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Name: Adam Bernard
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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, September 23, 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. This time around that analysis includes talking about some artists that are old favorites, a few that are new favorites, and cutting through the hype to hear the number one song for what it really is. 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.

1) Miley Cyrus - Wrecking Ball

If possible, ignore the butt naked riding of a wrecking ball, and the licking of a sledgehammer (I wonder what Peter Gabriel is thinking right now?), because “Wrecking Ball” is an epic pop power ballad the likes of which we don’t across very often. It’s easy to imagine Heart belting out the lyrics to “Wrecking Ball,” and for that reason alone it’s a song that’s worthy of our attention. The fact that it’s Miley’s first number one single means that despite her being in her slutty phase, she has the kind of voice, and surrounds herself with the kind of songwriters and producers, that can make us ignore her antics and focus on the music. It kind of makes you wonder why she, or someone advising her, feels the need to put her out there as something other than a singer. Of course, with this song hitting number one, those people will say, “see, the slutty stuff is working,” not realizing most of us prefer this song on the radio.

3) Lorde - Royals

I honestly have no idea what to think of this song. One day I’ll love it, the next day I’ll loathe it. The thing about “Royals” is that I really like the ideology behind it, the notion that some of us aren’t interested in the consumer culture that’s being sold to us through a lot of our music today. On the other hand, I question the creativity of the song since it’s using pretty much the same exact lyrics as all of the songs it questions, only flipping how those lyrics used. It’s creative, but it’s not that creative. Lorde, no doubt, has a good voice. It will be interesting to see, however, if something like “Royals” is a springboard to a long lasting career, or the kind of song that gives her a Gotye kind of success. I’m not willing to place a bet on either at this point, but when I’m in the right mood I turn up “Royals.”

8) Eminem - Bezerk

What are we going to do with Eminem? Nothing is harder than dealing with aging in hip-hop, and Em has reached the dreaded big 4-0, and no, I don’t mean a 40oz of malt liquor. Em’s latest single, “Bezerk,” is a bit of a throwback to the humorous Em that we heard on songs like “My Name Is,” and “The Real Slim Shady.” While I prefer this version of him to the one that does songs with Rihanna, something isn’t right about “Bezerk.” It sounds like a 40 year old Eminem trying to be a 26 year old Eminem. Not only that, some of the pop culture references he makes are horribly out of date. K-Fed? Khloe Kardashian? Ren & Stimpy? Were these the things at the forefront of his mind? With Em’s daughter now 17 years old, “Bezerk” kinda feels like Em trying to be a cool dad. Remember when your dad first figured out what the word “dope” meant, and started using it? That’s kind of how Eminem is coming off with “Bezerk.” Although I loved his humor back in the day, how about some music about being the father of a teenage girl, and dealing with how his previous music affected an entire generation? Is that too much to ask of one of the all-time greats?

21) Maroon 5 - Love Somebody

I have to admit, when I first heard “Love Somebody” I didn’t like it all that much. I thought, “Oh man, why’d they have to make a cheesy pop song about love.” After over a dozen listens, or so, it started to grow on me. I saw that it wasn’t actually cheesy at all, and it was, in fact, a really heartfelt song. Although I prefer when there’s a little more power in Maroon 5’s music, this almost stripped down track has some really nice qualities to it, and after weeks of changing the station whenever it came on, now “Love Somebody” is one of my favorite Maroon 5 songs. It’s also a song that would have made for perfect mixtape fodder had it existed back in the days of wooing girls with mixtapes (or even mix-CDs, even if they didn’t take nearly as much talent, time, and effort to make). Come to think of it, why can’t we just make mixtapes for people we like? Maybe Maroon 5 can help me bring that back into popularity!

60) Ariana Grande - Baby I

I don’t really feel the need to beat around the bush about this, Ariana Grande is my new pop music obsession. With an album (Yours Truly) that’s filled with Babyface’s songwriting, and production, and Grande sporting a voice that is reminiscent of a young Mariah Carey, the 20 year old songstress wins me over in multiple ways. Oh, and yes, she ten kinds of adorable. Looks aside, when it comes to her music, it gives off a good 90s R&B vibe, which is obviously due, in large part, to Babyface’s influence. Another plus is that lyrically Grande doesn’t try to tackle any subject matters that are beyond her years. Oftentimes, young artists, in an effort to sound more mature, sing about topics they simply haven’t lived long enough to know anything about. Grande, and her team, stick to the exact lane she should be in, and the results are songs like “Baby I,” a ridiculously infectious feel good track that is impossible to resist. If you don’t play this at loud volumes when driving in your car, there’s something wrong with you.

76) Taylor Swift - Red

Going from my newest pop music obsession, to one of my ongoing ones, I’m honestly surprised it took so long for Taylor Swift to release the title track to her phenomenal 2012 album, Red. “Red” is one of my favorite songs on the album, as it has just the right mixture of pop, country, and Swift’s trademark personality. When you listen to a song like “Red” it’s easy to see why Swift is at the top of the pop world, and probably will be for quite a while. There’s an ease to everything she does, and this is not to say that she makes it look easy, it’s to say that when you hear her sing, and play the guitar, you can’t imagine her doing anything else. It sounds like a natural fit. When you combine that quality with the honesty of her songwriting, it brings her to a level few others are currently reaching. My only gripe with “Red” is that pop radio isn’t playing it enough. Am I going to have to program a country station into my car stereo presets?

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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