Billboard Hot 100 Top 10: Week of October 8, 2011

It's time to check back in with Billboard and see what the masses are listening to this month.

10. "Sexy and I Know It" by LMFAO
Apparently these crazy kids are at it again, this time with something more blandly typical of the group. There isn't really a hook, and I would not recommend watching the music video. Seriously.

9. "You Make Me Feel..." by Cobra Starship featuring Sabi
I can't lie to you kids, this song is my new jam, and I can't stop listening to it. Unlike LMFAO's "Sexy and I Know It," its electronic flavor works and backs up a well written pop song. And don't even get me started on how much I love the disco guitar strums in the second verse. DON'T EVEN GET ME STARTED.

8. "Yoü and I" by Lady Gaga
Is anyone else freaked out that she has a version for your own hometown? In Seattle, she's actually singing about Seattle on Seattle radio and it weirds me out because HOW DOES SHE KNOW. Also, this isn't helping the fact that I find her to be just as mercenary as any other pop artist. I will admit that I'm delighted to find that "Mutt" Lange still has the late-90s, Shania Twain touch. But then I remember "you" is spelled with a umlaut, and then really I can't decide how I feel about this song.

7. "Cheers (Drink to That)" by Rihanna
Rihanna almost had me convinced I was a fan with dance singles like "Only Girl (In the Word)" and "S&M," but this generic, medium tempo schlock is disappointing. I mean, generic is the name of the pop game, but at least you could leave out A SAMPLE OF AVRIL LAVIGNE FROM "I'M WITH YOU." Ugh. Is that where we are? Sampling Avril Lavigne now?

6. "Lighters" by Bad Meets Evil featuring Bruno Mars
This song still exists.

5. "Stereo Hearts" by Gym Class Heroes featuring Adam Levine
The chorus is still the best part.

4. "Party Rock Anthem" by LMFAO featuring Lauren Bennett and GoonRock
Remember LMFAO's one good song?

3. "Pumped Up Kicks" by Foster the People
Fact: this song has been out for over a year now. That's really all I have to say about it.

2. "Someone Like You" by Adele
I feel like this is one of those songs I would like better if I just had a breakup or was suffering from an epic unrequited love situation and then started weeping loudly for an hour listening to it on repeat shamelessly singing along and using a whole box of Kleenex to clean up the various liquids coming out of my face. As it is, I'm just glad it's not "Rolling in the Deep." And of course Adele sounds great.

1. "Moves Like Jagger" by Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera
Really? Still number 1? The "moooOOOOoooooves" part is damn catchy, and y'all know I'm loving the disco guitar riffs, but it's so random. Whatever, I'll go with random over boring any day.


How to survive grad school: Part 1

Grad school is a great/terrible idea. You can learn more about things you like, make yourself more marketable, and most importantly procrastinate joining the real world. But it takes up all your time, causes you to acquire debt because who can afford this crap?, and may or may not be extremely challenging. I'm 98% done with grad school at this point, so I feel qualified to give some pointers on how to survive. So here is PART 1: TURQUOISE JEEP RECORDS.

Mmmmmmmm, Yung Humma.

What it is
If you haven't heard of Turquoise Jeep Records, you may not spend as much time trading YouTube videos with your friends via Gchat or Facebook as I do. Anyway, it's a collective of R&B and rap artists churning out brilliant and sexy hits that you will never hear on the radio because they are too awesome. This is the TJR's own description:

Turquoise Jeep Records was created for the masses. Traveling around the world we have heard so many songs but no one has been able to catch the people's ears like us.


Really, TJR is a reminder that sleazy and specific R&B is one of the greatest musical genres ever.

How it will help you survive grad school
Instead of procrastinating by staring at the wall, checking Facebook/Twitter every 10 seconds, or wandering to random buildings on campus in the hope that a new location will bring new motivation, watching and rewatching Turquoise Jeep Records videos will bring you so much happiness, you won't care that you'll be failing your midterm the next day. You'll have a Tummiscratch beat stuck in your brain instead.

Not all of their songs are great, but these are 6 of the Jeep's best and brightest.

1. "Fried or Fertilized" by Yung Humma featuring Flynt Flossy and Watchyamacallit
This is probably as good a primer as any of TJR's songs. Catchy, low budget music and video production, weirdly specific sexual references. Let's not talk about how many times I've tried to do the moves in this video.

2. "Can He Move It Like This" by Pretty Raheem featuring Flynt Flossy
For the solid colored suits alone, but stick around for Pretty Raheem and Flynt Flossy's dancing duet at the end.

3. "Go Grad My Belt" by Slick Mahoney
The 4 minutes of falsetto, the offensive sexism, the woman's dead eyes, Slick Mahoney's tortoiseshell glasses, and Tummiscratch's brilliant guitar solo really make this a quality song and video.

4. "Cavities" by Flynt Flossy, Pretty Raheem, and Whatchyamacallit
This song encapsulates why TJR is so brilliant: it sounds like a real song. And damn, it's catchy. But maybe try not to sing it public.

5. "Happy Sexgiving" by Yung Humma featuring WhatchyamacallitThe production values have gone up with the most recent song released by the Jeep, but the background special effects are just as amazing.

6. "Lemme Smang It" by Yung Humma featuring Flynt Flossy
This magical duo does it again in my favorite of all of Turquoise Jeep Record's smangers. It has its own dance and everything.

Keep the Jeep ridin'!


Drive is 2011

We live in a time that self-consciously chooses it's references and influences while keeping out of the genre of parody. Some might call it pastiche, I call it clever. In television, you get Community which subtly and often blaringly uses pop culture references to create an original story. In music, you get synth-heavy bands that recall glossy 80s synth or decades-old dance beats, but feel original for using old technology in new ways. In film, you get Drive (2011) that uses some 80s touches, but doesn't wink at its references. It uses them with a straight face, adding some glitz to a minimalist and dark film that recalls a 60s or 70s thriller more than anything else. The Wikipedia article goes into even more detail of its referential-ness.

The mash-up of eras in and of itself isn't entirely modern, but here are some things Drive manages to do that seem relevant to current pop culture's meta-obsession:

Dress characters in hipster-lite fashion. Maybe it's because I live in Seattle that I think this is relevant because people tend to just wear random crap together that don't make sense because they're pulling from so many different eras. But I mean, you can even shop at Forever 21 and do the same thing. Anyway, it's prevalent. Observe:

Satin jacket, 1980s-does-1950s/60s style? Check.

Floral anything in a flowy/rayon-like fabric from the 90s? Done. (Although looks kind of 40s in influence with the sweetheart neckline. SO MANY ERAS OF FASHION).

Tossing in random 80s shit just because you can. Dare I draw a comparison to the sax solo in "Last Friday Night (TGIF)" and the font choice for Drive's credits?

Hot pink 80s cursive? Check!

Also 80s, the synth-heavy soundtrack. I think the 80s are a particularly rough decade to hearken back to with any degree of restraint given its reputation of being the greediest, tackiest, cocaine-fueled, big hair, glossy-on-the-outside decade ever*, but Drive uses the decade as shorthand for a detached sense of humanity** (is there anything more inhuman than synthesizers?). The music used in the film sound like what many indie bands have been doing for years and many popular artists are currently using: taking back the synth line.

Anyway, my point is this: Drive manages to be the most pop culturally relevant film I've seen since who knows when. People will actually be able to look back at this film and say, "This is so 2010s" without talking about the special effects, use of 3-D, drained color palette, manic pixie dream girl, superhero origin story, or hallow romantic-comedy plot. Well done, Drive.

*Have I mentioned I'm from Generation Y or whatever 80s-born kids are supposed to be?
**That and violence. Lots of it.


I Don't Know How She Does It (2011)

For reasons only known to the unemployed, I started watching Sex and the City, and I was pleasantly surprised to find it wasn't the most painful show I've ever watched. It is a show, however, that suffers from Lead Character is the Worst Syndrome also seen on Grey's Anatomy (I hate that I even know this) and intermittently How I Met Your Mother (Ted, come on). Sarah Jessica Parker's Carrie Bradshaw is one of the worst incarnations of feminine stereotypes I have ever seen. She's insecure, obsessed with men, buys ridiculously expensive shoes she can't afford, and writes a poorly written column (seriously, is that narration supposed to be her column?). Um, at least she seems to be a good listener? Suffice it to say, Miranda or even Charlotte would have been preferable leading ladies to Carrie.

The point is that SJP is essentially playing this same neurotic girl in I Don't Know How She Does It, and it is painful to watch. She's married to cute/adorable Greg Kinnear (playing Nice Guy Kinnear), has two kids, and--watch out--is some sort of finance executive that requires her to travel frequently. And of course she's torn between work and family. And of course she and her husband start big work projects at the same time. And of course she has an almost-romance with Pierce Brosnan. Because that's what neurotic girls do when they aren't embarrassing themselves or CONSTANTLY TALKING/NARRATING about their white people problems like making something for their daughter's bake sale because they remember their mother embarrassing them at their own elementary school bake sale by sending them with cans of fruit (side bar: WHO ARE THESE CHILDREN WHO CARE THIS MUCH ABOUT BAKE SALES, ESPECIALLY YEARS LATER? That mom with canned food was on to something).

Quite frankly, I would have punched Sarah Jessica Parker in the stomach to make her STOP TALKING. It's not charming to be around someone who has overexplain everything, it's obnoxious and exhausting. And even watching this fictional character interact with other fictional characters was exhausting, especially when this fictional character is seriously touting outdated platitudes about how "a woman trying to be a man is a waste of a woman." In the words of my ladyfriend I saw the movie with, this line alone reversed the feminist movement 30 years.

That's not to say the movie didn't have some highlights, mostly in the form of talking head interviews à la Greg Daniels (seriously, who are these women talking to?). Christina Hendricks is adorable no matter what but especially when she's talking feminism in the workplace, and Busy Philipps is funny as the perfect stay-at-home mom who mostly just works out at the gym. But the real highlight (and confusing at that) is Olivia Munn as SJP's assistant. Her strictly-business, career-driven, not-into-kids commentary is humorous (if only because it's in contrast to Parker's inane character talking about how being a wealthy, working mom is so hard), until the film SPOILER decides to make her pregnant and realize that being a mom is aWeSOmE! (cue smug Being a Mom is the Best face from SJP).

Moral of the story: women should never forget they're women and always act like women because who wants to be a man? Amirite, ladies?

Ultimate question: What does Aline Brosh McKenna have against working women who are functional human beings?


Dangerous Mrs. Doubtfire

Tell me Glenn Close and Robin Williams don't look eerily similar in these posters. Is it just me?


Billboard Hot 100 Top 10: Week of August 31, 2011

A month later, and not much has changed. But thank goodness enough has changed for me offer some commentary.

#10 - "Stereo Hearts" by Gym Class Heroes featuring Adam Levine

I hate to admit that a bro-rap band has a half-decent song, but they owe it all to my boyfriend Adam Levine singing the catchy chorus. However, they are still unforgiven for raping Supertramp to create "Cupid's Chokehold/Breakfast in America."

# 9 - "Give Me Everything
" by Pitbull feat. Ne-Yo, Afrojack, and Nayer

Still a solid choice.

#8 - "Good Life" by OneRepublic

Still bland.

#7 - "How to Love" by Lil Wayne

Can't even listen to this crap.

#6 - "Super Bass
" by Nicki Minaj

It grew on me, and then got bad again. Mostly because I can't rap along with Nicki's crazy affectations.

#5 - "Last Friday Night (TGIF)
" by Katy Perry


#4 - "Lighters" by Bad Meets Evil featuring Bruno Mars

I didn't think I knew this song, and then I realized that I always change the station when this song is on. So apparently Eminem and some other dude from Detroit called Royce da 5'9" create "Bad Meets Evil." And then they decided they needed a crappy/generic chorus from Bruno Mars. Eh.

#3 - "Pumped Up Kicks" by Foster the People

Hey boyfriends, apparently you're a success now that you're not just on the alternative stations. Glad to see the popular kids will be singing about gun violence, too.

Side note: the lead singer is just as goofy and awesome in concert as he is in this video.

#2 - "Party Rock Anthem" by LMFAO feat. Lauren Bennett and GoonRock

Still catchy.

#1 - "Moves Like Jagger" by Maroon 5 featuring Christina Aguilera

Remember when I was all, "This song doesn't make sense and Christina Aguilera's voice is grating but I kind of like it? That analysis still holds. Inexplicably this song is #1. At least the video has both Mick Jagger and people trying to dance like Mick Jagger, thereby demonstrating the awkwardness of Jagger's moves. Also, shirtless Adam Levine who is still smarmy-hot.