It just about follows every American Idol cliché there is: Mariah Carey runs, a teenybopper subject matter, AOR strumming, limp R&B beats... but fuck me, does the song pack in the hooks. "Am I crazy... or falling in love"? Shit, I think both, but from this mire of insincerity and banality lies not a polished turd, but surprisingly, a perfectly formed pop song.
Party in the USA
Miley Cyrus is so hateable it's almost unbearable. What gave her the right to gurgle out lines such as "All I see are stilletos... I guess I never got the memo" and get away with it? And what gave her the right to torture us all with a main chorus hook that kills countless nights' sleep by looping seamlessly in our subconcious? And what, on earth and in hell, gave her to make us nod our heads like "yeah" and offer no definition or specifics? You can ever hear the evil laugh of a criminally insane pop culture deviant towards the end of the song. Listen... it's there. It's terrifying. Like Miley saying, "Bitch, you ain't seen the half of it yet!"
Five Colours in her Hair
Like Green Day's irritatingly chirpy younger brother, this early McFly number bounces around the room in a way that makes some cover their ears and weep, and others feed like pre-pubescent vampires off their unfairly contagious ADHD energy. NO! Stop, put down the surf guitar... NO! Tom... Tom... TOM! You can't sing like Billie Joe Armstong, I won't have that in my hou... Oh for... Danny! DANNY!! DANNY!! I thought I told you to quit smoking!! What?! Don't give me that, I can hear... you really need to rest your throat!!! I told... OI!!!... DOUGIE! What did I just...ugh... oh, what's the use? *sigh* Where's that last bottle of wine?
Don't Stop Believing
"Just a smalltown..." WHAT THE FUCK?
*First four bars*... This one isn't so bad really is it? Ohhhh... yea. It's this one. I actually like this song, I won't hear a word against it. Although I'll forgive you for wanting to punch Ms (I'm assuming Ms with this kind of slutty attitude) Paige for her sheer "oh-please-I-can-do-better" attitude. Don't flatter yourself dear. This was in 1999, she's gotta be like 40 now, and wishing she'd shown a bit more commitment whilst she had the chance.
Lift me Up
This song is illegally pretty, and I actually think the only reason it's not shipped off to the saccharinity high-security joint is because Geri just can't sing bless her. You can hear her really getting into it at the key change, it's hilarious if you listen out for the flat notes as she gives it her all, as she flies "way up high". Ouch. But whatever, it's a cute little melody.
That's the Way it is
Did Celine Dion cover the Backstreet Boys? It certainly sounds like it: those boom-chka-thwack beats, the massive reverb on that penultimate snare, and the inevitable key change that implies "once more with less feeling and more belting!" And this song convinces me that Diana Vickers is in fact Mrs Dion's lovechild... those parrot squawk vocals are unmistakable. Oh how I wish it was '98 again. What, wait... this is 2002? Jesus Celine! Well, I forgive you, because I've belted out the chorus on public transport. Unashamedly in fact. And THAT'S the way it is.
Here (in your Arms)
Why the brackets? I think that annoys me the most. So, essentially, this song is just called "Here"... and the "in your arms" bit isn't all that important now? Whatever, I hold HelloGoodbye totally responsible for bringing back into fashion not only autotune, but also the two note chorus (three notes, whatever). And for those two things, I should really herald them as visionaries and prophets, given my dreadful music taste. But I don't, because the album was shocking.
Boom Boom Pow
The Black Eyed Peas
There's a mixture of excitement and horror when this comes in on in a club. It's that sustained note at the beginning that ushers in a sense of anticipation and atmosphere, which is shattered as soon as you realise what's about to happen. "Gotta get that.... gotta get that..." Oh Christ. Obnoxious lyrics, an offensively plastic beat and an intimidating autotune (thanks HelloGoodbye, thanks a lot), but there's nothing you can do. You have to get up, even if you have tears in your eyes and a voice in your head saying "please... please... no more boom boom fucking pow... I can't take this track again... no more", and you throw yourself around like it's 3008, even when it's only 2000. AND late. The ultimate track to usher in an early retirement.
Blue (Da Ba Dee)
Blue (Da Ba Dee)
Is this even a bad song? The message is one of self-acceptance and coming to terms with one’s colour, it was a revolutionary use of autotune and miscellaneous vocal trickery, and it has a melody that still remains as memorable today as it was back... ...ok, fair enough, this song is atrocious. But would we all hate it so much if we hadn’t seen the Finding-Nemo-With-Legs video? No. In fact, I think it would be considered a club classic. So, yeah... “I have a girlfriend and she is so blue”... what guy can argue with that?
Adam Young saved my life this year. “Fireflies” came out and it was ok to love Disney music again. I was so sick of the urban trash that had made me lose my faith in chart music in 2009, so when this apparently straight big-kid came along singing about ponies and unicorns and whatnot, it felt ok to be sentimental and naive again. If you love to hate anything these days, I implore you to make it Owl City.
Growing on Me
Forgot about these guys didn’t you? Fucking amazing band, just a bit... much at times. Muse seemed like a more middle-of-the-road version of Snow Patrol in comparison. “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” is the one that everyone remembers because of the trippy chorus melody and that big (well... high) note at the end, but “Growing on Me” is actually a good song. The way that chord sequence kicks in as the chorus starts, and those lame “or am I growing on you?” backing vocal puns and that fuck-me-I-can-play-a-guitar-solo outro guitar flurry... illegally fun. “Black Shuck” was kinda crazy too wunnit? And how ‘bout that “Friday Night”? God they were good.
Murder on the Dancefloor
Sophie Ellis Bextor
Some days this is amazing, on others – hilarious. The defiantly straight faced received pronunciation of the “better not kill the groove” hook... like a posh bird chasing you down the street after you going “You there! Vagabond! If you think you’re getting away... you’re... well, you’re jolly wrong there Sonny Jim!” But you know what? Those first 10 seconds before she starts singing are just polished perfection. I’m not sure if SEB ruins or ‘makes’ this track. Either way, she’s a successful recording artist and she’s working with Freemasons these days. This is what’s happening. I’m not the only guy buying her stuff it seems. Well... maybe the only GUY...
Say You’ll Be Mine
There were so many Steps songs I could’ve chosen, they were the epitome of gloriously bad 90s euro pop. (I actually liked the Spice Girls enough to not even include them in this list). Despite that awkward moment in every song when Lisa Scott Lee had a solo, they were the new Abba, and every track brought a new melodic embarrassment or genius, depending on how you see it. Most of their stuff was fist pumping gay disco heaven (oh... oops, bad choice of words), but I like “Say You’ll Be Mine” the most just because there was no four to the floor HI NRG beat to distract from the cheese. Again, it’s the Disney factor, but this song is so ecstatically upbeat that I think anyone feeling like they have it rough should listen to “Say You’ll Be Mine”. You think you’re life is tough? Imagine having to be this happy for 5 years straight. Or indeed having to be straight for 5 years...
Poor Vanessa. This song was so amazing that everything else she did just paled in comparison. Did she even
do another song? Well, whatever, she didn’t need to. That stretched elastic band voice, the hideously massive chorus belted out like a devout Christian faith-affirming anthem, that hysterical scream at the beginning of the final chorus... this is what all dance music should invoke. A feeling somewhere between blissful euphoria and extreme irritation. There’s a fine line and I’m pretty sure Ms Amorosi crosses that line, but my tolerance is pretty high... so you preach away girl.
The opening shout of “Oh Shit!” from a group of terrified men sums up the following track quite neatly, as does Fergie’s taunt of “are you ready for this?” Essentially, guys, you aren’t. A lolloping tribal beat sets the mood for the rest of this dangerous addictive track. Fergie doesn’t want to flirt, she wants to dominate and intimidate. Her flow is clumsy, but so confident that you actually believe that if you crossed her, she would mess you up. “Get up out my face! Before I turn around and spray your ass with mace!” There are a lot of things, grammatical and logical, that are wrong in that sentence, but are you going to challenge this (her words) ho? Didn’t think so.
Gibberish is destined for greatness. “Bad Romance” is single handedly the best pop single of last year, mainly because it makes no sense. It’s pretentious and overblown, but it parades around in 10 inch heels and an Atlas Hat and a Police Tape Boob Tube and knows you won’t notice anything else. And if that wasn’t enough, it’s wearing underwear that suggests an ambiguous gender. Lady Gaga doesn’t want to be ‘just friends’, and who the hell are you to argue? Lie on your front, close your eyes and prepare for this song to hurt you.
From Paris to Berlin
The best bit about the song is the growl of “FRRAAAAM” at the beginning of the chorus, and the rest of the song is pretty much filler. But that moment in pop music is so legendary that, if I could afford it, I would travel across Europe, from Paris indeed into Berlin, going into clubs every night in the hope that I could relive this moment in every country that Infernal travelled to whilst researching for this track. But in all fairness, the track is so old now that I think the only place I’m going to hear it now is Wetherspoons in Cornwall or something. Better book my ticket.
Just a Little Bit
I’m writing this just as Eurovision 2010 is dragging many a sap into the early hours, getting progressively drunker wondering if the UK is going to get nil point again. Tell you what, if we have anything near as heart-stoppingly, almost horrifically incredible as this track ever again... we probably will get nil point again, but decent songs never fare well in Eurovision. Well, I say ‘decent’... anyway, I digress. This track is mainly remembered for the at-the-time-daring “ooh, aah”s of the chorus, but what makes this track so great is the pink flag flailing synth hook that rears its head whenever Gina takes a break to pout. This song is almost too camp for comfort, but as I said, I have a pretty high threshold for musical pain. So slap me in the face all night long Gina, I can take it. (I can say that right? I mean Gina’s talking about orgasm noises, I’m perfectly allowed to throw in the odd schlong to the cheek gag every now and then right? Hmm... perhaps not.)
I just want to clear something up. Despite everything I write and promote on this blog, I am far from a queer stereotype. I like metal, some with screaming even, I like ambient stuff... well, I’ve said all this. But Cher... now Cher is one stereotype I will proudly adhere to till I die, which will probably before she does. Cher is an everlasting deity, a drag queen role model, the voice of all that is good and holy in pop music, and she will never be bad. I won’t hear it. That gravelly chortle of hers that doubles as her singing voice has some kind of psychological power that makes you go “YES Cher, YES! That is what. IT’S. ABOUT!” This song seems to have lost its relevance in the 21st century, a little too serious and epic to be considered a slurred 3am sing-along anthem... but those drunken early morning reprobates don’t deserve this song anyway. That message, delivered through that subtle (yes, subtle) autotune, “do you believe in life after love?” ...it’s beyond camp, it’s beyond cheese, it’s beyond sentimental. And you know what? I’ve read polls and blogs all over the internet labelling it one of the worst songs of the 1990s, but I can’t categorically label this song as awful in any way other than because of the majority opinion. I think it’s the utter dog’s, and quite frankly Cher could do a turd on stage and it would be glistening, euphoric and inspirational.
Now that’s a turd I’d pay to see.