Pop Stuff

Man I am swamped with life right now and rarely get a chance on the computer.  There’s been all kinds of stuff going on and I’ve had ideas but I rarely have a moment to think.

Ke$ha checks out of rehab and leaves dollar sign behind


Kesha is about the only major pop star in recent years that I’ll unashamedly admit to being a fan of.  She’s the only one whose songs I am eagerly waiting to hear, and whose career I actually follow.  Apparently she was in rehab for an eating disorder, which is a big bummer.  She blames her producer for calling her fat, which, if true, then fuck that guy.  I hope Kesha is doing better.

Here’s her singing an old Stones song

Gaga, on the other hand, is getting barfed on

Here’s Lady Gaga Getting Repeatedly Puked On in the Name of Art


In a stunt that was debatably art and definitely pop, someone threw up all over Lady Gaga during her set at SXSW Thursday night.

Fortunately (disappointingly?) the gag was all part of the act, a performance by London-based “vomit painter” and friend of Gaga Millie Brown.

Brown, 27, has been described as the Jackson Pollock of puke. She drinks colored soy milk and barfs it up on canvases (or, in some cases, human beings). Brown previously appeared in Gaga’s music video for “Exorcist Interlude.”

The Jackson Pollock of puke.

Actually, that’s not all that hard to imagine. Pretty much anyone can make puke look like a Pollack.  I want to see someone puke out a Rembrandt.  Or better yet, a Calder.

One of these days I’m going to write down my thoughts on the infamous (and awful) GG Allin, but to keep it short, I never thought that any part of that dude’s schtick would ever be adopted by someone both successful and talented.

Don’t Google GG, you’ll be bummed.


Guilty Pleasures

So lately I get all my information from Cracked and I take issue with this:

6 Commonly Used Phrases That Make Everyone Hate You

#6. “Guilty Pleasure”

What?  This is a perfectly useful phrase!  First of all, I do feel guilt about liking certain things.  There is nothing wrong with me listening to Don’t Talk to Me while thinking, yikes, I’m listening to GG Allin, does that make me a creep?*

The author links to Chuck Klosterman who suggests that people use it because they feel guilty about liking crap**.  Which might be partly true.  Or people might just be using it to say “I know it’s out of character for me, but I like ______.”  She quotes Dave Grohl who says “I don’t believe in guilty pleasures, you know. I believe you should be able to like what you like, if you like a fucking Ke$ha song, listen to fucking Ke$ha.”
Which I agree with.  I love Ke$ha and I’m not ashamed to admit it.  But part of whom I am is someone who loves trashy music.  I can see the value in pointing out that something isn’t part of things you are normally into.
For instance- I almost never watch action movies, but when I saw The Expendables 2 had been added to Netflix I immediately dropped what I was doing and watched it.  It’s not that I’m embarrassed about liking the series, it’s just not something that people would expect, so I try to give a little background.
Plus, I’m pretty confident that everyone involved in the making of this movie knew they were making something cheesy but enjoyable.  That’s a guilty pleasure- something cheesy but enjoyable.  I know it’s silly setting up some idea of High and Low Art, but I didn’t make society.  I didn’t invent the concept.  I know there’s a difference between the two and there’s no reason to pretend that I don’t.
Speaking of Ke$ha, she’s apparently in rehab right now for an eating disorder, which is really sad.  I’m not naive enough to think that her public persona is who she actually is, but I always liked that her public persona came off as a big stick in the eye of the pop music machine.  But I guess you can’t beat the machine.  If it’s true that Dr Luke was calling her fat and pressuring her to lose weight, then fuck that guy.
*If you’re not familiar with GG Allin, or haven’t heard the legends, I suggest you DON’T google him, because you’ll probably see things you’ll regret seeing.  Definitely avoid any image or video searches, they will be NSFW.
** Chuck tries to make the point that there is nothing wrong with liking these things for what they are, and about how he doesn’t like Road House (the movie) because it’s bad, but then proceeds to describe it in a way that makes it sound bad.  I don’t read that guy often enough to have an informed opinion on him, so I’ll just say, I don’t get him.

White Lady Pop Rappers inexplicably still in style

I’m over the white lady rapper thing.  It was groan-inducing, but somewhat cute when Gwen Stefani did Hollaback Girl, I will even admit to liking the BEP’s My HumpsPoker Face wasn’t bad, and Tik Tok was pretty cool.  I even liked Dev’s Booty Bounce.

But the novelty has worn off.  The first part of this song is really good.  It’s a really neat melody.  I like Ke$ha’s yelp-y country voice.

But then the song abruptly cuts to her rapping.  ABOUT THE SAME OLD SHIT.

I see ya in the club showin’ Ke$ha love
Ain’t trippin’ on them bitches that be hatin’
Catch a dub, chuckin’ deuces
Ya’ll hatin’s useless
It’s such a nuisance

Whatever.  Seriously, this is just boring.  And it doesn’t fit.  And then someone thought it was a good idea to add to the mix.

Jezebel had an interesting post about Miley Cyrus (awkwardly) appropriating black culture for her new video.

Miley seems to delight in dancing much like these strippers do: Twerking, popping the ass, bending at the waist and shaking her rump in the air. Fun. But basically, she, as a rich white woman, is “playing” at being a minority specifically from a lower socio-economic level. Along with the gold grill and some hand gestures, Miley straight-up appropriates the accoutrements associated with certain black people on the fringes of society.

I’m not sure I entirely agree.  I get that putting black people who probably aren’t your real friends in your video as props is pretty lame.  But the best pop artists have always been cultural appropriators, and some of the them have even been lauded for it.  The Clash could get away with making Sandinista! because they were a leftist band and could argue that they were borrowing to show solidarity.  Or Paul Simon got away with it on Graceland because it showcased artists from South Africa, bringing them to a wider audience.  I guess that makes it OK?  I don’t know.

Or maybe I agree, but this isn’t what bothers me the most about the white lady pretend rapper thing.  What bothers me is that none of these people have anything interesting to say with their raps.  And I suspect it’s because a good rapper spends years on their craft, while none of these ladies have.  These ladies learned just enough tricks to do it convincingly for a few songs, if that.

Years of practice leads to interesting wordplay.  It leads to the need to try new things.  It leads to a bigger vocabulary, and sharper rhymes.  It leads to interesting life stories.  I like Rick Ross, so I’m not saying it all has to have a basis in reality, but it should at least sound like you had some interesting things happen to you.

Just like Miley Cyrus’ stiff moves really don’t contribute to anything to twerking (something I admit I only barely understand, but whatever it is, I’m pretty sure she’s not doing it right), Ke$ha’s yapping about haters really doesn’t add anything to hip hop.

Stuff on the Radio I Like

I don’t know what it is I like about this song.

When The Motto was on the radio all day every day last year, I didn’t get what people liked about that song.  This is practically the same song.  I guess there’s no accounting for taste.

Like a lot of rap songs, there’s not much structure to it.  Very little arrangement.  Most pop songs stick to the formula:

Verse chorus verse chorus bridge chorus chorus chorus chorus chorus

Something like that.  But this song is him pretty much singing the same thing over and over again.  What I mean is that you could sing “We started from the bottom now we here” at almost any point in the song and it wouldn’t be out of place.  Normally that makes for a boring and repetitious song.  Which maybe you think this song is.

I also like the bridge he has.  It’s a little different than what I expected.

The bridge is the part of the song that introduces a new musical direction, with the idea that when the song goes back to the chorus the chorus will be that much more powerful.  Almost every pop song has one.  Rock songs usually have a guitar solo.  It can work really well.  And other times, people are shoehorning them in, maybe because they feel like they have to:

I like this song.  It makes me happy every time I hear it.  But:

I don’t wanna go to sleep I wanna stay up all night I wanna just screw around

doesn’t add anything to the song.  It drags.  I wish I could delete that part of the song.  Maybe just add some drum beats like the bridge in this song:

It’s quick, it doesn’t kill the energy too much.

I shouldn’t complain too much about cliched musical bridges.  Almost every song I write features a solo by myself (usually a bad one) or by our keyboard player (usually a good one).


Based on what I’ve had to say about pop music so far, you’d probably think I hate it.  On the contrary, I love pop music.  The problem is that so little of it is actually good.  I can stand derivative.  I can stand manufactured.  I can even stand trashy music that has no redeeming value.    I actually prefer it.  This is probably my favorite origin story of any current pop singer:

At Conway Studio where Luke works in Hollywood, he plays me two songs from the Ke$ha demo, each striking for different reasons. The first is a gorgeously sung, self-penned country ballad that hints at what could’ve been had Ke$ha pursued a different path. The other is a gobsmackingly awful trip-hop track. But at one point toward the end, Ke$ha runs out of lyrics and starts rapping, for a full minute or so: “I’m a white girl/From the ‘Ville/Nashville, bitch. Uhh. Uhhhhh.”

Luke and his producer friends were smitten by this bit of screwball-gangsta improv. His face lights up even now as he remembers. “That’s when I was like, ‘OK, I like this girl’s personality. When you’re listening to 100 CDs, that kind of bravado and chutzpah stand out.”


The first Ke$ha song I heard was Tik Tok.  It’s not a great song.  I thought it was a ham-handed mashup of Fergie and Pink.  But there was something different about it.  I didn’t get her until I heard We R Who We R:

It’s fucking terrible music.  Her makeup, her clothes- ridiculous. This will give some of my uptight punk rock buddies a rash, but she makes me think of this:

we began for the first time to hear the NY Dolls. I was shocked by how bad they were. How much it hurt my ears! And then I started to laugh – laugh at how stupid I was. How bad they were. Bad enough to be good. By the fourth or fifth track, I thought they were so, so bad, they were brilliant.- Malcolm McLaren

I’ve always loved the bad, the ridiculous.  Ke$ha is a big fuck you to everyone who wants their pop stars a combination of model hot, flawless singer and great dancer.  Her new album Warrior, isn’t quite as inspired as her first- it seems like she wants to move on from the party hits and hasn’t quite managed to do it yet.  We’ll see where she goes from here, but for now, she’s number one in my book.