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 +2Posted on Jul 4th | re: The Week In Pop: Sia Steps Out Of The Shadows, Sort Of (30 comments)

I’ll sheepishly chime in to say that I enjoy both songs well enough. Or at least they’re decent enough to hold my attention until something better comes along. At this point I’ll welcome anything that’s not “Happy” or “All Of Me.”

 +5Posted on Jun 28th | re: Shut Up, Dude: This Week's Best And Worst Comments (65 comments)

For what it’s worth, I just spent my Friday night making a magazine cut-out collage while eating microwave pizza and listening to Clams Casino. It’s amazing the sort of trivial things I can do as long as I have good music to carry me through it.

I also find writing to be a good outlet whenever I’m feeling down, and you’re good at writing, so maybe it would help to just write some poems or journal entries or something. I mean, your music writing on your blog is already something you should be proud of, and something that brings enjoyment to other people, such as myself.

Anyway, I hope you feel better. Not sure if my comment here helps, and I usually don’t know what to say to cheer people up, but I figured I’d at least chime in.

 +3Posted on Jun 25th | re: Vote For The Song Of The Summer 2014 (183 comments)

Whoops, I swear I didn’t see this comment down here before I posted it at the end of my comment above (although I wrote “bitter” instead of “mad”–I didn’t even get it right!)

 +2Posted on Jun 25th | re: Vote For The Song Of The Summer 2014 (183 comments)

As did you, my friend. I think you snuck in your two comments above just before I wrote mine, because I don’t remember seeing them before I started typing, and they make pretty much the same points I was trying to make. Also, your avatar is my favorite song of ’09 (the whole year, not just the summer).

 +14Posted on Jun 25th | re: Vote For The Song Of The Summer 2014 (183 comments)

Can we strike some sort of balance between “Someday soon we will look back on poptimism with as much embarassment as witch house” and “a Song Of The Summer should have to get played on pop radio”? When I think of summer songs, I do tend to think of pop, but I don’t see why it has to be limited to Top 40 songs. If we were taking this poll in 2000, would we really rule out The Avalanches’ “Since I Left You” just because it wasn’t played on pop radio every day? What about Air France’s “Collapsing at Your Doorstep” in 2008, or jj’s “Ecstacy” in 2009? All of those could be called summer pop songs to some extent, even if they weren’t Billboard hits. I just don’t see why we should be forced to choose from such a narrow, somewhat mediocre pool of songs. Maybe you could at least make two lists, one for Least Shitty Top 40 Song of the Summer, and one for Indie Song of the Summer. Or just have one all-inclusive list of choices both popular and indie.

Also, I like “Fancy” alright, but it’s sure as hell no “Boom Clap”. Plus the summer is still young, and “Boom Clap” is up to #29, so hopefully Charli XCX will finally have a top 10 hit of her own here in the U.S. by the time summer’s over. Yesterday I heard it twice on the radio just by chance, so I’m (p)optimistic that it will continue to climb.

Short story long, I’m going to abstain from voting for any of the songs on this list. I’m not bitter, I’m just disappointed.

 0Posted on Jun 17th | re: Let's Shortlist The Song Of The Summer 2014 (286 comments)

LIZ – “Stop Me Cold”
Charli XCX – “Boom Clap”
Elliphant – “Revolusion”
Caribou – “Can’t Do Without You”

Somehow it only just hit me that his daughter’s full name is “North West.” If Kanye’s a Hitchcock fan, I’m guessing her middle name is “By North.”

 +8Posted on Apr 26th | re: Shut Up, Mate: This Week's Best And Worst Comments (36 comments)

Not to turn this all about me, but I’ve been feeling rather cynical towards music writing lately as well. Now that my job has started up and I only have occasional internet access, it’s become clearer how ephemeral most of the music news stories and topics are. Another week goes by and I come back and read the latest Week in Pop segment, only to find little of value to me that I didn’t already know about. I consider myself a poptimist, so you’d think that piece would be right up my alley, but somehow the main focus at hand always seems too general to me.

In this week’s edition, for instance, I’m introduced to Charli XCX–an unnecessary introduction, since she’s my favorite pop star, and I would think that most people who care about that sort of music on this site would already be familiar with her. I’m advised that “SuperLove” is a good starting point for anyone who hasn’t heard her yet, and I have to question who the intended audience even is for this segment. “SuperLove” is good, but it’s far from her best song, and the best starting point when approaching a new artist should always be their best work, because if you can’t get into their best then how could you like anything else that they’ve done? “SuperLove” is relatively tame, and I don’t think anyone on this site wants a tame introduction to an artist. If I wanted to introduce someone to Charli XCX, I’d play them “Grins” or “Nuclear Seasons,” and if they didn’t like those I’d consider it a lost cause. This segment seems geared more towards people who ONLY listen to Top 40, people who NEED the cautious foot-in-the-water accessibility of a song like “SuperLove,” lest Charli’s darker or edgier songs be too much of an immediate shock to their system.

I still feel like the only really meaningful criticism regarding pop music was back when Maura Johnston wrote for Idolator and Tom Ewing was doing his Poptimist columns for Pitchfork. Those writers seemed to be spot-on in terms of understanding their audience, and employed a healthy mixture of inclusivity on one hand and a cynical/outsider perspective on the other. Ideally, poptimism isn’t about blind faith, nor is it about gazing dead-eyed into the disheartening broader trends of Top 40 music–it’s about sifting out the best pop songs, the ones that are worth being considered and valued right alongside the best indie songs. A matter of taste, yes, but Johnston and Ewing always managed to make such compelling and interesting arguments to back up their tastes.

Now, I’m not saying Stereogum should give up on their weekly pop segment, but maybe just stop trying to draw in an audience that isn’t there and (probably) never will be. Focus more on the audience you have. And don’t try to introduce me to a bunch of artists I already know and like, without saying anything new or in-depth about them. Does anyone on this site really need to be introduced to Jessie Ware at this point? Does anyone here WANT to be introduced to Ed Sheeran? I’m all for a weekly pop column, but it seems too scattershot and diluted in its current form. The Chart Watch section rarely tells me anything I couldn’t have found out from Billboard themselves. The whole thing needs more of a spin, more of a clear authorial voice or distinct standpoint.

I hope none of this comes across as mean, but again, I’m just in a bit of a cynical mood. I like the writers on this site, and mainly intend this as constructive criticism / advice to be heeded or scoffed at.

 +2Posted on Apr 18th | re: The 5 Best Songs Of The Week (21 comments)

Just found out about that Charli XCX song. I’m going to remain optimistic that it will be on her next album, since “How Can I” was originally made for some soundtrack but then ended up on True Romance. But it probably depends on how well that song matches the style of her upcoming album.

I’d say the video is (unintentionally) exploitative, but I still like it decently well for other reasons. Mostly I like the whole female-in-a-position-of-power thing, but achieving that through glorifying gang culture was probably not the best choice. It’s kind of the same way I feel about the movie Spring Breakers: I can acknowledge the subtly exploitative qualities of the artwork while still liking it as a whole because of female empowerment and interesting cinematography. Although Spring Breakers is ambiguous enough that it could actually be more of a social commentary than an exploitation (or a bit of both), Sky’s video definitely doesn’t strike me as a social commentary. It’s more of a self-examination, and that focus on herself is what makes it seem more exploitative than it might have otherwise.

Or something like that. I don’t know. Now I’m just confused.

Oh well. I love the song so much that there’s probably no video she could have made for it that would have felt as good as the song itself.