Archive for June, 2010

The debate supposedly raging in the inboxes at SoulBounce HQ, and their admitted resignation to the democratic process (songs were chosen and ranked based on a tally of the editors’ votes, resulting in a uniformly unsatisfied bunch) got me thinking about the idea of objectivity in a ranked list of such great importance.

So I decided to present my version of a detatched-yet-painfully-attached ranked list. The songs are ranked based on Play-Count in my 6-year-old iTunes library. Seems thoroughly subjective, right? But randomness is reintroduced by the following facts:

  • I’ve lost my iTunes Library data once or twice in those 6 years, resulting in incomplete statistical data.
  • This doesn’t account for music playback on my laptop (or my iPod when I’m on vacation).
  • These songs weren’t all added on the same day, month, or even year. Oversights and late-growers explain “Black or White” appearing less popular than “One More Chance”.
  • The iTunes randomizer algorithm often favors already-popular (play-count-wise) songs, resulting in what’s pretty much a continuous feedback loop in which the popular get popular-er.

Still, I stand by my #1. “I Can’t Help It” is pure brilliance. It’s totally Stevie (who wrote the song), but it’s also quintessentially Mike, with its joyfully melancholy take on the state of being desperately in love. Vocally, he goes from whimper to roar to wail, challenging the track to keep up. It truly may well be Mike’s final moment of greatness before becoming the phenom whose supernova would eventually lead to its own end.

I won’t sit and argue with you about whether it’s his best work — we’ll never agree on that fact. So just press Play and do the Chair-Sway.

But first, here’s the list.

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SoulbounceMike50

The folks over at SoulBounce are celebrating “The Summer of Michael Jackson” with their picks of the Top 50 cuts in Michael’s extensive (and incredible) catalog.

While I don’t expect anyone to agree 100% with their pics, I suggest you take solace in the fact that they don’t either. It’s a testament to the man’s brilliance that we can argue about his 50 best compositions. Try getting three rational-minded people over the age of 25 to give a damn about Justin Timberlake’s best 7 songs. Go on, try.

Anyway, because I’m currently a tad too busy with the dayjob and a few other features to do such a list justice, take a look at the Bouncers’ picks, and be sure to check for updates every day.

SOULBOUNCE – THE TOP 50 MICHAEL JACKSON SONGS

Hi, Snoop. The name’s merq. Big fan.

Now seriously, dude. This is why I keep saying you should have retired in the late ’90s. You gave it a go, made your mark. You would’ve gone out with some dignity. Sure, we would’ve been deprived such gems as”Drop it Like It’s Hot”,  “Perfect”, “Special”, and the near-classic “Beautiful”. But one needs only look at the names of the latter three to get a glimpse of your diminished creativity.

“Beautiful”, “Perfect” and “Special” are essentially the same song. It just gets softer in percussion and rhythm with each reiteration — kinda like recording over the same audio tape over and over. (Remember those?)  Also suffering each time you dip back in that well is lyricism. Sample lyrics from “Special”:

I picture this love affair, of ours/ To last a lifetime, just like flowers…
See I ain’t never blow no cheese /Or done no songs like these/ I love the air that you breathe /You know why?

The problem is, of course, that you have done songs like these. Twice before. And “last a lifetime, just like flowers”?? C’mon, man! You know you didn’t write that shit. Your album advance, rhyming dictionary, and a bag of weed deserve that writing credit.

And while we’re on the subject of weed. Doesn’t it bother you that you’ve been reduced to the sleepy-eyed, “izzle”-ating Hip-Hop High Times poster boy? I understand and wholeheartedly support playing with your image, but you’ve gone from West-Coast Gangsta to Retro Gangster to Retro Pimp Pastiche played for laughs. It’s like you watched the “Doggy Dogg World” video sometime in 2001 and, noticing how many laughs it got from label folk, decided this would be you for the next ten years.

Dude, it’s not funny.

You used to be a talented rapper. You had relevance. Now, you’re like a black Shaggy who lets Scooby write his rhymes for him. Why does it have to be this way? I mean, on cuts like “…World” and “Sexual Eruption”, the whole shtick works because it is clearly a shtick. But being this buffoon 24/7? Dude, we deserve better. We clear?

Alright, now we’ve got that settled, I want you to promise me shit like this will never happen again, either.

 

Thanks, man.

-mQ

 Daft Punk vs. the Pop CovenSong of the Summer: “Lady Marmalade” by C. Aguilera, Mya, Pink, Lil’ Kim
Missy Elliott and Rockwilder gathered four attractive young performers for an excursion in mangling the French language (pronouncing “Moulin” like it was a Disney princess), pissing on the legacy of LaBelle, and looking entirely more haggard than any of them had ever before.

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 vampireWolves

Remember how surprised I was at enjoying last week’s True Blood? Well, I neglected to mention one element that gave me pause: the introduction of werewolves.

Yeah, seriously. Werewolves.

In all the over-the-top madness of the show, I had completely forgotten that it was conceived at the height of Twilight-fueled vampire mania. So I was disappointed at the idea that this show, having finally hit a stride of sorts, would resort to Underworld-esque, teen-baiting trend-hopping. And late trend-hopping, at that.

Then again, I remember being pretty irritated (in a tickled kind of way) at the growing team of Supernatural All-Stars Alan Ball was recruiting to Bon Temps. Vampires and telepathic waitresses were one thing (well, two things), but then we got shapeshifters and a Maenad — an entity they were never quite able to explain properly. Dude, throw in a mummy, and you’ve got the Groovy Goolies.

So you can imagine my dismay at the first mention of the clumsily named “Operation Werewolf”. Did Bon Temps really need yet another supernatural entity? Vampires and werewolves — was there ever a more clichéd combination than that? But then, through the magic of period flashback (a TB staple), we learn that this isn’t just any old band of werewolves. They’re Nazi werewolves!

Seriously, y’all. I don’t see how this could possibly end well. At this point, True Blood has spent more time jumping the shark than not. But this time, I can’t say I’m all that worried. Nay, I welcome this latest plummet into lunacy. I expect demand that it all collapses in one huge, historically inaccurate mess, via the True Blood Period Flashback Machine®, of course. Confederate soldier Bill, disgusted by an encounter with the godless Operation Werewolf nazis, goes rogue and joins the Union army. But this enrages vikings Eric and Godrik, who recruit shapeshifting Sam and the rest of the X-Men for an all-out war!! (Featuring special cameos by Mechagodzilla and musical performance by Justin Timberlake.)

I can hardly wait.

But until then, here’s a preview of what we can expect in the coming weeks:

Aaliyah vs. Eminem Song of the Summer: “The Real Slim Shady” by Eminem
Eminem figured his rant against sing-songy Pop songs and the people who make them would best be delivered in the form of a sing-songy Pop song, and the kids absolutely loved it. And they did each time he rereleased it under a new name.

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With summer officially in full swing, every armchair pundit across the country has begun the yearly tradition of attempting to predict what track will be named “Song of the Summer” in three months. It’s a dubious honor, this — it means a song is infectious enough to be played on road trips, at beach parties, and wedding receptions all summer, perfectly capturing the feel of the season. On the other hand, it could mean the song is sufficiently devoid of substance to work for as varied a group of settings as the the road trip, beach party, and wedding reception. But enough of that…

I’m often told I’m a bit of a music/culture snob, but I’ll be the first to tell you that when faced with a perfectly constructed Pop song, I drop all objections and appreciate it for what it is. Being that we just entered a new decade, we’ve been inundated with one retrospective listicle after another, looking back at the most significant singles, artists, videos, and prescription eyeglasses of the past decade.

I’d rather go a slightly different route — instead of talking about the last 10 Songs of the Summer, let’s look at the songs that could or should have been SoS, but fell short for whatever reason. 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on my picks, so I want to you state your agreement, disagreement, and/or substitute recommendations in the comments. I  know how many of you read this damn blog, compared to the number of commenters. So don’t make me come after you.

So without further ado, let’s do this…

2000: TRY AGAIN
2001: ONE MORE TIME
2002: FULL MOON
2003: FRONTIN’
2004: 1 THING
2005: YOU TELL ME
2006: WHAT YOU KNOW 
2007: LIKE THIS
2008: I’LL BE LOVING YOU LONG TIME