Tuesday, 28 February 2012

New York, London, Paris, Munich...

Hello Friends.

If anyone reading this should be near me on the occasion of my death, I have but one instruction. Should iPods and iTunes still be a thing, throw my iPod into the nearest ravine, and delete the contents of my iTunes library, or donate them to needy effeminates without looking at any of the music therein.

My embarrassment at my musical taste it pretty acute. It's a sad state of affairs that the musical acts I admit to liking embarrass most people, like dreamy 1970's troubled troubadour James Taylor who is, in 2012, little more than a Lite FM staple (it would be different if I just loved his early stuff, but no, give me the sedate, happy strumming of September Grass any day). If that's the stuff I openly praise, imagine the stuff I hide from you people! I have so many Katy Perry singles that iTunes says to me, “Just buy the album, James. We'll give it you for three dollars. Three dollars, James, you already own most of this!” I pay money I earn from a job so I can hear Bon Iver cover Bonnie Raitt, both artists so terminally uncool as to land me a spot in musical purgatory. And my weak attempts at cred are always counter-balanced by something ear-bleedingly insipid. For every M83 track, I've got a Lady Gaga album. For every Wilco, a Wilson Phillips. For every Kings of Leon, a Kings of Leon. And that's not the worst.

I hesitate to report the worst to you, dear Readers, but if I'm going to get on my high horse and lecture everybody every other week about how I'm right and the rest of the world is wrong on any given topic, I may as well give the haters some ammo. Have any of you ever heard of Carly Rae Jepsen? If you haven't, it's because you're not a fourteen year-old girl. Well, she sat at number two with her song “Call Me Maybe” on iTunes' list of most downloaded songs the other day when I was home, bored, looking to fill the 'pod. There's this thing on iTunes you can preview a track for a minute and thirty seconds. Curiosity got the better of me, I previewed this girl I had never heard of, was instantly hooked (I mean instantly!) and paid the $0.99 to add it to my collection promptly, where it has enjoyed heavy rotation ever since. “Call Me Maybe” is everything that music purists will decry about the industry. It's singer, the young Carly, is a singer discovered and signed by Justin Bieber (who doesn't occupy much space in my pod, which I could be proud of but, y'know, glass houses) and the song is an overly simple melody, surely auto-tuned to Hell and back, with lyrics like these:

Your stare was holdin',
Ripped jeans, skin was showin'
Hot night, wind was blowin'
Where you think you're going, baby?

Hey, I just met you,
and this is crazy,
but here's my number,
so call me, maybe?

Do you hate me yet? Do you just hate me for this? I hate myself, more than a little bit. First of all, I'm a grown-ass man who gets heartburn and has to “do stretches”, this music is not intended for me. I can't bring myself to watch the video, if there is one, for fear that I'll be tracked by Vic Toews and thrown in jail for being an old perv. And it's such an insult to real singers and songwriters that this trifle is topping charts. Joni Mitchell, whose albums line my shelves, would surely spit in my eye. But I can't help it! It's just so catchy!

But unlike Joni Mitchell albums, I'll very soon be sick of “Call Me Maybe”, like “Teenage Dream”, “Drop It Like It's Hot”, “Milkshake”, “Torn”, “Everybody (Backstreet's Back)”, “Camptown Races” and every other pop hit before it. Pop music hits are by definition, temporary and disposable. But what a cash cow! One wonders if Bright Eyes would trade his years of hipster cred for one tag line like, “Get out of my dreams and into my car.” I think he would, I know I would.

Dream: Write a successful pop hit.

Goal: Achievable. I can't remember if this is true of the Bridget Jones book or movie or both, but Bridget has a sassy gay friend named Tom who wrote one pop song in the 1980's and earned enough money to live comfortably the rest of his life. I could totally do that. I can sort of write, enough to put some phrases together with an occasional rhyme. I don't have any musical talent, but did that stop SoulDecision? No, and it won't stop me. Plus, I don't intend to sing or perform the song, only to write it, so I'll find my own Carly Rae Jepsen to warble my words and we'll be millionaires together (though not actually together because, ew).

Plan: Create enticing, contemporary lyrics that reflect the culture, lend themselves to a simple melody, and have a strong hook. For example:

Gym Girl

Saw you at the gym, girl
Steppin' out on him, girl
I will be your spotter
Let's make this workout hotter

Wipin' down equipment,
Let's sign a new commitment
Unbreakable contract
Hot body contact
Time to watch you flex, girl
Ready for my sex, girl?


Lady singer:
ur texting me
Blowin' up my phon-er

Man singer:

Flip yo' screen
Cuz you ain't seen
This picture of my boner

Lady singer:

Boy, why we textin'?

Man singer:

When we should be sexin'?
I gotta get a sweet new plan...

Lady singer:
To make you understand...


Our love is unlimited
Evenings and weekends, too
Our love is unlimited
Won't be roaming round on you

Let's dial up tomorrow
Connect with ever more
Cuz OMG it's U + Me
That's what textin's for

It Gets Better

In these tough economic times
When money is so tight
I got a low budget solution
To make you feel alright

You don't wanna go no further
In case this relationship goes south
I can respect that and you can expect that
It gets better in your mouth

We can keep most of our clothes on
Don't have to leave the car
I'll get limber if you can remember
To stay put where you are

I'll reach over your lap now
Give my money to the guy
Let's enjoy a drive thru dinner
Don't get chicken in your eye

We ordered for three when there's two of us
But they didn't question that
I'm just saying we're greedy
I didn't mean that you're fat

I can take you on expensive dates later
To prove my love to you
But since we're not that serious now
Let's keep on driving thru.

So there you go. One of these has to be a hit. Texting, the gym, fast-food, that's current stuff. I'm not sure how being a rich and potentially famous pop music writer will change me, but hopefully it won't change my embarrassment at consuming the musical equivalent of Cheetohs. I know there's nothing fundamentally wrong with being a pop music consumer, but there's always the risk that I'll just fall off the brink and my appreciation for good music will be forever lost to the world. That I'll throw out my Leonard Cohen and Yo Yo Ma to make room for B44. If I ever get to that point call me, maybe.


  1. OMG this killed me! Please, oh please, can Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers sing TXT'N ME?

  2. I think I may have just the ensemble you're looking for in this rendition of TEXT'N ME.
    *sidenote* (or rather... warning?) It involves a cajon and a ukelele.