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Mo' Music: December 10

Five things wrong with pop music today

By Rob Cohen, 4:44PM, Tue. Dec. 10, 2013

Mo' Music: December 10

Poptimism, the idea that pop music can be art too, is one I'm all for, but here are some suggested tweaks to make pop the best it can be.

1) Obligatory rap cameos

The commercial rise of hip-hop and the over-saturation of goody-two shoes pop like N' Sync and early Britney led to this arbitrary genre cross-pollination. Most of the time these guest spots are awkward, pandering street cred grabs (not to mention money grabs). I challenge all pop princesses to live without some random dude they've never met flowing over their songs. May this awesome Lady Gaga and R. Kelly collaboration be the last time this occurs.

2) Overproduction

Some pop music is just like someone with so much plastic surgery it's creepy. The incessant, overly mechanical need for high fidelity perfection muddles any personality modern pop has. Leonard Cohen, the second best Cohen in existence (wink) once wrote, "There is a crack, a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in." Pop musicians should follow his advice and embrace their flaws for the insights into their personality they provide. For a great example as to how overproduction can make music too saccharine, check out anything by Chvrches, one of the most over-hyped acts of the year.

3) Obligatory ballads

Is there anything more momentum killing on a pop album than the slow jam? As Madonna's Confessions on a Dance Floor proved, a steady stream of dance fever works better. Do we really care what these committee-written songs by those of questionable emotional depth have to say about serious matters? No. Leave the serious music to the serious musicians. I was excited to see what Britney had in store after the great "Work Bitch," and got this:

4) Overuse of vowel vocalizations

Nearly every Gaga single has her vocalizing some variation of the letter "A" to death. Rihanna is also guilty of the beating to death this poor excuse for hook writing. Please stop with the generic syllables and say something of value. Somebody please write a pop song with the refrain "Sometimes Y."

5) Albums are too long

The death of album sales has led to a dearth of CDs packed full to the brim with extraneous, lesser bonus material. A prime example of this common mistake is Lana Del Rey's debut album. She went from a mystery to over-exposed in the 15 tracks on her proper introduction to the world. Cut about a third off this LP, including all the crappy bonus tracks, and you have a great pop album. As it stands now, too much, too soon.

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