The following is a special guest post feature from our dear friend Mel, of Melismatic, who has written a two-part series on the state of Music in the first half of 2010. What follows is part two of her series. To see part one click here. And for more (lots more!) on all things pop, check out Mel’s blog – Melismatic.
The Year 2010, Part 1 (2.0)
Whether you choose to agree or not, numbers will always be an important indicator in pop music. No question — records aren’t selling the way they used to, but actual sales, whether they are of singles or full albums, online or in stores, will always serve as concrete evidence as to what is working in the pop marketplace. Pop at its core is a reflection of what is considered pop-ular.
Now, was I over the moon with all of America’s choices in terms of what songs were most exciting in the past six months? Well…in short, no. But the eight songs that have graced the tip-top of Billboard’s Hot 100 chart so far in 2010 each have something to say in regards to our current marketplace, whether its an ripple effect from past success, or hints at something in the future.
Oh, yeah, I’m going all philosophical. Or something. Pull up a chair, this is a long(-ish) one. Click the cut. Let’s start a discussion.
Ke$ha – “Tik Tok” (January to March 2010)
Yes, I included it in my list of the Top 29 Songs of 2(00)9 and no, I’m not reneging on my statements. I’m hardly Ke$ha’s biggest fan, and I’ve stated my complaints in terms of her image and artist development before. “Tik Tok” remains to be a fun little nugget (if not just a touch overplayed). The fact that the song held on to the top of the Hot 100 list for nine whole weeks, the longest stretch for any song so far in 2010 (and it’s fair to say, in this whole decade, no?), is kind of staggering enough. The comparisons of the song to Lady Gaga‘s “Poker Face” are quite valid in spots. At the time of its success, everyone with any kind of validated position wanted to state right away whether Ke$ha was a force to be reckoned with or a ship waiting to pass in the night. I was somewhere in the middle, but now, its July and Ke$ha’s yet to duplicate her debut single’s success. Hmmm…
Black Eyed Peas – “I’mma Be” (March 2010)
It’s almost a blip in terms of the monumental success they received last year with “Boom Boom Pow” and “I’ve Gotta Feeling”. It’s also kind of half what either of those songs were. It’s a nod to how surprisingly strong The E.N.D. album ended up being, but was hardly something I thought would be a hit, especially considering the song was released as a “pre-single” in the weeks leading up to the album’s release.
Taio Cruz – “Break Your Heart” (feat. Ludacris) (March 2010)
Not unlike Jay Sean and Jason DeRulo before him, Taio may just be known in the US as one of those, “Remember that guy? With that one song? Where did he go?” It’s not to say he’s not incredibly talented — I was a part of his support team back in the “I Just Wanna Know” (a far superior track in my mind), and I’m certainly rooting for him. Honestly, the fact that the song connected so strong for him to gain the #1 position seemingly out of nowhere will remain to be one of 2010’s mysteries.
Rihanna – “Rudeboy” (March to May 2010)
Hardly the best track on Rated R album (but definitely one of the catchiest), “Rude Boy” stands alone as Rihanna’s first real return to form chart-wise after her scandal with Chris Brown in February of ’09. My feelings on the song (or indeed the entire project) have not changed. I still wish I could click my heels and rewind in the hopes that Rated R could be a bit more 1) uplifting and empowering, or 2) raw and emotional, especiallyin terms of single choices. Instead, we get this,”Wait Your Turn”, “Hard” and some song about a gun that I don’t even want to remember. She started to win me back over with the recent release of “Te Amo”, but it felt a bit like a throwaway last resort prior to moving on to fresh thing (not totally unlike “Rehab” from the Good Girl Gone Bad era, my favorite cut from the disc).
B.o.B – “Nothin’ On You” (feat. Bruno Mars) (May 2010)
This surprising little number was yet another that came out of nowhere. It remains to be the sole #1 of the past six months that really like, and continue to spin. “Airplanes” has begun to trump it a bit in terms of personal playing, but I enjoy B.o.B. (aka Bobby Ray) for bringing fun back into the rap game, and for introducing Bruno Mars to the mainstream — a truly underrated vocalist. Here’s to hoping we’ll continue to see more from both gentlemen.
Usher – “OMG” (feat. will.i.am) (May 2010; May to June 2010)
I don’t have too much to say. When this song first went to #1, I assumed it was an homage to what Usher used to be. When it returned to the top position after being interrupted, no one was more shocked than I, considering there isn’t much to this song that makes it particularly memorable. OMG indeed.
Eminem – “Not Afraid” (June 2010)
Again, a tribute to what Eminem used to be. While his record sold a respectable amount, and he deserves kudos for this, I think it’s quite obvious that Eminem is now a changed man, and therefore a changed artist. Part of what made him so exciting in the pop market was his penchant for catchy, ridiculous rhymes and painfully gritty realism. Both are kind of missing here. I’m not his biggest fan, and I never have been, but success should be noted and respected. After going through some truly difficult events in the last few years, I was expecting a bigger, more honest splash.
Katy Perry – “California Gurls” (feat. Snoop Dogg) (June to July 2010)
So she’s back for more, eh? Perhaps it’s part of my bias as a Empire Stategirl. Perhaps it’s her dissing of Lady Gaga when much of her career was quite literally built on shock value and false advertising herself. Either way you slice it, I’m not fond of this number. Sure, it’s summery. Doesn’t mean it melts my Popsicle. (The double-entendre literally disturbs me.)
Truthfully, 2010 really has been great so far in terms of singles and albums, but so many of those albums and singles have gone somewhat unnoticed by the mass public. It’s saddening, because if only these types of songs were given larger platforms for success and a bigger label push, there is no question their connection to Average Joe and Josephine.
What are your thoughts?