Monday, February 22, 2016

#396, in which we take a short break

I've been pretty busy at work recently, but not in a way that has kept me from being at home, which is nice. We've had a lot of new people start, which means that with all of my two years and change of experience, I'm the one people turn to with questions. I'm also formally charged with training several of these new people, so that keeps me pretty busy. Busy isn't all bad, of course. Better to be busy and trusted than, well, idle and unreliable, I guess.

Edie is two and a half, and she's really interesting. She's gotten really good at learning and repeating words, to the point where she routinely surprises me by saying words I had no idea she knew. Some are innocuous, like "rock," "rain," and even "poppies," but some are hilarious, like "hi scum." She's very fond of "uh-oh" and "oh no," but she only seems to understand that it's a thing one says when things fall, not that it's connected to accidents. She loves to scatter things all over the ground, look up at us, and say, "uh oh!" No, little girl, that wasn't an accident. You did that.

The weather here is really bizarre. It was in the teens and icy last week, and then it got up to the upper 60s in the same week. Sudden temperature shifts like that tend to bring strong winds, so while the warm weather is pleasant, the tornadoes, well, aren't.

My parents are coming to visit us next month. They'd actually come to visit Tennessee once before we got here, so they might actually know more about Nashville than we do. Still, we know more about this tiny town that we live in. We'll show them places like, um, the downtown and the tiny cafes and diners here. And the barbecue pit! Okay, so there's some interesting stuff in this town.

I listened to Now! 49 yesterday. You should not. "Royals" is by far the best song on the album. Nearly everything else is pure garbage. Stay far, far away.

Monday, February 15, 2016

#385, in which we are introduced to synthpop

I promised you I'd write two of these today, and here I am, delivering. And utterly squandering my day off, too! You're welcome.

This album started off like many of the earlier and more reprehensible collections I've listened to, like the awful "Blow Me (One Last Kiss)" from P!nk and the truly, truly rancid "Whistle" from Flo Rida, which could not possibly be a more transparent ode to fellatio if it tried. (If you haven't heard this song before, please, I beg of you, DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, EVEN TO SAVE THE LIFE OF A LOVED ONE, LISTEN TO THIS SONG.) I cringed and gritted my teeth, expecting much more of the same. It would have been grating and an affront to nature, but at least it would have given me something interesting to write about.

And then we got "Gangnam Style," and you may not believe this, but today was actually my first time listening to the song in its entirety. (Still haven't seen the music video.) This song could also be an ode to fellatio, but I certainly wouldn't know, not being a Korean speaker myself. (Wikipedia assures me that the song is about the lifestyle of residents of the Gangnam District of Seoul, which, to my knowledge, is not especially renowned for womanizing behavior.) This song is utterly infectious. It's absolutely perfect for what these compilations are trying to be. By the end of the song, I'd forgotten all about the trash from the first two songs.

And then, AND THEN, we entered an hour and a half of pure synthpop. For those unfamiliar with the genre, imagine a song that was written to play over the closing credits of any tween-targeted Disney Channel show and you're pretty close. We got Owl City, Maroon 5, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Kelly Clarkson, and even Nicki Minaj got in on the action. I don't especially mind synthpop, personally, but that's not to say that I'm a huge fan, and it's certainly not to say that I was hoping for nearly a dozen straight songs of it.

And yet, I sort of like the idea of going completely overboard with one genre for one of these albums. They all sort of blend together for me, being one huge indistinguishable blur of pop, so differentiating them by a popular genre is pretty clever. This isn't just Now! 44, the latest in a long line of pop collections anymore, it's the synthpop Now! album. You instantly know the one we're talking about now. They could produce similar entries for emo, indie folk, girlpop, boy bands, you name it. I know that I, personally, would get a huge kick out of Now! That's What I Call Thrash Rock.

In summary, if you're interested in synthpop, you should give the album a listen. If you're not, you should probably avoid it. And if you're just looking to get a taste of the album, just give Gangnam Style a play. And if, for whatever unfathomable reason, you're wondering if you should listen to "Whistle," please seek professional counseling.

#384, in which normalcy of a sort is restored

I missed writing to you last week, but let it be known that I still listened to my album. I'll do my best to write two for you today as a penance.

This week's album is Now! 53, which means it was released just about a year ago. This is pop horror that is still fresh in our minds. The compilation kicks off with "Uptown Funk," which I'll admit is nothing if not catchy and danceable. It's also omnipresent and, to put it charitably, possessive toward women, so it's just about the perfect pick for an album like this. We get Meghan Trainor's "Lips are Movin" after that, which is an apt answer. It's catchy, danceable, and omnipresent, but instead of celebrating womanizing, it decries it. So everything's turned out a wash so far!

And then, you know, the rest of the album begins.

We get Ariana Grande, One Direction, Selena Gomez, Iggy Azalea, and Charli XCX in the span of eight tracks. These acts are pretty much the quintessence of these compilations, and are also pretty much why I dreaded having to listen to them in the first place. I was not disappointed, in that I was completely disappointed by their schlockiness. (Autocorrect suggests "cockiness" instead.)

The B-side of these albums usually transitions to a quieter, mellower sound, which I typically enjoy more. There was a Coldplay track ("A Sky Full of Stars") on there, which I was looking forward to a bit. I'm no great fan of Coldplay, but I recognize that they have talent and can, at the very least, create songs that are unobjectionable, something that the rest of these acts have trouble with. Those of you who have heard this song are probably laughing to yourself right now, but Coldplay managed to completely let me down in this regard. "A Sky Full of Stars" sounds like a typical Coldplay song that a producer decided to infuse with a drum machine and club beats. It doesn't work. It's somehow much worse than a typical club song in that you know what it could have been. I was very, very disappointed.

In summary, do not listen to this album if you have the means not to. If you want to get the sense of the sound of the album, listen to "Uptown Funk," then listen to "Lips are Movin," then smash your stereo, computer, or iPod with hammers.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

#383, in which an already difficult task becomes more so

I knew what I was getting myself into when I started listening to these albums. I expected them to be bad, even terrible. I expected to hate every minute of this. And I knew that if I didn't hold myself accountable to you faceless masses, I'd never go through with listening to all of this.

What I didn't count on, though, was the fact that since most of this music is just similar-sounding dreck, I would run out of interesting things to say very quickly. And I have.

I listened to Now! 12 a week ago, and I've been trying to think of anything to say about it that I haven't already said about the other six I've listened to. And short of the fact that I laughed out loud when I heard Télépopmusik's "Breathe" come on, I really haven't got anything new to say. It's pretty much just thumping club music for the A-side, like the last few have been, and it's quieter acoustic girl pop on the B-side. And they generally save something truly abhorrent for the last song, which in this case is "When I'm Gone," by 3 Doors Down.

These are not good albums, and I'm really not excited to look at my randomized list and see that Now! 53 is up next. The more recent the album, the worse it is, and a quick look over the tracklist (Bruno Mars! Maroon 5! One Direction! Iggy Azalea!) makes me shudder.

If you've come here for a recommendation, here it is: do not buy, do not listen, do not expend any amount of mental energy considering this music in any way, and do not fear, for the cold black embrace of death awaits us all.