Back to writing... means back to the music. The really, really, bad music.
But not these. Here, a few gems that make me turn off the radio -
Robin Thicke (featuring T.I. and Pharrell), Blurred Lines. Overdue? Perhaps. Maybe it's just that it takes a while to cross the line into "overplayed." Either way, I feel a little bit bad, because I think Thicke (aka Alan's son) is a talented singer with a dreamy falsetto, a knack for catchy lyrics, and a real love for seventies disco and soft soul. And, at first, Blurred Lines seemed like a cute throwaway to launch his newest project, evoking the best of seventies disco, that moment just before it broke big, when you felt like someone keeping a big secret because you knew about Chic. But much like then, overexposure leads to contempt. That's when you're forced to contemplate the casual misogyny of the video, the inherent rudeness of the lyrics, the fact that you know damn well what rhymes with "hug me" and frankly, it doesn't really rhyme with hug me which is a reminder that the lyrics are actually kind of sloppy and not fully baked. Neither was that embarrassing performance at the VMAs, where the sad, offensive part was less Miley Cyrus gamely providing sardonic irony about life as a video ho, but Thicke's heavy panting as if he were simulating the real thing. Also, that falsetto's wearing itself out in live performances.
Daft Punk, Get Lucky (Featuring Pharrell Williams). For all the claims to art house pretentiousness - yeah, kind of like Art of Noise - Daft Punk has rarely risen above interesting novelty act, and this mildly perky dance number might survive its slight qualities if it hadn't been heralded, right behind Blurred Lines, as some high art version of disco brilliance. And insisting, over and over "we go out basically so we can get laid" is hardly deep thought. Percolating endlessly as if at some point it will get somewhere, Get Lucky mostly just lays there, writhing. And that's not dancing. And dance music can do better. And hey... notice a pattern, Pharrell?
Britney Spears, Work B**ch. I'm torn, honestly; since reviving her career after that very public meltdown, Spears has ridden a razor's edge of overt sexiness that can be refreshing in its directness... except when it slips into heavy breathing porno sleaziness. Three, with its boy/boy/girl implications and "Peter Paul and Mary" lyrical asides makes it work, as did the simmering rage of Womanizer. Work Bitch should work, and just, well, kind of doesn't. Too mechanical, too noisy, too repetitive, Spears sound like a wind up toy who just got reprogrammed to talk dirty. Lyrically lazy (Lamborghini/martini/bi-kini almost works... but Live fancy/big mansion/party in france isn't even close), The weak excuse of "well, she's throwing cold water on dreamy aspirational living" means hey, she's killing your dreams, and you can dance to it! That's not really how it works. Factor in her own admission that tramping around video shoots in your thirties dressed like a hooker doesn't square with her home life as a mother... and well, this act may need a fresh start.
Bruno Mars, Gorilla. Another rising star capable of genuine brilliance (Treasure!), Mars gets lost, more than a little, in lyrical wastelands ("Grenade" was another real winner) and "let's make love like gorillas" - from a black man! - is hardly something to cheer about. You'd think he knew that. Or at least listened to Jungle Love enough times to know that you can't get away with it unless the campy meter is up at 11. In a ballad? Deadly.