Pop Playground
Pop Music Focus Group

in lieu of a proper Pop Playground article this week, I've decided to publish my future Pop Music Focus Group ballot. Enjoy!

Atomic Kitten- The Tide Is High (Get The Feeling)- 3

I’m assuming this is a hit over in England, since I haven’t heard it over here on the radio. This song seems really bland to me- something like the beginning of a new Britney, unsure of where they are going or what they are doing. It contains all the trademarks of the Swedish pop song formula devoid of all the funk that the Neptunes and Rockwilder have injected into Britney and Christina. The lyrics are kind of boring, too. Overall dud.

Avril Lavigne- S8ter Boi- 7

Despite the fact that the story is really catty (“Haha, I don’t care what people think of me- I just believe in love! And because you did, you missed out!”). I don’t get the problems that people have with it, though. “He’s just a boy/and I’m just a girl/can I make it anymore obvious” is quite possibly the best lyric about love that I’ve heard in ages in a pop song. And it completely fits the Avril image, as well. I’m excited to hear what her new single will be, but I’m guessing that it’ll be a dud.

Big Brovaz- Nu Flow- 5

The aside “Buy It!” when one (?) of the Big Brovaz (?) is rapping about the singles and albums in stores is the best thing here. The beat owes a lot to Outkast, I think, and the rapping is unexceptional, but it’s a nice little ditty. Is this the Christina to So Solid Crew’s Britney? Or is it the Jessica Simpson?

Christina Aguilera- Dirrty- 9

Recycled Redman tune, absurdly suggestive lyrics, outlandish video- this single was the best thing to happen to pop music since Mariah’s collapse on TRL.

Coldplay- In My Place- 5

I got really excited when I first heard the introduction to this song on the radio station where I live. I thought to myself, “Wow! I can’t believe they’re going to play Ride’s ‘Dreams Burn Down’!” And then this song came on and I got sad. The video for this song isn’t as interesting as “Yellow” either. As sad as it seems, the lead singer is actually the most attractive guy in this group. You know it’s the second album by the addition of strings.

Eve ft. Alicia Keys “Gangsta Lovin’”- 2

Note to Alicia Keys: I’d be more than happy to have you rock me all night long if you agreed not to open your mouth ever again. I really hate the production on this song for some reason. The little whooshes grate and that damn harpsichord-y thing that was used on the Gwen Stefani song is also here making me want to puncture my eardrums.

Fischerspooner- Emerge- 7

This is the first thing I’ve heard from these guys and it makes me hope that a lot more of their stuff is like it. I was predisposed to hate it by friends, but I like the stuttering “hyper” at the beginning and its, by far, tons better than the most annoying electroclash songs that I’ve heard. It’s not perfect, by any means, but offers me hope that there are some actual good things in this genre. It makes me want to reexamine Soviet, whom I was completely bored by at a live performance at CMJ this year.

Justin Timberlake “Like I Love You”- 8

The Neptunes are going to fail. They have to. But they didn’t here.

Kelly Osbourne- “Papa Don’t Preach”- 3

Not a good singer. It’s also mixed weird. As Gavin Mueller would say, though, “I’d still do her.”

Khia- “My Neck, My Back”- 3

I’m a production man, myself, and this just doesn’t cut it. What’s she rappin’ about, anyway?

Las Ketchup- “The Ketchup Song”- 6

Nice enough, but maybe I’m just culturally dense to care about this song. Perhaps this is riding the last wave of the Latin explosion- or it’s something else entirely.

LCD Soundsystem- “Losing My Edge”- 9

I want to be a lone dissenter here and not like this song. But if more pop music poked fun at small segments of society and eviscerated them in such a fun and ecstatic way, then pop music would be so much more fun that it is now. I wonder if they ever put up a radio edit of this if it would actually have a chance.

Madonna- “Die Another Day”- 8

It’s the best Bond theme since I can remember. Mirwais production is flawless as always, but it doesn’t approach perfection in anyway. I think Madonna just has this down to a science, more than anything else.

Missy Elliott- “Work It”- 8

Not as vital as “Get Ur Freak On”, obviously. I think the main problem with Timabaland nowadays is that he is spread too thin among his artists. He obviously saves the best beats for Missy, but what if, say, all of the hits that have gone to different stars in the past year went straight and only to Missy? Does he or she need to prove anything anymore?

Ms. Dynamite- “It Takes More”- 7

The fat bass in this makes me smile- and the ragtime-ish sample works wonders. Then the big drums enter in and Ms. Dynamite is underneath. It sounds out of place and wrong, but she’s capable enough right now to make it work. Her singles have been phenomenal this year, but Scott Plagenhoef warned me away from the album, so I’ve been waiting to see if I can download it. Her lyrics on this one are at a far lesser place than her previous single.

Nappy Roots- “Aw Naw”- 6

The organ on this song swings back and forth like a pendulum, fitting right in with the dirty south beat. The rapping, however, leave little to no impression on me. “Aw Naw, Hell Naw!” has become a popular refrain, for better or worse.

Nelly- “Dilemna”- 6

Man, Nelly’s so cool. I want to hit him the face, though for ruining this song with the “Whooo!”’s and the “Get your hands up!”. Does this have any place in a love song? He’s so obsessed with those baseball analogies, too! Kelly Rowland ain’t complaining, though.

Nelly- “Hot in Herre”- 8

Completely and utterly ubiquitous. The top 40 station in Columbus, Ohio still plays this song.

Nirvana- “You Know You’re Right”- 7

Slow burning and seething with rage. I don’t believe this song would have been a hit in their time, but it would have been a fine addition to their next album. The chorus is boring and goes on too long.

Pink- “Just Like A Pill”- 5

This has nothing on “Get This Party Started”. I don’t like the faux- guitar bit, as though it lends some sort of authenticity to the proceedings and the little metal clicking thing in the drums is absolutely abhorrent. I think the person that mixed this needs to be shot. Overall, it’s a great third single!

Puddle of Mudd- “She Hates Me”- 2

Somehow these painfully naïve lyrics and soaring choruses doesn’t work as well as Avril Lavigne. Go figure.

Shakedown- “At Night”- 4

This doesn’t grab me that much. House music with a pop tinge- seems much like the pop crossover of X-Press (or whatever they’re called), a lot of room for indifference here.

Sugababes- “Round Round”- 6

Not as amazing as “Freak Like Me”, obviously, but it holds its own among other pop music, I suppose. I finally saw a picture of these gals while in New York City and peering through the singles section at the Virgin Megastore. They’re quite the dour bunch, aren’t they?

The Coral- “Thinking of You”- 4

This guy sounds like Billy Joel. I don’t like Billy Joel that much. I’m glad it was short and the music was vaguely goofy/bouncy.

The Clipse- “Grindin’”- 8

Another ubiquity on the local hip hop station in Columbus. This beat is so minimal and hard- fits right with this group. How they ever thought they should end up on that Timberlake song is beyond me. Not that I’d turn it down, either!

The Vines- “Get Free”- 10 (Joker)

Gavin was complaining to me about this being something like #38 in the NME top 100 singles of all time list. I say it’s well placed.

Truth Hurts- “Addictive”- 7

I’m interested to see how far this Indian motif goes in the hip hop arena. What I’m even more interested in, however, is what will be the next big sound to be co-opted.

By: Todd Burns
Published on: 2002-11-25
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