I often engage in random musical discussions with my co-worker who apparently is impressed by my so-called “pop music expertise”. Now I like to think that while pop music does remain my forte, it’s not the only genre I’m knowledgeable in but there’s no more need to digress.
Sometime last week he explained to me that had heard Britney Spears’ new tune “Womanizer “off of her upcoming Circus album and wasn’t too thrilled with it. My own listening to popular radio has been sporadic but I did manage to listen to a little of the tune although I was too distracted to really pay attention to what the song was saying or whether it was any good so when he asked me whether I liked it I told him I would reserve my judgment of the song until I actually gave it a thorough listen.
After listening to “Womanizer” I’ve concluded that while it’s not a bad song, it is a bit of a letdown. The song almost comes across like a middle or high school girl calling her boyfriend names in order to hurt his feelings. This could be because the word ‘womanizer’ is repeated so incessantly in the chorus…but then again so was “Gimme More”.
What made “Gimme More” sound a little more grown up was the minimal yet very catchy and sexy beat that perfectly went with the song and evoked the actual setting of being in a club with the temperature set to “borderline stifling” and seeing Ms. Spears getting down on the dance floor.
To illustrate, consider “I’m a Slave 4 U”. I obviously can’t speak for everyone in terms of how they reacted to the tune back when it was released but every time I listen to the song that killer beat by The Neptunes sounds dirtier than it did before, thereby giving more emphasis and credibility to lyrics like “Don’t you wanna / Dance up on me”.
Again I don’t think “Womanizer” is bad. The relatively simple and frequently repeated chorus can quickly become ingrained but I think Ms. Spears could do a lot better, especially after the strength of the follow up singles from “Blackout” like “Piece of Me” which did a perfect job of blending hard beats with defiant lyrics.
Despite being slightly underwhelmed (perhaps my expectations were too high) with the lead single from Circus, I still have high hopes that the Circus album will be an even stronger album than “Blackout” which was sadly overlooked and will help Britney in her slow but steady return to the limelight. She’s proven that when she’s given the right team of producers, the results make for some truly killer pop music.
I’m almost certain I’ve mentioned it before but for purposes of the topic at hand, I’ll reiterate that my listening to popular radio these days is limited. The varieties of tunes that were played back in the day has now been reduced to a few tunes played every fifteen minutes that sound just like everything else that’s out there.
To further solidify the fact that radio caters strictly to the “manufactured song du jour”, I was reading Billboard’s weekly song reviews and confirmed what I had already known for some time. Janet Jackson‘s “Can’t B Good” was, among others, one of the songs being reviewed. It should be noted that this is Ms. Jackson’s fourth release from her “Discipline” album.
Now I will say that I took issue with Janet’s choice to ramp up the raunch ever since she split from her longtime secret husband Rene Elizondo and some of her output sounded like it catered heavily towards trying to grab the attention of popular radio. In fact, I didn’t find a single tune I liked off of “20 Y.O.“, the only thing that grabbed my interest was the creative contest that was held which allowed fans to create cover art using old photos of Janet.
Normally I end up liking the first singles Janet releases to radio off of the albums she’s about to promote so I was pleasantly surprised when I heard “Feedback” and liked it. True, it wasn’t anything groundbreaking but it was definitely creative and incredibly catchy so I figured its inclusion–and Janet’s long overdue return to pop radio–would only be a matter of time.
Well, it turns out neither “Feedback” nor the following singles (“Rock With U” and “Luv”) made a blip and while I’m on her side in hoping the same fate doesn’t await this latest single, I don’t see it happening.
As such, it’s a situation that’s affected numerous artists. Madonna‘s second single “Give it 2 Me” off of “Hard Candy” is not getting any airplay although she at least has the luxury of having “4 Minutes” being played every now and then on radio.
But what did Madonna have to do? She made an album that practically screams “I’m trying to court popular radio listeners”, not that I find any less entertaining mind you.
Has anyone heard any new tunes from Alanis Morissette since “Uninvited”? Heck, does anyone know she recently released her album post Ryan Reynolds breakup album “Flavors of Entanglement“? Did Tracy Chapman or Fiona Apple receive any sort of airplay after “Give Me One Reason” and “Criminal”, respectively? Is anyone aware Kylie Minogue released her album “X here in the states to zero fanfare? When was the last Bjork got any kind of radio recognition. True her music is a bit out there for some but she is quite talented, although in her case she doesn’t survive based on chart figures. This is all due at least partially because popular radio is too preoccupied playing gimmicky drivel like Katy Perry‘s “I Kissed a Girl”.
I’ll be the first one to admit that I enjoy manufactured pop music with no artistic merit but I think some of these artists that have musical chops and can write their own lyrics and in some cases music also deserve the time of day. Instead they choose to release albums that are squarely aimed at trying to get some radio airplay.
I do know that these days labels are very critical with album sales and it’s tougher for the average artist to ship enough units in order to achieve gold status and nearly impossible to go platinum which often leads to a speedy pink slip from the label. Then again if the artist is focused squarely on sales, they’re probably not in the business for the right reasons in my opinion.
Madonna is no longer associated with the traditional label ever since she signed that major multimillion dollar deal with Live Nation so I can’t yet say how much sales will factor into her future album sales. Speaking of which, Shakira is also in talks to ink a similar deal, albeit not one with as many zeros at the end. I’m sure Island Records will keep Janet around for the next go ’round or who knows, she might also deflect to Live Nation.
The old adage says “diversity is the spice of life” and radio supposedly plays music that’s “hot” so why am I being force fed junk that sounds like the same thing I heard before?
Not too long ago I started to really throw myself into working out and toning my otherwise physically unfit body. After investing in an indoor workout machine, there was basically no longer a reason as to why I could put off exercising. Before I’d always use the excuse that since our old machine (and what remains of it) was outside, I simply could not justify enduring hot weather and the vicious attacks of mosquitoes in the name of health. Thus, I’ve been diligently keeping a journal to track my progress, investing in proper attire, and I became most satisfied when I began to see noticeable results soon after. I figured I can deal with the muscle pain the next day, that’s the least of my worries.
Exerting myself away while punishing my body just isn’t as entertaining without some music involved so I almost always listen to my Zen Vision: M while working out. Which brings me to the subject of this post: what tunes make the best music to work out to? I haven’t really explored what I have in my library after I discovered that Madonna‘s Confessions on a Dance Floor made for some great workout music.
However, I’m quite aware that this opinion is highly biased since I’m already a Madonna fan. Nevertheless, I suggest trying it out, putting my own liking for it aside.
But the question is, besides Madonna, what makes for good workout music? I’d like to make a customized playlist of tunes that can energize me for about an hour or more since that’s usually the time it takes me to complete my workout of the day before I’m exhausted. Any suggestions in any genre would be appreciated except death metal, gives me a headache. Thanks!
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