September 21, 2006

What's New Is Old Again

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Three weeks ago, in my very first column, I made a promise to provide my soon-to-be avid Daze readers with venerable insight into the hottest, freshest dance music. However, because I find my own social life to be infinitely more interesting than a silly old record review, I have – well, not necessarily broken my promise, but skirted around its general concept.
Thankfully, this week will be no different. In another shameless attempt to subvert my journalistic responsibilities, I submit to my readers a countdown: the Top 5 Dance Songs of the Summer, and Why We Need to Stop Playing Them and Move On.
5. Shakira ft. Wyclef Jean, “Hips Don’t Lie”
Okay, so the music critic in me wants to boast that this song only bothers me because it pinches the opening of one of my all-time favorite ‘90’s rap songs, “Déjà Vu (Uptown Baby)” by Lord Tariq and Peter Gunz. But truthfully, dancing to Shakira just makes me look really, really white.
Replace with: Justin Timberlake’s “SexyBack,” the natural heir to Shakira’s top spot on the Billboard charts.
4. The Pipettes, “Pull Shapes”
Oh, the Pipettes. Those once-adorable coordinating polka-dot dresses and that correspondingly neo-sixties’ sound have become so, so tired. Your best chance is to go the way of fellow “indie flavor-of-the-year” bands the Hives and the Strokes, fading into a moderate but respectable obscurity. With any luck, Concert Commission will bring you to Cornell.
Replace with: St. Etienne’s classic “Only Love Can Break Your Heart,” which does ‘60’s British pop with a modicum of respectability – plus, it’s a cover of an awesome Neil Young song. For now, the Pipettes are finished.
3. Nelly Furtado ft. Timbaland, “Promiscuous”
Props to Nelly Furtado for rising from the ashes of one-hit-wonderdom and putting out a genuinely fun, sexy dance song; it’s been six years since that whole “I’m Like a Bird” thing, and before this summer I really didn’t think she had it in her. My friends and I have played this at every party we’ve thrown this year, because really, there’s nothing like a song about random, anonymous sex to bring people together in both the spiritual and physical sense.
Replace with: “Promiscuous.” In my opinion, this song has “dance classic” written all over it – shelve Furtado for the semester and delight your houseguests by bringing it back out in the spring. In the meantime, check out DJ Assault’s “Love the Pussy;” it addresses the same themes as Furtado’s song, but cuts out the middleman.
2. Lily Allen, “Smile”
Admittedly, a song whose video features the artist paying people to beat up her ex-boyfriend and trash his apartment is more than a little creepy. But “Smile” is undeniably catchy, and although this song has been overplayed, Lily Allen – one of my favorite new artists – has an entire album’s worth of single-worthy songs.
Replace with: Lily Allen’s “Everything’s Just Wonderful,” “Knock ‘Em Out,” or even her overshadowed first single, “LDN.”
1. Gnarls Barkley, “Crazy”
I remember when (I remember, I remember when) I first heard this song…ten months ago. Since then, I’ve either gone – nuts? delirious? screw-loose? – or else it actually is playing in every single building I’ve walked into this summer, whether it be the salon I frequent back home in New Jersey or the numerous gelateria from my travels around Italy. Just hearing those first four notes are enough to send me into convulsions. But the problems with “Crazy” extend far beyond the fact that it’s on the Saturday night playlist of every bar in Collegetown. First, aside from their single, the remainder of Gnarls Barkley’s debut album “St. Elsewhere” is utterly horrendous (I mean, what could possibly compel someone to even attempt to cover a Violent Femmes song?). Even worse is the fact that on their own, Danger Mouse and Cee-lo – the core components of Gnarls Barkley – are two of my favorite artists, revolutionary in their respective fields of soul and hip hop. But honestly, after an entire summer of being bombarded by “Crazy,” I’m still amazed that I have the will to listen to music ever again.
Replace with: Nothing. If you’ve heard this song, it’s already too late for you.