One of those weeks where nothing is great, but nothing is horrible, either. That doesn’t mean it’s all mediocre, just that the good stuff is rarely more than that, and the bad stuff doesn’t make you feel nauseous. It all congregates near the middle of the probability curve, just the way it’s supposed to. It’s not exciting, but it’s the way it is.
Tyga featuring Rick Ross—“Dope”
There are so many excellent beats out there, and so few excellent rappers. Tyga is fine, though he relies on crudity more than he needs to and references too many other rappers to make himself look cool. Rick Ross just sounds tired. Which leaves us with that ominous beat. It’s a great beat, to be sure, but I don’t think it’s enough.
Miranda Lambert—“Mama’s Broken Heart”
One of the best tracks from 4 the Record, with an intro that, surprisingly, brings the sound of dub, or at least the punk rock version, into country. Co-written by Kacey Musgraves (“Merry Go-Round”) and a couple of other people who aren’t Lambert but are following her blueprint, “Mama’s Broken Heart” is good, but it’s not Lambert-level good. If she’s going to set up her own songwriting workshop to provide her with material Lambert couldn’t do better than Musgraves, but it’s still going to sound secondhand if all her writers do is copy what she’s done before. Lambert’s found her sound and now, aside from the Pistol Annies, she’s playing it safe. She’d be better off stepping a little further afield.
Kid Ink featuring Meek Mill & Wale—“Bad Ass”
The beat is insane, but only Meek Mill makes the most of it, with a rap that, rhythmically at least, is almost as crazy. Wale, as usual, sounds lost. As for Kid Ink, I assume he got his name from his tattoos, not his writing skills. I’d love to hear some better rappers freestyle over this, though.
Florida Georgia Line—“Get Your Shine On”
“Cruise”, which is still in the top forty, has a rough energy that wipes away its weaknesses and clichés. This is smoother, less energetic, and all cliché. I hope they’ll be able to figure out why this won’t be as big a hit as “Cruise”, but I wouldn’t count on it. That kind of thing rarely happens on purpose, and is generally impossible to recreate.
Chris Cagle—“Let There Be Cowgirls”
I like the conceit of this, especially the detail of the angels demanding God make cowgirls and that they be “strong as any man”, but it’s really just an excuse for Cagle to turn up the mediocre hair metal. The result, witty though it sometimes is, is sludgy and dull by the end. It has its moments, like the whistle that interrupts the final riff, but those aren’t enough to save it. And the second verse makes it sound like Cagle could have another career writing Harlequin Romances.
Pitbull featuring Christina Aguilera—“Feel This Moment”
Pitbull not only isn’t ashamed of his commercial aspirations and how foolish he’s willing to act to achieve them, he’s proud. It’s taken him a long time to learn how to build a record that will appeal to every possible fan base, and he intends to take advantage of that knowledge, even if it means lifting one of the most recognizable and obvious hooks of the last thirty years to do it. His last three singles have seemed random in approach, but who knows, maybe there’s some strange plan behind them. So far he’s sampled Mickey and Sylvia, Toots and the Maytals, and now a-ha. How many different demographics can you capture that way? Is Glenn Miller next? Plan or not, though, it doesn’t seem to be working. None of Pitbull’s recent singles has made top ten, and the latest debuting at 99 isn’t a hopeful sign. Maybe that’s why Christina Aguilera’s chorus is about death. Talk about covering all your demographic bases.