The threat is real.
Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators: “You’re A Lie” This bouncing rocker is full of bouncing power chords and angry lyrics giving an impassioned kiss-off to a betrayer. Although I wish that this song sounded just a leeeeeeetle bit heavier, it still is pleasantly melodic, and Slash, with old age and treachery on his side, delivers the goods with another typically searing solo on his beat-up Gibson Les Paul.
In case you didn’t know, this is what rock and roll is SUPPOSED to sound like. SPOT ON!
Silversun Pickups: “Bloody Mary (Nerve Endings)” This song begins with a hypnotic synth intro and has a lush orchestral sound, complete with subtle backing vocals throughout. Although the guitar is a little too low in the mix, this track, with slight shades of Joy Division, is nothing short of a well-crafted song. Isn’t it nice that we have bands like Silversun Pickups in the midst of all the wretched music that dominates the sonic landscape and taints our collective unconscious? Spot On!
Linkin Park: “Burn It Down” I have never thought that Linkin Park’s music was all that innovative, having already witnessed the groundbreaking collaborations between Aerosmith and Run D.M.C. and between Public Enemy and Anthrax, which happened some twenty or more years ago. Moreover, I do not think much of Linkin Park as a live band, having seen them at Ozzfest 2001 – not that great – and hearing the blatant results of ProTools in their overplayed radio singles. This song, however, is a new low for Linkin Park on account of the fact that hard rock and electronic dance music don’t belong anywhere near each other. And as if that’s not bad enough, the lazily-written chorus lyrics – “We’re building it up/ To break it back down/ We’re building this up/To burn it down”are TOTAL CRAP. Not On!
Carrie Underwood: “Good Girl” Right from the beginning of the by-the-numbers power chords that open this song, you already know how utterly contrived this track is, and when you ponder that Carrie, grating voice and all, is an American Idol champ, you see the conspiracy to destroy good music in action. And now a public service message from Spot On or Not On: WAKE UP, PEOPLE! YOU DON’T NEED SOUL-DEAD A&R EXECS, CRUMMY TELEVISON SHOWS AND MEDIOCRE VIDEO AND DISC JOCKEYS TO TELL YOU WHERE THE QUALITY IS!
And by the way, yeah, this track is obviously Not On!
Gotye featuring Kimbra: “Somebody That I Used To Know” This track simmers with eerie melancholic tension, and the way it builds up to the impassioned chorus is nothing short of brilliant. The point/counterpoint style duet gives this a delightfully theatric feel, and bonus points must be given for the simple but literary lyrics – “I told myself that you were right for me/But felt so lonely in your company.” Who cannot relate? Spot On!
Paul McCartney: “My Valentine” I admit that I have said some unpleasant things about Sir Paul recently (see Spot On or Not On #3), but this track is probably the best I have heard from him in a while. The gentle acoustic guitar and piano are nice, and the vibe is decidedly Beatlesque as this sounds like “Michelle” taken at a slower tempo. Spot On!
Kanye West featuring Big Sean, Pusha T & 2 Chainz: “Mercy” Granted, when it comes to hooks in popular songs, there is a fine line between hypnotic and boring. I must confess that I have my biases against Kanye West, particularly because he is such a blowhard that this overshadows his talent. Sadly, the three-note riff that anchors this song is nothing to write home about, and Kanye’s puns on the word “a–”are not clever. Of course, I knewthat I would not dig this song right from the moment that the shrill mantra chanted in an ersatz Jamaican accent begins it. Not On!
The Saturdays: “30 Days” I just heard a preview of this track, which will be released as a single on May 14, and all I have to say is AAAAAARGH! When is this going to end?! When is it going to go away?! When are we going to stop having these crummy, generic dance pop songs with their crummy generic dance rhythms?! What’s the problem?! The Spice Girls weren’t cheesy enough?! Jesus wept! Not On!
Anthrax: “I’m Alive” The gently strummed chords at the beginning giving way to an angular palm-muted metallic rhythm raise the bar for sophisticated blending of light and shade in the realm of heavy metal. The fact that Joey Belladonna is back as lead singer is just a basic indication that this song sounds just as good as anything from Among The Living or The Persistence of Time. Best of all, it swings! Spot On!
Jennifer Lopez featuring Pitbull: “Dance Again” The passages sung by Jennifer Lopez are all right, but that’s really a small part of this track that has any redeeming value. As is the case with specimens of the dance pop (GAWD I hate that term) genre, the instrumentation is crap, and from the moment you hear the beat coupled with the lyric “Dance, yes, love, next.” You pretty much know what to expect. Moreover, the presence of Pitbull ups the obnoxious factor beyond measure. Not On!