer/rapper/person, who can’t sing or write songs and who’s also virtually trademarked the ‘saying name before song’ thing that’s become a fad recently. There’s entire video montages of every occurrence in every song he’s released! We can thank J.’s use of saying his own name before his own song to a piece of computer programming dreamed up over two decades ago.
That’s right: AUTO-FREAKING-TUNE!! The most ANNOYING, HOLLOW, STUPID, MINDLESS PIECE OF (fill in what you’d like here) that music has come across since the disco beat!! It’s original idea was actually to correct a tune in a song, hence the name. In recent years, artists started to discover that it could not only correct vocal pitches, but also sound cool when used excessively! And then some idiot thought up an idea to sing an entire song in Autotune despite having no singing talent whatsoever, and we come to today.
Singers use autotune when they don’t need to: and the problem is, trying to hide Autotune is like trying to hide that you have a spreading skin rash. People will notice and Autotune just happens to be easily noticeable!!
Besides that, there’s not too much to say, really. However, I have much more to say about T, the current biggest star in music to date, who joins the likes of the Stones, Led Zeppelin, U2, Coldplay, Nirvana, and every other ‘biggest star in music’ as having that pointless distinction.
Comparisons end immediately after that, as every band I named is far superior to this not-even-30-year-old pop uber (German for super, not the company)-star. Here’s the catch: I remember back when she was anything but a star. In doing so, this makes me feel really old.
Anyway, T. started out as a country-born girl who took to guitar (as most aspiring country musicians do), and by her teenage years started to sing country seriously. At around twenty-something she released her mega-hit album with approximately one billion singles, because that’s about how many times we heard the dang songs all year and beyond!! Everyone raved about her and she won Grammys (yayyy…). My thoughts on her then were: decent singer, can strum a guitar well, lyrics have no impression on me except they seem to revolve around romantic relationships, and overall I don’t care either way. She’ll just leave after a while, I assured myself.
You can imagine the shock I had when I heard her back on the radio again during one of my youth retreats (no one wanted to listen to film scores on the ride up). Only she wasn’t playing country music, no, she was into pop music!! And then the next song, and the next, and it hit me: she’d moved from country to pop seamlessly, except one little problem:
SHE DOSEN’T SOUND LIKE HERSELF!!!!
The reason I could tolerate her country stuff (pre monster-album) was that her singing voice, while not anything dramatic, could blend in with the other country stars of that day. Nowadays, what strands of a country twang she had or probably made up are gone, replaced by a still-distinctive, if not somewhat artificial-sounding voice. At least she had a style, but now she can’t even lay claim to that!
On the topic of voices, let’s talk about vocal ability (cascading boos from the crowd ensue)! You’d think, at least in general terms, that the average singer who performs this style of music ought to be able to sing live just as well, if not better, than on the recorded track with all of its after-effects. However, that’s seemed to have become a second priority, particularly in one case, to making the concerts elaborate. Time to talk about another female star who was the biggest until T. came along and nabbed the title.
Now, this star has a distinct image to her and keeps that up throughout her work. Know who I’m talking about yet? Catch is, that image is of a seven-year-old girl’s dreamland fantasy and the singer is probably in her thirties by now. See one problem? Another is her overelaborate concerts, which almost feel like mini-Super Bowl halftime shows! The most glaring problem: she cannot sing her own music live. If I’ll give her songs any little credit, because they don’t deserve hardly any, they have the most meticulous production work I’ve ever heard, because turning her voice into what it sounds like on the records is an impressive feat.
What does her actual voice sound like? She has the lower notes covered, but can hardly sing a single higher note in tune. I’m not saying she can’t sing, she can, but the songs (all of them, by the way) are forcing her to use a range she can hardly hit. That makes me wonder: how can they find a decent take of her when she keeps squawking on half the takes?
Now, on a few singers this problem doesn’t arise because they’re vocally talented, but the average ratio would be about, let’s see…1:8, I think.
Oh, how about lyrics? Yeah, does anyone know off the top of their heads what the big three subjects are between pop, rap, R&B, what’s left of country, “bro country”, and every other stupidly-named musical genre?
- Romance (for lack of a better word)
Yes, because obviously we can’t think of anything else to write about and if we do, it has to be written like one of those categories on the surface! This deeper meaning garbage has me in chains, because I don’t realize there’s a deeper meaning when I listen to this stuff. And that’s only on reviews of the songs themselves, what, you actually thought I listened to pop on a regular basis? ARE YOU CRAZY???
You could sing/rap about, oh I don’t know, your home, your family, thanksgiving, holidays, school, friendships that stay friendships, cities, sports, tv channels, I mean THINK ABOUT IT!!
Obviously, most of you don’t think about it and the ones that do either take years to release their totally-awesome breath of fresh air/hope album straight from Britain, or go unnoticed by anyone because rock’s a dead genre…sort of.
Country, it’s your turn. If Johnny Cash’s death (RIP) didn’t mark your downfall, I’m not sure what did. Because even when I was a kid, country music still sounded right: banjos, fiddles, singing about such “mundane subjects” as days of the week, families, and tailgating, directed to a section of America wearing cowboy hats and herding cattle.
And that’s about when country music vomited on itself, emerging with a massive sub genre that focuses on exactly what pop focuses on, except with southern accents on lead vocals and guitars/fiddles on instruments.
The first I heard of this sewage (…ummm, music) became, according to the news, the biggest country hit ever, and I disagree. It’s not, because it’s not a country song. What does it talk about? Girls that cannot physically exist and the WORST pickup line EVER CREATED. SIGH! Whoever called this OBVIOUSLY POP PIECE OF GARBAGE a country song needs to exit the journalism business right now!
Am I done yet? No. There’s all sorts of topics left: child stars being “adults” in both their songs and real life, music videos that make no sense, too much cursing, annoying voices, bass drops, techno becoming non-existant, stars popping out of nowhere, people trying to make it as a serious singer when they can’t sing, and finally dance crazes.
Yeah, that’s about it. I still cannot gain any respect from this industry, but its so downright hilarious that I hope it doesn’t go away any time soon (it won’t. It’s still music, technically). So keep putting out bad songs, pop music, because we’re all here ready to name every single thing wrong, dumb, and ridiculous about your volumes of songs.