I’ve softened a good bit on One Direction since their third album, and I sympathize with their attempts to become something more legitimate than just another teenybopper act, but that doesn’t mean I’ll ignore it when they screw up, and Good Lord, was this song the mother of all screw-ups. I’m assuming this is the product of the growing pains resulting from their attempts to actually write their own songs now, but I still can’t imagine how five grown men managed not to see that this was a bad idea. They clearly either have no idea what the term they chose for their song title means, or just somehow missed out on the full implications and cultural triggers contained in it, but that’s hardly an excuse. I hate to say it, given that I’ve been rooting for their quest for artistic credibility for so long, but maybe it’s a bit early to actually give them creative control.
Archives for February 2015
The soundtrack to the “Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me” documentary produced Campbell’s last great masterpiece, “I’m Not Gonna Miss You”, but it also produced this utterly ham-fisted and overblown cover from a talented band who really ought to know better. The name of the song is “Gentle On My Mind”—you’re not supposed to belt it out as though it were a power ballad.
This somehow wound up on one of my source lists, but I can’t imagine how—if we’re actually going to start including commercial jingles as eligible, pretty much the entire rest of the genre would go lower on a list of the worst songs of all time than this one. In fact, I think it says something very profound about Ray Charles that when asked to produce a jingle to shill soft drinks with, he somehow came up with a melody that could very easily have been expanded into a fully-fledged popular song.
Verdict: Let’s face it, as commercial jingles go, this is basically the equivalent of “Over the Rainbow”.
There were a surprisingly large number of melodramatic teenybopper songs about tragic deaths in the late Fifties and early Sixties, and none of them have aged particularly well, but this one seems to have held up better than the others—at any rate, it’s certainly the only one you still occasionally hear in a non-ironic context nowadays. It’s still melodramatic and goofy, but it’s far catchier than most of its peers, it isn’t as blatantly stupid as items like “Teen Angel” or “Running Bear”, it doesn’t have the air of smug detachment than singers like Dickey Lee brought to these kinds of songs, and its extreme lyrical dissonance actually sounds like it might have conceivably been done on purpose.
Verdict: Good, I guess, but mostly just by the standards of its genre.
This is an extremely weird song as well as a bad one, built around an obscure slang term that people are still debating the meaning of ten years later, and with an out-of-nowhere cheerleading chant in the middle loudly proclaiming a totally random word. This song was the work of star producers the Neptunes, who basically recycled the same talky, staccato style they used on the equally annoying “Milkshake” the year before, and when you combine that with the nonsensical lyrics, you get a song utterly devoid of any kind of point.
Of all Taylor Swift’s ‘angry’ songs, this one is probably the most fun. The music is the hardest and heaviest ever heard in one of her songs, rocking as hard as pop-punk acts like Paramore, and the biting, mocking lyrics are a perfect blend of sarcasm and righteous indignation, featuring some of the sharpest writing of Swift’s career.
Despite the famous joke in her Saturday Night Live monologue, this is the only time Swift has been angry enough to actually put an ex-boyfriend’s real name in one of her songs. This song goes beyond Swift’s usual brand of verbal assassination, with an almost matter-of-fact delivery of some of the most brutal words she’s ever put to paper. This is still, quiet anger that runs deep, and while I regret that it could only come from her real-life sorrows, this is still the perfect culmination of all Swift’s icily furious ballads up to this point.
A longtime staple of the charity single genre, this moving power ballad is far more sincere and heartfelt than most of its peers, and Latin Pop giant Shakira gives it a strong, refreshingly unpolished and believably honest rendition reminiscent of her early work, before she adopted the sexy belly-dancer image she is mostly known for in the U.S.