Spot On or Not On

Just because it’s in the charts doesn’t mean that it’s good.

Kelly Clarkson: “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” I always felt that Kelly Clarkson’s music was particularly bland. Now she has taken it to a new low by appropriating a quote from Nietzsche that, for all its truth, has been way overused, especially within the realm of popular music. That’s not to say that this song isn’t catchy, nor do I think it won’t sell. Of course it will, because it’s factory-made for the gullible, just like most contemporary Top 40 songs these days. Not On!

Neon Hitch: “F— U Betta” I will not deny that this song will speak to some people, and it doeskind of workas a song. The lyrics are put together very well, and they mesh with the four-on-the floor beat quite nicely. However, there are too damn many synthesizers, and this kills any possible appeal, making this song far less seductive than it seeks to be and about as unique as what that God-awful Ke$ha passes off as music. Then again, considering that Neon Hitch co-wrote “Blah Blah Blah,” Ke$ha’s hit duet with fellow dance music lame-os 3OH!3, there’s no surprise that this song, as well-written as it is, would sound so flippin’ lousy. Not On!

Adele:“Rumour Has It” The powerful tom rhythm at the beginning sucks you right in, commanding you to listen to this soulful, catchy warning about infidelity. The instrumentation is nice and natural, the handclaps are a nice touch, and the vibe of this track harks back to those classic Motown and Stax 45s. Isn’t it just refreshing that in this day in age, people with genuine talent insist on making REAL MUSIC? Shine-a-light, what a concept! Spot On!

Motive: “What’s So Bad” From the second you hear the classic-sounding fuzz guitar and the busy drumbeat, there is no escape from rocking out, and there is no denying the awesomeness of this lo-fi garage-rocker. The chorus, resplendent with straight-ahead vocal harmonies, seems to demand that you sing along. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, the simple but perfect guitar solo is preceded by the most delicious feedback heard since the 1960s. Indeed, rock and roll is here to stay, and these Brooklyn-based indie rockers know what it’s supposed to sound like. Spot On!

Pitbull featuring Chris Brown: “International Love” Pitbull may have more talent than Vanilla Ice could ever hope for, and his quick-tongued rhymes are clever. But incorporating hip hop and electronic music hasn’t been a new idea for over twenty years at least. It certainly doesn’t help that this song sounds as though the rhythm track was composed and performed by a chimpanzee. Not On!

Paul Van Dyk: “Eternity” What we have here is an obnoxious electronic dance beat that has already been synthesized umpteen bajillion times providing the backdrop for some reedy and twee vocals. As if that’s not bad enough, the chorus – “My dear I wish I could hold you/Safe in my arms/From here to eternity… Your beauty burns through the darkness/Crystal and clear/From here to eternity” – is one giant platitude. Not even the sci-fi vibe within the lyrics saves this turkey. Not On! 

Siggas: “Walk Wit Mah T—” There isn’t really much to this song, composed by sensational internet comedian D’Andre Siggers, but in this case, less is indeed more. The beat is delightfully simple, and after the rant about getting called fat, “Walk wit mah t—, walk, walk wit mah t—” is chanted ad nauseum. But I say that because the only reason why you’re gonna want to throw up is from laughing too hard, because the song is damn funny! Spot On!

 

Rihanna featuring Calvin Harris: “We Found Love” I have to admit that Rihanna is a talented singer, and as such it really pains me that not only does this song have the most generic electronic instrumentation EVAR, it sounds like every other song just like it. Such a shame, too, because the lyrics are in fact meaningful, but this is one of many things lost in the overly sterile production values. Not On! 

Travis Porter featuring Tyga: “Ayy Ladies” The beat is catchy, and even though the lyrics aren’t in the best taste – “If you a top notch bitch lemme hear ya holla” – they aren’t quite disparaging, either. What’s more, they flow well, and without a doubt they do evoke memories about fleeting trysts that begin at the club. What more can I say? Sexual urges are as natural as breathing, and thus this song is is as easy to dance to as it is to relate to. Spot On!

Bruce Springsteen: “We Take Care Of Our Own” What makes this track particularly interesting is that it is very much typical Bruce Springsteen, in that the arrangement has a similar feel to “Born To Run,” yet sounds quite modern and updated. Not only is there nothing wrong with that, it should come as no surprise, as the Boss always has been a unique and deeply principled musician with a knack for astute social commentary. This track, which laments the“every last man for himself” sentiment that is unfortunately prevalent in American society, easily stands alongside Bruce’s greatest work of years past. Spot On!

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