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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Pop Shots - A Look At The Charts
Monday, July 08, 2013

Welcome to your weekly dose of pop world musings. Covering all things pop culture, this week Pop Shots is hitting you with some Billboard singles chart analysis. It’s been two months since I last looked at the charts, and quite a bit has changed. We now have everything from a twerking former tween star, to a civil rights anthem, to some sampling fiends, one of whom I approve of, one of whom I don’t. There are even a few sugary songs thrown in for good measure. The chart positions I’m using are from the Billboard Hot 100 as it was listed on Billboard.com this past Friday, and since this is Pop Shots, you know everything is seasoned with a little bit of attitude.

3) Miley Cyrus - We Can't Stop

The video for this song is completely bat shit insane, but when you strip that away, Miley Cyrus’ “We Can’t Stop” is a ridiculously well put together pop song. I’m not about to say this is a “grown up” Miley Cyrus, because clearly there’s a lack of maturity with “We Can’t Stop,” but that’s one of the aspects of it that makes it great. It’s filled with a delicious amount of excess, and vice, but the concept of repercussions is completely absent from the proceedings. This is exactly what a party oriented pop song should be like, and as much as I hate to admit it, the line “everyone in line in the bathroom / tryna get a line in the bathroom” gets stuck in my head every time. Miley won’t be able to run with this image forever, but I think she knows that, and for now it works perfectly.

10) Ariana Grande w/ Mac Miller - The Way

After hearing Ariana Grande’s “The Way” I have to question why Nickelodeon had her as second banana on the show Victorious. Sounding like a young Mariah Carey, although not having quite the damned near impossible range Mariah once had, Grande is a bit of a throwback to when pop and R&B occasionally intermingled. Of course, in the case of “The Way” this is due in part to the production, which samples Brenda Russell’s “A Little Bit of Love,” and Big Pun’s “Still Not a Player” (which used “A Little Bit of Love,” as well). Grande’s audience isn’t old enough to remember either of those songs, but those of us who are will immediately get transported to those eras when we hear “The Way.” The cool thing is Grande sounds like she would have fit in just fine back then, and that’s what makes “The Way” work.

13) Anna Kendrick - Cups (Pitch Perfect's When I'm Gone)

For a second let’s ignore the fact that Anna Kendrick was in all those sparkly vampire movies, because I much prefer this version of her, flipping cups and singing a country-pop tune about how “you’re gonna miss me when I’m gone.” Yes, it’s a little saccharine, but there’s a weird irresistible quality about it. Maybe it’s the cups, maybe it’s Kendrick’s vocals, but ultimately the song can be summed up in one word that doesn’t get used all that often in music – likable. So score one for the sweet stuff, because Kendrick is providing us with a break from the thumping bass lines of all the dance music that dominates most pop playlists. Of course, I’d still love for a DJ to find a way to mix Kendrick’s cup flipping with the cup flipping P.O.S. does on “Optimist,” but something tells me I might be one of the only people calling for that.

16) Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - Same Love

Back in December of 2012, when writing about Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ The Heist, I said, “‘Thrift Shop’ has impacted Top 40 radio, and if you don’t get the same feeling from this as you did when Eminem hit Top 40 radio with ‘My Name Is,’ you’re crazy.” Basically, I was saying that, like Eminem, Macklemore created a radio friendly song that would get people interested in his music, at which point they’d discover his deeper work. Well, I’m gonna pat myself on the back right now, because seven month’s after writing that, Macklemore’s civil rights anthem, “Same Love,” is in the Top 20, and in heavy rotation on pop radio. The song, which I’m sure you know by now is about gay rights, and equality, is a phenomenal piece of work that deserves to be celebrated like this. When was the last time an artist charted this high with a civil rights anthem? Public Enemy? Marvin Gaye? It’s safe to say Macklemore is now in some pretty impressive company.

59) Ed Sheeran - Lego House

I’m trying to find the words to describe how much I hate the fact that I don’t hate this song, but they’re not coming to me. I shouldn’t like this song. It has all the earmarkings of corniness, but for some reason I have grown to like it. I think it might be due to the way Sheeran so freakin seamlessly switches up his pace, going from the quick tongued parts of his verses to the slowed down chorus. Either that, or it’s because I still think LEGOs are awesome (don’t even try to argue about that). The video is a complete mystery to me. I’m not sure why Sheeran went with the crazy stalker vibe, and had Harry Potter star Rupert Grint be the focal point of the clip, but hey, that’s his decision. I’m just gonna sit here and hate myself for not hating the song.

99) David Guetta w/ Ne-Yo & Akon - Play Hard

While I was fine with Ariana Grande doing some major sampling for “The Way,” I’m far less cool with the sampling David Guetta has done with “Play Hard.” First of all, Wiz Khalifa had a song with the chorus “work hard, play hard” just last year, so the concept has already been done, and quite recently. Second, I expect better from one of the biggest electronic music producers in the world than a wholesale jacking of the best elements of a well known dance song, and everyone who has paid attention to the dance scene at all, or was in a college bar between 1998 and 2000, knows that the bulk of “Play Hard” comes from the Alice Deejay classic “Better Off Alone.” Basically, next to nothing about “Play Hard” is original, and it’s really disappointing to see a great producer go on auto-pilot like this.

And with that, my time is up for the week, but I'll be back next week with more shots on all things pop.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:00 AM  
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