Written by Greg Kennelty
Satan Loves a Hook #5
Jesus was recently spotted stage diving at a Down concert. Jesus’ birthday is also coming up soon. Does that mean Jesus asked for Down tickets for his birthday? If so, we all need to band together and let major retail stores know they need to start blasting Superjoint Ritual and Pantera instead of Christmas jingles.
If that’s not the case… let’s just pretend it is anyway and do what I said.
I’m Greg Kennelty, senior news writer for MetalInjection.net. I pitched the idea to Pop Break about having a lifelong metal fan such as myself review popular songs outside the realm of “that damn devil music” every week. Obviously it went over well and here we are! The stipulation is while I get to choose the ten songs I review, all my choices must come from a pool of tunes chosen by the Pop Break staff.
The goal of the article is for me to voice my honest opinion on the chosen songs every week from the perspective of a metal head that isn’t really familiar with these artists and their work. Ready?
“Spark The Fire” by Gwen Stefani
Dear Gwen Stefani,
I don’t even know where to start. Do I open this letter by expressing my extreme distaste for the fact that you keep pronouncing “fire” and “lighter” with such a terrible accident that it makes me want to spark a fire under my chair and self immolate? Do I point out the atonal vocal passages you chose to repeat constantly because I guess creativity can be hard sometimes? Do I point out that “OMG” is old enough be a pregnant teen by now parading around the offices of MTV with a serious entitlement problem? I’m not even sure.
All that being said, I would like to state that I am very appreciative you put little pictures of fires and lighters on the screen every time you say the word. When you first said “fire,” I was sitting here like “oh fuck. I have no idea what that even looks like,” but then you showed me. It was like a Mitch Hedberg joke that you took way too seriously.
Thanks for reading, Gwen. The fire under my chair is cooking at a rapid pace now and I can actually feel myself starting to pass out from the smoke.
Also, it was me. I had the lighter.
“The People” by De La Soul ft. Chuck D
I’m torn about this song. On one hand, the lyrics are awesome because they touch on interesting real-life topics. Talking about being the majority because you’re just a regular dude with some heart disease and recognizing that the world is full of differing opinions? It’s like listening to your smart relative spit truth over dinner, but for some reason The Roots are playing in the background. Totally circumstantial but it happens… right? Maybe that’s just me.
Where this song loses me is that it wanders more than it does anything else. I love the concept, I love the lyrics and I love the loops going on, but there’s never any part that it comes back to or any bombastic section that blows up. I don’t want to say it lacks a hook because there’s some recurring stuff in there, but it’s along the same energy level as everything else. There are no peaks and valleys.
“The People” is like an alright pizza- it’s still good but there’s nothing that really makes it pop.
“Collide” by Boyz II Men
Boyz II Men is a group that I’ve heard the name of thrown around in conversation for years but I never once got around to checking out. Now I feel a little silly that I haven’t, honestly.
“Collide” is a jam and a half in a unique way. It has all the on-beat groove you’d expect from someone like Justin Timberlake but in a subdued way. You know how singers sometimes try to do that “undress you with your eyes” look into the camera with the tilted head and everything? This is audible embodiment of that. This is a downright sexy, smooth jam that oddly and fittingly incorporates a classical backing to it.
“Collide” is the ballad that got bored with itself for being too slow and sappy, so it threw on a suit and went out for a night on the town. “Collide” is a white Rolls Royce going under the speed limit along the main drag of a town known for its nightlife with the sound system pumping Usher. “Collide” isn’t not being able to talk to women, but having too many conversations going on at once and having to make some hefty decisions.
Did I mention the unparalleled suaveness of the track? I feel like I did.
“Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars
Oh come on, are you sure this isn’t George Clinton? Are we absolutely positive this isn’t some combination of P-Funk and Dirty Loops with Luis Dubuc of Mystery Skulls sitting off to the side giving cues for when the high notes need to make an appearance and the horns need to pop? If you were to loop this song for the next few hours, I’d be sore from grooving too hard.
Funk seems like the type of music where it’s easy to rely on clichés for and come out sounding halfway decent. Mark Ronson decided the clichés were boring and wrote a song with such a deep, undeniable groove that it might become its own cliché for future songs to rip off.
Let me elaborate on that last point a little- “Uptown Funk” has a deep groove in the same way that Howie Mandel has a receding hairline. The bass line is all over the place yet sits comfortably in the pocket, the drums keep it lively and the melodies seem to differ slightly despite hovering around the same ideas.
I don’t think I need point out that Bruno Mars has a killer voice, do I? The man wrote “Treasure,” for God’s sake.
“Rollercoaster” by Bleachers
I didn’t know Rick Moranis had a band.
“Rollercoaster” sounds like the members of Bleachers listened to a bunch of 1980’s synth pop and then threw on Taylor Swift’s 1989 for good measure. Much like myself, Bleachers thought 1989 was a little underwritten and they could do much better.
Enter “Rollercoaster.” There’s not much to the song but everywhere Rick Moranis could put in a memorable vocal passage, he did. It’s a combination of that and the harmonic layering going on in the vocals that puts this over the top from a half-hearted punch to a well-aimed uppercut that hits you square in the jaw.
Also, if there’s anything you should really take away from this video besides the fact that Ghostbusters should’ve been a musical because Rick Moranis’ band is awesome, it’s that you should never try to hit on girls with an ice cream truck. They will push you down in the middle of a road and then maybe a car or something’ll hit you.
Nobody wants that. Rick Moranis doesn’t want that for you either.
“These Days” by Take That
“These Days” doesn’t really have verses so much as it does a slew of choruses that I was singing along to before the song was over. Sometimes I feel like verses are just used as bridges to get to choruses, so the proverbial flights to a badass vacation. It’s necessary but boring, you know? Take That forgoes the whole flight portion of the vacation and just goes from vacation to vacation here. It’s like David Bowie’s Station to Station but I actually care about this!
I like that this song seems like it was written in reverse, in that the quieter part is in the beginning of the song and then it’s just a party from there on out. I’ve heard Fun’s “Some Nights” and it’s a decent song, but that quiet part in the middle never really gets the proper pay off it deserves. Take That took that section and put it right at the front of the song to get you rearing to go instead of getting introspective in the middle. Nobody wants a partygoer getting introspective and philosophical with a Kurt Vonnegut novel in hand, right?
Right. Trust me. I was lectured by someone like that at a bar once. Take That is the opposite of that person.
“Riptide” by Vance Joy
As a culture, you’d think we would be tired of this kind of song by now. The kind of song that has a dry bass drum, dead strings on an acoustic guitar and a gang of people singing behind the lead guy that are probably wearing newsboy hats and suspenders because being folk isn’t just a genre.
It’s an all-consuming lifestyle of passive douchebaggery.
Listen Vance Joy. I get that you’re trying to tell whatever story that you’re trying to tell here and that you’re a big fan of filtering footage to make it look like it’s old. I get that you had one good idea and then decided to just stretch it out for over three minutes. We all have our faults. I, for example, live a life of overbearing sexiness and being constantly hilarious. It’s a burden just like your penchant for drilling boring ideas into people’s heads is a burden.
We can work through this together, Vance Joy. We can work through this but you have to promise me you will bring absolutely no instruments with you along your journey toward change.
“Stolen Dance” by Milky Chance
I almost said this song is comparable to songs like “Santeria” by Sublime if the members of Sublime were on drugs. Then I remembered that the members of Sublime were definitely on drugs. So… it’s like if Sublime were on way more drugs and then started drowning but kept recording the song while they were drowning. “Stolen Dance” has that same lazy sort of groove to it with the only real difference being it’s got less of a triplet feel to it and more of a drunken gallop-meets-stumble to it.
By all means I should hate the vocals. Dude sounds like he’s not even interested in what he’s singing and I can almost never stand that. The different here is that Clemens Rehbein has got this very, very understated rasp to his voice that gives it a wispy, wistful life to it. Rehbein either knows exactly what he’s doing or uses that skill for everything it’s worth or he really doesn’t give a damn and just by chances manages to sound awesome.
I’ll go with the former assumption because I like to believe all the little nuances in music are meant for some nitpicky bastard like me to pick up on.
“Blame” by Calvin Harris ft. John Newman
I usually hit up a bar in Red Bank once every other week or so with two or three dudes I knew in high school. They’re good dudes and they usually drive. They both have XM radio and depending on where I’m sitting in the car, sometimes I can’t read whose song is playing at a given time. Granted, sometimes it’s due to other factors that come along with going to a bar, but we’ll stick with the seating arrangement excuse.
I’ve heard plenty of songs I’ve rocked out to in the car without knowing who it was, and once it was over I’ve forgotten all about it. If my mind were a desktop of a computer, the truth can would have an innumerable amount of unlabeled audio files.
That’s how I feel about this song. It’s a solid jam and I’d listen to it with the windows down, but once it’s over I’m already on to my next adventure.
“The Hanging Tree” by James Newton Howard, Suzanne Collins, Jeremiah Fraites & Wesley Schultz
I learned a lot while listening to this song. I had no idea that Jennifer Lawrence (who gets bolded now because she’s an artist) could sing for instance, or that James Newton Howard could write orchestral arrangements that would make Jeremy Soule wonder why the hell he didn’t call Howard for the Skyrim soundtrack.
I also learned that Jeremiah Fraites of The Lumineers is literally incapable of writing anything else other than gang vocal parts. Seriously, the first time I got to the section where everyone sings all I could think of is “this would make an excellent generic folk song.” Then I found out who helped write it and got really excited in the same way the Grinch gets excited about being a heartless S.O.B.
I read The Hunger Games novels and this song is a cool representation of the theme from the third book. It starts out as one voice and grows more powerful, ultimately ending in this loud, unstoppable force. Such as say, the voice a Dragonborn would carry throughout the land.
DOVAHKIIN! DOVAHKIIN! NAAL OK ZIN LOS VAHRIIN!