Random Song of the Day – 09/29/17

So, today we have Lil Yachty and Carly Rae Jepsen doing a Target ad, no, really:

So, a bit of backstory, in case this video gets taken down, which (given that Target apparently no longer hosts it themselves) is entirely possible: during the Grammys this year, Target rolled out an ad featuring Lil Yachty (AKA ‘the dude who made a Columbine reference during “Broccoli”) and Carly Rae Jepsen (AKA the woman who did “Call Me Maybe” and basically nothing else), and the internet basically alternated between thinking it was just the best thing and shitting all over it. If you missed it at the time, chances are good it probably passed you by entirely, as Target themselves seem to have just decided to pretend it didn’t happen, and the world more or less seems to have agreed that this is for the best.

If you’re wondering what this has to do with the past three days of song posts, well, consider that this came out in February, and now, in August/September, we’ve suddenly got three new songs featuring music from the same general time period as this release, one of which is basically this song, more or less.

I’m not saying this is what happened, but it’s entirely possible that this ad kickstarted something in the minds of a lot of music creators and producers, as they realized, “oh, right, we could do this,” and suddenly, 90’s nostalgia sampling kicked in to an extreme degree in pop music. I mean, it did premier during the Grammys, a show that probably attracts the eyes of more than a few industry insiders, and you can imagine that there were probably more than a few who saw this and stroked their (possibly imaginary) beards at the thought of cashing in on 90’s nostalgia with modern musicians. I mean, granted, the best sampling jobs out there generally show up in rap, and are mostly sampled from songs that are way down the popularity totem pole, but Diddy ruined that shit in the 90’s too (looking at you, “Come With Me”) so what the hell, why not?

I mean, I did say it was a stupid idea, but it’s not the most outlandish possibility, right?

Random Song of the Day – 09/28/17

Continuing on from yesterday, today we have Fergie:

First off, hi again Nikki. Jeez, no wonder Nikki hasn’t released an album since 2014; this is something like her ninth appearance in a song in 2017 alone. I mean, considering “Anaconda,” this is probably for the best, as the lyrics at least have some chance of improving, and at the worst case you just end up with “Rake it Up,” which is only as bad, not worse, so, you do you I guess.

More importantly, though, here we are with Fergie, and what is perhaps the most egregious example of the “the nineties were awesome guys” music sampling that’s been happening all of a sudden. While Katy Perry borrowed the aesthetic of 90’s music, and Taylor Swift sampled a beat and rebuilt it, Fergie straight-up just builds this song around “It Takes Two,” (which came out in 88 but still) and then goes a step beyond THAT and samples the song that “It Takes Two” sampled, “Think (About It)” from Lyn Collins, during its bridge, just to be extra cheeky.

Now, to be clear, I don’t really have much of an opinion on the song itself, save that the backing beat sounds nice, but it sounded nice in the song(s) it came from as well. Honestly, if you remove the samples and Nikki’s section, all you’re left with is a song that doesn’t seem to be about very much, unless you consider “Fergie brags about how she imbibes a lot of beverages, is rich and wouldn’t sleep with you,” to be about, which… doesn’t seem like it’s worth writing a song about when Twitter exists, but to each their own. Rather, I just find it interesting that this is the third song to borrow heavily from 90’s aural aesthetics in two months, especially when it’s unlikely the three planned this in any meaningful way (especially since Swift and Perry have heat, still).

Why is this happening, though? Well, I have a (stupid) theory about that, which we’ll get into tomorrow.

Spoilers: it’s really stupid.

Random Song of the Day – 09/27/17

Continuing on from yesterday, sigh, today we have Taylor Swift:

Now, let’s be clear here: I have opinions on Taylor Swift, just in general, between her years of dramatic feuds, her music and her constant character changes between albums, but let’s put that aside and focus on the two most salient points:

1.) I don’t especially like this song, and

2.) It’s full-on sampling Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy.”

Now, I’m not sure how nostalgic for this specific song Swift would’ve been, since she was two years old when it came out, but it’s worth noting that this is, again, the second song within a two month period to decide “gee, the 90’s were super swell at making good pop music, let’s emulate that,” which is a really interesting stylistic choice for two unrelated musicians to make independent of one another.

I mean, again, let’s be clear here; I don’t care for this song for a few reasons, and while I don’t think it’s bad, it’s not for me personally. I feel like the build-up to the chorus should be attached to a much better chorus than the one this song has to offer, the lyrics are mostly repetitive and dull (especially that bridge, woof) and the “Taylor’s Dead” part in the bridge is basically the sort of thing a seventeen-year-old would have thought was edgy, but that can happen in any pop song. The part that’s especially baffling is where, wholly independent of any other input, the producer decided “Let’s borrow ‘I’m Too Sexy’ for this beat” and this song popped up within the same general time period as another song that was in love with 90’s musical aesthetics.

This becomes really confusing, by the way, when we get to the third song to do this tomorrow…

Random Song of the Day – 09/26/17

Well, this is sort of out of left field, but today, Katy Perry:

I know there’s a sort of tacit endorsement that comes with me posting these songs/videos on the site, IE, “I like this song and want to share it with you,” but for the next couple of days, let’s acknowledge that this… isn’t always the case and move on, yes?

Okay.

One thing I’ve noticed in the past month or so is how pop musicians, for reasons I haven’t entirely figured out, have decided that late 90’s/early 00’s electronic/pop/hip-hop music was just the best thing and have started actively incorporating the aesthetics of that music into modern releases. In a broad sense, I get it; sampling has been a thing for decades at this point, and nostalgia for a twenty-to-thirty-something musician is probably going to be something from that time period (and, by extension, so it would also go for their audience), but in a narrow sense I don’t get why this happened three times in the span of the past month.

For a slightly less obvious example, take the above song. It’s fine, don’t get me wrong; I have a soft spot for Katy Perry, who seems to have an 80’s music video aesthetic to her presentations (IE telling a story rather than showcasing an elaborate dance routine) and often errs on the side of comedy (with the occasional venture into being a Mass Effect stan, apparently), so mostly I think her work is good enough. The song in question is also fine, in the same way most Perry songs are; there’s a solid message here (“don’t let haters dictate who you are, sink those metaphorical baskets”) and it’s kind-of sort-of implicitly dunking on Taylor Swift (who, sigh, we will be seeing soon enough here), so it’s basically fine enough as-is.

But stripping away the comedy music video, the “Shooting Stars” meme, the super obvious Ubisoft ad placement and the guest verse from Nikki Minaj (who we’ll be seeing again this week, unsurprisingly), careful listeners will notice both an intense love of 90’s aesthetics in this song (especially in the chorus; I see you, shout effect from “It Takes Two,”) and, for some odd reason, a sample of the Fatboy Slim song “Star 69,” which is… interesting.

It’s also, somehow, only the first song in this pattern, from three different musicians, somehow.

Random Song of the Day – 09/25/17

Today, Ice Cube (and also Paul Oakenfold, again):

Look, I didn’t plan for this continuity stuff to keep happening, but when I see an opportunity, I’m gonna take it.

If you haven’t heard of Ice Cube, shut the fuck up, yes you have. He’s a founding member of NWA, which is basically the most famous rap group of all time, he’s had a successful solo career, and he’s a successful actor and producer, everyone’s heard of fucking Ice Cube.

I picked this song not only because of its obvious tie-in to the conversation we had on Friday about Oakenfold, but also because it’s from one of the weirdest soundtrack concept projects out there, Blade II, AKA “the soundtrack where we paired up a bunch of awesome electronic music makers with a bunch of awesome rappers and said ‘go nuts’,” and on a soundtrack full of interesting tracks, this is easily one of the strongest. Combining a backing beat that is, frankly speaking, absolutely perfect for someone of Ice Cube’s caliber, and Cube basically writing “I’m Ice Cube and you ain’t shit” in the stars, this is just a really easy listen, and honestly informs a lot about how rap has evolved over the last few years, such that at the time this was kind of outside the box, but now beat makers sort of do this kind of thing all the time.

Not this thing specifically mind you; not everyone needs to rap over rock guitars (as Eminem described it), but the “heavy production beats” part.

Random Song of the Day – 09/22/17

Today, Paul Oakenfold:

Yup, we’re still doing the continuity thing. Probably not Monday though.

Anyway, going back to the prior point of DJs featuring guest vocalists on their tracks, here’s Paul Oakenfold, a DJ I’ve appreciated for a number of years, and a song he created for the film Swordfish. Actually, I should be clear: he created the entire soundtrack for Swordfish; this is just one of several (honestly really good) songs from that soundtrack, and I recommend this soundtrack quite a bit. This track is one of my favorites for several reasons, between Oakenfold’s powerful and slightly eclectic backing beat, a vocalist (and associated vocal effects) that give the song a surprisingly ethereal feel, and more, but frankly, I just really love the verse-to-chorus transition, and if you listen to this and you don’t, I don’t know what to tell you.

Also, how weird is it that, in a movie featuring Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry and John Travolta, the only good thing to come from it is the soundtrack? Hollywood, I tell ya.

Random Song of the Day – 09/21/17

Today, DJ Rap:

That’s right, continuity motherfuckers.

So, DJ Rap is an odd duck, and not in the least because she, uh, actively does not rap. I first ended up discovering her almost entirely by accident back in 1999 when she released Learning Curve, a semi-pop influenced record that was… okay, without getting too far into the weeds, you know that thing David Guetta does now, where he makes a bunch of EDM tracks and has famous people sing over them? Well that sort of got its start in the late 90’s as a matter of necessity, because people weren’t really chomping at the bit to buy hour long discs of music featuring no vocals unless they were already into EDM, and radio stations weren’t really looking to play a lot of non-vocalized electronic tracks, Sandstorm notwithstanding. As a result, you’d frequently see instances where DJs would bring in someone to vocalize over their beats for a record before they went back to making hour long DJ mixes, to the point that this basically describes the majority of Paul Oakenfold’s career path.

Well, back in 1999, DJ Rap was in a similar position, and decided to take the BT route of simply singing her own music, and the results were… not bad. If I’m being realistic, her lyric writing skills are… not the best, but it’s not meant to be; DJ Rap is primarily a drum and bass DJ, and if her lyrics get you to listen to her beat composition, then that’s the cross one must bear.

This probably isn’t my favorite song proper from DJ Rap, but it came out this year, and I really like the drum and bass layering in the track proper, so it’s the one I decided to include. On one hand, between DJ Rap’s really solid beat weaving and a voice that actually holds up reasonably well without extensive vocal effects, I wonder what kind of a song she could make with someone who can write a decent lyric or ten, but I *also* kind of wonder why she thought “This is my first music video in years, let’s fight vampires,” and I doubt I’m going to get an answer to that question, either.