Spot On or Not On Number Six

I listen to this crap to see if you really have to.

Madonna: “Give Me All Your Luvin’” It certainly sounds as though the Material Girl, after years of Bowie-esque reinvention, has come back to her 80s new wave bubblegum roots. She even quotes her 1983 hit “Lucky Star.” Of course, I must confess that for all her undeniable talent, I haven’t really been a fan of Madonna, and now that I think about it, here’s why – I believe from my heart that an entertainer can only reinvent him or herself too often before his or her integrity is called into question. More to the point, I am starting to believe that Madonna’s success has had little to do with actual talent and more to do with opportunism and bandwagon-jumping. As much as the contributions from Nicki Minaj and M.I.A. will enable this single to appeal to teenyboppers, I ain’t no teenybopper. Sorry. And for the record, the utterly forced dubstep passage makes this track the sonic equivalent of an ill-assembled jigsaw puzzle. Not On!

Cage The Elephant: “Aberdeen”This song begins with a disorienting descending intro, and the funky bass line meshes well with the guitar feedback throughout the song. The solo, courtesy of Lincoln Parish reminds me of the best attributes of Dave Davies and Paul Kossoff. Without a doubt, a fun three-minute jam. Spot On!

Foster The People: “Pumped Up Kicks” I hear this song a lot, and I have to say I could never find myself able to hate it. The bass line reminds me of those old R&B songs that Allen Toussaint wrote in the ‘60s like “Working In A Coal Mine,” and for all the electronic elements, real instruments are still used. Plus the bouncy melody is well-composed, pleasing, and downright addictive. Spot On!

The Wanted: “Glad You Came” I was not much liking the sappy, piano-driven intro, with maudlin lyrics sung in an effeminate high tenor, but the electronic dance rhythm immediately afterward ruined everything. I might like to add that of all the horrible boy bands I have had to endure in my lifetime, these guys probably have the most pompous name of them all. The Wanted? Seriously? To be honest, I don’t WANT to hear anymore, and in a few short years, nobody will either! Not On!

The Red Hot Chili Peppers: “The Adventures Of Rain Dance Maggie” I have always liked the Chili Peppers for their innovative combination of funk and rock, and especially because of their versatility. With an infectious bass line courtesy of Flea and a completely danceable, rock-steady four-on-the-floor rhythm from drummer Chad Smith, this single is the culmination of years of expertise, and sounds as fresh as anything from Blood Sugar Sex Magik did twenty years ago. Twenty years ago? Has it really been that long? Jesus wept. Anyway, a quick word about new guitarist Joshua Klinghoffer, who replaced John Frusciante in 2009: the kid can play. Spot On!

Pitbull: “Back In Time” I always thought Pitbull’s approach to hip hop was obnoxious at best –s—y overproduced sound, s—y electronic beats, f— all y’all. But how DARE this hack desecrate one of my favorite classic R&B records – “Love Is Strange” by Mickey and Sylvia – to “compose” his latest abomination! Damn it all, Pitbull! Make up your own beats! Leave the oldies alone! For f—– sake! Not On!

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds: “Dream On” When Oasis broke up in 2009, I rejoiced. I really did. It meant not only one less s—y band, but also an end to a s—y band that has cashed in on lame attempts to reinvent the sixties pop of Lennon-McCartney, Marriott-Lane, Ray Davies, et al. Unfortunately, Noel intends to keep the corpse twitching, and even though I tried telling myself “It’s not Oasis… it’s not Oasis…” before giving this a listen, well guess what? It sounded very much like Oasis, especially since Noel pinched the shuffle rhythm and chord changes from the Kinks’ “Dead End Street” and made up some wack-a—lyrics to go with it. Such brilliance. Such innovation. Just kidding, folks. It sucks, plus tax. Not On!

Young The Giant: “Cough Syrup” This track, a new take on good old-fashioned sixties rock sensibilities, has a warm, lush sound, and the twangy guitar arpeggios that buttress the verse melody make this song particularly attractive. The dynamics are well timed, and I love the eccentric lyrics and tasteful overdrive at each chorus. Spot On!

Justin Bieber: “Boyfriend”Oh, hell, NAW! Is he really trying to rap? Please say it’s untrue! As if his earlier songs weren’t bad enough, he just has to come up with a song with a generic hip hop beat and rhymes that make Vanilla Ice sound like Chuck D interpolated with blue-eyed “soul”passages that are less soulful than Michael Bolton. Who does this twerp think he’s trying to kid? Not On!

Adele: “Set Fire To The Rain” The tight intro, driven by gentle piano is superb, and Adele’s powerful contralto voice sounds AMAZING. The lyrics, although simple, are brimming with sophisticated imagery and I love the allegory within the chorus, and the strings are a nice touch, to say the least. Of course, it’s Adele, man… Whaddaya expect? Spot On!

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