The tick-tocking clock that leads off What Do You Mean? could very easily have come straight from Justin Biebers head. The annals of pop history are littered with obnoxious teenage megastars who the public decided they didnt like so much once they came of drinking age in another world, maybe Bieber becomes the laughing stock of the Internet for his sadly ludicrous claims to being the successor to Michael Jackson. After spending two years hand-cranking the tabloid-media cycle, enduring his biggest commercial failure, and permanently destroying his Ideal Underage Boyfriend image, the Biebs was at risk of becoming a relic, the sort of performer whose continued presence in pop culture mostly serves to remind his onetime audience of how young they no longer are. The inspired Jack Ü collaboration Where Are Ü Now was a brilliant re-branding for Bieber, but it also couldve been a fluke, a favor from EDM cool kids Skrillex and Diplo, one where the most memorable hook came with the singers voice rendered unrecognizable. Hed have to prove it on his own, too.
[CROUCHING-TIGER-DISAPPEARING-SPOILER]The suspense of whether or not What Do You Mean? would be the song to put Bieber back on top lasted maybe 15 seconds. If its technically possible to resist those dawn-of-a-new-day piano chords as long as theyre only accompanied by the metronomic timepiece, once Justin utters the title phrase for the first time and the parkour-hopping synth hits, its all over. The groove is instantly familiar, but not quite like anything else youve ever heard: No pop song in recent history has been this light on its feet, to the point where the most apt musical point of comparison isnt really the tropical house of Kygo and Robin Schulz, but the weightless, pleasure-center-poking scores to 90s video games like Sonic the Hedgehog and Mario Kart 64. And Bieber does an expert job steering the beat, breathing life back into the production with his evenly paced, scale-stepping vocals in the past, his pinched wail wouldve sucked the oxygen out of the song with brash over-expression. Even thematically, the song avoids ever getting too heavy asking a girl why her body language is conflicting with her words might not be the least-problematic thing you can write a song about in 2015, but at least hes legitimately asking; previous Bieber jams wouldve almost certainly offered, Girl, let me tell you what you mean
The flawless victory of Justin Biebers return single and somewhat symbolically, it debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, the Biebs first single to ever reach pole position is the latest and most convincing example of something weve always known to be true: Theres no amount of bad press that cant be undone with one truly great pop song. (Just ask former collaborator Chris Brown, whose crimes were legitimately terrible and whose take-me-back hit single wasnt even quite this good.) As much as the pubic enjoys climbing on their high horse to tut-tut the minor and major sins of an irresponsible, hot-headed young star, theyll always dismount in a seconds time if they hear an undeniable hook over an electrifying beat emanating from the dance floor. Thats because, as David Marchese so brilliantly put it in his profile of another pop icon whos had transgressions far tougher to answer for than Biebers, songs are better than people. And What Do You Mean? was better than anyone in 2015. ANDREW UNTERBERGER[/CROUCHING-TIGER-DISAPPEARING-SPOILER]
Kendrick Lamars magnum opus, To Pimp a Butterfly, has no shortage of beautiful and dark songs that encapsulate the Black American experience. Complexion is a soulful number that tackles colorism with an outstanding guest verse from Rapsody. i taps into self-love, while u flips the script and goes in on self-hate. The Blacker the Berry castigates murderers of every creed and code. The body of work is almost exhaustingly thorough, but Alright sticks out like a reasonably intelligent person at a Trump rally. Were ushered in as a choirs soulful harmony meets Pharrells patented four count start. Lamar screams, Alls my life, I had to fight, referencing Sophias heartfelt soliloquy in Alice Walkers The Color Purple, and then were guided through Lamars complex yearning for some version of Eden.
[CROUCHING-TIGER-DISAPPEARING-SPOILER]Alright is buoyant, festive, serious, personal, and all-encompassing. Only a song so brilliant in so many ways could earn the honor of becoming a protest song, effectively dethroning Lift Every Voice and Sing, a gospel hymnal thats been widely considered the Black American National Album for more than a century. Over the last couple of years, police brutality, systemic oppression, and racism have become a focal point in the American consciousness. Its nothing new Richard Pryor spoke on it years ago, as did **** Gregory and a host of other impossibly smart comedians. Rodney King was beaten like a rag doll and the officers who did so were punished with a slap on the wrist. As a new laundry list of names enter the fold Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, the victims of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church terrorist attacks, etc., etc., ad infinitum Alright has played as an antihistamine to the pain thats so frequently been doled out to Black Americans.
If time, history, and practicality are any indicator, were probably not going to be alright at least not in this lifetime. But the point of gospel is having faith in what isnt there. You have to have faith in something that isnt exactly tangible, a deep and spiritual faith. Alright isnt about determination; its about forgetting cold, harsh reality and hoping for something brighter and better if only for three minutes and 39 seconds.
Alright is the gospel song we need in these trying times, and gospel is also about community your brothers and sisters, if you will. Above all, Alright is a damn fun song, and thats what puts it leagues ahead of tracks with similar content. In 2015, all across America, in the clubs, bars, and concert halls, dozens and dozens, sometimes hundreds or thousands of black and brown and white and yellow folks have proudly and joyfully screamed, We gon be alright. With that kind of love, **** practicality, time, and history. Maybe we actually will be alright. H. Drew Blackburn[/CROUCHING-TIGER-DISAPPEARING-SPOILER]
Justin Biebers embroilment in perpetual controversy has a habit of distracting from his abilities as a pop artist. But as he moves further away from the petulant mould of the manufactured child star he was originally presented in, its becoming increasingly irrational for the stigma of his teenage actions to outweigh his contributions to modern pop.
[CROUCHING-TIGER-DISAPPEARING-SPOILER]Bieber has delivered his fair share of mature material before now, 2012s Boyfriend and the much-overlooked Journals are testament to that, but What Do You Mean? came with a new stamp that was distinctly his own. Searching for emotional clarity, What Do You Mean? has all the instantly memorable pop hooks we have come to expect from a Bieber banger but with an additional layer of nuanced, tropical house-inspired detail that allows it to operate on club rotation as well as being interesting enough to live on your iPod free of self-consciousness. Co-produced by Bieber himself and Boyfriend collaborator MdL, What Do You Mean? has infinite groove, a pan flute hook no less, and vocally hes never sounded better. With an impressive display of resolve, it's perhaps his strongest bid to be taken seriously as an artist by adults, as an adult. Emma Garland[/CROUCHING-TIGER-DISAPPEARING-SPOILER]
erzo01 wrote: »
@forg: Pwede namang mag-post ng personal yearend charts dito, di ba? I'll indicate it na lang sa post ko.
What a year its been for grime and what a year its been for Skepta. With the sound he helped build over a decade ago suddenly resurgent, the Boy Better Know founders YouTube views have gone from the thousands to the millions in a year thats seen him on stage with Kanye West, in the studio with Drake and on the radio with Pharrell. And as the head-jerking rhythms and fiercely witty bars of his summer smash Shutdown prove so neatly hes done all this without once compromising the gloriously British street-level sound and style that typifies grime at its very best. This aint a culture, its my religion: preach, Skeps.
The same trobairitz who once proclaimed that she Shouldve stayed in bed today / I much prefer the mundane opens her sophomore album with an audacious takedown of both herself and an implied lover. I think youre a joke, but I dont find you very funny, Courtney Barnett taunts on Pedestrian at Best, the breakout track from Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit. Barnett shifts from metaphysical folk gardener to aggressive insult comic for a joyride of merciless snares and squelching feedback, hell-bent on undefining whatever previous impressions may have been formed. As she openly admits in the lyrics, this is the mark of an ascending, experimental artist who has clearly outgrown herself. Sean Edgar
It was the "oooooh!" that changed everything. That single ecstatic syllable, slipping out just before each chorus, transformed Abel Tesfaye (a.k.a. the Weeknd) from a cult R&B singer to a full-on pop star just as decisively as a similar yelp of joy marked a new era in Michael Jackson's career when "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" hit 36 years earlier. Max Martin's satin-smooth production helped, too, vaulting "Can't Feel My Face" straight to Number One on the pop charts with Scandinavian efficiency. But Tesfaye's showstopping vocal performance is what makesit an instant classic. He spends the song remaking himself as a pop giant cleverly disguising his obsession with drugs beneath a metaphor about a dangerously hot fling, and playing down his angst-y tendencies until there's just a hint of existential pain in his lighter-than-air falsetto. By the time the song is over, you'll do anything for another hit.
It usually takes half a dozen songwriters to concoct a pop song this spine-tingling, but Claire Boucher, who once described her solo project Grimes as the girl group to her inner Phil Spector, writes and produces her music all on her own. Even when her shape-shifting voice seems to jump freely between cartoonish characters, she never sounds like anything but herself, which makes this brutally honest account of a falling out over her success all the more electrifying. Nolan Feeney