Dispatches From The Mainstream: 5/14/2013

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The Lumineers – “Stubborn Love”

What is this soggy, dull, trite, limp, repetitive, sub-Mumford garbage and how can we get it off the radio? This is the dullest four minutes you’ll spend on a top 40 station this year. Dead air time is more interesting than this. Pop music can get away with a lot of things but being boring is not one of them. A song can have dull verses if the chorus is big enough (see: Fountains of Wayne), but the chorus here is just nothing and the verses are unpleasant drivel that we’re supposed to accept as meaningful just because some bearded nobody is playing a “real instrument” behind it? No, no, and once again: no.

Mumford and Son are an easy punch line but their music works because, even at their most grandiose, over-bearing and condescending, their lyrics are fueled by a spirituality that’s so blatant it can’t be a put-on. Mumford and Sons might be playing dress-up (they toured an old-timey train, for God’s sake) but you’d be pretty cynical to deny that Marcus Mumford really believes in repentance, grace and all that other good stuff. I have no reason to believe that the Lumineers are being insincere in this song, but with these lyrics, that’s nothing to be proud of. “Stubborn Love” tells the story of two unpleasant people in the midst of an unpleasant love affair, with a few bumper-sticker idioms tossed in (“The opposite of love’s indifference?” gee, good one), paired with a refrain of unearned optimism. Can I say it one more time? No.

Will.I.Am – “That Power (feat. Justin Bieber)” 

Will.I.Am knows that it’s not called a “batter-ram,” right?

When Will.I.Am (along with his band-mate Fergie and those other guys) first switched it up with The E.N.D., I had to put aside my disinterest and give up a little respect. His songs weren’t much better than they had ever been, but it took guts to ditch a successful pop-rap formula in favor of a minimalistic electro approach. But after “I Gotta Feeling,” it was all downhill, and the singles got so bad that my begrudging respect morphed back into indifference and then kept growing until it was an enormous, tumorous mass of hate. Remember Tetsuo at the end of Akira? That’s what I’m talking about.

Will.I.Am’s solo career since then has been more of the same. He produced one awesome song (“Check It Out,” with Nicki Minaj) and a whole bunch of crap. Once in a while, I’ll hear a Will.I.Am song and have a thought (something like “nothing else on the radio sounds like this!”) and some of that admiration starts to creep back in. But when I remember that even the brain-dead beats that Will uses to back his inane rapping are usually outright stolen from another artist, then the hate returns and nothing can stop me from destroying Neo-Tokyo.

Biebs is alright on this, though. At least Will.I.Am didn’t neuter him like he did Usher on “OMG.” Yeesh.

Redfoo – “Bring Out The Bottles”

You may have noticed that a lot of the songs I write about here are several months old. This is usually because I—big twist coming up—actually do listen to other kinds of music, and sometimes it takes a while for new pop songs to filter down to me. In the case of Redfoo’s first solo single, things were a little different. I couldn’t write about this song for six months because it’s too depressing.

LMFAO were basically a novelty band that got lucky with “Party Rock Anthem,” an incredibly catchy song that wore out its welcome in record time.  When Redfoo and Skyblu both sing-rapped about non-stop partying, it was goofy and harmless, but for some reason, Redfoo on his own makes partying sound awful. The music is lifeless, the lyrics are boilerplate, and what’s supposed read as anthemic (or at least joyous) sounds like empty excess. The chorus is club life by way of Bret Easton Ellis. It’s not a hook; it’s the howl of a desperate man as he plummets into the abyss. When Redfoo commands an unseen servant to “bring out the bottles,” he does it with all the mirth of a syphilitic Emperor in the final days of Rome.

Even if “Bring Out The Bottles” doesn’t fill you with existential dread, the obligatory mention of his “big-ass fro” is enough to make you weep for Redfoo. You really think a man pushing 40 wants to party every night, or rap about hitting the dance floor and slapping girls on the butt? Then again, he chose this life. I’m sorry, Redfoo, but you dug your own grave. I will not cry for you, Redfoo. I will show you no pity. No pity and no mercy.

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