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Even with S. Korea having canceled spring on account of the ferry disaster (as Subdee says), I'm woefully behind on K-pop, and my listening elsewhere has been too random and intermittent even to be called scattershot. But anyway, int'l dance cheese goes strong at its most opportunist (Chainsmokers, Orange Caramel, Badkiz [the "Party Rock Anthem" influence still potent in Seoul], PungDeng-E, Arcade Fire, Mia Martina), whereas the boring int'l amalgamated danceR&Bglaze&crud that's been weighing down charts worldwide since 2009 somehow manages to sound touching in the hands of a Shakira and a Rihanna who've had all their distinctive characteristics removed. Danity Kane go retro, referencing Teena Marie; equally retro Dal★shabet, who still can't sing for shit, nonetheless find themselves immersed in great freestyle riffs. Ole punk manages not to be dead in the hands of poignantly desperate and angry Kate Nash and Courtney Love. T-ara, Jiyeon, and Puer Kim veer smoove and After School master smoove. Few boys' mouths, as is usual on my lists these days; fewer still who sing. And as the biz still invests almost nothing in us oldsters, funky fresh young Crayon Pop represent on our behalf.

SINGLES:

1. Wa$$up "Jingle Bell"
2. The Chainsmokers "#Selfie"
3. BiS "STUPiG"
4. Kate Nash "Sister"
5. Courtney Love "Wedding Day"

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6. Orange Caramel "So Sorry"
7. Tinashe ft. Schoolboy Q "2 On"
8. Nicki Minaj "Lookin' Ass Nigga"
9. Crayon Pop "Uh-ee"
10. After School "Shh"
Future through Shakira )
Bass Drum through Rascal )

ALBUMS

1. After School Dress To Kill [Avex Trax]
2. Kali Mutsa Souvenance [Shock Music]



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Let's see, charts, that's where stuff that is popular is designated popular, and you observe this and get all excited or all depressed because... (some reason or other)...

Dr. Dre )

Chris Brown )

Rihanna )
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So far. And three of them are holdovers from last year, which I justify down in the wonky notes. I've already posted about Jeremih, the gorgeous tenuousness of the sounds seeming to have nothing to do with the booty-gazing lyrics. You likely already know about the Britney, and if you haven't heard "High High" yet, that's hardly my fault. "Knock Out" is a bouncing bit of spare and twisting bubble bubble gum-smacking Korean hip-hop that doesn't match up with anything else anywhere that I can think of and will get a post of its own someday soon.



Meanwhile, "Ready 4 Romance" is roll-along-the-floor techno-dance that could play in any disco anywhere, atmospherics echoing through the atmosphere and a breathy girl occasionally showing up to say she needs me. "S&M" sounds bright and silly where you'd expect it to be dark and domineering, and is better for it. "No 1," the instrumental version of a B-side of an aggressively chirpy Korean girl-group single, is a bit of throwaway dance funk with a snaking synth line. "Good Day" is a diva showcase that morphs into a disco showbiz hussy and is a brilliant song, even if warm and appealing IU is neither diva nor hussy and doesn't blaze across the track the way it needs her to. And finally "Mocha Java" is a cooing little come-on, the basic background sound from backwater Russian dance clubs to international airport bars, though this happens to be Taiwanese.

1. Jeremih "Down On Me"
2. Britney Spears "Hold It Against Me"
3. GD&TOP "High High"
4. GD&TOP "Knock Out"
5. Galaxy Dream ft. Turbotronic "Ready 4 Romance"
6. Rihanna "S&M"
7. Secret "No. 1 (Inst.)"
8. IU "Good Day"
9. Xoxo "Mocha Java"

I have no number ten, so you need to tell me what it should be.

Wonky Notes )

Scruples force me to note that I have never actually been in a backwater Russian dance club. I admit it.
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Most disappointing event of 2010:

Nobody on Rolling Country responded to my Rihanna/Flynnville Train joke. (Repeated it on poptimists, and no one responded there, either.)
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My P&J ballot is due in less than a week, and while I'm struggling to keep my singles shortlist under 100, I'm also struggling to come up with a really good albums list (though it's already way better than last year's). Dishwasher ) Anyhow, here are my four certainties, plus some prime candidates, a few of which I've listened to more than once.

Top Four:
1. Ke$ha Animal (RCA)
2. E.via Must Have EP (Dline Art Media)
3. The-Dream Love King (Radio Killa/Def Jam)
4. Various Artists Ayobaness! (The Sound Of South African House) (Out Here)

Candidates )

Pending )

Reissues )

The-Dream is a brilliantly galling combination of Mick Jagger and Michael Jackson, and if his voice were more than one-fifth as good as either of theirs he'd be the best thing in history. As it is, he gets to me anyway, basically all the time now. I don't feel a drop-off from his last album at all. Makes his lush lovers' tracks edgy and rambunctious, just like his edgy and rambunctious tracks. When he goes, "I'll never be the hot actor, I'm too cold," he probably only means he's not topping anyone's name-recognition list, but I like to think he's also referring to the piercing icicles of his mind.

Rihanna's Loud and Robyn's Body Talk turned out better than their singles had made me fear, and Ne-Yo's Libra Scale turned out worse than the singles had caused me to hope. As I said when "Only Girl (In The World)" came out, Rihanna sings the sweet seductive parts with beautiful precision. She's got a basic command in her delivery even when she's being as anonymous as can be, and none of the other tracks on the album ruin themselves with the dance pulverization that wrecked "Only Girl"'s chorus. Is good-to-great bubblegum, the old roughness and sorrow that spill into her voice just making for stronger bubbles. Best tracks: "Man Down," "S&M," "Love The Way You Lie," "Skin."

I'm only on my first impression of Body Talk. Its weakness relative to Robyn 2005 is that back then she and Åhlund had cleared out the arrangements so as to allow her cute and grating voice to make its own rules. Whereas now she's got more full-and-balanced tracks, and the voice feels like an element that doesn't necessarily belong. The Röyksopp tracks work best 'cause they provide severe electronic cliffs for her to scratch her way up.

Ne-Yo's album simply doesn't have enough good tunes, and his delicate connoisseurs' voice isn't sufficient to carry the rest. (One hearing only, however.)
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Is the music world ready to return to the normality of two years ago? Rihanna's got two songs in the top four. But is it the same Rihanna?

Rihanna )

Tim McGraw )

Wiz Khalifa )

Nicki Minaj )

Bruno Mars )

Rick Ross )

Pitbull )
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Far East Movement's "Like A G6" featuring The Cataracs and Dev is now in the top ten, the rigor of its electro being such a contrast to the dancepop mulch of its fellow winners that Dev's cheap bitchy vocals almost seem like wisdom. So, can last year's queen of brains Rihanna build on this bright news? Check under the cut.

Rihanna )

Florence + The Machine )

Kings Of Leon )
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If you want to join in there or here, I'm in an interesting convo with someone named Petra over on a comment thread on one of Tom's Tumblrs in regard to how or even whether angry songs by women are perceived (convo inspired by an incompetent and incoherent Jude Rogers trend piece in the Guardian).
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Peas do what Haiti couldn't, displacing Ke$ha at the top. Rihanna hits the chart again, but not with the song that would seem to be her album's obvious next single, "Te Amo," an excellent combination of lilt, catchiness, and burning regret. Maybe she or the record execs fear that its subject inhibits popularity: a woman coming on to Rihanna, with Rihanna not merely letting her down gently but also feeling empty for not being able to reciprocate, trying to enunciate "I love you" herself by pondering the other woman's "I love you." If the lesbian thing had been done for titillation by a Ke$ha or Britney or Katy the audience'd find it no big deal, but my guess is that the seriousness of "Te Amo" potentially makes it too disconcerting, even though the motion of the song is breezy enough.

Rihanna )

OneRepublic )
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Last month I linked the "radio edit" of my decade's end piece, the version that was printed in the Las Vegas Weekly. Here under the cut is the "extended freestyle mix" (a.k.a. director's cut), a full one thousand words longer – that's 60 percent more, for the same price! To put it in brief, I'm suggesting that the musical story of the Web is words, but that this Web word story can be one of distance and isolation.

Microwaving A Tragedy: The marriage of romance and romanticism in '00s pop )
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All ticks, but still a basic dullness to the chart with no game-changing inspiration in earshot.

Taylor Swift )

Justin Bieber )

Jay-Z, Bono, The Edge, Rihanna )

Adam Lambert )
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My decade's end piece in the Las Vegas Weekly, though after I'd pitched it I rebelled against the idea of trying to fairly sum up, hence no mention of Timbaland or Max Martin, whom I'd peg as the two most important figures in '00s music. (The Club Mix has brief mentions of "Behind These Hazel Eyes" and "Since U Been Gone," though not in regard to Max's input.) In about a month I'll post an Extended Freestyle Mix, and I'd welcome any suggestions as to what you think it should contain.

Microwaving A Tragedy: The marriage of romance and romanticism in '00s pop

(Links to my old Las Vegas Weekly columns are here, if you're interested.)
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Has anyone ever asked the livejournal people why they don't have a "new comments"/"updated thread" feature? Nested threads and the lack of an update/new comments feature are the two problems that make lj a worse format than ilX for ongoing discussion.

Of course, if people want a discussion they'll have one, and I'm here basically because discussion falters and founders on ilX. But it falters and founders everywhere, to some extent (and the average comment thread on ilX is vastly better than the average comment thread on the Web as a whole). Back to my original question, an answer might well be, "Because there isn't enough user demand for such feature."

Speaking of discussion, yesterday the convo about Rihanna lyrics migrated here ("Fire Bomb") and here ("Te Amo") (EDIT: and over to Dave's Tumblr, and somehow I missed Erika a few days ago here, with pre-revisionist Dave on the comment thread). And Chuck and I added lotsa new content to poptimists' artist shoutouts thread (with Chuck grumbling about how the convos there are already over before he gets a chance to contribute to them).

Meanwhile over on Tumblr, Maura writes (in regard to chillwave/beach-pop/wavegaze, a music genre, apparently, though if everything runs true to form I'll not hear any of it until no one's making it anymore, but anyway I'm linking Maura's post not for the music wave but for its relevance to dropped discussions):

Maybe this is another thing about the appeal of this particular music to people who write online — it's in some ways a reflection? People on all sides are trying to muddle through their creative impulses with tools that allow for instant publishing/dissemination, and by extension the impulse to get something out overtakes the impulse to make something "right" in whatever abstract sense.

And Tom and I comment briefly on that )

EDIT: Kuhnian content on comment thread.
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OK, the latest Rihanna discussion that people frustratingly put under flock regards the second line in verse two of "Fire Bomb." Candidates are:

"Like the way that I'm at a tragedy"
"Microwave and a metal tragedy"*
"I echo within a metal tragedy"

My heart says "microwave" but my mind says "I echo," though the issue is hardly settled, and a third-party candidate may well carry the day.

*Leads to discussion of late-evening college entertainment consisting of different objects experimentally placed within microwave oven (some reliably characterized as "it's beautiful and it's blue").

EDIT: "Microwaving a metal tragedy" seems to be the - excellent - consensus, now. Or perhaps "Microwaving the metal tragedy." See here, especially [livejournal.com profile] weasel_seeker's suggestion that we add a dash:

Seems cold but baby no it doesn't have to be / Microwaving the metal - tragedy"
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Something I stuck over on an flocked comment thread and that didn't make it into my Jukebox blurb for "Wait Your Turn":

POST ONE: Yeah, that's where I am with Rated R, haven't really broken it down to tracks; in my blurb I made a preliminary attempt to describe what's going on with the grain of her voice, how she uses it. (The football metaphors in "Wait" make me shrug in weariness, but the charred-ember hardness of her voice makes "the wait is ovah" chant overwhelming, as are the thick twists she gives words when she puts on her island accent.)

POST TWO: OK, listening some more, I'm struck with how gently lilting the second half of the verse ["sometimes it takes a thousand tries" etc.]* could have been if her voice hadn't been burning holes in it. I like the solid mass of "Russian Roulette," but I'm glad the album has these half-non-massive moments too.

*I don't want to call it the chorus, even though that's where it sits in the song structure, since the chant is what really acts as the refrain, even if the chant doesn't have a fixed spot in the song structure.
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"Russian Roulette" entered the chart two weeks ago at 100, rose last week to an unpromising 75, then this week on the heels of a publicity blitz that included Rihanna's 20/20 interview it jumps to 9. We'll see if it sticks; it doesn't match anything else on the chart, in subject matter or severity. My guess is it holds on for a bit, maybe falling a little then hanging around as people get used to it.

Rihanna )

Justin Bieber )

Jay Sean )

Jesse McCartney )

Taylor Swift )

Luke Bryan )

Birdman )
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Good discussion of Rihanna over on Lex's lj; dull discussion of Rihanna over at ilX, though I like where some dude says, "the knowledge that Ester Dean wrote an Esmee Denters song is just extra insurance on the guarantee that I will never remember which is which."

Rihanna 2

Nov. 9th, 2009 02:52 pm
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Another thought, maybe a strange comparison in that the connection is just that the two of them were interviewed on TV, but...

Consider, when she was faced with the most important interview of her life, how much more thought Rihanna gave to who she was and what she was about, and what her responsibilities as a public figure were, than Sarah Palin did when she was faced with the most important interview of her life thirteen-and-a-half months ago.
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I presume most of you saw this (and I don't know how long this YouTube rip will stay up), but someone's posted the full interview. [EDIT: That link is down, but for now, at least, the interview is at these links on the 20/20 Website: Part One, Part Two, and Part Three.] Crucial passages:

The minute the physical wounds go away you put it in the back of your head and start lying to yourself )

Of course - and she talks about this - there's a commercial incentive for her to explain why she initially went back to Chris and then to repudiate the going back; but this interview seems credible. Psychologically true. There's a moment where - for the first time - she's watching one of Chris's televised apologies, and she says that it seems like he's reading off a teleprompter. That felt very real, her saying this - so presumably she knows that the health of her psyche demands that she forgo any such canned bullshit herself.

I'd say Rihanna's the key figure in pop music for the last three years; the two before this one, anyway. And deservedly so, given the quality of the music and the way she delivers it. I've never felt a strong sense of her, either as a person or a persona, even though I've been consistently moved by the character of the songs. I wouldn't say I know how talented she is: her burnt, not-particularly flexible vocals manage to work on a whole slew of different material, from light to dark, I'm not sure why. I feel dumb or even wrong saying that all this - her getting beaten, this interview, etc. - has humanized her music for me, but it has.
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Miley and Jay-Z storm the charts but can't beat the Peas.

Miley Cyrus )

Jay-Z, Rihanna, and Kanye West )

Jessie James )

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