Dec 292009

What do pop star Ke$ha, Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, and Cambridge police Sgt. James Crowley have in common? Is it that they all like cock rock? Ke$ha says she does. Maybe the others do too. But I wouldn’t put money on it. No, what they have in common is they’ve all provided us with “teachable moments” this year.

As for Gates and Crowley, they got to know each other on July 16, when Crowley came to Gates’ home after police received a neighbor’s report about a possible burglary at that address. Crowley claimed Gates became abusive and arrested him.

In an effort to cool off the dispute between them, which had ignited into a headline-grabbing national debate about race relations, President Obama invited Gates and Crowley to have a beer with him on the White House lawn. The White House billed the chatfest as a “teachable moment.”  After the beer summit, Crowley said he and Gates had agreed to disagree.

I don’t know about you, but the lesson I learned from that “teachable moment” was this: don’t say anything about a cop’s mama to his face.

Actually, I’m pretty sure I already knew that, but hey, it never hurts to be reminded.

In the case of Ke$sha (and I really don’t want a case of Ke$sha), her ridiculously popular song “Tik Tok” has recently prompted an electronic discussion among Elise at Reign in Blonde, me, and some articulate people who’ve been posting comments at RIB, about that “us against the world” attitude that infuses metal bands and metal fandom and causes some of us to look down on pop music (or even more broadly, all non-metal music) as shallow and inferior.  I think it’s a discussion worth continuing.  (more after the jump) Continue reading »

Dec 282009

Yesterday I posted a rant about a song by Ke$ha called “Tik Tok” that is the No. 1 selling single on iTunes and is at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. Among other things, I said it made me wanna claw my skin off in big hunks, that a whole album of similar songs would make me want to vomit up all my internal organs, and that it was yet another sign of the increasing idiocy of popular culture.

Elise from Reign in Blonde (one of the two sites that was our inspiration for NO CLEAN SINGING and one of our essential daily reads) posted this comment about the rant (and I hope she won’t mind that I’m featuring it here):

“I actually really like that “Tik Tok” song. I’m not saying YOU have to, but it honestly feels like too many people still MAKE metal or LIKE it just to “stick it” to other genres or to prove they’re better. Heavy music is fully capable of standing on its own. I like to think of myself as a peacemaker.”

I usually prefer to impulsively shoot from the hip and then forget about whatever nonsense I’ve written, but Elise’s comment brought about some moments of self-reflection. That in turn caused me to confess some things to myself. And then I impulsively decided to share those confessions, after which I’ll forget abut the nonsense I’m about to write:

  • I listened to “Tik Tok” once before writing yesterday’s post (via this video of the song). I haven’t listened to it again. I don’t want to listen to it again. Unfortunately, 24 hours later, I still can’t get the damn thing out of my head. I listened to metal non-stop yesterday in an effort to cleanse my mental palate, but it hasn’t worked.
  • That doesn’t mean I like the song. But I confess I’ve got a Pavlovian response to just about any music with a compulsive groove in it (check out our recently completed list of The Ten Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs of 2009 if you have any doubts). Again, that doesn’t mean I think it’s good music. I just can’t help myself. Put a coconut cream pie in front of me and I’ll eat the whole thing, but that doesn’t make it good for me.
  • I confess that I went a little over the top when I said an album filled with songs like “Tik Tok” would make me feel like vomiting up all my internal organs into a steaming, slimy pile at my feet. Only a surfeit of tequila has ever made me feel that bad. But I still agree wholeheartedly with none other than the executive producer of Ke$ha’s forthcoming album, one “Dr. Luke,” that “a whole record of that might get annoying.” (More confessions after the jump)
  • Continue reading »

Dec 272009

Yesterday, our post about female-fronted death metallers Bloodshoteye included a comment about the shortage of competent female death growlers howling their wares on the current scene. On the somewhat related but more general subject of last frontiers for female singers, this morning someone sent me a link to a story that popped up in today’s New York Times about a new pop star named Ke$ha and her single “Tik Tok,” which has soared to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. The Times calls it “one of the most successful white-girl rap songs of all time.” Here are a few more excerpts from the article:

This has been a banner year for white-girl rap, as these things go. There was the debut album by the Philadelphia rapper Amanda Blank, the relentless and suffocating “I Love You” (Downtown). On “Boom Boom Pow,” the pummeling Black Eyed Peas hit, the surprise twist was a rapped interlude by the group’s singer, Fergie. Even the country-pop singer Jessie James tried it out on “Blue Jeans,” a song that practically owes a publishing check to Dem Franchize Boyz for appropriating the cadence and concept of their 2004 song “White Tee.”

The white female rapper has been one of the last frontiers in hip-hop, but Ke$ha is reframing the conversation. “Her talky, blonde-y, white-girl rap thing, there’s no one else doing that right now,” said the producer and songwriter Lukasz Gottwald, a k a Dr. Luke, who signed Ke$ha to his imprint and executive produced “Animal.”

. . . “Being that she was willing to do that, and she liked it, I’m in support of it. A whole record of that might get annoying though.”

No shit “Dr. Luke.” But “annoying” is an understated adjective. “Tik Tok” all by itself makes me wanna start clawing off my skin in big hunks like Jeff Goldblum in The Fly. Thinking about a whole album of this stuff makes me feel like vomiting until all my internal organs are in a steaming, slimy pile at my feet.

The Times observed that “The very existence of the casually rapping white girl reflects decreasingly stringent ideas about race and gender.” No, what it reflects is the increasing idiocy of popular “culture.”

“A banner year for white-girl rap”? Really, who gives a flying fuck. Yet another reminder, as if I really needed one, that whenever I venture out into the world of what passes for pop music I’m almost always morbidly sorry I did.

Ima go listen to Bloodshoteye again.  Bye.