Side A: January 1st, 2010

Pop Potential

I woke up this morning with Karen O in my head.

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs “Maps” as perfect a pop song as you’ll ever hear. Its a clear example that sparse lyrics doesn’t mean dada and 00’s pop doesn’t automatically equal Hip-Hop or Country.  That’s increasingly hard to believe with the latest word from the radio industry:

“Based on data from Nielsen BDSradio, which monitors radio stations throughout the United States, the most-played song on any station from Jan. 1, 2000, to Dec. 17, 2009, was Tim McGraw’s “Something Like That,” released in 1999. It received 487,343 spins, beating out the most popular song on Top 40 radio, Usher’s “Yeah!,” from 2004, by a fair margin. “Yeah!,” featuring Ludacris and Lil Jon, has been spun 416,267 times.” NY TIMES

Its also telling about the radio industry as taste-makers or an ability to see the forest for the trees. The industry’s inability to understand or react to its potential listeners has been its downfall and as its now well known foes internet radio and the ipod and ipod-ish machines may combine for the deathblow that the cassette, compact disc, and vinyl weren’t able to muster.  Unless the industry recreate itsself and prove that “they don’t love you like I do….”

Promises, promises

By mid day, I found myself consumed by Radiohead’s 90’s pop hit High & Dry:’

The song is widely regarded as Radiohead’s most accessible pop hit, and was a live favourite, though it has not been performed in a decade. In a 2007 interview with Pitchfork, Thom Yorke stated that he did not like the song, saying “It’s not bad… it’s very bad.“” – wikipedia

Sometimes an artist underestimates themselves. Radiohead’s Thom Yorke is just this type of artist. He’s spent most of his career giving self deprecating if not self loathing interviews, often taking jabs his bands earliest works on their debut album Pablo Honey and followup The Bends. Its hard to criticize an artist whose work has soared as his career as lept forward with a distinguished run of albums including albums that defined (OK Computer), expanded (Kid A), and smashed (Amnesiac) their genre. Could my love of this “very bad” Radiohead song mudstomp my music tastebuds?

What’s more plausible is that fans of whatever art over estimate the value of song, or image, film and our arts get caught in our overemoting. What’s even more plausible is that the answer is trapped in that ever crowded middle that no one claims and everyone has one toe in. Many artists find their gut punches from that middle, they articulate  simple sublime moments in popular form. High & Dry like Radiohead’s Creep, or much of pop rocks saccrine staples from The Beatles’ In My Life, Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here, or Everything in the Eagles catalog and even easily hate-worthy yet unforgetable 80’s songs like Kansas’ Carry on my wayward son.

There’s something so absorbing,  so helpless, so aching about everything in this song. Every lyric aches apart of a dissolving ephemeral dust bowl as the guitar licks solider on whipping the moment away. In a moment of weakness, its enough to make a grown man cry.