What and Who Is Out for 2012!
As 2012 rapidly approaches, the world of music and pop culture is currently undergoing a house cleaning in preparation for a new year with new ideas! Here is a list of what is *out* in ’12…
Behind the ludicrous and attention-seeking Halloween costumes, the obnoxiously overblown music videos, the swagger jacking of Madonna’s personality, and the conspicuous plot to manipulate the socially awkward and misfits of society into thinking that they have a voice (and are empowered) through her, is a bunch of banal and contrived gibberish heavily propped by media hype that does not live up to it. What began as a bouncy, pixyish, one-woman-show-esque version of what the Spice Girls did in the late 90s has now become an egotistical, overproduced–yet still oddly generic–mess of grating sounds that is irritating to listen to and takes itself too seriously.
Once upon a time this character that is ‘Lady Gaga’ may have provided a cheeky and quirky contrast to what had been the model of what was popular, and it may have been quasi-endearing, but when pop stars infuse that much camp into their image, at a certain point the irony *will* get old and lose its charm. In the meantime, this woman has literally crammed about a decades worth of gimmicks, put-on’s and media saturation into a three year span. We have seen her show up kite high, in meat dresses, with horns attached to her head, dressed as a man, with discharged gay soldiers as her escorts, etc., etc. The ‘shtick’ is old. There are only so many heavy-handed stunts you can use to dumbfound the public into noticing before they become either hostile or jaded, and a backlash ensues.
Lady Gaga has always been a ‘character’ for show, but she has become a caricature and a parody of herself. No longer is it “refreshing,” abstract or inventive; it is now tired and dated. Overexposure is killing the cat and quite frankly Gaga is losing her relevance. By making herself into such a sneaky little cartoon who is force-fed to the public in obscene dosages, she has backed herself into a corner. The only thing left for her to do at this point is to throw on a pair of jeans and act normal, but how boring would that be for someone who named herself ‘Lady Gaga’ and made being strange her ticket to fame? She was here; she dominated the world of music and got her press, but the milk is now sour. The writing was on the wall when dowdily dressed and anything-but-flashy Adele cock blocked what was supposed to be a Gaga-dominating 2011. Kids do not listen to her, it is not “cool” to be a walking freak show…and quite frankly it is not cool to like Lady Gaga now.
Rihanna is cliche of everything that has ever been disingenuous about the music business. A soulless Barbie Doll, with plastic doll parts, who was plucked off the streets of no where and put on–simply because the outfit was her size. In other words: commerce…created and puppet mastered by money grubbing music executives as a tool to co-opt what is currently popular for fast cash, and pandered to the dingiest of music listeners who are not discerning enough to care.
You have to give the label, the management, the A&R people, the songwriters, the producers, the directors and the thousand other magicians involved their credit for being savvy enough to outfit this garden-variety debutante with material and promotion to keep her afloat…but let’s be real, there is nothing ‘special’ or ‘unique’ about Rihanna, herself. She has little talent, no personality or strong image, nor does she command the stage. Anyone could have been cast in the role Rihanna plays; she just lucked out. For all intents and purposes, Rihanna is akin to a can of Hormel Chili; basically a canned product with a label (and a ‘sell by’ date) on it.
The bottom line is that Rihanna was not built to last and is very “replaceable.” This is why she does not take breaks, and repetitiously puts out a generic by-the-numbers pop album every year. Being that she has little ‘star power,’ in order to sustain her momentum she has to continually strike while the iron is hot, while employing a multitude of petty ‘stunts’ to get attention (tacky wigs, brothel attire, referencing her tumultuous relationship Chris Brown years later.) The moment she sits down to catch her breath, ten more record label assembled chippies will be thrown into the ring and the last two standing will be the next “Rihanna.”
In 2012, no more do we need windup doll acts like Rihanna getting on camera and posing like an androidian cast-off from America’s Next Top Model, while vapidly bleating over an empty dance track, hanging around longer than the fifteen minutes that is typically allotted for manufactured pop stars such as her. It’s just getting sad now, and the quality is dipping. Gone are the pseudo-interesting songs like “Umbrella,” now she is peddling random, monotonous dead air like “We Found Love.” The girl has run her course; at this point she is on autopilot and is fast becoming the equivalent of a skipping record.
Take a Lady Gaga song; subtract about $5000 from the recording budget…slow down the tempo just slightly…remove some of the excessive over production…make the lyrics cornier…add harsher vocals…then pander it to an episode of Hanna Montana or Glee and you basically have Katy Perry: a formulaic, trite and annoying blend of valley girl, wannabe Lolita and fake rebel.
Ultimately, she comes off like a robotic singing Kardashian cousin, while posturing a pseudo rogue personality. It is as if some record producer said: “Let’s dress her up like a slutty Barbie Doll, autotune the fuck out of her, and she will sell!” Quite frankly, her music is dorky and sounds custom made for middle school dances. The popularity of it can only be explained by pondering that this is the sort of thing that just happens when fourteen year old girls and college-aged gay guys join forces to take iTunes hostage.
With five overplayed chart topping singles from her latest album, radio has just assumed that she is what people want to hear and therefore arbitrarily gotten behind every song she has put over the last year and a half…which not only makes her played the hell out, but pushes her into the realm of being a ‘fad’ (think Fergie circa 2007.) And we all know fads die hard. One more bite from Katy and people will begin to regurgitate. Katy Perry is very ’2011,’ we do not need her in 2012.
There has always been vapid, throw-away, hedonistic pop tarts meant to not take seriously and to…:::blank stare:::…have ‘fun’ with, but the presence of Ke$ha pushes that concept to an offensive low and makes one literally want to weep for that state of music. There is simply no justification for…for…this.
Ke$ha is basically a latter day Samantha Fox; the embodiment of ‘drunk slut’ pop, whose overall persona is akin to an inebriated college co-ed who jumps on a table at a fraternity party and dances with a cup in her hand. Her music sounds like an ugly combination of a blender, an electric carving knife and a vibrator set to a corny euro-dance beat – all while she babbles and burps her way through the verses and dizzily chants hooks that are just dumb. Basically, what we have here are the ingredients of someone who should have been a one-hit wonder. If Ke$ha only had had one hit in her idiotically infectious song “Tik Tok,” she would not have been quite as bothersome. It is when an annoying, and frankly stupid, formula that should have only been used for a one-off novelty hit becomes the design for two or three more inexplicable hits after that it is time to pull out a wooden stake.
The truth, however, is that Ke$ha is merely a blip (or a symptom) of her era. She is the byproduct of the shallowest sides of Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and sleazy reality shows like Jersey Shore, where intoxicated brats who have to be carried out of the party are considered entertaining. This girl happened because pop culture became engrossed with seeing plastic young people turning off their brains, having reckless ‘fun’ and behaving like idiots for attention. Her mantra is abundantly lame now. Even in an era of puffed up hedonism, Ke$ha is still an embarrassment to it. She came out, exploited the scene and scored a couple of inane novelty hits, now it is time for this cretin to be dropped back into obscurity where she belongs. To be blunt: Ke$ha being allowed to breathe in 2012 is frankly unacceptable.
Why a group like LMFAO is out for 2012 is pretty self-explanatory. The shelf life on a campy, silly, ‘of the moment’ act such as this is about as long as the lifespan of a mosquito. With a few goofy club hits that will age disgracefully and quickly fade from the pop culture lexicon, these clowns are – for all intents and all purposes – a modern day version of 2 In a Room/Right Said Fred. The dimwitted and ridiculous party anthems that they have thrown out are very “summer 2011.” This group is ready-made for a VH1 ‘Remember Them?/Where Are They Now?’ countdown special in a few years. They will not adapt to change, and just as soon as the era they rose to prominence in is over, they are done.
Every time I see Bruno Mars, I think of Duckie in Pretty in Pink. Mars’ whole image is reminiscent of a cheesy hipster in a 1980s teen flick, who brings a guitar to school with him everyday and tries to get that frigid wallflower girl to go out with him by serenading her with stale little ditties.
His music likes to masquerade itself as being breezy, sweet, romantic and genuine, but is actually a bunch of over the top and offensively melodramatic fluff. The lyrics to his songs are jam-packed with desperate cliches and/or trite pickup lines that attempts to pass themselves off as clever wordplay (“like a bullet straight through my brain…” The fuck is that?!) The hyperactive choruses to his songs, meanwhile, are grating…and the production of the actual tracks sounds like a bastardized blend of bad emo mixed with adult contemporary pop, and is very yawn-worthy.
To put it simply: Bruno Mars is a dork who makes a Hallmark card seem edgy and is basically a faux-urban version of Chris Isaak for the Twitter generation. While I can appreciate that he seems like one of the few who does not play that overly synth-pop card that the Ke$ha’s and LMFAO’s of the music world continue to barf, he is the opposite extreme and it is as irritating. In 2012, we do not need this cheesy wedding singer on the radio.
Not much needs to be said about the Bieb and why he’s out for 2012, because it is pretty obvious. He is the cliche teen pop star that we have seen various incarnations of before (from Pat Boone…to Lief Garret…to Tiffany…to Hanson…to the Jonas Brothers) that comes around every ten years or so to and make homely little girls squeal and guys of all ages vomit. The cloud of ‘Played Out’ has been subtly hovering over this kids head for a while now. The truth is that Justin’s marketability peaked in 2010; in 2011 he just continued to linger for the time being. His original fan base of twelve year old girls whose wrists were being fitted for purity rings have already begun to outgrow him and in another two years they will disavow having ever been a fan. Give up the ghost and stop pretending…Justin serves no purpose in 2012.
It is time to stop pretending with this guy as well. Merely a poppier version of Chris Brown, Jason Derulo’s career was born out of Brown, himself, becoming a media pariah after he whooped Rihanna’s ass and the world of music – for whatever reason – accepting him as a replacement to fill his slot. Derulo, himself, does not stand out in a crowd nor does he have the makings of a being a star. He basically reminds you of a hopeful at a talent show. His music, meanwhile, is radio filler that is immediately forgettable once the song is over.
With Brown seemingly recovering from his detention, there is really no reason for this extra Michael Jackson-wannabe to continue lingering about.
I liked Taio Cruz better almost twenty years ago when his name was Haddaway. Another momentary seat filling hit maker (ala Ke$ha, LMFAO, Jason Derulo, etc.) in this banal world of electro-pop; this guy is a bland no-name, whose music is just cheap, characterless radio-filler that has zero substance and is no more interesting than the commercials.
There will always be second-tier flavors of the month, who are only in the room because they snuck in while the door wasn’t being watched. In 2012, however, the timer is up on Cruz. Top 40 radio does not need this soon-to-be hasbeen’s brand of empty, depth-less dance music that has the audacity to posture arrogance, despite his being cheesier than a pack of Kraft singles.
ELECTROPOP AND DANCE MUSIC
What is ultimately out for 2012 is electro-pop and dance music. Flaky, unoriginal and galling; there is nothing new, creative, interesting or forward moving about this gaudy thumpa-thumpa bullshit that has contaminated the radio and dominated the charts for the past three years. Stripped down, all it is is a watery rehash of early-mid 90s club music recycled and repackaged to a generation of teenagers whose birth just missed it the first time and therefore don’t know any better, while aging club kids bask in its revamp. It is basically akin to the demonstration music on a Casio keyboard, is about as deep as a fishbowl and caters to dorks. In the meantime, hacks like Flo Rida and Pitbull have done a terrible job of recreating what C+C Music Factory did 20 years ago and instead only offer a bastardized version of it.
With headache-inducing dance songs about drinking, partying, sexing and generally being ‘awesome’ (while autotuned past the point of making any sense)–the music and pop culture landscape of the past three or four years has been a shameless era of instant fame; where people who can’t even pretend to have talent become famous for doing absolutely nothing, other than showing up and being an attention whore. It just shows that the science of promotion can be dangerously effective, but enough is enough. A sporadic dance song or two on the radio is fine, but the world of music does not need to dominated by this mindless, hyper-tempo’d drivel that all sounds the same and basically encourages its listeners to turn their brains off while queening out to it.
The bottom line is that this phase of music is not, and was never, cool. It merely served as a diversion from what had been popular before it; one that was shockingly easy to sell. Mission accomplished. This warble is now stale. In 2012 we need not be served more of this irritating bargain-basement electro junk. It is time for sleeker, more serious and thought-provoking music made by artists who are noticeably more talented to return to prominence, while dance and club music returns to the clubs. We have been partying since 2008; the party is over.
WHAT ELSE IS OVER…
Stop. Just stop. Not only are you betraying your fan base, but quite frankly you are embarrassing yourselves and tainting your overall body of work. We really don’t see country music acts doing this to nearly the same degree, if at all.
It’s not cool or cute to label yourself a ‘Stan’ for your favorite artist. The premise of Eminem’s 2000 song “Stan” was that of an afflicted lunatic, who was out of touch with reality and used irrational idol worship to compensate for his delusional, miserable life. Think about that the next time you get on a music blog and boast about being a Rihanna ‘Stan.’ You are making a fool of yourself.
American Idol…The X-Factor…The Sing Off…The Voice…the nausea. The jig has been up on these overblown televised gimmicks. The hook of these shows has always been that the viewer supposedly gets to see the makings of America’s next big superstar, but the truth is that very few of the contestants (winners, included) actually go on to become superstars or have lustrous careers in music. Most of them, if they are lucky, score a fleeting hit capitalizing on the hype of the season and that is basically it. The season finale of American Idol will attract something like twenty million-plus viewers and votes for the winner, but then later their album only goes platinum. The vast majority of the people who vote for these contestants do not later on buy their music. Clearly the journey to fame is more interesting for viewers than the arrival. These shows are *all* hype, smoke and mirrors. In 2012 it is time to move on from these “reality” farces that are only on the air because they cost less to produce than a scripted program.
There is no need to go on iTunes and purchase a Glee karaoke version of “Rolling in the Deep.” Seriously, what are you going to do…listen to it?! An album of second hand knock-off’s of pop hits, performed by a cast of television actors is the epitome of tacky. Just watch the show, if you must…
Black boys, you don’t look good with mohawks…white boys, stop taking your hair cues from women; bangs and cowlicks make you look like someone ripe for robbing. Comb it or get a haircut.
Sagging is stupid and played out; No one wants to see your underwear, pull your damn pants up. On the other hand, this latest fad of men in tight fitting jeans looks even more silly – no one is able to pull that look off, because it is a ridiculous one. Loosen them up (but keep them pulled up.)
Quit cherry picking albums tracklistings on iTunes with your (moms) debit card. Get your lazy asses up and take yourself to the record store. Part of the reason why music is so bad these days is because so few people are buying it, and therefore record labels are opting to put out what Linda Perry so rightfully described as ‘microwavable popcorn’ that is tasteless, but cheap and easy to serve. It is frankly sad that these days an album is considered a blockbuster if it manages to sell just over one million copies. If you like an artists music, then buy their whole fucking album after you have decided that you like at least two of their songs; stop gorging on single downloads. An MP3 is not as good as CD quality sound.
WHAT NEEDS TO COME BACK FOR 2012…
Not talking about hipster rock or pop-rock made by cornballs who barely know how to play; enough of that corny shit. The world of music needs real rock that thrashes.
Commercial R&B has been in a slump since 2002. Almost swallowed whole, first by hip-hop and then by dance/pop towards the end of the decade. It is time for R&B music (without a rent-a-rapper attached to it) to once again become one of the driving forces of contemporary music.
Not nerd rap…not emo rap…not pop-rap…and especially not *gags* ‘electro-hop,’ but real hip-hop from alpha emcees that once again narrates a story.
Yes ballads. As schlocky and middle of the road as they can be, the music industry needs music that not only displays more serious emotion as well as their artists raw talent and depth, but also unwinds the listener. Not everything has to, or should, be uptempo all the time.
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