Satan Loves A Hook #6


Satan Loves a Hook #6 – Stealthy Decapitations

Can you believe my office building threatened to talk to my boss about me for trying to hang little bloody pentagrams off the branches of their communal tree? The nerve of some people! I guess I’ll have to be pretty stealthy about the decapitated head I’m replacing the star with next week…

I’m Greg Kennelty, senior news writer for 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?

“Favorite Song” by O.A.R.

O.A.R is the to reggae-tinged radio rock equivalent of Amon Amarth in that they don’t really change their sound up much from album to album, yet every time I hear a new song I’m still hooked. I actually own O.A.R.’s 2007 Live from Madison Square Garden record, so I can make that statement with the confidence of a man who knows all 17-plus minutes of “That Was A Crazy Game of Poker.”

“Favorite Song” has all the elements of what fans have come to expect from O.A.R. over their nearly 20-year career, but this time I’m detecting a little bit of that countrified hip hop sort of thing going on. Listen to the syllabic chanting in the chorus and tell me that isn’t reminiscent of popular country jams on the radio now ala Luke Bryan or Keith Urban. The group doesn’t beat you over the head with it, but it’s there and at least a little noticeable. I dig it.

O.A.R., I’m on to you. I know you’re doing this because you’re going to announce a co-headlining tour with Jerrod Niemann or someone in the near future… and dammit, if I’m invited then I’m going.

“American Beauty/American Psycho” by Fall Out Boy

“American Beauty/American Psycho” is the result of a band who has obviously ran out of ideas but knows they can cash in on literally anything they put out because they are who they are. The only semi-redeeming quality about this song is the first part of the chorus because it’s along the lines of tolerable. Seriously, picking out the best part of this song is kind of like picking out what my favorite part of being kicked in the nuts is. There’s no part that’s even close to being even slightly alright, but I guess there’s one part that’s the least worst of the whole ordeal.

If you’re looking for a great example of why this song is a non-functional turd robot, skip ahead to around the two-minute mark. The band employs a generic harmonic buildup that’s used in every cheesy musical number ever, a chanted kind of thing that’s like if Kim Wilde didn’t care how “Kids In America” turned out and then for some reason a guitar solo that seems to have been taken off Scott Walker & Sunn O)))’s recent collaboration album.

Non-functional turd robot indeed.

“Dangerous, Pt. 2” by David Guetta ft. Trey Songz, Chris Brown & Sam Martin

I’m gonna let the fact that David Guetta pulled a Kid Rock (or a less vulgar Lil Wayne) here by rhyming “sugar” with “sugar” and move on to the review of this futuristic Daft Punk funkfest.

Just like the first part of this song that I loved, David Guetta nailed it. The man knows how to implement a great chorus backed by awesome instrumental workings just as well as he knows how to build it all up. I’m not sure whose voice is whose in the guest spots, but the part that kicks in around 2:17 really needs to get the hell out of this song. Everything was moving along just fine and then all of a sudden shitty generic rap beat shows up to the party with Swaggy O’Swaggerton in tow on vocals. Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” does something similar and I hated it when I heard it then… so naturally that burning distaste keeps on burning.

Fortunately, Guetta realizes that he accidentally flipped on the “garbage” switch instead of the “good” switch and rectifies the issue around 2:50.

“Break The Rules” by Charlie XCX

I’m just going to leave the music alone on this one and concentrate on the fact that singer Charlotte Emma Aitchison’s lyrics are basically aimed at anyone who is under the age of 14. “Break The Rules” is like a solo Gwen Stefani track gone horribly wrong, and not in the way Gwen Stefani’s solo stuff normally goes wrong. It’s like No Doubt meets Kidz Bop and spawned a nightmarish tweeny rebellion anthem whose pseudo-acrid message come off more sickeningly saccharine than anything else.

This song is the angsty goth kid you knew in middle school wearing Forever 21 instead of Hot Topic because the cool crowd is where it’s at, dawg. #JNCOJEANS

The best part is this song took five writers and three producers to bring to fruition, which almost makes me wonder why Charlie XCX didn’t just ask a fifth grader having a bad day what they really want to do with their life and went from there. The lyrics pair perfectly with the music video at least, because why stop with terrible lyrics? Why not go the full way through with it and rock try-hard “skool sux” apparel too? Where are the Linkin Park t-shirts and pentagram-filled notebooks?

“Blank Space” by Taylor Swift

I criticize instrumental backing a lot. As far as “Blank Space” goes, I should hate it by every standard I’ve set for myself and my writing thus far… but I just can’t hate this song. If you listen to the song and try to ignore the vocals, you’ll catch on to the fact that the chord progression never changes, only the instrumentation. Fortunately Swift has written arguably one of the best vocal lines I think I have ever heard and it saves the whole thing.

Seriously, can you hear that chorus and not be stuck on it for the rest of your day? When I bought 1989 the day it came out, I didn’t even get through the rest of the album that day because I had this song on repeat. This song is the equivalent of playing me “Your Love” by The Outfield and then telling me I can’t even hum the melody for the rest of the day- not happening. Not now, not ever.

Hell, I’ve got Taylor Swift up there in the header wearing corpse paint screaming the name of my column. So it can be said with some semblance of accuracy that I enjoy her work.

“What Happened To Your Band” by McBusted

McBusted is like if Sum 41 and Good Charlotte were relevant right now and their singer(s) had way more vocal correction than was probably ever necessary in the first place. Who knows? Maybe this dude or dudes can actually sing and it was a label choice to dump approximate seventeen metric fucktons of Cher on the vocal tracks, but if it wasn’t… yikes. I digress.

The song is actually pretty catchy save for that totally out-of-place middle part with the piano. I’ve heard there are other ways to do a clean section in a song? Not sure how true that is. McBusted really ought to have just taken a page right out of “Fat Lip” and went straight up clean guitars in there. Whether or not they wanted to talk about abortion and telling people not to count on them is entirely optional, but at this point they might as well. They’re just poppy British Sum 41 anyway from the early 2000’s minus the hair metal references.

“Make It Rain” by Ed Sheeran

Sometimes I think Ed Sheeran holds back on guitar shred because he knows he’s got enough vocal legato-based acrobatics to make Yngwie Malmsteen feel a little sheepish.

“Make It Rain” has this upfront King Dude quality about it where it sounds like it’s being played through a haze of cigarette smoke and wooden floorboards that creak under the leather booths of the unscrupulous. That or a funeral dirge for the lonely in a busted up church without much of an audience, in a way. Hardly the emotion or imagery I’d expect Ed Sheeran to be evoking in my mind, but it’s not like he hasn’t surprised me before.

This song needs to be printed on a 7” that comes in a leather Bible-looking case and maybe a few bullets in the jacket for good measure.

“A Dustland Fairytale” by The Killers

The best thing about “A Dustland Fairytale” is that it’s obviously story driven more than it is music driven, but The Killers decided not to let the latter suffer for the good of the former and just made the whole song excellent. Seriously, if a song is getting me emotionally involved with a character and I’m getting chills at every twist and turn of the story then I’m not sure I can do anything else but sing its praises.

I’m floored with “A Dustland Fairytale.” I really am. It’s not just some rote love story where Johnny meets Sally and everyone falls in love, but then some minor inconvenience arises and they get over it and everything is sunshine and happiness forever. This isn’t a crush at a dance. The main character obviously runs the gambit of victorious highs to rock bottom with a shovel and an expanse of pain between.

This is storytelling in modern pop music.

“Something In The Water” by Carrie Underwood

For some reason my mind is making a connection between this and Sigur Rós’ “Hoppipola.” Both songs have this brevity to them that delivers a really uplifting feeling and lyrically they’re dealing with something similar, though with different solutions. Underwood finds solace in God and Sigur Rós are just tossing it out there that they’re always going to get back up and enjoy life no matter what’s tossed at them. It helps both songs kind of hover around the root of the key they’re in.

“Something In The Water” is a good song for what it’s worth. As far as uplifting and hopeful goes, I’ll probably not come back to it, but it’s at least interesting to hear a different lyrical perspective on hope.

I figured y’all probably haven’t pinned me as the type of guy that’s sitting around to much in the way of any kind of religious rock music by now, but hey- I keep an open mind and I dig this jam a bit.

“Kingpin” by R.L. Grime ft. Big Sean

What’s up with rappers and not pronouncing the letter “v” sometimes? Is there some sort of additional credibility that goes along with that or is “libe” just a word that I’m totally lost on? Also, “libe” is short for “library” in German. I’m just throwing that useful piece of information out there should you ever need it.

Alright, song. Let’s do this.

This song is terrible. I tried to find some redeeming quality to this one at all but in there end I just cannot find a single thing I like. Dude just keeps talking about how he’s living the life of a kingpin and his friends are too, but that’s basically all I got. I get it. You’re rich or something or you like to live like you’re rich. Great. I know that, as a human being with a functioning brain in some capacity or another, you’re capable of telling me other things as well. That, and if I have to hear that keyboard patch one more time I will invoke Satan to… do something.