Posts Tagged ‘Katy Perry’

It was recently brought to my attention that Katy Perry covered Jay-Z/Kanye’s’In Paris.’ It was brutal. It was awful. It was borderline insulting. Here is a pop star who’s famous for essentially no reason (big eyes maybe?) trying to rhyme like Jay-Z/Kanye, who are obviously much more qualified in their genre than Katy is in hers. It’s like Soulja Boy trying to cover an Adele song. She should know of her shortcomings as a musician, and yet seems to think she’s on top of the world because her record sales indicate as such. So it made me wonder, where does that audacity come from? Why in her mind was it okay to attempt this?

Anyone appears to be able to make it in the music industry, simply because of how they’re presented to the public. There’s no effort put into the music itself, there’s no value to it and everyone’s energy seems to be spent on image. It’s as though the only requirement to get on the radio is to have a catchy song, with a repetitive hook that gets stuck in your head no matter how hard you try to avoid it (see any LMFAO track.) The result: any one song ends up being a carbon copy of a plethora of other songs out there – a blend of identical elements applied to a pre-determined formula. The lyrics are simple and easy to remember (not to be confused with memorable). Inevitably you’ll be able to sing along, making you believe you actually like it. It’s difficult to blame the musicians though, because whatever they’re doing is working. You’re buying into it. You let them get away with it. You’re responsible for praising the ordinary and making them think they’re extraordinary. Any song J-Lo does may be great to hear at a club, but nothing about it is unique to her – almost any other female artist could put out the same song and garner the same amount of success. So many musicians sound the same, so many of them are doing the same thing – and yet they’re all being rewarded for it.

You make it possible for Bruno Mars to put out a song called ‘The Lazy Song’ (!) You will encourage the Pitbulls, Flo Ridas and T-Pains of the world, and make them famous. You’re making them think what they’re putting out is enough to make them their millions. Shouldn’t you demand better? Shouldn’t you demand more? Applauding mediocrity allows Taio Cruz to climb the charts, permits the existence of Cee-Lo Green’s ‘F**k You‘, and enables Ke$ha to release ‘Tik Tok’ – they could probably do better but don’t need to. DJs at least create sounds, mix them together in unique combinations and produce music. Bands at least play their own instruments and (usually) write their own songs. Sure pop stars (ie one whose music is popular) may be better looking, better dancers, more provocative but their vocal (including rapping) abilities are average for the most part, with few exceptions of course (ie Adele, Beyonce, Eminem). Lady Gaga is an envelope-pusher no doubt and is more known for her antics than her music, but her popularity can easily rival some of the best acts out there – why are you so easy to please?

Popular music is everywhere, you’re exposed to it no matter what – it’s like that always available boy/girl eager to fulfill your every desire. What you need to do is challenge yourself. Walk that plank, take that risk, and go after that boy/girl that’s playing hard to get. Popular musicians should earn the adoration they get, not expect it. So set your standards higher, be picky and don’t settle. I’m not asking you to stop listening to popular music or music you enjoy, but to also listen to other music. There’s no guarantee that by opening yourself up you’ll like everything you hear and you don’t have to. But you do have to stop being a pushover, a doormat, an ego boost. You’re so much better than that.

Music brought to our attention this year worth mentioning, for better or for worse; without regard to record sales, popularity or radio play. Just a take on 2011’s music, as I heard it.

Best Folk AlbumThe King is Dead The Decemberists.

This album is a perfect example of why folk is starting to become more and more prevalent in popular music. Tracks like ‘This is Why we Fight’ and ‘Down by the Water’ have elements of folk, country, rock and pop blended together to create a complex sound. And yet they make it sound so simple.

Best TV Show Soundtrack:  How to Make it in AmericaVarious.

The tracks are always hip, perfectly placed and make every scene that much better. My personal favourite, M83’s ‘Midnight City’ playing while “Ben”, actor Bryan Greenberg, and “Nancy”, actress Gina Gershon, finally break the sexual tension between them in the backseat of a cab. So appropriate. Other artists on the soundtrack include Damian Marley, N.E.R.D., Martin Solveig and Otis Redding.

Biggest Loss for the Industry:  Amy Winehouse.

She was only 27 years old and even if you weren’t shocked by her passing – we were all aware of her struggle with drug addiction and alcoholism – you can’t ignore her talent or the music she brought into our lives. She will be missed.

Most Severe Identity Crisis:  Mylo XylotoColdplay.

Who are they trying to be? They blew our minds with Parachutes and A Rush of Blood to the Head. X&Y wasn’t bad, but Viva la Vida or Death and all his Friends was the start of their descent and coincidentally, their ascension in mainstream music. The current album Mylo Xyloto (really?) can only signify they’ve fallen. I blame Gwyneth Paltrow and her obvious hindrance of Chris Martin’s creative mind. Naming your kid “Apple” doesn’t make you cool. Neither does putting out a song called “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall”. Because it isn’t. The intended metaphor is pedestrian for a band like Coldplay, and the whole album is just lazy. I guess once you’ve hit it that big, you don’t need to try anymore. That’s a crying shame.

Best Collaboration Track:  “Paris”Jay-Z/Kanye West.

A great hip-hop/rap offering: it has quotes from the film Blades of Glory, courtesy of Will Ferrell and Jon Heder; it has references to fish filets, Gucci and Mary Kate and Ashley. But most importantly, it boasts lines like “That shit cray”, “Ball so hard” and my personal favourite, “Doctors say I’m the illest/Cause I’m suffering from realness”. Instant classic.

Worst Collaboration Track:  “E.T.”Katy Perry feat. Kanye West.

Katy Perry gave us some pretty useless tracks this year, including ‘Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)’ and ‘Firework’. Her lyrics are terrible, her videos worse, she’s more than obnoxious and her permanent bug-eyed look a la Zooey Deschanel is infuriating. This track doesn’t help her credibility as a musician, it only makes things worse. And Kanye, after spitting great rhymes on ‘Paris’, completely fails on this track with lines like “Tell me what’s next/Alien sex?/I’ma disrobe you/Then I’ma probe you”. Poor Kanye, can’t get anything right.

Most Exploited Collaborator:  Pitbull.

Seriously, why does he appear on so many tracks? In 2011 alone, he was featured on J-Lo, Marc Anthony and Timbaland songs; he also released his own album Planet Pit (definitely somewhere I never want to visit), with songs featuring Ne-Yo, Afrojack, Nayer, T-Pain, Enrique Iglesias, Sean Paul, Kelly Rowland, Jamie Foxx and Chris Brown, to name a few. Call me crazy, but anyone who gets around that much is kind of a slut.

Worst Summer Anthem:  “Pumped up Kicks” Foster the People

It’s a track with dark lyrics, commenting on teenage gun violence, from the point of view of the shooter. Yet the upbeat, cheerful music with random whistling interludes (clearly stolen from OneRepublic’s ‘Good Life’) give it a bubble gum pop-rock sound. This song somehow went from no one listening to it at the beginning of the year, to mainstream by summer time. I’m still trying to figure out their intention: they obviously want to create awareness for a serious issue, but when disguised with unicorns and rainbows, no one’s really going to pay attention to the message. It was a summer anthem for many, just not for me.

Best Summer Anthem: “Young Blood”- The Naked and Famous

It’s a song about youth and hope, a song about possibilities and liberation. The music is uplifting and unique. Everything summer should be.

Better Gallagher Brother:  Noel.

Both former Oasis frontmen ventured into solo careers, and both released an album this year. Sorry Liam, you and your “Beady Eyes” just couldn’t compare to Noel and his “High Flying Birds”.

Most Confusing Video of the Year: “We Found Love” – Rihanna.
If you hear this track at a club, you can’t help but feel good, alive and full of life. When you watch the video, however, you can’t help but want to curl up in a ball in the corner of the room and cry. It shows two young adults constantly going on drug binges, jumping around, dancing, skateboarding, having the time of their lives, making out and making love. But it also shows them yelling at each other, fighting,  passing out on the floor, crying and sitting in a bathtub fully clothed. It’s like they’re saying don’t do drugs because look at what they do to you; while also saying do drugs, because look at what they do to you. You be the judge.

‘Bad Girl Turned Sad Girl’ of the Year:  Lindsay Lohan.
How many times can she go to jail? How many hours of community service can she do? How many more chances will she get? No one thinks of her as anything other than a pathetic disaster. At age 25 that’s just sad.

Douchebag of the Year:  Adam Levine of Maroon 5.

I can deal with Adam Levine’s egocentricity. I can turn a blind eye at his attempt to resurrect his career by being a judge on “The Voice”. I can even pretend I don’t notice that he’s an exhibitionist as most of Maroon 5’s videos feature him, and only him, semi-nude, getting frisky with a hot blonde. But what I can’t handle is that he claims to have the moves like Jagger. Adam, you’re not even close.

Most Surprising Song of the Year:  “How to Love” – Lil’ Wayne.

I don’t think I was the only person shocked by Lil’ Wayne’s attempt at singing. A love song of all things. We’re all used to his tough guy image, as seen in his gangster rap, his multiple tattoos, his trips to prison and his grills of course. But this track shows a completely different side of him: it’s sensitive, sends a beautiful message and aside from a little creepy raspiness, his vocals are half decent. Props to him for stepping outside the box and giving it a try. Who would’ve thought?

Least Surprising Song of the Year: “When We Stand Together”Nickelback

Why? Because it sounds like every other song they’ve ever written, produced and played. Who keeps telling them to make the same song over and over again? Take a hint Nickelback, none of us are standing together with you. 

Best Canadian Representation:  Take CareDrake.

So I’m not the hugest Drake fan out there, but he’s definitely talented and knows how to make a solid record, Take Care being no exception. He’s had collaborations with the best of them and is recognizable worldwide. He wins this category because everything about him is so Canadian. He always mentions his hometown of Toronto, he’s biracial, he’s friends with Justin Bieber, and he was on Degrassi – it just doesn’t get more Canadian than that.

Worst Canadian Representation:  Goodbye LullabyAvril Lavigne.
Avril first started out as a teeny-bopping, punk-rocking tomboy from Napanee, Ontario who became famous all over the world. Then she married and divorced Deryck Whibley of Sum 41 and her music became boring: Goodbye Lullaby will put anyone to sleep. I understand a musician’s sound changes over time as they age, learn and develop. With experience, they can become more insightful and introspective. Avril may have used this album’s direction to demonstrate her growth and maturity. But then again, she’s dating Brody Jenner.

Hometown Shout Out:  USS ApprovedUbiquitous Synergy Seeker

It’s an eclectic album, fuses all kinds of sounds together and can put anyone in a good mood. Plus they’re from Toronto, why wouldn’t you want to check them out?

Best Live Show:   Ben Harper, Sound Academy, Toronto.
                             Eminem, Lollapalooza, Chicago.
                             Bon Iver, Massey Hall, Toronto.

Ben for his endless stamina and dedication to playing over three hours of live music non-stop. Eminem for throwing everything he had into his performance to ensure every fan out of thousands at Lollapalooza was entertained. Bon Iver for having such remarkable musicianship to bring an entire crowd to silence as they watched in awe.

Most Disappointing Album:  King of LimbsRadiohead.

After waiting four years for a follow up to the epic In Rainbows, all Thom Yorke and co. could do was produce eight mediocre tracks. The only thing they’re consistent at is being inconsistent.

Worst Song of the Year:  “The Lazy Song”Bruno Mars.

Everything about this song is painful. In the video his background dancers don monkey masks with sunglasses, his lyrics allude to him putting his hand down his pants and he himself was runner up for douchebag of the year. I don’t know if I’m more annoyed at him for making this song (or any of his other ones), or at the general public for accepting it. Note: I know everyone was expecting Rebecca Black’s ‘Friday’ but I’ve decided that she’s suffered enough for one year. She has been teased relentlessly for making a bad song, just like Aaron Carter and so many others have done before. She’s only fourteen, leave her alone.

Album of the Year:   CeremonialsFlorence and the Machine.
                                  Bon Iver, Bon Iver – Bon Iver.

It was a tough call to make so I chose both. They are equally unique and distinctive and stand out above the rest in their own way. The albums as a whole are musical genius. Florence’s voice is powerful and only amplified by the haunting, almost tribal-like music that accompanies it. Justin Vernon’s vocals for Bon Iver are ethereal and complemented by orchestral instruments and perfectly produced sounds. Either way, can’t go wrong.

Song of the Year:  “Someone Like You”Adele.

This was probably the easiest category. There is nothing wrong with this song: from production, to music, to lyrics and especially to vocals. Everything is flawless. And above all, it manages to break your heart, every time. Well done Adele, well done.

Radio: one of the most basic forms of sharing music with a whole lot of people. It used to be that when your single hit the radio waves, it meant you had made it, that you were on your way to becoming something big. But now it’s as though anyone, and I mean anyone, can have their single played on the radio (here’s looking at you, Nickelback): the vocals don’t have to be strong and the lyrics apparently don’t have to make any sense. This my friends, is what we call the seriously overrated.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Let’s start with “superstar” Katy Perry. Here’s a singer who caught the world’s attention with her first single “I Kissed a Girl”. Wow Ms. Perry, how risque of you to sing about two girls kissing – way to push the envelope. Except that, the whole lesbian theme was already explored back in 2000 by the likes of female pop duo T.A.T.U. and their racy video of two girls making out in “All the Things She Said”. Sorry Katy, you get no points for originality.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Her next chart-topping single was “Hot ‘N Cold”, a ridiculous song describing the ups and downs of relationships by using opposites (ie hot/cold, yes/no, in/out, up/down, etc). The lyrics lack so much creativity that I’m pretty sure my 2-year-old nephew could’ve written them, in 5 mins.Katy then disappeared for a while, though I have a vague recollection of a song called “Thinking of You”, which I think about 3 people heard. She then appeared on Timbaland’s “If We Ever Meet Again”, undoubtedly to increase her popularity, and let’s face it, Timbaland can do no wrong these days.
                                                                                                                                                                           Which leads me to her current hit single “California Gurls”: I don’t even know where to start (she can’t even spell “girls” properly!). Firstly, how the heck does Snoop Dogg fit into this song? Does K. Perry think this gets her street cred? Does she think it’s going to widen her audience to include fans of gangsta rap? Unlikely. Secondly, lyrically it’s a disaster – trying to suggest that no place in the world compares to the west coast (someone needs to get out more), and saying things like “So hot/We’ll melt your popsicle“. Seriously?!? Thirdly, if this song isn’t bad enough already, the video is absolutely ridiculous. She’s semi-naked, dancing on clouds with over-sized lollipops and candy. Snoop Dogg sits at a table with a gingerbread house in a massive suit with candy all over it. If he’s trying to lose his street cred, mission accomplished. Lastly, this horrible video ends with Katy spraying whipped cream out of cans attached to her bra – sorry Katy, I’m pretty sure Lady Gaga did that already, with fireworks. But the most confusing part is, what does any of this have to do with California??
                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Moving along now to quite possibly one of the most overrated groups ever: The Black Eyed Peas. The group consists of lead singer Fergie, Will.i.am (with his inappropriate use of punctuation), Taboo and apl.de.ap (who seems to suffer from the same disorder as Will.i.am). Apparently the group didn’t feature the vocals of Fergie until their third album Elephunk in the early 2000s. This album spawned the singles, “Where is the Love? (feat. JT)”, “Hey Mama”, and “Shut Up” , which were actually tolerable (note: it also featured the incredibly politically incorrectly titled “Let’s Get Retarded”; later changed to “Let’s Get it Started” – maybe that was a sign.)                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The follow-up album was Monkey Business and this is where everything started going downhill. Fergie started sounding more like a man, and their music started becoming more and more mainstream and losing all originality. On “Pump It” they sample the music from a track called “Misirlou”, formerly from the Pulp Fiction soundtrack, and originally a famous Greek song. The next single, “Don’t Phunk with my Heart” (really lame play on words), didn’t show much talent or originality either and finally, evidence of the obvious demise of the Black Eyed Peas: “My Humps”. Seriously, did Fergie really feel the need to sing a song justifying her weight gain? Was it her selfish attempt at  somehow convincing herself that she’s ok with “her lovely little humps”? And the lyrics, man are they stupid: “What you gonna do with all that junk?/All that junk inside that trunk?/I’ma get, get, get, get, you drunk/Get you love drunk off my hump/What you gonna do with all that ass?/All that ass inside them jeans?/I’m a make, make, make, make you scream“.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Their current album, The E.N.D. (what is up with their inappropriate placement of periods??) is proof that BEP have hit rock bottom. Yes I do realize that they are uber-famous and currently selling out on tour, but that doesn’t mean they’re any good.  The first single, “Boom Boom Pow” is a really dumb song where they essentially just throw out any word pertaining to sound and try to build sentences around it: “Y’all stuck on Super 8 shit/That low-fi stupid 8 bit/I’m on that HD flat/This beat go boom boom bap” – total fail.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Next single, “I Gotta Feeling”, is even worse. This song was clearly made to be played before a big night out, or at a club/bar/lounge, to get people going – but it’s so obviously done in that way, that it just makes it lame. I mean come on,  “I gotta feeling/Tonight’s gonna be a good night” – they must have really had to rack their brains to come up with that line. At one point in the song they start reciting the days of the week, and for a reason unbeknownst to me, Saturday is named twice. At random intervals in the song, they all yell out “Mazel Tov!” – I’m pretty sure none of them are Jewish, so how does this fit in the song??
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Their most recent single, “Rock that Body” is the epitome of all things musical being thrown out the window. Not only do they have chipmunk-sounding vocals, but they even stooped as low as to auto-tune the chipmunk voice – how pathetic can u be?!?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I consider these “musicians” overrated because of all the acclaim they get for not being talented. They are completely unoriginal, lack all kinds of creativity, sing about pretty much nothing, and yet, they get nominated for Grammys. Sure they may be good performers and put on a good live show, with pyrotechnics, elaborate sets, and maybe even better vocals (right, Mo?). But at the end of the day, none of this means they’re any good. If they were true musicians, in any sense of the word, they would just make better music. Pe.ri.od.