United State of Pop by DJ Earworm

About the only thing I look forward to during this, the least wonderful time of year, is DJ Earworm’s United State of Pop mashup. This year’s effort was excellent as always – despite my initial declaration that it was not his best work. I should really know better – he’s not called “Earworm” for nothing – for as has been the case each of the last three years, once this mashup settles into my brain, it becomes irresistible to me.  Of course, relying on hooks from Swedish House Mafia and Capital Cities, along with the piano track from “Can’t Hold Us” makes it nigh impossible for me not to listen to this mashup compulsively.

What never ceases to amaze me is how completely DJ Earworm transforms the source material – it’s very different to me than something like Pop Danthology, which, while certainly impressive technically, sounds more like a medley of songs. DJ E combines lyrics, hooks and backbeats – and videos! – into something that stands on its own as an entirely new and cohesive creation (or at least that’s my view as a known philistine). I inevitably download the mashup to my iPod, despite already owning a good number of the originals – not because I want this remix, but because I want this new song DJ E has created.

I also like that he respects the genre while also poking some fun. This year’s version was pretty subtle – the various “whoa-oh-oh-oh” phrases plucked from a couple of different songs, reminding us of the sameness inherent in pop music – a genre that is by its very nature trendy and derivative. This same technique was rather more pronounced in his 2010 mashup, where he was able to grab lyrics from five (five!) different songs urging the listener to “put your hands up”; and in 2011, we got the “boom-boom-boom” refrain.

Some additional observations:

  • Robin Thicke has one of the most punchable faces ever.
  • Britney looks fucking great.
  • Lorde’s eye make-up is flawless – though I’m on the fence about her eyebrow game.
  • Speaking of eyebrow game, what’s up with Nellie’s?
  • Despite his association with this year’s rapiest song, Pharrell always makes it work – even with that ridiculous pork-pie hat.
  • Macklemore rocks a fur like nobody’s business. Same goes for Batman pajamas. God, he’s cute.
  • I just find Katy Perry very appealing as a performer. I know I’m not supposed to, but here we are… I mean, c’mon – the stilletto heel as spearhead? That’s pretty hilarious.
  • That trumpet hook from “Safe and Sound” is the hookiest fucking hook of all hooks.
  • With Swedish House Mafia running a very close second in the hooks category.
  • Poor Gaga…

And here, just for some extra fun, is the charming video for “Safe and Sound.” Sebu Simonian, the hot bearded one, is freakin’ adorable and manages to cut quite a respectable rug – I especially love his Rockette routine at 1:12.

Keep On Keepin’ On, You Crazy Kids

There’s that old saw that “youth is wasted on the young.” And, like any other embittered old, I could point to many examples of the truth of this statement. But, let’s face it – it’s ultimately untrue. Youth is best enjoyed by the young.

I remain kinda pissed that electronic music remains a niche category in the USofA – it gets such short shrift, in my opinion. Why? I don’t know – the music, while certainly adhering to the modern definition of pop (i.e. some good singable lyrics and an irresistible hook) is viewed as somehow sub-par. I suppose in some ways it’s related to the rampant (though happily evaporating) homophobia in the United States (i.e. listening to dance music is gay. And I’m not gonna even try and get started on the whole subject of “I think I was born in the wrong country because this music really speaks to me, like it does to everyone in Europe”).

And while I’m not one to read too much into pop music (the pop is, after all, short for “popular”), I know of many instances of electronic music that I find far more moving and affecting than any syrupy pop throw-away.

Anyway, my only point is that this song by Swedish House Mafia is not only really amazing to me, this concert video makes it even more so. These young kids are living it up, taking in a concert that will never be repeated and reveling in every moment of it. They are enjoying their youth and I love (and yes, envy) them for it. Keep it up, you young whippersnappers – it surely helps me hold onto that part of me that is still young and carefree.

Out of the Water

I quite like this song. And this dude has a very pleasing voice (and ain’t too hard on the eyes…) And his name is Fabio! So this is win-win-win.

And what about that mixing board? I’m genuinely curious as to whether it’s a prop or for-reals – because that is some straight-up Star Trek: The Next Generation shit.

“For the guy is second best to none…”

There was a marvelous tribute to Marvin Hamlisch a couple of weeks ago on Live from Lincoln Center. A particular highlight for me was hearing Audra McDonald, Megan Hilty and Kelli O’Hara (!) singing “At the Ballet” (it’s at the 1:03 mark in the show, if you want to skip forward…)What a treat – not just watching this performance, but remembering again how astounding A Chorus Line is – the music, obviously… but also the dancing and the deceptive simplicity of the staging. A true masterpiece of American musical theater.

However, I also learned a rather fascinating tidbit about Mr. Hamlisch – his first hit song, composed at age 21, was “Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows”! OK, OK, not exactly “The Way We Were” (so amazing) – but a pretty irresistible pop confection. Check out this performance by Lesley Gore (known lesbian – you go on with your bad self, Ms. Gore!) from Ski Party Weekend.

This is pretty much exactly like every ride I take on Muni! And I totally have that same outfit! Which I wear on Muni! And I would totally give my eyeteeth for that ‘do…

Give It All You Got

There is so much to love here: eye makeup; top hat; hot bald dudes; decolletage; bare nipples; posing; fire breathing; outer space; fierceness.

But of course the absolute best thing of all? Ultra Naté is her given name. It’s just impossibly fabulous.

HotPopLove

Granted, I’m still eagerly awaiting DJ Earworm’s 2012 mash-up – but this one by Robin Skouteris is pretty darn great. Of course, the fact that it relies quite heavily on “Die Young” by Ke$ha is a boon – it’s super-catchy. I think Miss $ha actually gets short shrift ($hort $hrift?)- she produces some of the hookiest (and hookeriest) pop tunes around these days. Anyway, enjoy PopLove 2012.

“I am not trying to seduce you.”

God, I love this video (which came out 20 years ago. Eeep!). Werk it, Linda!

Also, bonus question: who’s that saying “I am not trying to seduce you” in the intro to this song? DUH.