As their craft improves their energy, though still strong, becomes more streamlined and automatic, and less interesting. This is above-average pop-metal, but if the song weren’t so obviously about the band’s fractious split last year, would anybody care?
Brad Paisley with Carrie Underwood—”Remind Me”
Frustrating. It’s a good idea for a song, the chorus is cute and catchy, and Paisley’s first guitar solo is as erotic as country ever gets. But Paisley loses control of this record somehow, which is rare for him. By the end, the arrangement seems designed to drown out the singers, and since we’re talking about Carrie Underwood, more drowning out is required than normal ears can stand; some of her high notes are so piercing they could be used in invisible fencing systems.
A gimmicky confection based on what I assume is a Euro-disco sample, which, coming from Pitbull, is just about my favorite sub-genre right now. It gets a bit tiresome when you sit and listen, but I bet it kills on the dance floor. Pitbull isn’t a genius, but he knows what he wants and he knows how to get it. His single-mindedness may be his greatest virtue.
I’ve been debating whether I should refuse to comment on The Voice singles the same way I have Glee, and this record, horrible in every way, certainly makes me lean in that direction. I understand the power of television to make hits, but this, even more than Glee, is an unjustifiable waste of time and energy. It isn’t a waste of talent though, because no actual talent is involved.
Selena Gomez & the Scene—”Bang Bang Bang”
What has always separated producers Tim James and Antonina Armato (otherwise known, unfortunately, as Rockmafia) from their Disney-pop colleagues is the undercurrent of smoldering eroticism that runs through their music. Even though they’re making straight pop records in a time of excess, they almost always keep their cool, and rarely overplay their hand. Gomez, it turns out, is the perfect delivery system for their brand of low-key sensuality: relaxed, knowing, and all-powerful without once raising her voice or engaging in meaningless melisma, she sounds more mature and experienced than not only her own 18 years, but than most 30-year-olds. The obvious double entendre of the title may make the message too clear, but even without it everyone would know exactly what this guy will be missing. And yet radio still treats Gomez like she’s kid’s stuff.
Toby Keith—”Made In America”
In a way it’s a relief that Keith saved his jingoistic nonsense for the fourth or fifth single off his new album. He’s probably as tired of this stuff as most everyone else, and only does it because it’s expected of him. If the earlier tracks had been more successful he probably wouldn’t have released this as a single at all. But here it is all the same, another stolid piece of propaganda, country-style, all about the patriotic act of paying a little more for locally produced goods (maybe he should join the locavore movement). Odd exception: the King James bible. Keith must know that’s not really an American product, right?
Gavin DeGraw—”Not Over You”
Ryan Tedder, as producer, continues his way down the pop music foodchain and finds a willing victim in DeGraw, who hasn’t had a decent hit since his debut six years ago and welcomes Tedder and his echoey drums with open arms. The result is old-school faux-soulful sincerity updated with new-school faux-soulful sincerity. Just what we’ve all been waiting for.
Reviewed in Bubbling Under, 5/28/11
Martina McBride—”Teenage Daughters”
Reviewed in Bubbling Under, 4/16/11