Whatever happened to popular music?
Sure, I'm not the best judge of this, as I find music the least essential of all entertainment media; given the choice, I would rather be deaf than blind. Heck, I'd rather have my legs than my ears. But music historians -- assuming they exist, getting paychecks and everything -- would probably agree with me when I say that 2007 was a truly sucky year for singles.
If you ask me, though, I think the music in television commercials has improved, and YouTube has given everyone their own music search engine and video archive. So now I wonder if radio (at least the terrestrial version) is no longer a relevant way to find and listen to music. Or, in the alternative, that corporate radio has become so afraid to play new music that they wait until it becomes famous elsewhere (case in point: Feist). I'll love to hear some opinions on this subject.
Anyway, I had a moderately difficult time last year narrowing down a 10-best list. This year I can't even think of 10. A decent minority of the songs released were okay, but only a few are noteworthy here. So here are the 7 exceptions to the rule that the entire year in music was useless:
7. "Dashboard" by Modest Mouse. In 2004's great debate of Modest Mouse vs. Franz Ferdinand -- whose respective songs "Float On" and "Take Me Out" became popular at roughly the same time -- I sided firmly with the latter. But a few years and a Smiths guitarist later, there's no need to be modest.
6. "You Know I'm No Good" by Amy Winehouse. In 2007's great debate of Amy Winehouse vs. Lily Allen, I sided firmly with... you get the idea. Sorry, but I just prefer fun self-mocking crazy over scary trainwreck crazy. But I have to hand it to Winehouse for getting it just right on this track.
5. "Paralyzer" by Finger Eleven. Once upon a time, I wasn't so fond of this act either. Over at Mostly Modern Media, I commented that 2007's ubiquitous suckfest "Hey There Delilah" was the most boring song to play on the radio since this band's 2003 hit "One Thing." But "Paralyzer" seems downright fun -- I certainly hope they're not being serious -- and its video seems to re-envision The Matrix as a shampoo commercial (maybe for this hair care line).
4. "Girlfriend" by Avril Lavigne. Yeah, I know. But you have to give her credit for taking herself lightly this one time. Even though she took the Toni Basil route, I can't help but wonder why this song wasn't "Mickey" popular. I mean, this could be a great for marketing Bring It On 4: In It to Win It. If that's not happening already.
3. "The Pretender" by Foo Fighters. I've never really given the Foo their due. Sure, I've appreciated their videos over the years (especially this parody of Mentos commercials), and their consistent output of rock albums is a rarity in this day and age. So let me publish a statement I've said privately, and mostly to deaf ears: Foo Fighters is the best band Dave Grohl's ever been involved with. My apologies for the delay. (Here's the video.)
2. "Over It" by Katharine McPhee. She's too chameleonic with her voice. Worked to her advantage on American Idol, but on her album it's distracting. With this song, however, she's not trying to sound like someone else. Pity this wasn't a hit; it's easily one of the best 5 songs ever released by a former contestant. Also: pretty.
1. "Stronger" by Kanye West. The near-annual event album, this song, its video... doesn't it seem like he's the only one who's trying anymore? It's like Daft Punk is in his basement, and everyone else is skipping the party. Thanks, Kanye. With your massive ego comes massive effort. (That goes for you too, Rainn Wilson.)