When I sit down to write The Pop Grumble, I tend to either be annoyed, or looking to make fun of pop culture. Ultimately, I know what I’m talking about or what I’m saying doesn’t really matter, and I’m not really that angry. Most of the music I listen to regularly isn’t actually pop, so it’s very rare that I genuinely enjoy a pop song. Hence why it’s also so easy to pick my targets.
However, whether they’ve been drummed into my skull by my radio alarm clock, the playlist at work or the clubs I frequent, there are some pop songs I just love. Shockingly, sometimes I even change my mind about songs I previously stated I despise. So I’m going to do what few critics do – let alone a critic who writes a column purely based on ridiculing everything in pop – I’m going to admit where I was wrong.
‘What About Us’ by The Saturdays ft. Sean Paul
What I thought first: The Saturdays have always completely lacked personality. Think back to the Spice Girls: you always felt like you knew them, even if you didn’t like their music. Flash-forward to now, and even bands like Little Mix and Stooshe have far more depth to them. Simply hearing Courtney’s cackle on ‘Love Me’ by Stooshe is enough to make me feel like I know them. You get none of that with The Saturdays.
And on top of that, ‘What About Us’ was just another generic EDM song, thrown together because ‘that’s-what-everyone-is-doing.’ Then you have Sean Paul on it, who once upon a time was really cool, but somehow just isn’t anymore. Little Mix have Missy, Stooshe called in Travie, and the Saturdays got Sean Paul? Oh dear, how desperate.
What I think now: Goddamn EDM, it can be catchy. But more than that, I actually fell in love with this song BECAUSE of Sean Paul. Whenever it would come on the radio at work, I would do my Sean Paul impression, and laugh wholeheartedly at hollas which include “ayeeeee!” and “baradum-badum-badum.” Ironically, Sean Paul is the one that injects bundles of personality into this track and I love him for it.
‘Trampoline’ by Tinie Tempah ft. 2 Chainz
What I thought first: I am a massive Tine Tempah fan-boy. I like how his rhymes are easy to follow, but are usually witty, comical and often reference silly things in British culture (“I go pop, and I don’t stop, Pringles” in ‘Simply Unstoppable’). However, a lot of the lyrics in “Trampoline” are just pure lazy. He hardly bothers to rhyme with “When I was a kid I use to save up for my Nikeys, now all these little kids just tryna save up for my Nikeys.” 2 Chainz is lazy too, uttering “ring ring, mobile phone” as one of his. At the end of the song, Tinie lists off cities of the world. Lazy. Just lazy.
What I think now: I really enjoy the beat, that’s probably because it was produced by Diplo. Also, if you know anything about rap music – which I barely do – you’d know that Tinie Tempah’s ‘thing’ is going “Yeahhhhhh!” But going “Yeaahhhhh!” is also 2 Chainz thing. Inevitably, we are treated to the two of them going “Yeaaaahhhh!” at each other. It’s brilliant. And I pretty much forgave Tinie for lazy lyrics, after he rhymes ‘diplo’ ‘disco’ ‘rhi rhi’ and ‘calypso’ in one breath.
‘Work Bitch’ by Britney Spears
What I thought first: It was definitely a brilliant comeback, but it was nothing to write home about. People praised the video for its fierceness – which it has bundles of – but Britney is clearly tired and passed floor-bumping heart-pumping choreography. With how EDM fuelled the song is, you can tell she had little to no contributions to it. And what is with that British accent. Stop doing what Will.I.Am thinks is best for you!
What I think now: I went to Heaven recently, mainly because me and my friends had run out of other options, and we spent most of it moping about how terrible the music was. We all really don’t like pop music that much. Then ‘Work Bitch’ came on, and something came over us – maybe it was the alcohol – suddenly we were the biggest queens on the floor. I had previously written an article on Vada listing 10 “You Betta Work” songs that were better than Britney’s track, and I think they all came rushing back to me. ‘Work Bitch’ is a nod to those songs, and I accept that now.
‘Get Lucky’ by Daft Punk ft. Pharrell
What I thought first: Daft Punk, in my eyes, are legends. They’ve influenced all of my favourite acts, and each of their albums – released in 1997, 2001 and 2005 – were innovative for their time. I knew for sure, that when Daft Punk released a new album, it would be something completely different, but I wasn’t expecting this. ‘Get Lucky’ is just a weak disco track, one that goes on a bit too long, and doesn’t have a lot of bite. This was not the Daft Punk I knew and loved. I wanted that bite back, and it wasn’t there.
What I think now: I’m still disappointed that Daft Punk chose to take this direction, however, I see why they’ve done it. The music industry has become so in-undated with electronic-based songs, songs which solely build and build to “a drop,” songs which don’t have much meaning or heart. ‘Get Lucky’ shows that you can still make a dance song by keeping it simple. It’s fun, funky and feels real compared to most things that are in the charts.
But what’s even greater about ‘Get Lucky,’ is that it has brought back a wave of Disco and Funk music. A lot of the places I frequent are now looking back and finding the really good tracks from that era. Other musicians are changing direction and trying out this style. I’ll never think it’s their best track, but I can see now that Daft Punk were still being innovative, just in their own way.