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. See my complete profile
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. Right now the Billboard Hot 100 is less of a Hot 100, and more of a hot mess, so it’s time to tear into what’s going on here. The chart positions I’m using are from this past Thursday, and since this is Pop Shots, you know everything is seasoned with a little bit of attitude.
15) Rihanna w/ Kanye West & Paul McCartney - FourFiveSeconds
Paul McCartney is in the midst of what is, by far, the most interesting three-quarter life crisis in history. In 2013 he fronted a reunited Nirvana, and now the septuagenarian has joined forced with Rihanna and Kanye West for the song “FourFiveSeconds.” If anyone can deal with Kanye’s ego it’s the man who was in a band that once deemed itself “More popular than Jesus.” That said, neither Rihanna, nor Kanye, can sing nearly as well as McCartney’s former Beatles bandmates. In fact, Rihanna’s screeching at the start of “FourFiveSeconds” could probably be used to drive people out of their homes. Thankfully, she finds her, albeit limited, voice after the first few bars. Even though I dislike two of the three artists on this, the cross-generational concept for the song is very cool, and I hope we’ll see more collabs like this in the future. Next time, however, they should make Rihanna do a few more takes.
19) Selena Gomez - The Heart Wants What It Wants
A little while ago, while discussing the current generation of pop singers, I compared Selena Gomez to Britney Spears. This is because she isn’t particularly great at anything, but much like Britney, with Selena the whole is greater than the sum of her parts. Her voice isn’t bad. In fact, it’s pretty palatable. Her songwriting isn’t bad, either. Many of her lyrics will get stuck in your head. She may never hit the notes of a young Mariah Carey, or pen an all-time great song, like Gwen Stefani (say something bad about “Don’t Speak.” I f*cking dare you!), but this is a case where 1+1=3. “The Heart Wants What It Wants” is another example of this. Break it down to its parts and you’ll think it would never work, but it does work, and that’s the reality of Selena Gomez.
24) Rae Sremmurd - No Type
A few weeks ago I saw Rae Sremmurd on Highly Questionable give what was one of the worst interviews I’d ever seen. I honestly felt bad for Dan Le Batard and Bomani Jones, as after well over 1,000 artist interviews of my own, I’d lived that interview far too many times. The Rae Sremmurd twosome came off as a dumbed down version of Kris Kross, and made me long for the days when young artists wore their clothes backwards and rapped about missing the bus. Despite, or perhaps because of, their level of stupidity, Rae Sremmurd’s “No Type” has held steady on the chart. After listening to the Auto-Tune heavy mish-mosh of what is purportedly hip-hop and R&B, I longed for Kris Kross even more. There’s nothing about this to get excited about, although I’m guessing after a hundred, or so, repeat listens you might end up believing it’s catchy. Stockholm Syndrome is a bitch.
29) Taylor Swift - Style
Taylor Swift currently has THREE songs in the top 30 of the Billboard Hot 100. They should probably just rename the top of the chart the Swift Zone, or something like that, as every song on 1989 could end up being a single, which means she’s going to take up residency at the top for quite a while. “Style” is yet another perfect pop song from her, and will likely be in heavy rotation until all the snow has melted, and we’re breaking out our t-shirts again. Unfortunately, her team is unbelievably adept at getting any video that is unauthorized off of YouTube, so all I have for you for “Style” is this performance from this 2014 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Personally, I’m absolutely fine with the visuals here, although there’s a good chance this video won’t exist in a week.
30) iLoveMakonnen w/ Drake - Tuesday
You know how I said Rae Sremmurd makes me long for Kris Kross? Well, iLoveMakonnen makes me long for Rae Sremmurd. Here’s the good news, I’m reasonably sure, or at least incredibly hopeful, that we have either reached the bottom of the barrel in terms of Auto-Tuned rap-R&B hybrid bullsh*t, or we can at least see the bottom of the barrel from here. Not only does very little in “Tuesday,” other than the chorus, rhyme, and not only can iLoveMakonnen not sing EVEN WITH the help of Auto-Tune, Drake “raps,” and I'm using that term very loosely, with little to no regard to how a song is constructed, oftentimes rhyming a few consistent bars, then randomly breaking into a sentence or two of prose. I feel like there’s a distinct possibility everyone involved in this song was drunk, which is probably why it would only sound good to me if I was, as well.
79) Sheppard - Geronimo
It’s story time! Way back in December of 2012 I interviewed Sheppard’s George Sheppard in NYC before a performance of theirs at the now defunct Sullivan Hall. It was a fun chat that included everything from music, to B horror movies. Today the band has a single on the Billboard Hot 100, and I know I’m a bit biased here, but it seems like the kind of song that could have a nice steady climb over the course of the next few months. “Geronimo” is fun, triumphant, and when you throw in a wildly creative, cardboard filled, music video, you have a winner on multiple levels. Here’s to hearing a lot more from Sheppard in 2015, and beyond!
And with that, my time is up for the week, but I'll be back next week with more shots on all things pop.
B-Listers are a select group of artists that were featured in my Artist Of The Week series that ran every Monday from April of '06 to April of '11. All of these artists have two things in common; extreme talent, and a flight path far too under the radar for my liking. They took on the title of B-Listers as they embraced being featured by me, Adam B. Check out the AOTW Archives for all the interviews.