It had to happen sometime. I haven’t done a review proper of Chris Brown because, well, talking about the guy depresses me a little too much. He’s the horrible gift that keeps on giving even though you’re screaming for it to stop, for the love of god, just go away. I’ve never been a fan of the guy, but that instance of domestic abuse – and all the petulant, bratty, abhorrent behaviour that has occurred since – is enough to make me, and a lot of people, never want to hear from him again.
And yet he sticks around somehow. The US listening audience seems to have fairly roundly rejected him, and yet he still manages relative success here in Australia (this song particularly). Funnily, this is the fourth single to be released from the album ‘Fortune’ and, fun fact, that album isn’t actually out for another couple of weeks. So basically, all of the singles thus far have flopped so hard that they’ve had to release almost a third of the album before it even comes out. The performance of this album seems to be mirroring that of his 2009 flop ‘Graffiti’ rather than his previous effort ‘F.A.M.E’, whose most successful single – Look At Me Now – had the underlying message of, “Fuck off, I’m famous and therefore unaccountable for my shitty actions.” and the fun kicker in the lyrics of Brown saying “you faggots”, paragon of tolerance that he is.
Nothing at all weird about appropriating a term for a shooting someone with a gun – potentially killing them – to your weird, vineyard-centric romantic conquest. Nothing weird about that at all. Oh, Train. There are so many things heinously wrong about you I don’t know where to start. So let’s start at the beginning.
I don’t know if anyone else ever does this, but whenever I trawl through the charts listening to the songs I’ve yet to hear anywhere else, I sometimes black out and wake up covered in blood. Usually this is because I listen to a song whose success is so bewildering to me that I can’t help but murder people, maybe. One such song was ‘Call Me Maybe’ by Carly Rae Jepsen, who like, how is she NOT just Taylor Swift 2.0? With a name like that? It’s like she’s the sweet, innocent 16 year old that gets put through the first few rounds of American Idol auditions just because the judges can’t bear to make her cry on national television, because how can Jennifer Lopez harvest her tears to bathe in then?
The most alarming thing about this song, though, is that it’s a hit. But it sounds like a hit from 10 years ago. This is like, the 2012 version of Mandy Moore’s ‘Candy’.
Are we nearing the end of Bruno Mars’ whining spree yet? Between this new single It Will Rain and Grenade, the title of the World Biggest Pussy is pretty well and truly secured by Mars. This song is basically a soap opera break up distilled into song form. This guy’s popularity is really puzzling to me. He’s so vanilla. He’s basically if Jason Mraz were a bit ethnic and filled with sadness.
I mean, yes, he had those upbeat songs (The Lazy Song) but it’s clear that, now that this is a big hit and Grenade was before it, Mars’ signature style will be that of the heartbroken balladeer. But this is kitchen sink heartbreak. This isn’t the quiet, lovelorn subtlety of Bon Iver’s first album. It’s not the brooding intensity of The National. It’s not the slightly angsty, heartbreaking beauty of The Rural Alberta Advantage. I mean, you just have to look at the lyrics:
So it’s come to this: boy band revivalism.
Pretty much everything nowadays is about revivalism. Countless 80s films being remade, this mid-90s-esque obsession with club-oriented pop songs, everything Madonna did being copied by every pop star ad infinitum…the list goes on. Now, admittedly, the strength of this particular wave is not yet known. It’s been about 15 years since boy bands peaked, and 10 since they subsequently flamed out (obviously I’m speaking about the iteration of boy bands most relevant to pop music now, and therefore not including the early ‘boy bands’ such as The Beatles, The Monkees, The Jackson 5, etc.). Collectively, there are some fantastic pop songs between the likes of The Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC, New Kids On The Block, Boyz II Men, and so on. But do we really need the trend to roll around again?
You know, I’m all for nostalgia, but songs that remind me of 2007 are just a bit much. All the pop stars sound of the same ilk, because they’re all making the same kind of music that’s the ‘in’ thing right now. These kinds of pop rock bands are different, however. Where that Maroon 5 song has succeeded, Hot Chelle Rae fails. In fact, they pretty much set themselves up to fail when they chose that heinous name.
The song, Tonight Tonight, peaked at 7 on the Billboard charts, and currently sits at 11 in Australia after peaking at 7 here too. The band’s Wikipedia page informs me that their long, illustrious career has spanned from 2005 to now, which is remarkable, because they all look like they’re 17 years old. It also informs me that they have such creative talent that they came up with their horrid name like thus:
Hot Chelle Rae began in 2005, with a meeting between singer-songwriter Ryan (RK) and guitarist Nash. The band is named for the first “dedicated” fan, Chelle Rae, a MySpace stalker who provided the band with quite an entertaining era of online activity until her false identity was discovered and brought to light.
Frankly, I would never have fallen for such a ruse because I flatly refuse to believe anyone on this planet is named Chelle Rae, or at least, that anyone named that is even remotely attractive.
[in hallway of McKinley High]
Rachel: “EVERYBODY OUT OF MY WAY, I AM RACHEL BERRY AND VERY IMPORTANT!”
Random passing student throws a Slushie on her, deservedly.
Rachel: “WHY IS MY LIFE SO HARD? LOOK AT ME, A PRETTY AND TALENTED WHITE GIRL IN APPARENTLY THE RICHEST PUBLIC SCHOOL IN AMERICA, AND I HAVE PEOPLE THROWING SLUSHIES ON ME. THIS MUST BE BECAUSE THEY DON’T UNDERSTAND MY OVERWHELMING PASSION FOR SINGING AND NOT BECAUSE I’M A HAUGHTY, SELF-IMPORTANT BITCH WITH THE KIND OF MOUTH THAT MAKES JULIA ROBERTS CONCERNED ABOUT HER CAREER.”
Rachel bursts into soap opera tears, and Finn enters.
Finn: “Hey, look, I know we’ve dated like…4 times before and we kept making out with other people for no real character-motivated reasons, but I think you’re totally smart and pretty and let’s hook up again.”