03 June 2013

Summer Jam Week 4: Demi Lovato Attacks the Heart of Summer

Here we go - headfirst into June and the Season is doing nothing but heating up. Every Summer Monday at NMW we ramble off the hottest Jams of the week who are jostling for the position of true Summer Royalty. Whoever be anointed to the Throne of Summer will forever be known as THE Jam of 2013. Now that's special. We've got some old tracks coming around this week and others that just can't seem to die. Let's dive in:

Hot Jam of the Week: "Get Lucky" by Daft Punk ft Pharrell

Daft Punk was the original electronic dance group, far before the genre was corrupted by hacks like David Guetta and Deadmau5. It helps that their soundtrack was one of the only good parts of Tron: Legacy (2010), and this is fierce first single from their most recent album, Random Access Memories. This is a great candidate for a Summer Jam song, smooth, groovy, and energetic all at once. It's best served with a sunset and Summer Shandy. Perfect and our Hot Pick for the week.

More Random Access: "Memories Back Then" by Hustle Gang ft. T.I., B.o.B, Kendrick Lamar, and Kris Stephens

First, to clarify, Hustle Gang is just about T.I.'s equivalent to Lil Wayne's Young Money or Kanye's GOOD Music. This track also has the best collection of up-and-coming rap stars since Drake brought together Em, Ye, and Wheezy on "Forever". "Memories Back Then" is a pretty deep track, though, with each lyrically balanced verse brought together really nicely by Kris Stephen's sweet vocals. I can't imagine this taking off, but I'm definitely digging it for the week.

Truly Bella: "Cups" by Anna Kendrick

"Cups" currently hold this really strange little niche in pop culture. It's this little riff that Anna Kendrick did for Pitch Perfect (2012), which strangely became something that the current MTV generation latched on to. Pitch Perfect lies in that negligible zone that toys at being something edgy without ever getting subversive or leaving the confines of comfortable pop culture. It's to glee what Blink 182 was to pop music 15 years ago - a shallow satire for sure, but ultimately innocuous. The fact that "Cups" exists at all as a single is even crazier, although Kendrick puts more soul into her voice here than just about anyone else on this list who isn't Barbadian. It's a nifty skill of hers and a nice secondary career outlet.

They Know What You Did Last Summer Too! "My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up)" by Fall Out Boy

I really hate Fall Out Boy. So, props to them for giving me a song I actually like. Despite having far too long of a title, that also doesn't really make sense, when it hits its "Light Em Up up up / I'm on fire!" refrain, this jam gets pretty damn juicy. Add to that a pretty sexy crazy cool video and you've got a hit on your hands. With more intense jams like this, Fall Out Boy could redeem themselves from pop-punk-emo hell and make something grand. And Summer Jams always need to mention fire, right?

You Can Take the fun. out of Nate..."Just Give Me a Reason" by Pink ft. Nate Ruess

This is still a damn likeable song, but Nate's big Broadway pipes remind me more of the vapid stupidity of fun. rather than whatever Pink is trying to do here. This is still an easy contender for the best Pink song of all time, though, who has somehow managed to stay relevant through the same negligible zone niche between edgy and comfortable that Pitch Perfect found. Hey, nothing better appeals to young suburbanites who want to rebel but don't really want to live like Krewella.

Rub-a-Dub-Dub: "Stay" by Rihanna ft. Mikky Ekko

Despite the fact that Mikky has four k's in his name, we can get into him for really complementing Ol' Skrillex-head here. This is a methodical slow burn of a song that doesn't really contain the frenzy of a breakneck Summer Jam nor the smooth sauce to make it a max chillout track. It's a damn fine song but not really appropriate for Summer hangouts. Still, who are we to decide? Go Rihanna.

The Return of the Mack: "Can't Hold Us" by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis ft. Ray Dalton

What's the only song that could have been overplayed this year more than "Thrift Shop"? How about the vastly superior "Can't Hold Us"? To be honest, I haven't actually got sick of either, yet, which is a testament to the fact that every marketing angle and Simon Cowell-esque attempt to create stars is total bullshit - Mack & Ryan have been plodding on their own for years and this huge break-out is ultimately, totally unpredictable. I'm also having trouble getting my fill of the bonkers video, which involves pirates, camels, and old black guys I guess. My favourite part by far though, is the weird Ray Dalton Beach Haircut scene. There's such a frenetic energy to the barber, and he just gets out of that chair ready to do it. What exactly is unknown, but he just does it so smooth, baby.

Fart Attack: "Heart Attack" by Demi Lovato

Your spirit should be sinking a little with this one. After every other track this week being pretty legitimately good and uplifting, Demi gets the big prize as the #1 song this week. This song is all-around awful, generic, and not well-sung. I don't really understand anything about Demo Lovato. She's not quite totally embracing her sexuality like Britney or Christina did at her age, but there's a some degree of a naughty glisten in her eyes in this video. I'm not sure if I've ever seen someone try this hard to be a diva, either. Maybe it's that misplacement of her confidence with her actual level of popularity and status within pop culture that is giving me some severe cognitive dissonance. Anyway, here's to "Fart Attack."

Next Week...

There were other potential tracks this week that are rising, such as Gin Wigmore's "Black Sheep", who was vH1's most recent "Artist You Oughta Know" and Jake Bugg's "Lightning Bolt", which is getting some nice radio play after a keen Gatorade commerical. Both these tracks are over a year old, though, which means I'd like them to get real hot before acknowledging them here. Only the freshest jams will suffice, folks. I also still really want to see "Cruise" take off. There ain't a better Jam for a Summer Vacation out there.

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