Eponymous Gangster Week Begins: Don’t Call me Bulger…Whitey

It was a good run.

From May 2 to June 22, I shared a last name with number one most wanted man in America (alphabetically: the list isn’t weighted by severity of crime, despite how that would make for a fun debate about whether wiretapping was worse than extortion and whatnot).

Continue reading “Eponymous Gangster Week Begins: Don’t Call me Bulger…Whitey”

Pop! Week Continues with Errata: Three Surprise Britney Spears Songs

You remember those old TV commercials where they switch a fancy restaurant’s coffee with folger’s crystals or something and then at the end, the camera crew comes up to the fancy pants patrons and is all “you’ve been drinking shitty coffee this whole time.”

Those commercials were awesome. Now they’re gone. Alas. Or maybe they’re on YouTube. Hooray!

Continue reading “Pop! Week Continues with Errata: Three Surprise Britney Spears Songs”

Pop! Week Continues with Britney Spears: The Girl Who Wasn’t There

Remember a couple of years ago when Britney Spears got herself elected the Mayor of Crazytown? One day she was this virginal sex symbol with Republican undertones and an airtight public image, the next she was married to and divorced from a shifty looking back-up dancer, bare-foot, puffy and bald, running through gas stations and, presumably, a lot of money. It was pretty much the best.

Celebrity gawking is a time and soul killer, but the Britney goes crazy storyline was just so grabby. It was like the Albert Goldman’s Elvis bio chapter “The Fun Years,” only in public, in real time and with elevated tension because of gender and how passive Spears seemed throughout the whole thing. Continue reading “Pop! Week Continues with Britney Spears: The Girl Who Wasn’t There”

Pop! Week Continues with Katy Perry: the Almost Generic Brunette


Katy Perry, AKA the hot one, AKA the not-blonde.

Katy Perry finally won me over with “Extraterrestrial.” The track is something of an anomaly in her catalogue of hits. There’s nothing exactly understated about it, but within context, it’s a pretty subtle song. It wasn’t until it was over that I figured out which part was the chorus.

Until then, I thought she was too obvious, too calculated, and wrote her off. Her other songs are like martial beats and shouted choruses. From bikini tops to fireworks to Sapphic kisses, everything! Gets! An! Exclamation Point! In the world of Katy Perry.Continue reading “Pop! Week Continues with Katy Perry: the Almost Generic Brunette”

Pop! Week: Context is King, Context is Killer

I am in my 30s and I listen to more pop music than I ever have before.

I don’t listen to a ton of it. In the car, I gravitate towards silence and news. Partly, that’s because the joy of discovery of new music fades with age. Partly, I feel like it’s because I’ve heard too much music, and remembered too much about it to really get passionate about something new. I catalogued and organized so much music in my head when I was genuinely passionate about music that now everything I hear gets put into little boxes.

But the lack of passion has one benefit. I don’t have the same prejudices I used to about pop music. Like I don’t care if its pop or underground or whatever. Britney Spears sounds more experimental and wild to me than most college rock, and my rockist allegiances have switched polarities. White dudes in their early 20s with guitars bore the shit out of me now. Guitar riffs sound like jokes from ‘80s sitcoms. Continue reading “Pop! Week: Context is King, Context is Killer”

Pop! Week Continues with Ke$ha: Dirty Blonde

Spitting Disco“Yikes. Whatever 55-year-old Tin Pan Alley hack wrote the lyrics for this one really needs to brush up on his contemporary pop culture references.” – me upon hearing the line “But we kick em to the curb unless they look like Mick Jagger” in Kesha’s “Tik Tok.”

How annoying is Ke$ha? Less annoying than you might think. But still pretty fucking annoying.

Continue reading “Pop! Week Continues with Ke$ha: Dirty Blonde”

Pop! Week Goes Gaga, Part 2

“Born this Way” is not only the worst song of Lady Gaga’s career, it’s going to be the soundtrack for some of the worst parties in America for years to come.

Here’s how that’s gonna go:

OK, everybody thanks for showing up for the LGBT freshmen coalition party planning committee. There’s going to be a free screening of “Boys in the Band” in the common area, followed by a no judge, just hugs dialoguing session about creating a safe place on campus. Then we’re all going to talk about what we can do to fight AIDs. So let’s get this party started (“Born This Way” mournfully bleats out of an Apple laptop.)

The song sounds like it was written to be used in a parade. It’s big and brassy and obviously meant to be uplifting. So obviously it was doomed to fail.Continue reading “Pop! Week Goes Gaga, Part 2”

Pop! Week Goes Gaga, Part 1

Like most of the rest of America, I am strongly reconsidering my love affair with Lady Gaga.

The first blush of bad romance (I know: ouch, right?) was intense, accompanied by feelings of giddiness and rushes of new, intense pleasure. She was a post-modern pop girl, a smart person’s take on Britney Spears. She performed dance pop songs that pulled in abrasive sounds and a grittier than usual subject matter (her breakout hit “Just Dance” is told from the point of view of a club girl too intoxicated to function; it’s a pretty unglamorous scene for a top 40 hit). She wore funny costumes and cavorted like every day was high art Halloween. And, hey, ha-ha, it turns that behind all the flash, she’s this great piano player and singer.Continue reading “Pop! Week Goes Gaga, Part 1”