Atmospherics: Hot 100 Roundup—10/26/13


It’s not fair to blast Eminem for his bad taste in rock and roll. Most rappers, black or white, lean toward lugubrious power chords, and as far as I know only Ice-T has ever been able to make anything worthwhile out of it. That doesn’t mean Eminem gets a free pass for his latest foray into heavy metal social Darwinism. It just means there’s as little point in thinking about it as there is in listening to it

Miley Cyrus
“Adore You”, #42
“Drive”, #87
“Someone Else”, #93

Performance antics aside, what’s most interesting about this stage of Cyrus’s career is how atmospheric her music has become. The first verse of “Adore” is one long moan, and neither “Drive” nor “Someone Else” settle down into safe pop balladry the way you expect. Part of this, of course, is due to Mike Will’s production combined with Cyrus’s apparent desire to be a white version of Rihanna. But it’s also a natural fit with Cyrus’s smokey, hardened voice. Rihanna is a perfect model for her, because they share the same seemingly unemotional, stolid quality, though Cyrus’s history as an actor probably gives her an advantage in the faking it department. Which isn’t to suggest that Cyrus is as good as Rihanna can be at her best–at times the atmosphere in these records turns into a heavy fog that Cyrus gets lost in — but she’s headed in the right direction.

Pitbull featuring Ke$ha—“Timber”

Pitbull’s best in a while, thanks to Ke$ha, whose I-could-give-a-shit attitude is almost the opposite of Pitbull’s desire to please the entire world at once. Each is almost the perfect corrective for the other. Fun beat, too.

Pearl Jam—“Sirens”

It’s not like Eddie Vedder just discovered death, but he sounds like a man who’s beginning to understand what it means, a realization that for the first time allows him to make something meaningful out of it. This is no breakthrough musically—there’s nothing here that you haven’t heard before—and there’s no way it could be a hit, but it strikes me as a big moment for Vedder and Pearl Jam. “Sirens” isn’t brilliant, but it’s a lot closer than they’ve ever been before. They could base the rest of their career on it.

Glee Cast—“Make You Feel My Love”

K. Michelle—“V.S.O.P.”

I love the Chi-Lites sample, too, but I ‘d love it even more if the Chi-Lites were singing over it, singing one of Eugene Record’s songs. Michele is a fine enough singer, I suppose, but V.S.O.P. isn’t a very good song. It doesn’t have much of a melody, for one thing, which forces Michelle to resort to all sorts of vocal tricks to create a hook, and you can hear the strain. It’s good but hardly a masterpiece, and all the classic samples in the world won’t make it one.

Jake Owen—“Days of Gold”

“Days of Gold” is as well put together as any country rock you’re ever going to hear—that is, it actually rocks—and just as meaningless. Owen seems to have everything he needs to become a major figure in country music except brains. Ain’t that always the way?

Miranda Lambert—“All Kinds of Kinds”

“All Kinds of Kinds” is like an introductory primer to Lambert’s music, sounding as if it were designed for those who aren’t yet ready for the real thing. For the real thing, of course, they’d need to go back in time to Kerosene, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and the better parts of Revolution. They’re certainly not going to find it here. It’s not quite self-parody but it’s stepping mighty close.

Chase Rice—“Ready Set Roll”

It takes a magnificent level of chutzpah to preface a standard piece of good ol’ boy country rock with a Daft Punk imitation even wimpier than the originals, so I’ll give Rice a certain amount of credit. But the song itself is so lame Rice’s premature bandwagon jumping (country EDM is years, if not decades, away) means nothing.