This past week a buddy of mine lent me his car. It was the first time I had a car in probably two years. He had no CDs in there, and there was no way to hook my Spotify up to the speakers. So, for the first time in a long time, I listened to the radio. A lot of it. And in doing so, I became reacquainted with Top 40 radio. I had many thoughts on the subject, driving around for hours, so I decided to write about it. Here you go.
(P.S. I’m a music snob. It says so in the title of this article, but I should reiterate that here. If you’re one of these people who feels powerfully about Top 40, and loves these songs, and hates the snobs who judge you for listening to this music, maybe just hit the old back button on the browser and load up the T. Swift on the YouTubes. She gets you better than I ever will.)
1. Baauer – Harlem Shake
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ld_cRDXHKGI&w=584&h=390%5DSo, I guess this means Billboard is counting YouTube views now, huh? That is neat, I guess. Getting with the times. I love how the internet crusaders must have been so psyched to get YouTube views counted towards the Top 40, and then they realized the only songs that will get on there are the insufferable ones we’ve all seen on every viral video a million times. You can’t escape overplayed music, guys. To quote Jurassic Park: Life finds a way. Or, like, overplayed music finds a way.
In other news, did anyone else know this song was longer than 30 seconds? I thought all the videos just stopped when the song stopped. I mean, the rest of the song is basically the same thing repeated over and over. But I always assumed this was just a 30-second song.
2. Macklemore – Thrift Shop
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QK8mJJJvaes&w=584&h=390%5DI have made the mistake of making fun of Macklemore before, so let me just take this moment to finally stand up and say that I THINK MACKLEMORE IS GREAT. HE IS A GENIUS. I DON’T THINK “THRIFT SHOP” IS A HACK SONG THAT IS EXTREMELY PROBLEMATIC. I NO LONGER AGREE WITH BRANDON SODERBERG’S ARTICLE ON THE SONG. PLEASE, PLEASE STOP HARASSING ME ON TWITTER. STOP THE HATE EMAILS. MACKLEMORE IS AMAZING. I PLAN ON NAMING MY FIRST SON MACKLEMORE. FUCK THE BEATLES. FUCK MOZART. MACKLEMORE IS CLEARLY THE GREATEST MUSICIAN EVER. PLEASE, PLEASE LEAVE ME ALONE.
3. Bruno Mars – When I Was Your Man
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ekzHIouo8Q4&w=584&h=390%5DIs Bruno Mars an elf? Or, like, a sprite of some kind? He reminds me of Puck from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
4. Taylor Swift – I Knew You Were Trouble
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-MqHTjorymw&w=584&h=390%5DI like this version of the song better.
5. will.I.am and Britney Spears – Scream and Shout
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYtGl1dX5qI&w=584&h=390%5DBritney’s new singing voice is taking a page out of The Flying Lizards’ “Money” book (the song from Empire Records) and I’m loving every second of it. Don’t bother with “notes” or “melody,” Brit. Just talk in a sultry, low, voice with a vaguely British accent. I’m in. I am 100% in.
6. Drake – Started from the Bottom
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RubBzkZzpUA&w=584&h=390%5DHuh. So, Top-40ologists, can you explain to me what this is doing on the list? It’s not a club banger. It’s not an angsty teenage girl screaming about her lost love. It’s not a white rapper judging people who don’t dress like assholes. (JUST KIDDING, MACKLEMORE FANS. HE’S A GENIUS. HE’S THE SECOND COMING OF THE LORD OUR SAVIOR.) “Started from the Bottom” is a low-key, down-tempo rap track with a forgettable hook. There’s no bass drop. There are no guest stars. It’s not a bad song, but I don’t think I’d remember it in six months. Is Drake just so popular right now that anything he puts out charts? Is that where we’re at?
7. Rihanna – Stay
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JF8BRvqGCNs&w=584&h=390%5DSo, this is Rihanna’s attempt at a song like “Halo,” right? It’s pretty good. No “Halo,” but OK all the same. Everything I know about Rihanna’s personal life makes this song totally creepy and unlistenable, but in it of itself it’s OK.
8. Justin Timberlake – Suit & Tie
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IsUsVbTj2AY&w=584&h=390%5DI am one of the world’s biggest Justin Timberlake fans. I listen to “Senorita” unironically, often by myself. I think “Cry Me a River” is a perfect pop song and the music video for that song was the last truly important music video, probably ever.
Am I totally out there in thinking “Suit & Tie” kind of, well, sucks? Or am I just expecting such greatness from JT that when he releases a B+ song I am disappointed because my hopes were too high? I feel dirty not liking this song. I WANT to like this song.
9. Bruno Mars – Locked Out of Heaven
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-fA-gBCkj0&w=584&h=390%5DThis is a Police song, right? I’m not crazy here. This is Puck the Woodland Sprite covering a Police song.
10. Lil’ Wayne – Love Me
“Love Me.” I used to, Wayne. I really did.
WHAT I LEARNED:
I learned that Drake could release three minutes of him making farting noises under his armpit and it’d crack the Top 20. I learned that Taylor Swift + Motion Activated Towel Dispensers = me giggling like a schoolboy. I learned that the Harlem Shake is an unstoppable robot sent from the future bent on killing us all. I learned that Rihanna emotionally telling a guy to “stay” in a song makes me feel sad and weird, and that I want to spend a summer evening chasing around Bruno Mars as he pulls tricks on woodland creatures and young lovers. Mostly, I learned that Macklemore should win the Nobel Prize, an Oscar, and all the Grammys. Every last Grammy to Macklemore. Got it, Macklemore fans? I adore him. Please, please, please leave me alone now.