Pop. The dirty word. Vocal tracks autotuned beyond redemption, beyond the assimilation of your taste or mine, as if we’re pointing out the faint and charcoaled outlines of the criminals strung up at the crossroads – beyond the city walls and left to carrion. Beyond, as if integrity of our soundtrack is somehow breached, unambiguously, by saccharine love-bites and the fake sentiment of pop music. Glorious, disposable pop music.
The other day I happened to mention in passing that ‘Firework’ by Katy Perry – one of the songs lounging beneath the words – is one of the finest pop singles of the last twenty years. To which someone emailed in (lazerguidedmelody <at> gmail.com) to register a groan. Fair enough – regulars will attest to the fact that this blog is no stranger to forced humour or blatant sarcasm in lieu of anything of value to say… although the primary weakness of such a writing technique is that when perfectly serious, it’s easy for each reader to acknowledge a double meaning that isn’t actually present – ‘Firework’ genuinely is a fantastic record, principally because it’s all the things that detractors of pop music point out when it’s late at night and we’re having this conversation in a bar (see also ‘What You’re Waiting For’ By Gwen Stefani; or ‘Sound Of The Underground’ by Girls Aloud).
Because the finest pop music contains exactly what’s detailed on the wrapper; it’s dumb, joyous, celebratory in its one-dimensional, mainstream appeal. When targeted towards the mass market it’s cynical to the point of borderline exploitative, smeared by the greasy fingerprints of a shadowy cabal of song-writers, producers and the marketing department – yet when the song works it does so in spite of this, flaunting its lowest common denominator appeal and the fact that it’s produced to within a fibre of it existence then over-produced some more. Pop music at its best is inane, insubstantial, trite, lacking in integrity, and manufactured with bad chemicals and even worse ju-ju. But it’s also alive at that very instant, giving not a second thought to vague concepts of tomorrow. It’s why – when it works – I love it.
(It also doesn’t give a flying fuck what the detractors may say).
Meanwhile, and if you still insist I’m toying with audience perception, that my reputation for elitism and snobbish epithets remains unsullied, then the track hiding beneath Ms Perry’s opus might be of more interest… the depth and warped gravitas of The Third Eye Foundation – dance to that, fuckers.
Katy Perry / Firework
The Third Eye Foundation / Still Life