28 August 2017

Summer Jam 16: Taylor Messes Everything Up. LIVE!!

Why did it take us sixteen weeks to finally get to a real competitive pubic pop feud? It's as if Katy Perry and Taylor Swift were biding their time all summer to throw down this week. Well, you know Katy's been trying hard as hell to recreate "California Gurls" as another Summer Jam killer but has totally whiffed. I have a lot to say here:

Hot Jam of the Week: "Look What You Made Me Do" by Taylor Swift

Alright, so this is clearly a dig at Kanye as much as it is at Katy, but also represents an insane new direction in Tay Sway's music. Sonically it's not too terrible, although it's certainly a higher intensity than she usually cranks out. The video is completely schizophrenic, although that's maybe the point? She seems like she's trying to reconcile a few different personas, or at least popular instances of Taylor's history. That's not all that strong, though, and doesn't seem to fit the spiteful theme of the track. It does generally seem to lack the wit of something like "Blank Space" or even the subtlety of "Bad Blood" (yes - calling that subtle compared to this). It ends up coming off as far more petty and blatant than anything she's ever done or even anything her contemporaries have done. So we'll probably go with "this is crap" but it is kind of a sweet jam to rock out to. Generally lame, though. This should have dropped weeks ago - Taylor seems to like dominating fall rather than summer.

On the Other Side: "Swish Swish" by Katy Perry ft. Nicki Minaj

For some reason this just got a video even though the single dropped months ago. Now, amidst the strongest criticism of her new music and persona as appropriating black culture a la Miley Cyrus, this video lands as one of the more tone-def things she could possibly do. I was reading a theory that said "Swish Swish" was an answer to "Bad Blood," which if true is truly pathetic. "Bad Blood" had real celebs like Cindy Crawford and Mariska Hargitay making cameos, a slyly playful atmosphere, and came off as a genuine Summer 2015 hit. On that note - it's a bit late for a response, right? Katy is boasting uhh...the kid from Stranger Things, Jenn Ushkowitz, and Christine Sydelko. You may be thinking to yourself "Who the fuck are they?" and you'd be right. It's pretty 2017, with some obscure Game of Thrones and G.L.O.W. cameos, but all of it feels instantly dated. And sure, she got Terry Crews, but we all know Terry Crews will do anything all the time. It's a generally awkward video to go with who is apparently just a mad awkward person. "Swish Swish" the song is enjoyable enough and has had an okay summer, even if it just feels like Katy suddenly realized it wasn't taking off so put together this last ditch effort to make it relevant. Even Nicki Minaj seems disinterested here. Let's move on.

Every Party in LA: "Attention" by Charlie Puth

I love this late summer Puth / Sheeran dual, and while this wasn't really ubiquitous like it was a few weeks ago, this is still a solid track. It really just needs that baseline to drop, which is the cherriest I've heard in years. The rest of the track is pretty much garbage, although it has a pretty cool build-up. Actually, I'm not sure this even pushes my interest like something like "Same Old Love" by Selena did a few years back. It'll probably end up okay.

Other Other Hand: "Shape of You" by Ed Sheeran

Ed Sheeran is a weird looking motherfucker. I totally had to look up the name of this song to remember what it was. It's kind of just something that exists, right? It's been up and down this summer, although Sheeran's fans have been as hardcore as his detractors. Is Sheeran a sex symbol? He looks like a shaved orangutan.

Sittin onda Sofa: "Stay" by Alessia Cara and Zedd

In the pop roulette this week, "Stay" wins, which has definitely built up a solid resume so far this summer, even if it's fallen out of position lately. It does have a pretty nice rhythm, although I'm curious if pop-drop as a genre ends up falling out of favor for songs that have actual choruses rather than just a tune. This tune ain't all that catchy.

Puerto Rico: "Despacito" by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee

I'm going to go ahead and call "Despacito" this summer's winner - a third place finish here is a sincere off week and even if it misses the one September Week of Summer it'll end up just fine. It's got that feeling, right? Like it was everywhere, everyone got into it, everyone acknowledged it. We'll tally of course, but I've got that feeling, which is actually something the last few years have lacked.

Groovy: "Feels" by Calvin Harris ft. Katy, Sean, and Pharrell

So, whatever you may say about Katy's failed summer, "Feels" has actually done better than anything she put out on her own. This new video feels surprisingly off her current brand, as did the first one. I will give it credit for really surprising restraint, though. This isn't flashy, evenly paced, very nice stuff. I do like this jam - it's fresh boppy pop that goes down real smooth. I just don't know what Katy is doing here, frankly, besides being a name big enough to sell some singles.

This is a Metaphor for Handjobs, Right? "Slow Hands" by Niall Horan

Perhaps a bit of a suprise this week, but I just kept hearing a ton of "Slow Hands" this go around. It's been around a bit and this week definitely helps its cause, but this is probably mostly an aberration. It's astounding to me that Niall ended up catching on a bit more than Harry, although I'll default to "Sign of the Times" as the better track for sure.

Next week...

"Body Like a Backroad" barely missed the cut this week. I'm looking at Tay Sway pretty hard, but we've only got one more week of this! We'll go through the final countdown on Labour Day Monday followed by a digestion and regurgitation of the FINAL SUMMER JAM WINNER of 2017. Stay tuned folks - this is what it's all about!

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