20 May 2013

Summer Jam Week 2: Macklemore, Pink, and Wheezy Trek Into Summer

Summer is starting to heat up as we head into the Second Week of the Season of the Sun. Here at Norwegian Morning Wood we take some time every Monday to examine the Hottest Summer Tracks in order to find that one, beautiful single Summer Jam that will eventually be crowned True Summer Royalty and have us bumping, grinding, relaxing all cool all the way through 2013. Let's dive in:

Hot Jam of the Week: "No Guns Allowed" by Snoop Lion ft. Drake and Cori B

Snoop Lion just dropped his Reincarnated Reggae Album in an effort to re-brand himself after a supposed spiritual awakening caused by a trip to Jamaica. We know you just smoked a ton of weed down there, but as long as the New Snoop avoids revelation as a gimmick, he's got some damn smooth tunes on this album. Who is really to judge whether Snoop's conversion is for real? Bunny Wailer? The Rastas of the Nyabinghi Temple? Issues of Snoops' genuineness seem to have clouded this album (and for my part I don't think he's genuinely living the life of Bob Marley...at all). Still, this is as fine an album he's produced in the past decade and songs like "No Guns Allowed" are certainly more favorable than his earlier pimping gangsta ways. Drake is fairly unnecessary on this track (like always), but Cori B is the real delight here. Sure there's got to be some nepotism involved, but would you rather see another Willow Smith? I'm fine with her appearing here instead.

Not Enough First Names: "Gone, Gone, Gone" by Phillip Phillips

I tend to hate Phillip Phillips songs when I first hear them, then they grow on me until I realize that they're okay. Not really great, but okay tracks. "Gone, Gone, Gone" sounds like kind of a somehow fluffier version of a Jack Johnson song set in the Midwest. It's that kind of inoffensive mild, lyrically ambiguous track that can gain a lot of ground in the Summer. Since it's been out for a while though, I would bet this thing is on its last few legs rather than gaining speed though.

Miami Mourning: "Gangsta" by Kat Dahlia

Any Cuban song that emerges during May deserves a shot at a Summer Crown. Still, this is a lonely, angry song, and a little intense to hit that mainstream appeal. Still, the rap-sing style of Kat is spectacular. I called her a deep-voiced Rihanna last week, but as this track is growing on me I think that was inaccurate. Dahlia deserves her own career, and hopefully she'll stay true enough to herself to never get one.

Ball to the Day I Die: "Love Me" by Lil Wayne ft. Drake and Future

Why not have another song featuring Drake on the week's list? He's useless. This is probably one of the most typical Wheezy tracks ever made. It's so innocuous - perfect Summer Background Music until you tune in and realize there's some fairly clever phrases ("I fuck who I want and fuck who I don't / I got that A1 credit - dat filet mignon"). It's not the kind of song that can jump and run away with summer, but it's a nice casual slow burn. Again, background music.

The Smoothest Jam Thus Far: "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke ft. Pharrell and T.I.

Jeez this is a listenable song. This would be the greatest Jam ever if it took off. It's such a chill track although it's got this cool sexy energy to it that elevates it above many other of the same kind of songs. I am confused about the ubiquitous use of hashtags in the video, though. What is the desire? To start a conversation about the song and Robin Thicke? If the song is quality, that should happen naturally. People don't need to be reminded that Twitter exists at this point. Why do they need hashtags to take off? This song as Pharrell and T.I. in it, it's not launching an underground career. It mystifies me.

I Want you to Go: "Stay" by Rihanna ft. Mikky Ekko

Rihanna continues her fiercely independent assault on all things pop - and just think, a year ago we were swooning to her in Battleship. That's right. This tune lacks the energy of a "Blurred Lines" but its swagger is surely intact. It would be a strange song to take off and rule the roost. The closest we've had to a winner like this may be Leona Lewis' "Bleeing Love" back in 2008, but this is actually a much deeper song. If she hasn't made the strides to reach the top that she needs to by now, though, she won't surge ahead.

I got One: "Just Give Me a Reason" by Pink

I contend that Pink is popular because she tends to want to eschew normal pop conventions - her appearance, bold lyrical content, and general attitude - just enough to appear edgy, but she's also a very safe artist, rarely truly venturing into the insane territory of say, a GaGa or Ke$ha. Perhaps this is why this is one of her more successful songs, because it is a more traditional collabo that embraces its really pop-y nature. It's also got a very nice flow, rhythm, and passion to it. And she got Guy Pearce to sing on it. Lockout himself! Too bad she fell of the top of the Billboard Hot 100 this week, otherwise I'd give this some nice odds to climb even higher.

Munch Munch: "Can't Hold Us" by Mackelmore & Ryan Lewis

I accidentally searched for "Can't Hold Us Down"...so here you go. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are continuing their assault on the pop charts, the rap charts, and just about everywhere else. While they've certainly had two tracks truly blow up this year, the timing of "Can't Hold Us" doesn't totally bode well for a Summer Jam. It will likely run out of steam by June, maybe July at the latest. They'll need something fresher to launch to keep their momentum going. Until then, all the props to a Great White Shark with a Little Speed on Shark Week.

Next week...

There are a tremendous amount of hot tracks coming down the pipe as Memorial Day dawns upon us and pools open everywhere. As Summer is fully unleashed the Jam Landscape will be forever changed. Next week we're going into all-hot mode and we'll see what will.i.am, Kanye, and Sevyn Streeter have for us. It'll be bumpin, folks.

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