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Notebook: The enemies of pop music

Capitol

By Gregory Hicks, Daily Arts Writer
Published February 1, 2013

It’s a genre that inspires musical creativity and innovation decade after decade, but pop is a moth to a flame for sellouts — lest we forget pop is an abbreviation for popular. Let’s take a look at three artists who have recently contributed most to slandering the name of pop music by transforming it into an uninvolved, oversimplified genre.

Taylor Swift

It seemed as though Taylor Swift was set to be the next Michelle Branch — a 16-year-old songwriting prodigy who would crank out three quality albums, filled to the brim with hits, then settle in for an early retirement. If only.

Swift’s sincerity, intricacy and success of Speak Now left fans more than content as they watched their girl Taylor grow up. But with the release of her follow-up album, Red, fans instead got The Curious Case of Taylor Swift — the story of a girl whose music and maturity ages backwards.

After the release of “We Are Never Ever (Going to Grow Up)” and “I Knew You Were (Going to Sellout),” Taylor Synth had been lost to the dark side. Electronic production might be new for you, Taylor, but it’s the same as everybody else’s hits. Insert obligatory “she’s also working with hit-maker Max Martin” comment.

The influx of unoriginality introduced since Dub Swift’s shift to full-blown pop is a major contributor to the defamation of pop music. Most recently, Swift has gained attention for copying Lana Del Rey’s “Ride” music video, inspiring listeners to begin extensive research to figure out who Lana Del Rey is.

Nicki Minaj

Minaj entered the rap world and had some large shoes to fill after the disappearance (or death, for all we know) of Lil’ Kim; surely enough though, she was filling them. The quirky Young Money rapper quickly became the hype of every song’s bridge.

But Minaj was sick of being stuck in other artists’ verses, and that’s when “Super Basic” happened. Nicki liked the view from the Top 10, and from that point decided she was done being a bottom feeder of the charts. Immediately, Minaj got in touch with Lady Gaga’s go-to producer, RedOne, as well as other hit-maker songwriters.

After stealing Gaga’s producing crew, she moved on to stealing her wardrobe, and thus “Roman” was born. Who is Roman? Roman is an alter ego — a completely original concept that has never been done before, especially not by Beyoncé.

“Stupid Hoe,” the self-titled promotional single for Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, flopped and made way for “Starships” and “Pound the Alarm,” the overproduced (i.e. RedOne) dubstep tracks that stayed in the Top 40 for an eternity. Nicki even sang them herself, rather than taking credit for Ester Dean’s voice, like in “Super Bass.”

Despite hijacking Britney Spears’s Femme Fatale tour and snagging a seat at the judge’s table on American Idol (i.e. Camp Mariah), Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded didn’t meet the quota for album sales, thus leading to its album re-release, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded — The Re-Up, with eight new tracks (because apparently 22 songs on the original album wasn’t enough). Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded — Giving It One More Try also undersold, so Minaj pointed a finger at Target for not carrying the album.

Hopefully Minaj’s singles are enjoying the Top 40, because the hatred generated from rap fans who despise pop and pop fans who despise rap is enough to last a lifetime.

Katy Perry

Katy Perry: Part of Me 3D was a major eye opener into Perry’s musical background, for the 15 Americans that witnessed the film.

In short, the movie is a history of how Perry went from being a female rock singer striving to become the next Alanis Morissette, to becoming a chart-topping, pure-pop artist, all centered around the theme of staying true to yourself as an artist. Right.

Let’s look at One of the Boys. Based on “One of the Boys,” “I Kissed a Girl,” “Ur So Gay” and “Waking Up in Vegas,” it seemed edgy, and she wrote half of the album herself with only a few songs by Max Martin and Dr. Luke. Perry looked like a pop-rocker who actually had some artistry.

Let’s look at Teenage Dream. No songs written by Perry, nearly every song written by Dr. Luke and Max Martin (also executive producers of the album), and barely a hint of rock. Perry doesn’t hesitate to claim that she wrote all of the album’s tracks, however.

On top of that, every single is remixed until it becomes a No. 1 song. “The (Number) One That Got Away” was remixed three times in desperation to become her sixth No. 1 single from the album. It didn’t happen.

Upon hearing that Dr. Luke was undergoing a contract negotiation to work strictly with artists signed to a Sony record label — not her Capitol record deal — Perry threw together every unreleased Dr. Luke song she had, in preparation for an album re-release Teenage Dream: The Complete Desperation.

Included in this re-release was the single “Part of Me,” a song disguised to be in context with her divorce, even though a demo of the song leaked two years before her divorce.

Days after Lady Gaga announced that underground producer-DJ “Zedd” would be producing her 2013 album ARTPOP, Katy Perry announced that Zedd would also be producing her new record — a “darker” album titled Darkest of Nights, a try-hard contrast to Teenage Dream. Don’t hurt yourself, Katy.


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