Thursday, September 5, 2013

Catty Micro-reviews: New Edition

From time to time I like to randomly have a look at what is going on outside classical music. A simple way to do this is to go to YouTube and just type in a single letter into the search box and see what comes up. I like to give pithy one-sentence reviews of these videos which are overwhelmingly pop music. Here are some previous installments.

I'm going to start with the letter 'j' (what is this, Sesame Street?). First up is the English singer/songwriter Jessie J:

You know, that's pretty good. Lyrics that are not just perfervid narcissism (you're online, go ahead, look it up, I'll wait...). But I twitch a little at this sentiment:
Seems like everybody's got a price
I wonder how they sleep at night
When the sale comes first and the truth comes second
Just stop for a minute and smile
But isn't pop music pretty much all about the money? In any case, more power to Jessie J, who is a bit like an English version of Katy Perry.

Next up, 'k', and the artist is K. Michelle:

She comes from the Beyoncé school of cleavage, doesn't she? Setting aside the song itself, which seems absolutely generic except for a piano part stolen from "Chopsicks", the arrangement combined with the video is kind of hilarious. The setting for a lot of the video is K. Michelle playing a grand piano surrounded by a small orchestra, flutes, violins and so on. But all you can actually hear, apart from the singing, is a very prominent drum part, mixed very high! The only other instrument that you can actually distinguish is the piano: all those orchestral instruments are just there to give the video the look of authenticity. Oh, and K. Michelle gets a special award for playing the piano with impossibly long nails. Just for comparison, here is "Chopsticks":

The letter 'l' brings us "L'enfer et moi" by the French singer Amandine Bourgeois:

Bluesy French pop with lots of sultry writhing around in the presence of religious symbols.

Which brings us to 'm' and "I'm Out" by Ciara featuring Nicki Minaj:

I almost didn't put that one up because of the explicit lyrics. I'm not going to quote them, but they leave little to the imagination. The video presents current rap/r & b culture which seems absolutely obsessed with clothes, jewelry (notice the gold accessorized teeth) and sex. The music however is pretty minimal, reduced down to little more than synthesized percussion and a few bass lines. As a metaphor for superficiality it is superb.

Now I think I will stop before it gets boring!

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