Saturday, February 28, 2015

Guilty Pleasures of 2014

Guilty Pleasures of 2014



     2014 was a bad year in pop music, at least in my opinion. On the other hand, I don't think there's been a "good" year in popular music since 2004, the year of Franz Ferdinand, Modest Mouse, Killers, Outkast, and, to be completely honest, Usher, among many others.  IT was a solid year in which I tolerated most of what appeared on the radio.  As the years have gone on, however, the radio stations have become saturated with terrible pop music that I cannot suffer listening to, a fact that caused me to quit my radio station once they transitioned from alternative rock to Top 40.  I always said that I could not hear myself say "And next, here's that amazing new Katy Perry song..." without gagging.  

     So I just bashed on pop music for a few sentences to show you what I mean when I list the following songs as my guilty pleasures.  These are the songs that I secretly listen to when in the car alone or on Youtube when I am sure no one else is behind me; songs that I find enjoyable for some reason or another but cannot place exactly WHY I enjoy them.  For the most part, I hate all the artists that released these songs, but despite what my better judgement declares, there remains a part of my inner being that hums along incessantly when these songs are played.

     For those who believed I had good taste in music, I am sorry.

      For those who hated my taste of music, perhaps this will give us something in common. Or it will just make you devalue my music opinion even more. Regardless, I'm sorry.

     Minor disclosure: The best pop song released last year was Uptowne Funk by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars. Despite my dislike of Mr. Mars, I will hear nothing from anyone who disagrees that that song is pure gold. Others that I like that will not be on this list include "Happy" by Pharrell Williams, "Elastic Heart" by Sia, and "Ain't It Fun" by Paramore, all of which are great songs in my opinion and I do not feel guilty whatsoever about playing.

     Okay, might as well start, HERE ARE 7 OF MY GUILTY PLEASURES OF 2014.

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Mr. Probz - Waves (Robin Schulz Remix)



     The reason this song is the first on the list is because I do not feel as bad liking this song as I do for the following tracks.  It has a nice uptempo beat courtesy of Mr. Schulz, which is usually all I need, and is nice to just thrown on, sit back, and close your eyes in peaceful bliss.  It has a nice sound, most of which came from the original song, which in its own right is quite good, and doesn't try anything to hard to stand out.  It's simple and clean and I like it. For those wondering, I am also a fan of Schulz's remix of Prayer in C, which was also a huge hit in 2014, but considering that the original artist did not give him permission to remix the song and still holds that what he did was basically illegal, I cannot condone sharing the video for it. Also, the remix for that song and this one is basically the same thing, Schultz added the same uptempo drum beat with some minor differences. Regardless, I always enjoyed hearing these songs on the radio and I still do today.

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Break The Rules - Charli XCX




     Sigh... This is where I can no longer justify myself, but damned if I'm not gonna try! Okay let's see here... The lyrics! Okay the lyrics are... bad.  It's not that they are terribly generic, on the contrary, the only line I hear too often in others songs is "Light it up," and the theme of "Break the Rules" has an air of the old punk days of the 90's and Pop Punk days of the early 2000's.  Okay, you know what? I'm not going to even try to justify myself here anymore. I like this song because I think it is hilarious, particularly the part where she believes people still use the word Discotheque in normal conversation, followed immediately after by "Getting wrecked," a phrase I haven't heard since I stopped playing Call of Duty on Xbox Live with 10-year-old kids.  In 2013 I also berated Avril Lavigne for continuing to act like she's still in High School when she's thirty years old. And now we have this song from someone else who's obviously trying to be younger than she is... oh, she's 22?  Nevermind then that's not too far off... Hell she could be singing to the College crowd I guess, considering she's singing about constantly being in nightclubs, err, discotheques. Okay, screw it, i'm DONE talking about Charli XCX. I like the song, i'm not entirely sure why and my brain hurts trying to understand why my brain likes it.

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Boom Clap - Charli XCX




     GOD.  DAMMIT.

     Why has this person, one whom I had never considered playing on my speakers prior to this year, released multiple songs that I like?! This one is probably more well-known though, thanks in part to the film The Fault in Our Stars, in which this is the theme, propelling it to be one of the top songs of 2014.  Its just a happy song, no party-party "let's get drunk" aesthetic that I tend to hate, just a nice feel-good track that actually shows more of her range in singing.  I feel less bad about liking this one than "Break The Rules," but I swear, she better not show up on this list again..

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Timber - Pitbull (feat. Ke$ha)



     Kill me.

     I hate Ke$ha. I hate Pitbull even more, which is a difficult feat to accomplish. Why do I like this song? No frickin' clue. If I had to guess, it's probably because of Dr. Luke, who is honestly a rather good pop producer, as he normally helps make very catchy beats and songs.  But seriously, this song combines Pop and Country and Rap, my 3 most hated genres, particularly since the whole Country-Rap craze has been going on for no discernible reason (I'm looking at you, Florida Georgia-Line). By the way, before you say it was released in 2013, it charted in 2014 at #11 on the year-end Billboard list, and this is the only time I'll break the rule of the song having to be released in 2014.  Is this a good song? No. Its a generic dance-club anthem with a harmonica twist. Do I like it? Yes. Am I ashamed? Very.

     Full disclosure: I actually liked Die Young too.

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Ed Sheeran - Sing




     Ed Sheeran is part of a genre that Todd In The Shadows has affectionately dubbed "White Guy With Acoustic Guitar", or Wigwag.  There are a lot of artists in this genre, and I despise most of them because they all sound the same and try way too hard to be emotional or sweet, causing all of their songs to sound alike, as well as any songs they may write for others (see "Little Things" by One Direction).  However, this year, Sheeran decided to break from his standard and add more funky pop beats to his songs which makes him sound like Justin Timberlake with an acoustic twist, something I would normally say is not a compliment, but it works well for him.  It has a nice beat and its pretty easy to get into, though I understand if you dislike it.

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Sam Smith - Stay With Me




     Sam Smith, a.k.a., the male version of Adele, albeit with less balls.  I like the sound more than anything else in his songs because for the most part, they are a bit too desperate-sounding, pleading to the listener, whereas Adele, who is great and hopefully stays that way, takes more of the defiant tone.  So he is not as good, but the sound is fantastic, bringing back a lot of the tones I hear in songs I love from the Motown era of the 60's and 70's.  Good stuff and although it got a little overplayed for me, particularly on Spotify ads, it still holds as a pretty nice track.

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Iggy Azalea - Fancy (feat. Charli XCX)




     Charli XCX? more like Charli MMXIV, AM I RIGHT?!... heh heh... heh. Okay its a bad joke, but seriously, Charli XCX turned out to be the pop artist of 2014 for me more than anyone else as I consistently liked or tolerated almost every song she was in, something that hasn't been done since 2012 with Flo Rida (aside from that abomination of a song "Whistle").  As for the actual main artist of this song, Azalea is quite talented in my opinion, and that's not just because she's a woman doing rap, which we already had Nicki Minaj for (although I wish we didn't), it's because she does it well.  The main selling point of this track is not the lyrics or the beat, but Azalea's crisp flow from word to word and line to line. I was hoping this quality persisted in her other songs, but alas no, as I cannot stand any of her other songs, particularly "Black Widow". This is one you won't find me singing along with, but you also won't see me changing the station when it comes on.

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     Well, that's it! I'm very sorry to all those that recoiled in disgust at my listing, but sometimes you just can't control what your brain likes, despite repeated attempts to control it.  I laid these out so that you would understand that I acknowledge my guilty pleasures more as pleasures rather than shame and I hope this inspires you to do the same. Embrace what you like, despite what you better judgement may tell you, its part of what makes us humans: complexity of taste.

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