10 Pop Songs I Actually Like


If you know me in real life or are at all familiar with this blog, then you probably know that I generally dislike pop music & strongly prefer rock & metal, with a good dose of classical & occasional selected country on the side.  But the truth is there actually are a few pop songs I genuinely like, not just because they have a catchy tune or fun beat but because I believe they are truly well-written songs with actual meaning.  So today I thought it would be fun to share some of these songs with y’all as a means of showing I’m not a total old fart.  Haha!

pop music sucks

Most modern pop music is total crap.  Call Me Maybe was nominated for a Grammy.  Maybe it even won.  Need I say more?

  • All Too Well by Taylor Swift: I owe my knowledge of this song to a friend from high school.  I honestly think it’s the best song Taylor Swift has ever recorded because it is just so well-written.  My favorite lyrics are the following:
    • “Maybe we got lost in translation, maybe I asked for too much
      And maybe this thing was a masterpiece ’til you tore it all up
      Running scared, I was there, I remember it all too well
    • Hey, you call me up again just to break me like a promise
      So casually cruel in the name of being honest
      I’m a crumpled up piece of paper lying here
      ‘Cause I remember it all, all, all too well
    • Time won’t fly, it’s like I’m paralyzed by it
      I’d like to be my old self again, but I’m still trying to find it”taylor swift
  • Alright, one more Taylor Swift song.  I swear if she’d kept writing songs like the aforementioned one & Back to December I’d have so much more respect for her.  Instead she’s drifted off into total idiotic crap like Shake It Off & We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together . . . Anyway my favorite lyrics from this one are these:
    • “So this is me swallowing my pride
      Standing in front of you saying I’m sorry for that night
      And I go back to December all the time
      It turns out freedom ain’t nothing but missing you
      Wishing I’d realized what I had when you were mine
      I’d go back to December, turn around & make it all right
      I go back to December all the time”pink
  • You & Your Hand by P!nk (I refuse to use the incomplete spellings of you & your like the actual title uses): The first time I heard this song I thought it was gross.  But as I got a little older I realized it is the perfect response to every man (& I use that term loosely) who has ever treated me in one way or another like a piece of meat (aka purely as a sexual object).  To all the creepy dudes out there who leer at us ladies in public, whistle as we walk by, or make disturbing comments to us, this song is the response of every self-respecting woman:
    • “I’m not here for your entertainment
      You don’t really want to mess with me tonight
      Just stop & take a second
      I was fine before you walked into my life
      Cause you know it’s over
      Before it began
      Keep your drink, just give me the money
      It’s just you & your hand tonight”pink stupid girls
  • Stupid Girls: Ok, one more by P!nk.  I’ve actually written about this song on here before, but it’s such a well-written song that has only become more relevant as time goes by so I feel compelled to share it again.  As talentless women like Kim Kardashian continue to receive loads of media attention these lyrics become more & more germane:
    • “What happened to the dream of a girl president?
      She’s dancing in the video next to 50 Cent
      They travel in packs of two or three
      With their itsy-bitsy doggies & their teeny-weeny tees
    • Where, oh where, have the smart people gone?
      Oh where, oh where could they be?
    • I’m so glad that I’ll never fit in
      That will never be me
      Outcasts & girls with ambition
      That’s what I wanna see”avril lavigne
  • My Happy Ending by Avril Lavigne: Ok, maybe this isn’t the most well-written song ever, but I just can’t help but love it.  Whether it was an ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend or someone we admired & respected who turned out to be less than worthy of our devotion, I think we can all relate to the feeling of being disappointed by finding out that someone isn’t the person we thought they were.
    • “You were everything, everything that I wanted
      We were meant to be, supposed to be, but we lost it
      And all of the memories, so close to me, just fade away
      All this time you were pretending
      So much for my happy ending
    • It’s nice to know that you were there
      Thanks for acting like you cared
      And making me feel like I was the only one
      It’s nice to know we had it all
      Thanks for watching as I fall
      And letting me know we were done”bruno mars
  • When I Was Your Man by Bruno Mars: When Bruno Mars first became popular I figured he was just another Justin Beiber type, but once I heard this song I realized there was a lot more to Bruno Mars, or at least some of his songs, than I initially thought.  For one thing, he actually plays the piano on this one!
    • “Although it hurts
      I’ll be the first to say that I was wrong
      Oh, I know I’m probably much too late
      To try & apologize for my mistakes
      But I just want you to know
    • I hope he buys you flowers
      I hope he holds your hand
      Give you all his hours
      When he has the chance
      Take you to every party
      ‘Cause I remember how much you loved to dance
      Do all the things I should have done
      When I was your man”

      Lady Gaga Wallpaper @ go4celebrity.com

      Lady Gaga Wallpaper @ go4celebrity.com

       

  • Speechless by Lady Gaga: I could actually list quite a few Lady Gaga songs that I really like.  She is really the only mainstream pop start whom I truly admire.  Even if you find her admittedly ridiculous costumes & rather shocking stage presence a bit offensive or silly, you’d be very remiss to deny her talent as a singer & musician.  If I had to pick a favorite song of hers, it would have to be this one because it showcases her stunning voice so incredibly well.  Plus, she plays the piano on this song.
    • And I know that it’s complicated
      But I’m a loser in love
      So baby raise a glass to mend
      All the broken hearts
      Of all my wrecked up friends
    • I’ll never talk again
      Oh boy, you’ve left me speechless
      You’ve left me speechless, so speechless
    • And I’ll never love again,
      Oh friend, you’ve left me speechless
      You’ve left me speechless, so speechless”paramore
  • Misery Business by Paramore: To be fair, I guess this really is a rock song but it definitely has a more pop vibe & not surprisingly was very popular even on Top 40 type radio stations when it debuted in 2007.  I’ll be the first to admit that this is really a pretty shallow song, but at the same time I can’t help but love it.  Definitely a guilty pleasure!christina perri
  • Jar of Hearts by Christina Perri: I remember when this song came out when I was in college & I immediately fell in love with it, largely because of Christina Perri’s gorgeous voice but also because of the beautiful instrumentation of the song.  I love the message of self-empowerment the song gives as well:
    • And it took so long just to feel alright
      Remember how to put back the light in my eyes
      I wish I had missed the first time that we kissed
      ‘Cause you broke all your promises
      And now you’re back
      You don’t get to get me back
    • And who do you think you are?
      Runnin’ ’round leaving scars
      Collecting your jar of hearts
      And tearing love apart
      You’re gonna catch a cold
      From the ice inside your soul
      So don’t come back for me
      Don’t come back at all”

      MTV TRL Presents Estelle, Kid Sister & Teyana Taylor

      (Photo by Scott Gries/Getty Images)

  • King of Anything by Sara Bareilles: This is another song I fell in love with on first listen.  The song seems to be written about a boyfriend (or potential suitor anyway) who attempts to boss the singer around, but I think the listener can extrapolate the song to be about anyone who tries to boss us around in life, particularly those who really have no right whatsoever to do so.  As someone who’s always been a bit distrustful of authority while also somehow being a natural people-pleaser, the lyrics of this strong resonate very strongly with me:
    • “You’ve got opinions, man
      We’re all entitled to ’em, but I never asked
      So let me thank you for your time,
      And try not to waste anymore of mine
      And get out of here fast
    • I hate to break it to you babe, but I’m not drowning
      There’s no one here to save
    • Who cares if you disagree?
      You are not me
      Who made you king of anything?
      So you dare tell me who to be?
      Who died & made you king of anything?
    • All my life I’ve tried to make everybody happy
      While I just hurt & hide
      Waiting for someone to tell me it’s my turn to decide”

If you haven’t noticed, one reason I actually like these songs as opposed to the modern prototypical pop song is that they aren’t just songs about partying & drinking.  They actually tell a story or have a deeper meaning than simply “Let’s party it up tonight & get wasted.”  I’m sorry, but that kind of crap isn’t real music in my book.  See the below quote from Corey Taylor for an explanation why.

corey taylor quote

In case you’re wondering why  most pop music makes me angry, this quote explains it.

 

 

Why Eric Church Might Be the Musical Genius of the 21st Century


If I had to choose one (modern-day) artist whose music never ceases to amaze me, whose talent seems only to grow with each new endeavor, I’d have to choose Eric Church.  Ok, it’s a tie between Eric Church & Corey Taylor, but today I’m going to focus on Church since his recent album The Outsiders is still on frequent replay in my car & on my computer (yes, it is playing as I write this).

eric church the outsiders

As someone who loves both rock & country, Eric Church is for me the perfect combination of these two vastly different genres.  When I had the great pleasure of attending one of his concerts in the fall of 2012 I couldn’t help but feel like I was at a redneck rock concert more than a traditional country concert.  It was nothing short of scintillating.  Church’s music has often been snubbed as “too rock to be country” & “too country to be rock.”  Therefore it’s not surprising that he has made a name for himself less by hit radio singles & more by inspiring live performances in venues from bars & rock clubs to stadiums & arenas.  In an era when few country artists actually write their own music, Church has penned nearly every song he’s ever recorded.  He’s also never rushed his work & when you read/watch his interviews, it’s so apparent that his greatest commitment is always to his MUSIC.  If you need more proof that Church is a horse of a different color so to speak, consider that his albums are produced by Jay Joyce, a man who normally produces rock albums.  Additionally, in an era where most musicians are relying on social media to build their popularity, Church shuns such methods.  He lets the music speak for itself.  This has sometimes gotten him in trouble such as when he got kicked off of a 2006 Rascal Flatts tour for playing too long (he was replaced by none other than Taylor Swift).  Indeed Church has made a name for himself as a bit of an “outlaw,” a country music star who isn’t afraid to sing about smoking weed & teen pregnancy & whose interviews are often studded with curse words not normally spoken by his peers (at least not in public).  Indeed, here’s just a quick sample of some of the words/phrases found on his most recent album that are not normally found on country music albums: cocaine, sex, needle in a vein, bitch, joint, damn rock & roll, tramp, slut, pimp.  Yet it’s well-known that Church tours with his wife & young son so that he doesn’t miss important time with his family.  When speaking of his work, he often uses the term “we” instead of “I.”  It’s obvious he values his band & realizes the success of his music isn’t all about him.  It seems that underneath the tough persona he’s built Church is actually a pretty decent guy.

Above all else, it’s Church’s music that sets him far above his peers.  Today’s popular country music is often more like pop music with a little twang, & the endless “country party” songs are as vapid as any Miley Cyrus or Britney Spears song (consider Luke Bryan’s That’s My Kinda Night or Florida Georgia Line’s Cruise).  Not so with Church.  This is not to say he doesn’t have songs about drinking.  After all his first number-one hit was Drink in My Hand off of his 2011 Grammy-nominated album Chief.  But with Church there is so much more to even his drinking songs.  If a country artist ever knew how to craft clever lyrics with double entendres & unusual rhyme schemes, it’s Church.  (Consider I’m Getting’ Stoned, also off of Chief.)  I’m not trying to trash other country stars.  Indeed I’ve been to Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, & Blake Shelton concerts & enjoyed every minute of them.  But I didn’t go home & buy their albums like I did after Church’s concert . . . There’s just something about his music that is so powerful & that I believe will stand the test of time while many of his contemporaries will fade into oblivion after a few more decades.  Consider some of these gems from his most recent album, The Outsiders, released just a few weeks ago.

eric church

The first song, for which the album was named, starts off on a real rock & roll beat & never gives up.  As Church has explained, this is a song for anyone who’s ever felt left out, like an “outsider.”  The idea isn’t super original but the execution of it sure is.  Wow.

Just when you think Church has morphed into a rock star, he slows it down with the second track, A Man Who Was Gonna Die Young, a song about a man who is amazed that, at 36, he has out-lived Hank (Williams, Sr) & Jesus.  As you listen to the lyrics you can’t help but feel this piece is probably autobiographical for Church (he is 36 after all).  While not my favorite song on the album, it’s certainly a powerful one.

Time to switch gears again.  Next up is Cold One which contains the memorable line “If she had to leave did she have to leave me one beer short of a twelve-pack?”  This one isn’t exactly full of deep philosophy but the MUSIC is superb.  The beat is funky & there’s a very bluesy sound that somehow reminds me of the bayou or some of the really old-school jazz.

The fifth song on the album, Talladega, chronicles a trip to a Nascar race with friends during the summer after high school graduation.  While I have never had any interest in Nascar, that’s beside the point.  The song isn’t so much about racing cars as it is about being young & making memories & how fast life goes by.  The mark of a good song is that listeners can relate to the emotions & ideas conveyed by the song, even if the actual content isn’t 100% relatable.  This is just one example of how Church continually succeeds with this.

I can’t say I ever thought Eric Church would record a sex song, but he did.  Like a Wrecking Ball is another bluesy-sounding song with an organ, of all the damn things, propelling the piece.  And unlike some of the popular country songs that reference one-night stands after nights of drinking too much beer or moonshine (consider this line from Jason Aldean’s My Kinda Party: “Baby if you’re in the mood you can settle for a one night rodeo/You can be my tan-legged Juliet, I’ll be your Redneck Romeo”), this one is full of heart & soul & longing to which anyone who’s ever spent too much time away from their partner can relate.

Next up is what might be my favorite piece on the whole album (though it’s very hard to choose), That’s Damn Rock & Roll.  In this piece Church argues that rock & roll isn’t about the drugs, sex, & partying that so often get so much attention or even about the money to be made from selling records.  Instead he says it’s about the love of music & that rebellious, fighting spirit that never gives up.  Consider the lyrics:

“It ain’t about the money you make, when a record gets sold

It’s about doing it for nothing, ’cause it lives in your soul . . .

It’s doing what you want instead of doing what you’re told.”

The song references the many great musicians who have died at age 27 & how often such incidents are pointed to as reasons why rock & roll is inherently sinful:

“Drowning demons feel no pain

Found Nirvana wasted shame

Gone too soon just like a song

Hendrix, Joplin, what went wrong?

Need some answers, right or wrong

Need something to blame it on

That’s damn rock and roll”

I don’t know about y’all but I can just hear the old-fashioned Southerners saying “That damn rock & roll!”  It’s almost like Church takes the words out of their mouth & uses them to prove his point.  For those of us who know that rock & roll is so much more than “ sex, drugs, & rock & roll”, this is an anthem we’ll be clinging to for a long time.

Next up, Dark Side explores the eternal conflict between good & evil that we all face every day.  It’s not an original theme, but Church explores it with a brutal honesty that is unmatched by his peers.

The tenth song on this album, Devil, Devil, is by far the most bizarre song Church has ever recorded.  At eight minutes in length, the first half of the song is a poem written by Church that criticizes the entire Nashville music industry.  While it will almost certainly never be a hit single, it’s a superbly incisive look at the dark side of the music industry that I’m quite certain no other country artist today would ever tackle.  You’ve got to admire Church’s bravery here.  (If you’re wondering which song contained “bitch, slut, & pimp,” it’s this one, in reference to the music industry.)

The next to last song on the album, Give Me Back My Hometown, is full of nostalgia & longing for a hometown that has been “ruined” by the memories of love-gone-wrong.  While this one is far more radio-friendly than many of the other pieces on this album, it’s no less interesting or full of the genuine, raw emotion for which Church is so famous.

I’ll be the first to admit I’m a bit puzzled as to why Church chose to end the album with the story-telling song The Joint.   While I love this song, I can’t help but feel it’s a little anti-climactic after some of the harder-hitting songs on the album.  But maybe that’s the point.  It fades off into the distance & makes you want to replay the whole album immediately.  In any case, The Joint is actually not about smoking weed even though that’s a valid assumption considering Church has recorded more than one song with obvious references to smoking weed (Smoke a Little Smoke & I’m Getting’ Stoned).  Instead it’s an old-fashioned story-telling song about a woman who burns down the bar her husband frequents a bit too often.  With repeated trombone licks, this one is definitely full of jazzy influences that bring to mind the bayou or some sleazy pool hall deep in the South.  It’s full of understated magnificence & I love it.

I sincerely challenge anyone who’s reading this who doesn’t normally like country music to take a long hard listen to Eric Church.  His music might not be “love at first listen” but I bet it will grow on you until eventually you can’t deny his incredible talent.  I’ll be the first to admit that when I first began hearing his songs on the radio years ago, I thought he was too rough & too naughty & just not my type.  Of course that was also before I really got into rock music.  In any case, my initial disdain slowly melted away as I realized what a fantastic musician Church really is & how his music continually evolves as he refuses to “color in the lines.”  To me the mark of a good musician is often that their work isn’t always super catchy.  Music that has depth & real personality often takes more than one listen to really comprehend.  I’ll end my treatise to Church with an excerpt from a recent article about him which I think sums him up perfectly:

The most rock’n’roll (or rockist) thing about Eric Church may be his devotion to “The Album” as a hallowed, sanctified ideal to which all the other nonsense — certainly press-cycle considerations, but even tours, even said album’s individual songs, even if they’re alleged runaway smashes — must genuflect . . . “I hate the fame part. I hate getting recognized. I hate press. I hate all that stuff that is just so — I want to make music.”

(See http://www.spin.com/featured/eric-church-marks-his-territory-february-cover-story/)

Would that all musicians were so focused on their craft.