Friday, January 01, 2016

#379, in which a very stupid resolution is made

For the last several years, I've made one serious and one stupid resolution for the new year. The stupid resolution usually ends up being something entertaining that doesn't feel like a chore to do, which helps me to stay focused on my real resolution. And it's worked for the last three years! I've actually maintained focus and done what I intended to do.

For whatever reason, though, I had a hard time coming up with a good stupid resolution for this year. That's not to say that some of you out there weren't forthcoming with resolutions:

But finally, with about six hours to go in 2015, I figured it out:

It's stupid, yet measurable, and there are 56 of these compilation albums out there, so it works out well to do about one of these a week. I'm not sure what I'll do when three or four more of these are inevitably released this year. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

This morning, I randomized the list of albums and came up with Now! 32. I pulled it up on Spotify and started listening.

Let me be perfectly frank before we start, though. I'm not a fan of 2000's and 2010's-era pop, and even less of a fan of club music in general. I made this resolution knowing that I would probably hate most of the music on these albums. I'm going to try not to let my personal biases interfere with reviewing the albums.

But oh my goodness, oh my sweet heavenly dogs, friends, this is not a good album. It's very, very heavy on autotune. Some autotune is often needed, and overdoing it a little can be interesting, but when it's prevalent through several songs in a row, it wears thin. (Yes, I'm talking about you here, Jason Derulo. "Whatcha Say" would be about thirty seconds long if you took out the autotuned sections.) The same bumping and thumping club chords dominate nearly every song, and after a while, the songs seem to blend together. It doesn't help that I'm not that familiar with artists like Lady Gaga, Li'l Wayne, and Pitbull, which don't sound that different to me, but they all blurred into one sound to my ears. (This is by choice, incidentally. Offers to help familiarize me with these acts are unsolicitied and unappreciated.)

It's not just the club sound of the music that's prevalent, either. Several of the songs focused on what I'll call a club mentality toward women. The songs tend to be either men singing about objectifying and abusing women or women singing about being objects. Mariah Carey's "Obsessed" and David Guetta & Akon's "Sexy Chick" are notable offenders, featuring lyrics like "I'm trying to find the words to describe this girl without being disrespectful/damn girl/damn who's a sexy bitch". I cringed more than once listening to these songs.

But that's not to say that the album is terrible all the way through. This was my first time listening to many of these artists, and I was pleasantly surprised with a couple of them. Shakira's "She Wolf" has a great pseudo-disco beat, is largely free of autotune, and even has non-objectifying lyrics. I'd willingly listen to it again, something I can't say about many of these other songs. I'm not particularly familiar with Drake, except for the fact that he's virtually omnipresent in society lately, but I had a difficult time finding a reason to dislike "Best I Ever Had." I'm not a huge fan of slow jam-style R&B, but this was solid.

But here's the real head-scratcher in this collection: the second-to-last track on the album is "Only You Can Love Me This Way," by Keith Urban. Almost every song on the album is noxious un-tss un-tss style club music to this point, and then we're left to conclude with a soulful country ballad. It's nice, though I'm not a fan of pop country, but it feels weirdly out of place. All I can think of is that either the Now! people have criteria that they use to determine which songs make the cut and that they were forced to include this song, or perhaps they wanted to diversify their audience at least a little and threw in this token country song. Either way, it just doesn't quite fit.

My recommendation is not to purchase or even listen to this album, but your mileage may vary.

1 comment:

Ben said...

"Offers to help familiarize me with these acts are unsolicited and unappreciated." You're doing God's work, Sam. Well, no, you're doing some twisted form of a backwater judge's idea of punitive community service, but I respect it.