Monday, July 18, 2016

Highlights from the Billboard Hot 100...or maybe not highlights after all because I hate most of it.

I figure I should probably try to write something other than the Summer Concert series this summer, so I thought I'd take a look at the Billboard Charts today and see if I find anything interesting...

Hot 100's Top 10 this week:

1. Drake feat. Whizkid and Kyla "One Dance" - I've never heard this song before until now. Have I crossed over? Am I too old? I did just turn 29 a couple days ago but I didn't think it would happen this fast...and I'm still in my twenties, albeit the last year! Yes, I never thought I would see the day where I know maybe two songs on the Billboard Hot 100 top 10. Okay, I know three actually. Or it could be that what is popular in pop music has been steadily declining and everything is sounding very similar so I can't differentiate. Also, since when did Drake become Jamaican? What's up with his accent in this song? Going back to my previous sentiment about pop music, I think I might have heard this beat on a Drake song a couple times before. He's way better than this. Get a new beat, Jimmy!

2. Justin Timberlake "Can't Stop the Feeling!" - Look at J Timberlake making a feel good song and still making the billboard charts. I played a pop playlist at one of my summer reading programs lately, and this song definitely got the most conversation out of the teens - and that's when you know. "Oh, I like this song!" "I just like Justin Timberlake!" "Omgz so hawt." Anyway...this song is alright, I guess...

3. The Chainsmokers feat. Daya "Don't Let Me Down" - Oh, this song! It's on a commercial, I think. It's actually pretty interesting compared the the top two contenders here...it has a lot of diverse hooks to the song. The chorus and the "I need ya, I need ya, I need ya right now" bridge along with the blow horn sound DJ's like to use in the background, which I usually hate but used in this song, it isn't bad. Daya sounds like Rihanna and The Chainsmokers sound like every DJ out there trying to take precedent over the artist who is actually singing the song. Which brings me to the next song...

4. Calvin Harris feat. Rihanna "This is What You Came For" - Wow, I'm sorry but this is some contrived bullshit like whoa. There's no heart in this. Rihanna has produced songs that have that...Calvin Harris has at least been involved in better songs. This song however, screams "I just wanted a paycheck." And Rihanna's voice is so autotuned, it doesn't even sound like her...what the hell. WHY IS THIS POPULAR??? (Because Rihanna shits gold and Calvin Harris dated Taylor Swift!)

5. Sia "Cheap Thrills" - yay finally a song with artistic merit! We had to get to number 5 for that? No wonder why I don't look at this chart too often. I'm so happy that Sia is getting the credit she deserves - it's been a long time coming. She's a great pop song writer. I only wish she wouldn't buy into Lady Gaga syndrome so much but we can't have it all, can we?

6. Desiigner "Panda" - Reading about this guy right now and I'm already like "eeehhhh". He reminds me too much of Tyler the Creator and therefore I'm not sure if we can be friends. Apparently, "Panda" is his debut single from his debut album, The Life of Desiigner which is being released on GOOD music, Kanye West's label. Can you see my conundrum already? I'm also not a fan of his flow. I usually hate judging an artist based on one song and/or arbitrary things but...I really can't stand trap rap. It's just not my cup of tea. But we'll see how this guy does.

7. Rihanna "Needed Me" - Oh, no. I don't like this at all. Too many contrived pop tropes mixed together - also Rihanna, 1. Stop using Autotune, you're actually a good singer. 2. Stop dressing like Coolio. Nothing against him, Coolio is great but, you're Rihanna...not Coolio.

8. Twenty One Pilots "Ride" - I still can't believe Twenty One Pilots success. "Ride" is actually one of my least favorite songs on Blurryface but hey, I won't knock their spot on this list. I would have liked "Heathens" more in this spot but that is taking up room in the alternative and rock lists.

9. Kent Jones "Don't Mind" - I mind, actually. I really really do.

10. Fifth Harmony feat. Ty Dolla $ign "Work from Home" - It hurt my heart a little bit to type out "Ty Dolla $ign" - just saying. Also, no. I don't like this.

So sifting through the Billboard Hot 100 list, I've come to the realization that unfortunately, I hate a lot of what is popular right now in pop music. Pop music actually has some really inventive, interesting songs and only an exceptional few are represented here. Like, I was so disgusted at the end that I didn't even elaborate on my "no's" - I was just done. 

Also, you know what really gets me? It's the freakin' summer! The perfect time for a Summer pop anthem! It's kind of a standard in the music industry to make "summer anthems" during this time. Songs that are pure pop perfection and are everywhere you go - it's playing at Disney World, it's playing in the super market, it's playing at a childrens soccer game... I'm talking about "Hollaback Girl" - Gwen Stefani, "The Boy is Mine" - Brandy & Monica, "I'll Be Missing You" - Puff Daddy & Faith Evans ft. 112, "Umbrella" - an artist on this list that really needs to step up her game, Rihanna feat. Jay-Z, "Waterfalls" - TLC - there are so many others!!! For pop music, the summer is kind of a perfect opportunity to get that hook out there, make the monies and make a new classic pop song. And it just doesn't seem like it's happening this summer, judging from this list. Maybe Twenty One Pilots? Maybe. It is only the middle of July, so I'll be curious to look at the list later or listen to the radio to see if there is anything sprouting from the record company gardens.







Saturday, July 2, 2016

Summer Concerts June 2016: Against Me!

Due to my nose dripping liquids and tickle in my throat (thanks allergies,) for almost the entire month of June, we decided not to see Watsky in Boston. It was a tough decision but definitely the best one for me. Hopefully we'll have the chance to see him again and who knows, maybe it will be a concert and not a spoken word, which would actually be better! So because of that, this post will be short (but memorable!)- for this month I just saw Against Me!

June 25: Against Me! @ The Lost Horizon - Syracuse, NY
Opening Acts:  Tim Barry, FEA

During the day I spent my time at work, signing kids up for the Summer Reading Program (it was the first day of sign up), handing out free books and fro-yo pops (or you know, frozen go-gurt). 5:00 rolled around and my boyfriend and I were ready to go to a "destination show" as one of my co-workers who also happens to be a seasoned concert go-er called it (I think I'll steal that term from her too, I like it). Again, like June 2015's Jim Adkins show in Kingston, we kept thinking during the drive, "why the hell are we going to Syracuse for this? Did Against Me! owe a debt?" For those of you who are not familiar with upstate New York, Syracuse is a city that used to be booming with factories, a lot of jobs and a lot of people populating this Rust Belt-esque city. Then, the United States started moving most of our production to other countries, and like Detroit among other cities, Syracuse also suffered from this. So now the city is mostly known for Syracuse University and their mens basketball team. Anyway, we drove on I90 West the whole way and finally got to the venue at about 9:15...the venue was small and had about 10-15 parking spots...that were filled already. The only parking available was a huge lot down the street that was in between a strip club and a porn theater - nice to know those are still around, isn't it?! The parking lot distinctly said "PARKING FOR CUSTOMERS OF [INSERT PORN THEATER AND STRIP CLUB NAME HERE]" A parking lot specifically for these fine, upstanding businesses? Now, that's something you don't really see. Because I was annoyed that the venue only had 10-15 parking spots and didn't think of a backup plan when hosting Against Me! at their venue, I just said, "fuck it. I'm parking here." I found out after the show that luckily, a lot of other people attending the show had the same idea as me.

Right when my boyfriend and I got inside, the guy putting our 21+ bracelets on said, "you're right on time! They're starting in a couple of minutes." Therefore, we didn't see any of the opening acts but we weren't very enamored by the line-up anyway. Right when we walked into the main area, which looked like a basement - low ceiling, really small standing area, pillars randomly in the middle of the venue, Against Me! started. They were awesome as always but I think this might have been my favorite Against Me! show I've been to just because of the randomness of it all and because of the venue. Some people might have been unpleasantly surprised by all of this but we weren't - it felt like a high school Battle of the Bands only with a moderately famous and talented band. It was great! Also the venue was hot as balls - no ventilation whatsoever was going on in there. But that made the whole experience even better.

Against Me! had a great set - they played some of the old, ("Walking is Still Honest", "Baby I'm an Anarchist",) some of the new, ("True Trans Soul Rebel" - of course, that song is brilliant! and "Dead Friend" - one of my favorites on Transgender Dysphoria Blues,) and some of the in between. They played TWO (yes, TWO) songs from White Crosses - in the handful of times I've seen Against Me! I don't think I've ever even heard mention of White Crosses or any songs on that album. It's totally the black sheep of Against Me!'s discography, I think due to the harsh backlash they received from fans - which is unfortunate, because I don't really mind White Crosses. Sure, it's probably their weakest album but it's not terrible. Their other albums are just infinitely better.

They also tried two new songs on us - I don't know what the titles are because Laura Jane, while definitely more talkative than she was when she identified as Tom Gabel, doesn't really give us too much information - that's part of her mysterious mystique. They were really solid songs and had some promise. This also means new Against Me! music = new Against Me! album and who wouldn't want that?

It was an awesome experience and a "destination show" I probably won't ever forget. Included in this post is a video of them performing "Walking is Still Honest".

Stay tuned for the end of July - I'm going to two, maybe three (as of right now,) shows this month - Best Coast and possibly a random happenstance of Block Party performing in Albany and Ryan Adams in Port Chester, NY - two of my favorite favorites!