music

Feelings and Gifs and Spotify

Subtitle: WAIT YOU HAVEN'T HEARD THE WHOLE THING YET DON'T WALK AWAY I know there are going to be 8,000 posts (minimum) about Spotify this week and even more opinions. I realize that I’m probably just adding to the noise, and I realize that I am not an expert.

But I just have a lot of feelings about this, okay? Feelings. And what is a blog if not a place to share feelings?

(I added gifs to make this more interesting for people like Jamie.)

My husband is a musician, and I went to Belmont University. I was a music business major for three years before I got my act together and realized hey, I don’t really like this accounting stuff, and changed to public relations. At least half of my friends are musicians, whether professional or semi-professional or make-EPs-for-fun. I say this not to claim to be any sort of authority on the topic, but to say that I have a vested interest in it.

If you haven’t read it yet, here is Spotify’s response to Taylor Swift pulling her catalog from Spotify.

I have a lot of issues with this argument.

The main issue, though, is that this person is trying to argue that because people are going to be stealing music anyway, this is actually a good thing for artists and songwriters. It’s the lesser of two evils. They’re actually helping artists and songwriters by getting people to pay for their music at all. Basically, artists should be thanking Spotify. (Editorializing, of course.)

Let me be clear — I’m not against the existence of Spotify. There’s a market for it, obviously, and I understand why. I use it from time to time to check out an artist. But let’s not act like Spotify is dedicated to the art of music or that they’re doing musicians some big favor.

People were pissed that Taylor pulled her library. I get that. It was there, and she took it away. But it’s not about the money for her (obviously). She’s making a point. And yeah, maybe nothing will change. But at least the discussion is happening. And unless bigger artists like her start talking about it, no one will. A smaller singer-songwriter can pull his or her catalog, but no one will notice. I mean, the fans will notice, but the media won’t.

And if you can’t go without Taylor’s music (I am part of that demographic — no shame), buy. it. Use the money you earned and say, hey, I value this music enough to make a small sacrifice in exchange for it. [Side Note: I know we live in a culture of entitlement, but guys — sometimes you can’t get everything you want. If you have 20 dollars, you can choose two albums to buy. And it means you value those the most because it cost you something to get them. I don’t know. I just don’t really buy the angle that we should be able to have access to All The Music for a small fee simply because we want it.]

I also don’t buy the exposure angle as a perk. If you’re a writer or a creator of any kind, you know that at a certain point, offering things for free or cheap devalues your talent. Sure, if you’ve never written anything for anyone before, offer it for free to get practice. But if you continue to do that, you’re saying you’re not worth paying for. Blogs and websites do this all the time — ask people to write things for free in the name of “exposure.” Guys. Exposure is not compensation. Yes, it’s something, but it’s not the same.

The radio thing. Streams on Spotify does not equal radio play in a practical sense. That was one of the main examples in his argument. Yes, on the free mobile app you can’t control the songs, and that’s more like radio. But the paid subscription is not. The paid subscription is in place of buying the actual albums you’re listening to. It’s on demand. Pandora is like radio. In that way I don’t mind using Pandora because I’m never going to use it as a replacement for buying music. It would make no sense. Again, I’m not saying if you use Spotify you’re a terrible person, but just that this argument doesn't super hold up.

Finally, the main point of the blog is the $2 billion. Stop throwing that number around like it’s some big deal. I’m willing to bet that most of that money is going to huge artists. Which is fine. It should. But the remainder accounts for ALL the artists that are on Spotify. All of them. Millions of them. Again, I’m not even trying to argue about what to pay the artists. I’m just saying, don’t act like you’re paying each artist a million dollars or something like that. Because you’re not. I have friends who have their music on Spotify, and they are not millionaires.

Not my friends.

I think the whole thing is just patronizing. Like, “you should be grateful you’re making any money at all!”

Just because Spotify is better than piracy doesn’t make it beneficial to artists. That’s all I’m trying to say.

What do you think? (Please be kind because remember I have a lot of feelings.)

The Everglow (Or, 'Deuces, I'm Going to Philadelphia')

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This is me, circa 2005.

The fact that that was nearly 10 years ago weirds me out. I don't want to talk about it.

But what is significant about this photo is not the fact that it was my first QuikTrip experience after being told several times it is The Gas Station to End All Gas Stations. (That’s true, by the way.) It’s the shirt I’m wearing.

One of my best friends brought it back for me from Warped Tour (oh, 2005). I’m wearing it because I went to see the band that night — Mae, the makers of what might just be my favorite album of all time: The Everglow.

I’m not saying it’s critically acclaimed or was robbed of a Grammy nomination or that Mae should have been the next Coldplay or U2. I’m just saying it’s very near and dear to my heart.

I’m not sure if it’s the time period in which I listened to it most, or the actual songs — most likely some combination of both — but as that hammer strikes that piano string — the first, deep, bellowing note of “We’re So Far Away" — I feel content. It’s partly nostalgia, I admit, but partly just a beautiful song.

The Everglow is kind of like a storybook. The cover art is childlike and whimsical, and the album begins and ends with a little narration opening and closing the story. It’s a journey, led by a fearless trio of piano and guitar and a nasal-y misunderstood 20-something. It’s happy and sad and beautiful and hilariously dramatic, as all “emo” bands are. The Everglow is best as a whole.

You probably think I’m being ridiculous. It’s an album made by a group signed to Tooth & Nail Records in 2005. They wore black and probably girls jeans (this was before the days of skinny jeans) and performed at Warped Tour.

But for me, The Everglow is a piece of my heart. It’s one of the only albums I go back to over and over again.

I own the real-live CD, but it had gotten too scratched up from months on rotation in my car CD player (I didn’t have one of those fancy 6-cd-changers) and then traveling from dorm room to apartment to townhouse throughout college. When I realized it skipped far too many times to be listenable anymore, I broke down and re-bought it on iTunes a few years ago. It’s the only album I’ve paid for twice.

I still enjoy it now as much as I did as a senior in high school and listen to it on the reg. If I’m stressed, or I can’t think of anything else to listen to, or I just need something happy, I go to this album.

This post was prompted by the fact that Mae is doing a tour starting in 2015 in which they will perform The Everglow top to bottom. I KNOW I KNOW. I can’t wait. Because I am going. Even if I have to fly to Philadelphia, which is one of only three dates they have released so far.

Everglow Tour

Everyone has an album like this, right? What’s yours?

Thanks, Mumford and Sons! Love, White Guys with Guitars

babel mumford This is a post about a legacy—the legacy of one Mumford and his many Sons. While Marcus and his bandmates may have laid down their banjos and moseyed off into the metaphorical sunset, they live on—in the hearts of white guys with guitars everywhere. Maybe even Mumford realized that perhaps there was just one too many Mumfords hanging around the airwaves, and maybe he should bow out. Maybe his work here was done. Maybe they were just SO delightful, and America was churning out so many copies of their style, that listening to them play was like staring into the sun. Maybe they shone too brightly. The world may never know.

But I’m not here to talk about why there’s a sad upright bass sitting in a storage unit in the UK collecting dust, I’m here to talk about the aforementioned legacy.

Mumford and Sons brought a new style into the American mainstream consciousness, and the music industry has latched on for dear life. New American Idol winner need a style? Mumford. Done. Next. Worship team need a “color” weekend to shake up the arrangements a bit? Mumford-style. Easy. Next.

One Direction need to be a little more relevant? GUESS WHAT.

They went there. Please enjoy the next four minutes of Mumford-inspired boy-band pop goodness called "Story of my Life":

The worst part is I see what they’re doing. I see that some executive was like, we need a Mumford-y song (because this is now a distinct term in the music industry that everyone understands). And some other guy was like hey I have this song someone wrote and it can have a bluegrass beat and finger picking and four on the floor kick drum and it will be PERFECT.

I KNOW what you’re doing to me, industry. I KNOW you are manipulating me with mandolins and acoustic guitars. But I STILL LIKE IT.

I’m such a sucker for anything Mumford-y. I can’t even act like I’m not. Granted, I like just about every One Direction song that comes out on the radio, but Mumford PLUS One Direction? I mean I’m done. Like there was any doubt I would enjoy this.

The clearly-not-a-music-critic DJ on the Top 40 station even described this by saying “it starts out a little like Mumford but turns into their style.” (LOLOL One Direction has a style. That’s adorable. Style=catchy. End of style.)

And that is why One Direction and Phillip Phillips and worship teams everywhere have Mumford to thank for opening the floodgates and handing you a success formula that no one will ever argue with. Because everyone knows banjo music is delightful, and everyone loves a gang vocal.

So thanks, Mumford! Love, White Guys With Guitars Everywhere.

How do you feel about the One Direction song? Are you still mourning the loss of Mumford? Why do you think Phillip Phillips’ parents would name him that? Were they on drugs at the time?

A Britney Song A Day Keeps the Pirates Away

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Do you have a pirate problem? Are you tired of taking your boat out to sea only to be driven away or invaded by swashbuckling seafarers? Wish you had a way you could just make them leave instantly?

Have I got a solution for you: Britney.

Yes, THE Britney.

According to this article, ol’ Brit’s chart toppers are just so offensive to Somali pirates, that all they have to do is blare “Baby One More Time” or “Oops I Did It Again” and the pirates literally turn around and go away.

Isn’t that just the greatest visual you have ever pictured?

How do you think they do it? Does John Cusack like come out and hold a boom box in the air above his head for three minutes? Do they play it over a bullhorn? Do they bring out special musical guests now and again for variety but make them cover one of Britney’s mega hits? Was it ever Mumford and Sons? I hope it was Mumford and Sons. (Y’know, up until recently. Ahem……….)

I also want to know how this was first discovered. I hope someone was sitting in the boat legitimately listening to “Oops I Did It Again” because it was his turn to pick the music that day and he was trying to explain to them that it was a classic in the American canon. He turned it up really loud at the bridge (which is really just the chorus, varied slightly melodically, like many pop songs in the late 90’s), and just as he did, they saw the pirate flag in the distance.

The crew raced around the ship trying to make preparations while the music picker just stood by the stereo staring into the distance while the music blared (“oops I, did it again to your heaaaarrrrt…”), thinking these might be his last moments—nay—his last time to ever hear this song. He stood there, soaking it all in, and decided to turn it up even louder, despite the chaos, since this might very well be the last song he ever hears.

Everyone else is yelling at him to turn it off because they need to talk about their game plan for dealing with Somali pirates, but music picker just watches the pirates come closer and closer, until something strange happens. The ship starts turning away. Music picker grabs his telescope and looks at the pirates—they’re covering their ears and writhing on the ground! The captain is yelling and turning the ship around. They’d done it!

He looked at the stereo as Britney finishes her last line, pats it on the top and says, “well done, ol’ girl. well done.”

And that’s how I hope it happened.

The article says they just hate all things Western culture so Britney is a perfect example of that. I like that they hate it so much they literally just give up and go away. Just amazing.

The story also goes on to say that Britney's are not the only American pop songs that have been used to torture people in the past. “Slim Shady” was once played on a loop for 20 days in a prison and some people actually went crazy. (WHO WOULDN’T? 20 DAYS OF SLIM SHADY EVERY MINUTE EVERY HOUR? No thanks.) Metallica’s music and even Barney’s “I Love You” song have been used similarly.

So there you have it. Though to be fair, I feel like if you play ANY song on a loop for 20 days, people will lose it.

What song would make you lose your mind if you had to listen to it on a loop for 20 days?

P.S. Happy Halloween! (This post was totally Halloween-themed because pirates.)

Katy Perry's New Album in 16 Sentences or More

katy-perry-prism-album-cover-revealed The day had finally come.

I rushed to my local record store five minutes before it opened, drooling against the glass as they stocked the last one on the shelf.

When ol' Mr. Crenshaw—he’d owned the place as long as I could remember--finally opened the door, the bell jingled as I tore inside, going straight to the “P”s.

There she was, airbrushed makeup glowing amid pastel pink glory: Katy Perry - PRISM. I paid for it in paper money and change, walked out of the store and put it in my car stereo. It has cycled through about 80 times since I bought it.

Okay, that was all a lie. That was what would happen if this was 1998 and people bought CDs anymore. Real life is a lot less exciting. I had actually pre-ordered this album and just clicked “download” on Tuesday morning. The end.

Wasn't my first story so much better? I want to hear more about what it was like only being able to listen to one album without doing physical labor and having to carry around all your music in a glorified binder that weighed as much as you did.

Anyway, the fact that it was six-thousand times more easily accessible than the story above did not diminish my excitement for Katy Perry's new album to finally be released. I had already had the privilege of downloading "Roar," then "Walking on Air" and "Dark Horse," all of which I loved, so I didn't expect to be disappointed. I wasn't.

But I do have a lot of specific thoughts on the songs. (Please pick your jaw up off the floor. Oh wait, you're not shocked at all? Never mind.) So I thought I would share them with you, song by song.

To keep it brief, I have decided to limit myself to ONE SENTENCE per song. One. It may be a run-on sentence, but dang it, I will keep it to one. Because if I had my way we'd be here for days. Actually, just I would, because you would have stopped reading after minute five.

So without further ado I present to you the Laura McClellan 16-Sentence Amateur Review of Katy Perry's PRISM.

UPDATE: Stream the album while you read my descriptions here.

SONG NUMBER ONE: "Roar"* Easily one of the world's most satisfying pop songs, "Roar” makes you wonder where it has been your whole life but then realize you never could’ve pictured your life without it. Rating: A+++++

SONG NUMBER TWO: "Legendary Lovers" Despite the squirminess of the phrase “I feel my lotus bloom," which I find to be an entirely too-descriptive metaphor, this song is an enjoyable hip-hop-y, somehow march-like mid-tempo song which, like many others you will find on this album, is basically just about sex. Rating: B+

SONG NUMBER THREE: “Birthday” “Birthday” is a disco-y dance song with a perfect hook rounding out the chorus, to which you will probably find me dancing in the car, but not singing very loudly because several of the lyrics make me embarrassed. Rating: A

SONG NUMBER FOUR: “Walking on Air” Similar to the one preceding it, the super-catchy “Walking on Air” is a disco-y song about sex, adding to the list of songs I feel uncomfortable singing out loud, but it is infused with a little more hip-hop. Rating: A-

SONG NUMBER FIVE: “Unconditionally” Really all I can think about during this supposed-power-ballad is how it bothers me that she puts the emPHAsis on the wrong sylLABle on “Unconditional” about 800 times (she says un-con-di-TION-alllll”…no…if it doesn’t fit, rewrite the chorus). Rating: B

SONG NUMBER SIX: “Dark Horse” Admittedly very hip-hop for Katy Perry, “Dark Horse” is probably my favorite right now due to its building, unpredictable, belty chorus and, let’s be honest, super crunk beat (did I use that right?). Rating: A+

SONG NUMBER SEVEN: “This Is How We Do” Despite the fact that I can’t relate to anything this song is talking about (Breakfast in last night’s dress? Uh I’m still in my PJs I got for Christmas. Car still at the club valet on Tuesday? I won’t even pay for a valet at Chuy’s unless absolutely necessary), nor is it profound in any way, but I CAN’T HELP IT THIS SONG IS SO CATCHY AND IT WILL NEVER LEAVE MY BRAIN. Rating: A+

SONG NUMBER EIGHT: “International Smile” A delightful, repetitive electronic song, this track rhymes “Artist” with “star dust” which I appreciate, and features a vocoder more than once and I am not mad about it. Rating: A

SONG NUMBER NINE: “Ghost” If you ignore the fact that the first line of this song is “you sent a text” (NO KATY JUST NO), this song is an okay supposed-to-be-sentimental ballad, but it’s not the next “My Heart Will Go On” or anything. Rating: B-

SONG NUMBER TEN: “Love Me” Another slightly slower-paced quasi-ballad, this song has a lot more depth (love yourself in spite of insecurities and all that) and is a lot more compelling musically and lyrically than the others I’ve heard on the album so far, so people will probably identify with it. Rating: A-

SONG NUMBER ELEVEN: “This Moment” This one sounds a little bit like Devo did the production at first, and I’m pretty sure she actually wrote this cliche-filled quasi-ballad for Kelly Clarkson to sing, but hey, people like Kelly Clarkson, so you’ll probably still be on board. Rating: B+

SONG NUMBER TWELVE: “Double Rainbow” (OMG SHE WENT THERE) Another ballad, which is really hard to take seriously at first considering the name of the song, but it’s actually pretty great once you get over that, especially the melody in the pre-chorus and the Phil Collins drums. Rating: A

SONG NUMBER THIRTEEN: “By the Grace of God” I first heard (and loved) this song on her iTunes festival performance, and it is a fantastic, compelling, honest ballad with a perfect melody all the way through. (PLUS GOSPEL-Y BGVS YOU GUYS) Rating: A+

SONG NUMBER FOURTEEN: “Spiritual” (On the deluxe version) Super 80’s-fabulous, this is another disco-y song about sex (sensing a theme?), but I kind of think it’s got a weird vibe and it’s probably one of my least favorite songs on the album, mostly because I don’t think the chorus pays off at all. Rating: C+

SONG NUMBER FIFTEEN: “It Takes Two” (On the deluxe version) Katy is no slouch at writing a melody, you guys, and this one grabs you from the first line, keeping you with her throughout the rest of the song with its gospel influences and just plain catchiness. Rating: A

SONG NUMBER SIXTEEN: “Choose Your Battles” (On the deluxe version) This one doesn’t necessarily grab me in any particular way; it just kind of plays enjoyably in the background while you do something else. Rating: B-

Overall I obviously enjoy the album and you should go get it, but I’m going to stop talking now.**

What’s your favorite song so far? Alternatively, if you aren’t a fan, what’s your favorite album you’ve bought lately?

*Let it be known that I failed at this IMMEDIATELY. My first thoughts were: "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways." Which is ALREADY two sentences and I hadn't even said anything yet.

**Also I was not in any way compensated for this post or affiliated with Katy Perry, though it’s adorable that someone might even think that.

An Even Worse (Possibly Racist) Version of Rebecca Black

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I really thought that after the whole Rebecca Black thing came and went, there would be nothing else to say.

The teenage girl's annoying, she's singing about a day of the week, it's extremely low budget, blah blah blah.

But apparently the Ark Music Factory's mantra is "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," because Lord help us, THERE IS ANOTHER ONE.

And even though I'm sure you will be tired of hearing about it soon, perhaps before I even hit "publish" on this post, dang it if I just can't help commenting on it.

So without further ado I introduce to you (unless you have already seen it in the 18 hours between when I am writing this and the time it goes live, which is entirely likely) Alison Gold's future chart-bottoming hit, "Chinese Food." [ video below ]

It's like this entire operation is just the result of a never-ending game of Whose Line Is It Anyway in which Wayne Brady has to make up songs about mundane things shouted from the audience while Laura Hall and Linda Taylor accompany them on a saxophone and keyboard. (I have no good explanation as to why I remember their names so specifically without looking it up but just BE COOL okay it's my journey.)

At least Rebecca's song had some semblance of chronology. She wakes up, has cereal, goes out with her friends. That at least counts as a story if you pretend you are five years old and have been raised by wolves and never heard sentences before. But compared to "Chinese Food," the storyline of "Friday" is like the autotuned version of The Odyssey or something.

First of all, I'm almost certain this video is racist. It kind of feels like that sketch on SNL with Taran Killam and Vanessa Bayer where they're trying to pay homage to Japanese culture but really are trivializing it and mocking it and we're like the disgruntled teacher behind the camera trying to explain to them that this is NOT OKAY.

Second of all, why the bears? Why all of a sudden ALL the bears, you guys? First Miley, then this. Men dressed up in bear costumes are not like a hip thing people are doing now. Let's just leave the bears out of it. What did they ever do to you?

Third, if nothing else, the entire premise is just a farce. NO ONE likes Chinese food THIS much. I mean yes, I love Pei Wei as much as the next white girl who's never been to China, but COME ON. If some terrible dictator comes up to you one day and gives you the opportunity to eat free Chinese food any time you want for the rest of your life, on the condition that you also give up pizza forever, NO ONE WOULD TAKE THAT DEAL. Because pizza is one of the single most delicious foods on the face of the planet.

If this song was about pizza, I would change my tune entirely and probably just slow clap at the end as a single tear ran down my cheek. Even despite the bears.

In conclusion, this video was unbelievably insane and would improve a million fold if it was about pizza instead.

What was your favorite part? Mine was probably watching a middle-aged African American man try to imitate a Chinese accent while rapping about egg rolls dressed like half a panda bear. But that's just me.

The Journey of Hate-Liking a Pop Song

the-history-of-pop-music I used to be defiant against pop music. I know--me? Defiant? But I was. Y'all, I'm not proud of it, but there was a time in my life in which I wore a choker with a guitar pick on it. I listened to Good Charlotte and Simple Plan. I didn't dress in all black, but I did refuse to listen to anything that was on top 40 radio. Except Avril Lavigne, because in my head she was this cool rocker chick, even though she actually was a pop star, and therefore played on the radio. Let's just be honest. There is nothing rock and roll about "Complicated," okay?

Anyway, all this to say even though I rocked out pretty hard to some pop-punk that could hardly be considered edgy, I refused to acknowledge that songs like "Toxic" were catchy. But in my defense, according to the internet, top songs in 2004 also included things like "Milkshake," Hilary Duff and Ashlee Simpson. So y'know. I didn't have a lot to work with.

My last year of high school and into college I learned to accept that some songs, however popular, are just darn catchy. Sometimes you find yourself belting "Just Dance" in your car. Whatevs. No judgement.

Even though nowadays I am fairly "come one, come all" with pop music, I still often find myself in a state of defiance against certain songs. You've been there, right? Either they're just not good quality, or they're packed with sleezy lyrics, or you have a thing against the artist…you just don't like the song and decidedly never will.

I'm here to tell you that you will eventually like that song.If you never hear it again, that's one thing. But if it's as widespread as all of the other junk that's out there on the radio, you WILL hear it again whether you like it or not. In a store at the mall. On a commercial. On an audition for The Voice.

It will come back. And you will succumb to it.

Let me map out for you the stages of how it will happen:

  1. First listen - you hear the song for the first time. You wrinkle your nose. "Ugh, I hate this," you declare, and you either change the channel or finish it out to give it a fair shot and close out of YouTube.
  2. It starts popping up everywhere. On the radio. In your Twitter Feed. On TV. Where is it coming from? You groan every time it comes on. "I hate this song!" you exclaim. Everyone thinks you're dramatic, but you don't care. This song is the worst and we shouldn't be subjected to it.
  3. You catch yourself humming along to the song subconsciously while driving. You didn't notice it had come on while you were trying to figure out how to get to that restaurant for your friend's birthday, but now it's two minutes in and you're...SINGING IT? You realize this, then quickly gasp and let out an "ugh!" dripping with shame and anger before turning the channel.
  4. You've begun thinking twice before turning the channel when it comes on. You reach for the presets out of instinct, but you decide against it. You might bob your head a little bit. Sing along to parts of the chorus. You start hating yourself a little bit inside for giving way.
  5. You suddenly realize you know all the words to the first verse and the chorus. What is happening to you? The song comes on and your heart flutters a bit. You haven't heard it in a few days and you refuse to download it out of principle, so you throw caution to the wind and belt it out in your car. No one is there to see your utter betrayal of convictions anyway.
  6. You see that you must now make a choice. You either like this song enough to admit it--even download it, or you go back to refusing to listening to it. If you truly don't like it, that is. Which you don't. Right? But you can't just never listen to it again. You would miss it. Why? That's right, because you, dear one, LIKE. THIS. SONG. Now hang your head in shame and walk to your computer, pull up iTunes and hit "purchase," because you have just been seduced by a pop song.

This has happened to me on several occasions. And since I have historically been unwilling to swallow my pride when it comes to these things, I typically just go on acting like I still don't like it when really my heart is changing. This continues until I can no longer deny it and I either have to cave and download it or just shrug and sing along in the car, because at this point, I know all the lyrics.

[True story: my husband once gifted me a song on iTunes so I wouldn't have to abandon my principles and download it myself. I'm not saying I'm proud of it. But I am saying my husband humors my insanity, which makes him the greatest.]

Has this ever happened to you? If so, what song? I'll go first: this has happened so many times, but "Super Bass" by Nicki Minaj is the first one that comes to mind. I can now rap the entire thing. And I love it.

JC Chasez Starts a Cult--I Mean Girl Group

Girl-Radical-Feature Once upon a time, there was a man named JC Chasez. As an adolescent, JC was on top of the world. Spiked hair, four best friends, dream job and ladies everywhere he looked. Yes, JC was living the dream. Until one day around 2003 he woke up. His best friend had abandoned him for a solo career, and there was nothing left to do but make it on his own.

A failed solo career and a few hosting gigs later, JC Chasez is back. And not just because N*Sync might be performing at the VMA's (Remember the VMA's? Is this them trying to get us to remember the VMA's?).

JC Chasez has formed a girl group.

Unfortunately he is not part of this group, but he is the orchestrator, and it has what appears to be about 800 members.

The group is called Girl Radical, and according to their website it's inspired by the success of Japanese giant girl groups (these sound only vaguely familiar to me) and is "part flash mob, part girl group, all personality."

...

Sorry I'm back I just had to go vomit real quick. Really? PART FLASH MOB? I thought we were done with flash mobs?! Why are you doing this to us, JC? Are you trying to outdo James Franco? This really feels like a James Franco kind of move. (Heads up: you will never out-crazy James Franco.)

What makes this whole operation even more Franco-esque is the fact that, according to this article, the girls actually changed their last name to "Radical." Not necessarily legally, but it is what they are going by. Additionally the member put together a video for James Franco I mean JC Chasez' birthday thanking him for all he's done for them (NEWSFLASH: you are not Beyonce yet) and are we not getting a little bit nervous at this point?

And it's all for THIS. This is the kind of nonsense this group churns out:

First of all, they are all singing in unison, and to the regular radio track in which the vocals are STILL THERE. First rule of karaoke is you cannot sing OVER TOP of the original vocals. Second of all, look how much those people hate their lives. That is because of YOU, Girl Radical. That's on you. Third of all, that song? Really?

This is their first music video. A cover of "Just a Girl" by No Doubt. Hold onto your butts, anyone who respects the art of music, because it's a doozy:

I feel like as a woman they want me to be all "Yeah! You go! Girl Power! Spice up your life!" But I JUST CAN'T because it is SO awful.

1) The arrangement, I just…no. 2) The rapping, no even more. 3) They are terrible lip syncers. 4) Why do they look like I bought a variety pack of the same woman prototype? 5) YOU STOP DOING THIS TO GWEN STEFANI. What did she ever do to you? You are not even perpetuating what this song is about. She would be appalled. APPALLED, I say. SHE is "Girl Power!" YOU are "Please stop trying to represent women because I did not ask for this." She is awesome and you are the worst.

Additionally let me just say that this many women cannot be in a group together and remain all smiley and "these women are my BAST frands" (noted in the JC Birthday video). It will not work. It's science. Women do not just…get along…like that. Especially considering the amount of insecurity trapped within any given one of these girls. Have these people ever seen The Bachelor? This is why the guys leave The Bachelorette with all 25 of them being Bros 4 Lyfe and the girls might find one person they take Instagrams with but other than that, no. That never happens. Not even in non-hollywood life. I'm not saying it's a bad thing. I'm just saying it's a thing. Groups of about 5 or less and we're done here. After that it starts splitting into cliques and it's all downhill from there.

Mark my words: this will not end well.

But hey all ol' JC would have to do is get a few other beautiful women with long hair, varying ethnicities and about 5' 9" and no one would ever notice.

So in conclusion, JC Chasez started a delusional girl group that is really more like a mini-cult.

Is this or is this not the most awful thing you've ever seen?

Thanks to Jackson Pearce for alerting me to this ridiculousness. You should follow her, by the way. She is an author and she is funny.

Confession: I'm Tired of Bruno Mars

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Y'all, I have a confession: I am tired of Bruno Mars.

Yes, he's talented and whatever but I'm just over it.

It's just, he's on every radio station at all times, and I don't think I can take it anymore.

When I first heard about Bruno Mars, I liked him a lot. He was a songwriter for the stars so you know he's talented, and he's coming out from behind the scenes to make it on his own. I appreciate this approach and like that the people behind the hits are emerging to sing their songs themselves (see also: Jessie J).

First he was featured on a B.o.B. song, which I mean, can't go wrong there. I'm on board. Then "Just The Way You Are" came out and he was unavoidable. No matter. It's catchy and he can sing, plus it was an adorable song about liking a woman just the way she is and what girl doesn't want to hear that, y'know?

I really got on board during the "Grenade" season. I mean yes, I heard it until my ears bled, but it was a solid song, especially when sung acoustically on youtube. By him, that is. Not by every 18 year old with a guitar and a webcam. If I heard it today on my way home I would not change the channel.

But then came "The Lazy Song" in which he references throwing his hand down his pants and later mentioning just casually having "some really nice sex" and I was like, okay, Bruno, just because this has that generic happy ukelele accompaniment and sounds all innocent does not mean you can throw those kinds of phrases in there and still seem like a respectable musician who like, yeah, he's a pop star, but really he's a songwriter first, y'know? No. I revoke that privilege. You are now a full blown pop star, just like the rest of them.

That is when it started to derail for me.

Glee started singing every one of his songs, including "Marry Me" which is kind of adorable but you can't just be adorable and then sing about putting your hand down your pants and not expect me to be disgusted by you.

I mean just pick a lane, Bruno Mars. Am I mad at Kanye for being a douche? No, because he owns it. I'm mad at you because you try to act like this sensitive songwriter type who gets women and then churn out crap like that. Not allowed.

Then you're back with "Locked Out of Heaven" which is a fantastic song musically but also kind of sleezy in lyrical content and further adds to my iffy stance on how to feel about you. Again I say, PICK A LANE.

Then comes that song about how you should've bought your girlfriend flowers and paid more attention to her and we're supposed to sympathize with you and think you're sweet? Uh no, Bruno mars, because YOU'RE RIGHT. YOU SHOULD HAVE DONE THOSE THINGS. But you didn't, and life has consequences. You can't just sing sappy songs about it and expect her (or us) to feel sorry for you and have other girls come fall at your feet and then treat them the exact same way because I assume writing a song does not change behavior.

It's not like you finished it out with "I know I have been selfish but I learned from my experience and went to therapy and everything and now I'm totally ready to be in a mature adult relationship and do things like make budgets and cut in when we paint so my wife can use the roller because she likes it better and clean out the litter box even though I did it last time just because I know it makes her gag."

No, you did not say that, Bruno, and I'm willing to bet it's not just because it would be a terrible rhyme. I'm pretty sure you would treat the next girl the same way because you literally just got done rambling on about how some girl's sex takes you to paradise so you need to slow your roll a bit there, guy.

I'm just saying Bruno Mars is kind of like that guy in high school who makes all the girls swoon but screws them over and moves on to the next one but the new girls won't believe the ex-girlfriends because they think they're just jealous but really it's just that Bruno is kind of a douche.

I don't like wishy-washy is all I'm saying. It's "Grenade" or "Lazy Song," okay? Just pick one and I'm good. Or just cover that one Amy Winehouse song over and over because I was totally on board with that.

I will give him props for his choreographed band (present in the Amy Winehouse cover video linked above). They dance in perfect sync while playing things like bass and trombone. I'm not mad at that.

I feel like I got off track assessing his character from song lyrics, but seriously, the dude is everywhere and my ears are weary of that slightly hoarse R&B tenor of his.

How do you feel about Bruno Mars? Secretly sleezy or genuinely charming? 

P.S. I found out in researching a bit for this post that Bruno Mars' real name is Peter Gene Hernandez. And he is only three years older than me. #depressingfacts

We Might Be Rid of Chris Brown Forever (Ev-Ev-Ever)

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Step away from the puppy, Chris Brown.

YOU GUYS. Rejoice with me.

This could be it.

You know how in the future we'll be all like, "hey remember the last time you saw Chris Brown?" and the other person will be like "Y'know, I don't! It's been so long...when was that...2013?"

THIS IS THAT TIME.

And praise the Lord for that. After much long-suffering on the public's part - watching through weekly run-ins with the boys in blue, Twitter battles, assault charges, and terrible music to boot - I think we deserve a break.

In fact I think we've deserved a break for a long time. Ever since I wrote this post in APRIL OF 2012 asking him to reign it in. Or at least stop throwing stuff.

The day might be finally glittering on the horizon, like a Hawaiian sunset of peace and joy and happiness that simultanously silences a psychotic rapper.

That's the dream.

That one day Chris Brown will just be that guy who hurt Rihanna (how dare he) and nothing more.

His tweets (via Huffington Post, not my Twitter feed, to be clear) indicate that he will probably hang up his wifebeater after his next studio album, "X," which comes out Aug. 20.

He goes on to say that this is because he is tired of being known for a "mistake" he made when he was 18.

chris brown tweet quitting music

I get it. It kind of sucks for you. But how about thinking twice before beating up a woman, okay? And think three times before doing it to a famous woman. And think four times to realize that you, too, are famous and are in a highly-publicised relationship and OF COURSE it will ruin your life.

Also it's not just the Rihanna incident. It's the endless parade of crazytown that the Rihanna incident launched. It's the chair-throwing. It's the fits of rage. It's the "altercation" after "altercation." NO. Just NO.

Plus you did that in 2009, okay? 2009 was not that long ago. Four years. So yes, you made a mistake when you were 18, but you are now only 22, ok? Also being 18 is not an excuse. Look at the world. Millions of 18 year olds NOT beating people up. Sure there are a few that probably are, but the overwhelming majority is NOT getting arrested for giving Rihanna a black eye, okay? So don't act like this is just some phase 18 year olds go through. NEWSFLASH: It's not.

While we're at it, same goes to you, Biebs. Just because I will continue to root for you and hope you turn your own personal crazytrain around does not mean I will stand for your behavior and the fact that it gets written off as you just "being 19." NO. Again, SEVERAL 19 year olds are walking around every day, NOT peeing in buckets. I'm just saying.

[RECORD SCRATCH] Update, 9:16 a.m.: I just did the math (and went to Wikipedia) and he is most definitely 24. And this most definitely happened in 2009. YOU WERE NOT EVEN 18. So on top of everything else, he's a liar. In case you were wondering.

So in conclusion, Chris Brown, it's been fun (not really), but get on up outta here. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Do you think he has a point or do you think he needs to leave us alone already? Who else do you think should throw in the towel?

Country Music: The Potluck of Genres

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I wanted to come to you today with a theory I've been developing for a while. This is the product of years of extensive research (read: being alive) and studying (read: listening to music). I haven't presented it to any institutions for publication yet, but I think it's pretty well supported by empirical evidence.

Before I submit this theory to an academic journal, I thought I would make my case to you.

My theory is this: country music is the most blindly accepting of all genres.

Gone are the days in which you must be an old white guy wearing cowboy hat singing about a dead dog or whatever.

Country music's "come one, come all" attitude allows them to welcome anyone with any semblance of notoriety or a good publicist and play the crap out of them on the radio.

Did you win American Idol? Come on over. Did you win American Idol after the three original judges had left and are like 12 years old? Door's open. Been around for 30 years and still cranking out music? You make it, we'll play it. Change your name to Chris Gaines but decide maybe it wasn't the best idea after all? Welcome back. Collaborate with Nelly? Why not? Used to be in a 90's alt band and go by the name Hootie? We've got a seat for you right here. Gradually shift from singing about Tim McGraw to wearing eyeliner and putting dubstep beats in your songs? Sure.

Literally anyone or anything can be played on country music, as long as there is at least one banjo or mandolin involved (or were involved at one point but now you're Taylor Swift and you do what you effing want).

I am continually surprised at what the country genre will put up with. Exhibit A: Darius Rucker is NOT GOOD AT COUNTRY, you guys.* It's just not his thing. Why can't you guys just tell him to go home already? He had a string of hits in the late 90's. He's Hootie, for crying out loud. HE CAN HANDLE IT. Don't patronize him (ahem, BACHELORETTE). Break it to him gently and get him out of here.

I just found out that he currently has a hit with "Wagon Wheel," which is not even his song and is not even as good as the version I saw Old Crow Medicine Show perform in a random field on Saturday night with my parents (a story for another time).

Sidebar: If Country isn't careful it's going to turn into the Christian music industry, churning out 90 different versions of the same song yearly. I can say this because I know people who are in the Christian music industry and complain about the same exact thing. So it's LEGIT, y'all.

This guy could literally go around to clubs all over these United States and play all of his Hootie hits and no one would even be mad about it. So let's stop acting like Darius Rucker needs the work, okay? Just let take off the cowboy hat and walk away with some of his dignity left intact before the academy retroactively revokes his 1996 Grammy for Best New Artist.

The country music industry lets white males wearing clothes manufactured by a hunting company inexplicably rap in the middle of their songs.

They allow people to sing about recreational drug use and Jesus on the same track. While we're at it, they allowed someone to sing about Jesus taking the wheel and everyone was okay with it (This would never happen anywhere else. Probably not even in Christian music because it had like too many notes in the melody or something).

They are the only genre that permitted Kid Rock to create more music after screaming about God knows what in 1998, AND enabled him to sing a duet with Sheryl Crow, who used to kind of be like a cool alt singer/songwriter in the 90s and now she's like easy listening but she somehow STILL passes as a country artist.

On the flip side they allow artists like The Civil Wars to be played somewhere other than our Nashville indie radio station. They give Lady Antebellum an outlet and let people who can actually sing just...sing.

When you fling the doors wide open to anyone and everyone, there's bound to be a few good ones slip through, I suppose.

But come on. Kid Rock? Whose idea was that?

Do you listen to country music? Why or why not? Also--that Chris Gaines thing--weird, right?

*I legit went to see Hootie and the Blowfish play once in college (in like 2008, to be clear) and half the songs were terrible country jams and distinctively NOT "Hold My Hand" or "Let Her Cry." I was sorely disappointed.