14 May 2018

Summer Jam 2018 WEEK 1!! America!

Are you ready, folks?

Seriously - are you ready for this?!

Once again we bring you what is by far the least popular column around here - the Summer Jam Countdown. We have officially declared this past week the first week of Summer, and we'll go all the way until Labor Day counting down the hottest tracks in Donald Glover's America. This is somehow our ninth year doing this crap. We've got seventeen weeks to see who will be crowned true Summer Royalty.

You may ask yourself, "Why?" Why should we care who has the hottest summer song? Well, summer's the best, that's why. We engrave in stone whoever's track can be THE memorable jam of 2018 and forever be indebted to their pop greatness. Let's dive in:

Hot Jam of the Week: "Barbie Tingz" by Nicki Minaj

This song is awful. But boobs. It seems like Nicki is having trouble finding her voice after being a few years removed from her peak popularity. I don't think this song is all that popular or even has much of a chance at gaining ground this summer. Boobs.

"Nice for What" by Drake

The #1 song in the country according to the Billboard Hot 100, which is more untrustworthy than ever, considering that Post Malone somehow has eight songs in the top 25. I haven't even heard of 80% of these. Drake sometimes flirts with greatness, and this song is alright, but not something I think will change anybody's life. "God's Plan" was better, but this has a nice rhythm.

"Look Alive" by BlocBoy JB & Drake

Does Drake feel like he's really popular right now? No, right? This is a song I've heard a bunch but couldn't really place. That feeling seems to have taken over a lot of pop music right now. We'll get into more of this as we go, but it's as if anyone could have written these songs and they're all interchangeable. Whats that you say? Pop has always been like that? That's definitely true.

"Meant to Be" by Bebe Rexha ft. Florida Georgia Line

This song is basically a dinosaur. So old. But at the end of its pop lifetime it's still a significant jam and I def hummed along to it this week. Rexha is a decently underrated pop artist, it's as if she tries really hard but nobody cares about her. That's only because she's one of those interchangeable artists with no voice of her own. This song stands out enough as a crossover hit, and even I like it, which is crazy, because I typically can't deal with country music on any level.

"The Middle" by Zedd, Maren Morris, Grey

Zedd is that EDM guy, right? I remember "Clarity" with him and Foxes. I must sound so old. Almost as old as that Bebe Rexha song. This is nice track, though, but I haven't been able to place the voice for weeks. I suppose that's because it's Maren Morris. Or Grey. What the hell. This is totally factory-produced assembly-line music, but the irony is...does it matter? I tap my feet. Isn't that the goal. Are we spiritually or substantially lessened because of this kind of mindless ephemeral pop? These are bigger questions than a cheeky countdown column should handle. I'm telling you - one of our least popular pieces ever.

"No Tears Left to Cry" by Ariana Grande

I love how secretly popular Ariana Grande is. Like, we don't really talk about her in the same conversation as a Britney or a Rihanna yet, but that totally ignores the fact that she's #14 on Twitter and a video as random as "No Tears Left to Cry" has 146 million views in three weeks. The track itself does a nice job bouncing between pop and ballad and really shows off how great of a singer Grande actually is. This jam is fresh enough to do some damage and may be around this summer.

"Never Be the Same" by Camila Cabello

It's hard to even remember her role in Fifth Harmony, which I'm sure is music to Camila's ears. This is another jam that's been in my ear for weeks until I realized it was Cabello's follow-up to "Havana" which is still popular enough it could be here on its own. The beat's kind of whack, but like "No Tears Left to Cry," it finds nimble ground between innocuous jam and power ballad, which is all on Cabello's voice. It's got room for legs these next few weeks.

"This is America" by Childish Gambino

I first saw this and thought automatically, "Cool, that's my Hot Jam!" No. No no no, this is THE jam. It's just starting to get wary radio play, but there's no video this year that's caused more a stir or been such a sudden political, cultural, and musical movement. Let's just embed it too:

More qualified people than I have written about the symbolism, and at any rate I think it's pretty straight forward, which makes the video even more powerful. Sonically and structurally it's amazing and contradictory and thematically solid and concise. You've got to hand it to Donald Glover for already having the best week of anyone this year - coming off a recent SNL hosting while also starring in the critically acclaimed TV show Atlanta, having this video, and uhh...a little thing called Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) dropping in a few weeks. If that wasn't enough he also did some writing on Black Panther (2018). If that wasn't enough enough, you've got to remember he's voicing Simba in next year's Lion King re-make, which if you're counting, makes him a contributor to Disney's three main assets right now - Star Wars, Marvel, and live action remakes of their own animated films. How they let him churn out "This is America" which is totally off Disney brand is beyond me, but I'm damned glad he found time to effortlessly drop this for us all.

Next week...

I'm curious when "This is America" may burn out, but I have a feeling it's just starting its run. As you can tell from the rest of the crap this week there's not much going on in pop music right now. Unless a Cardi B song can gain some traction (we really just missed the "Be Careful" wave), it's a rough spot. Stay tuned, loyal reader / listeners, for we have sixteen more of these to get through!

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