September 27, 2006

Abhorrently Anglophile

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It was a long, long summer, and by that I mean I had a tortuous morning commute where everyday marked another battle to the death with inexplicably rushed SUV-wielding super moms, made only significantly worse one particular August day. Expecting the usual breezy banter of my favorite morning radio show upon turning my key in the car ignition, I was instead subjected to the excruciating torture-by-audio of: “How come every time you come around / My London, London bridge, wanna go down…” Having already squeezed out the last of my tolerance for retardation by accepting “Hollaback Girl” as a legitimate creation in the canon of popular music, Fergie Ferg’s newest solo unveiling registered like a projectile of vomit aimed directly at my face. Oh yeah, it was that bad.
In case you think I’m totally heartless, here are some concessions for the Fergie fixated. I guess it’s got a catchy beat. I guess Fergie’s typically pouty voice goes well with the playful jaunty sentiment of the song. I guess it embodies another milestone on the progressive route popular music has decided to take towards the noble pursuit of speaking in nonsensical euphemisms. And what exactly is “London Bridge” supposed to be communicating? I’m just going to take a blind guess and infer that it’s definitely not hugs and puppies.
This wasn’t supposed to be a “What’s wrong with music today?” rant where I come off sounding like some wizened cackling hag of yesteryear upset over the rowdy antics of young whippersnappers, but I see it is slowly becoming one. Perhaps what bothers me most about “London Bridge” and actually Fergie’s album in general, is that she sounds eerily like a methodically produced manifestation of a reoccurring Gwen Stefani cycle (like monsoons but more annoying). Artistic originality may always hinge on the influences and conditional factors of one’s environment, but the comparable stripped beats of both “London Bridge” and “Hollaback Girl” only made me realized that Fergie’s spontaneous anglophile tendencies merely parrot Gwen’s gimmicky Japanese fixation. Let’s just hope Fergie isn’t also partial to acronym heavy naming conventions (perhaps a clothing line named: S.H.E.E.P.?).
However, I should have seen it coming a mile away. Rip offs, reproductions, tributes, or whatever you want to call them are what popular music is about. So what if Cherish’s “Do It To It” sounds like a better remixed version of Ciara’s “Oh”; or if Justin Timberlake’s “SexyBack” sounds like a robotic rendition of a prepubescent boy awkwardly reciting naughty Madlibs; or if Beyoncé’s hair and music have finally reached an equal status of disarray? And let’s just not even bother acknowledging the geometric perfection Jessica Simpson has achieved in recycling material that I would have accepted as legitimate circa 1997. Well, for one thing, it ensures that even guaranteed rhythm-infused albums like the Step Up soundtrack can still rank suspiciously stale. Fine, Justin, you win. I guess your musically pretentious, spacebar discriminating album ranks comparatively stomach-able by default.
But don’t worry, Top 40 hits, I haven’t given up on you just yet … only because doing so might mean I have to start liking “meaningful” or “artistically innovative” creations of a more substantial nature, aka rock music. And I’ll just admit right now that I would rather sew the Burberry plaid on Fergie’s formal shorts myself before I succumb to such a defeat. Alas, I still can’t help feeling disheartened when one of the few summer hits I actually enjoyed was Shakira’s “Hips Don’t Lie,” itself a convenient recasting of “Dance Like This” from the Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights soundtrack. And yes, I did actually see that movie.