Monday, January 23, 2006


So this is, or just was, the number one song requested on iTunes. On heavy rotation on the radio, too, no doubt, but I haven't listened to plain ol' radio in ages now. I might have remained oblivious to this one except that I caught the video on MTV whilst in a hotel (yes, I've turned into one of those smug obnoxious "I got rid of my cable and it feels GREAT!" people. It's only 75% because almost everything sucks; another part of it was wanting to save money, and figuring I might as well begin by cancelling a subcription to a service wherein almost everything sucks). Just so you know: it's even dumber out loud than it is on the page. Which is saying something, considering that it's an ode to the ineffable hipness and aesthetic charms of really, really expensive dentures.

I have bitched about the gangsta zeitgeist before (which, as observed by 50 Cent, if not Dubya himself, extends well beyond hip-hop culture), but I don't think I'd fully expressed just how much I hate pop music right now. R&B that sounds like it went through the deflavorizer, with maybe a side trip through yodelling country. Country music so full of patriotic smarm and bombast that it would probably make the "Ballad of the Green Berets" author cringe with embarassment. Bubblegum that tastes like it was scraped off the bottom of a formica table from some mall that never left the 80's, with a roll or so through 90's grunge (oh god, how I HATE that nasal, whiny drone they all seem to have these days...) The hideous and inexplicable longevity of Mariah Fucking Carey.

And yes, I'm well aware that there are all kinds of wonderful and quirky artists out there, old and new, and with the advent of Modern Technology, one has more access to an astonishing diversity of music than ever...if one only knows where to find it, of course.

But if an anthropologist from the future were to pick up a time capsule full of mainstream (whatever that truly still is) popcult from right now, I think she'd probably file it under "Big Honking Signs That The Culture Was In Trouble." And no, this does NOT mean that I think what we all need is a return to the days when everyone knew their place, Great Classics were taught in the schools, the streetcar cost a nickel and the goddam kids stayed offa my lawn. I don't honestly know when or where things (can we vague this up any more?) were truly, unambiguously "better." Because the answer to that is almost always "it depends on who you ask, and when." More to the point, for most of the supposed golden ages, I just wasn't there. And memory, personal or collective, is a devious editor.

All I do know is that right here and now, it's a stupid, mean, crass, cowardly, greedy, unimaginative, soulless time, and that therefore it's no surprise that music (among other things) sucks, on the whole.

And now, get offa my goddam lawn.


Violet Socks said...

Here's how fogeyish I am: I thought the things in that picture were hair barrettes. Or maybe, on second glance, tiaras.


Rey said...

Okay, but wait - so do you really think there's more cultural value in say "Like A Virgin" by Madonna than there is in "How Many Licks" by L'il Kim?

I don't mean this as a challenge or as a way of pulling you into the now vs. then conversation you don't want to have; I'm just curious. I guess because I just assume that my growing disinterest in pop music is really a result of me being...well...OLD.

belledame222 said...

No, I don't think there's more cultural value to Madonna than L'il Kim. I'm willing to forgive a lot in pop music if it's at least got a good beat/hook and you can dance to it. L'il Kim does, sometimes. Nelly, in my not-so-humble and completely subjective opinion, almost never does. And I'd rather hear about good old fasioned S-E-X than how great you are because you've got so much tacky jewelry and/or can beat the crap out of the other guy. Definitely I'd rather hear about any of those than AMERICA, FUCK YEAH (unironically), or how women ain't shit but ho's and tricks.

And yeah, I will readily admit that my fondness for, say, Men Without Hats is purely a product of nostalgia and my own little place in the cultural continuum.

But I do think right now is one of those moments where things are particularly ugly and dumb and stagnant, all around, and it's reflected in politics as well as pop culture. The late eighties was another.

mileage, obviously, varies.

belledame222 said...

I also do believe that the increasing blob-i-zation of record labels and corporate culture in general has a lot to do with what's been happening with pop. Istm the range of what's played on the radio (and what kind of radio formats are available) gets narrower and narrower even as all kinds of alternative labels and ways of buying and selling them pop up just under the radar.

There's a good Guardian article from last year on the phenomenon here:,11710,1212577,00.html

belledame222 said...

Finally, as lame as a lot of My Day's fashions look now (bras on the outside? multiple, chunky, metal-encrusted, low-slung belts? stirrup pants? spiky pink mohawks?) I stand firm in the belief that for sheer tacky hilariousness, *nothing* beats diamond-encrusted false teeth.

Yet, anyway.