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Pop Music / Mainstream Hip Hop
  • These are two genres "music nerds" and "alternative people" tend to write off as having no merit, but lately I've been diving into it like I would with any other genre, and I'm finding that there's a lot more good material than I could have admitted before I got over my "pop stigma." There's obviously still a lot of tasteless stuff, but I don't want to let that speak for the whole genre.

    To start, the mid-2000's were a gold mine, largely because Timbaland and The Neptunes were producing a bulk of the era's hits. I'm a particularly big fan of The Neptunes:

    Clipse's Hell Hath No Fury is easily one of my favorite hip hop albums:

    People know Kelis primarily for "Milkshake," which I actually think is a great song (I love those odd synth rumbles, the melodies are strong, and the main hook is catchy), but this is my favorite song of hers. James Blake fans should appreciate a certain part of this:

    The Neptunes haven't done as much interesting stuff recently, but they did foster the success of this song from the generally inconsistent T.I.:

    I haven't dug quite enough into Timbaland's stuff to be as big of a fan of him as I am The Neptunes, but he nonetheless has been a part of some great singles:

    I think what makes The Neptunes and Timbaland so good is their minimalistic approach, picking a small handful of really good sounds to which to commit instead of loading their instrumentals with a ton of tacky, overblown sounds as most of the very recent pop music does. I'll give credit to a few recent singles that have succeeded in spite of the current production trends:

    Still, I think electropop-influenced dance-pop was also at its best in the mid-2000s, with stuff like Annie and Robyn not quite as popular on the U.S. charts as they could have been, but still releasing some of their best stuff.

    I could add a lot more, but this post is already very long, so I'll save some for later.
  • "Call Me Maybe".
  • some of you know that I'm forced to listen to radio because I can't listen to CDs or the iPod in my car, so I kind of force myself to like some of that stuff. honestly this is a bit of a guilty pleasure because I should HATE this song, but when it comes on I just have to listen to it
  • @ClydeNut I fucking hate that song, probably not because it's THAT bad, but because at my work they have a loop of advertisements constantly running in which they play the same songs repeatedly, making even the okay ones quickly wear their welcome.

    @Ocaml I also think that because it's so ubiquitous, people tend to overlook its potential. I would also advocate that the music I posted does have "some sick beats or interesting samples."
  • I often hear people who get their music primarily from the radio say that they hate some songs because they hear them too much. I'm glad I never run into that problem.
  • @hedgeway Yeah, I'm very careful about not overplaying songs I like. It's one of the reasons why I don't listen to the radio.
  • I've been rooting for Missy Elliott for a while now, the production she works with is so strange and weird, it's so good.
  • @Ocaml Ehh I guess I get where you're coming from with the Beyonce song, but I wouldn't say the song is written around that countdown. I'd be more inclined to agree with you if I thought each other section of the song was relatively weak, but my favorite part is actually the recurring vocal melody that opens the song.

    Anyway, I do agree with you in that the whole "two year cycle" concept does exist. I think I just really appreciate the aesthetic that was popular a few years ago. And I would make the same statements you made about Missy Elliott regarding Kelis, for example; that is, certain pop artists do cater to a very in-the-moment audience, and while someone like Kelis may have been doing that to an extent, I feel like she is a strong enough artist to earn memorability beyond the years of that audience's time. That Clipse album still stands as sort of a hip hop classic to a lot of people, too, so I wouldn't necessarily say these are all just snapshots of their respective eras.
  • Missy Elliot had 2 great mainstream HH albums. Supa Dupa Fly and Under Construction (her best IMO). I think the issue with "This is a Test" is it was too "timbaland". The production choices felt obvious at the time and it almost felt a bit more towards R&B with the ballads. So it never got much play with me. But a lot of her stuff is still very catchy, is it weird I think the best track on that album is "Let me fix my Weave"? The Cookbook was just such a departure into basically dance music it was just too off putting. That said, I do still like Joy (sick bass in that track)

    (skip to 1:32 for the music to start)

    Beyonce, I've never liked. When I saw that video from that song that was performed in front of the UN General Assembly I wanted to puke in my mouth.

    Why aren't we talking about this:

    In all seriousness, my problem with mainstream hip-hop is it's no longer the underground grassroots music genre I grew up with. Corporations got a hold of it and it's just so mangled now, polished, pop oriented, LCD, I barely recognize it anymore. Except in guys like Action Bronson and Mykki Blanco.

    An interesting study could be Black Eyed Peas and how they went from an okay little rap trio into what they were pre The END. But at least they weren't trying to be hip-hop, they were a pop group, with rapped lyrics.

    So who are we actually left with when it comes to good mainstream hip-hop? Beasties are done. Outkast appears to be done and Big Boi on his own doesn't seem to be able to avoid crossing over. K-os could have been it, but his production turned pop and he spent as much time singing on his tracks as rapping. Snoop Dogg hasn't put out a good rap album in a long time. Lupe might be the only one and I'm not even sure how mainstream he is. Huge void.
  • Bad Meets Evil, dawg.
  • Lupe Fiasco's newer stuff is pretty terrible imo.

  • Does anybody remember this?
  • Well I was thinking Lupe's first Food and Liquor (which I guess now that I think of it, is about 5 years old now). Certainly not Lasers.
  • PSY's non-"Gangnam Style" stuff isn't too bad.

  • I like that 2nd PSY song a lot.
  • @ Beyoncé haters, I wasn't a fan for a very long time, and I still don't love most of her songs, but I have a lot of respect for her approach. I think she's one of the few mainstream pop "divas" who is actually a good role model. And occasionally she does have some songs I think are very good (e.g. "Countdown," "Crazy in Love"), even though I'm never quite head over heels for her music.

    @solitude "Promiscuous" is such an awesome song.

    @WiredRacing I think Kanye is good mainstream hip hop.

    It seems like most people can agree Missy Elliott is great, which I really appreciate because I think she has done some fantastic stuff.
  • i have nightmares of manly women
  • @solitude I think No Hey Igual is the best track off of Loose. But that whole album is a bit too Timbaland and the second half just falls flat. That said, I didn't care for the english follow-up and it hasn't done much either. This worries me a bit for JT's new album if he's using Timbaland, but I'm not sure what he's produced recently either, so maybe he's working on a new template. I'm also sure JT won't shy behind him and will throw his weight around to keep things in check.

    @Danny Re Yeezy, yeah I just don't know on that guy. As I has said in another thread, he does 2 or 3 really strong tracks per album and that's it. The rest of the stuff that pads out the album does nothing for me and in fact I find the majority of it grating (but I also detest the "Crew Track"). That said, the talent is there. Runaway, despite Kanye's weak singing, is really a great concept and arranged piece (a la Pyramids), but I wouldn't call that track hip-hop either. I just think Kanye's production is so front and center and with all of his guest spots, it's just not hip-hop anymore. Certainly not real hip-hop. Not my kind of hip-hop. I mean off of 808's and Heartbreaks, the two tracks I like the most are Heartless and Love Lockdown which are not hip-hop tracks. So.. yeah. I like his pop tracks, but I don't care for his rap tracks.

    Re: Beyonce - Mary J Blige wipes the floor with that woman. Beyonce is way too pop, she can sing no dobut about it, but I don't find her soulful at all. That said, I haven't bought an MJB album since 05. That stuff, just isn't my bag anymore.

  • the production on this is untouchable and 50's verse is actually really good, definitely one of my favorite songs ever.
  • lol Beyonce totally fucked up this one
  • I actually havent listened to a full nelly furtado (maybe her debut when I was a wee lad cause my sister had it) or bey-yé album. I just secretly like those tunes.
  • @Ocaml That comment made me laugh but I also think you are being somewhat misogynistic, even though I realize you are not completely serious.

    I want to make clear that I am not generally a fan of Beyoncé's music, nor have I even taken the time to listen to a full album of hers. She has a very small handful of singles l like, but for the most part, I actually agree with the criticisms @WiredRacing brought up: even though she has a strong voice, it's rare that I can connect emotionally to it. I do, however, respect her a lot because I feel like there are too many female pop artists promoting an insulting view of women, and Beyoncé is one of the few largely successful ones that I consider an exception.
  • @Ocaml just keeps turning up the 'Poster of the Month' heat! Dy-lan, Dy-Lan, Dy-Lan, becuz eye spit hawt fyah.
  • @Ocaml Hahahaha alright I really can't think of anything productive to say to that.
  • this is doing nothing for me.
  • I dunno how I'll feel after more listens, but I'm enjoying it a lot right now.

    Pretty obvious prediction: Pitchfork will love it.
  • Hrm. I dunno, sounds pretty sugary. I'm not sure repeat listens will change that.
  • I like it, I think.
  • i like that about 5-10 years ago he set the standards for r'n'b and pop-funk, and then 2011 and 2012 came along with the new style of r'n'b and JT's like "*sigh* I guess I better move the goal posts again"

    i haven't heard that track btw
  • "Countdown" by Beyonce is kind of the greatest song ever. I never heard it until tonight when I put it in the playlist...

    thanks, Danny (probably).
  • Haha yeah I'm pretty sure I'm the only one on the forum who has recently plugged it.

    Speaking of pop music, have you listened to M.I.A.'s Kala? I'm curious what you think of that Pixies reference on "$20."
  • I think I was the only one who liked 1+1.
  • I agree on Countdown. It is the only Beyonce song on my iTunes.
  • lol, incidentally we listened to Beyonce - Countdown all night at a party yesterday. Along with Usher - Climax, Nicki Minaj - Super Bass (!!), Beyonce - Sweet Dreams (another good Beyonce tune) and what might be most controversial of all: Bruno Mars - Locked Out of Heaven.
  • I used to like Kala but truthfully when I try to listen to it now I think it's so overly obnoxious. Just like I think M.I.A. is personality-wise sometimes, to be perfectly honest.
  • i unironically love the newest kesha album

    k bye
  • Kesha is like the ultimate guilty pleasure radio pop artist. You can't deny her songs are catchy as fuck.
  • I'm with Robby on MIA lately.
  • I like Gagas albums quite a bit.
  • Woah, those must be permaban words.
  • I admit to owning the Eric Cartman version of that for Rock Band.
  • I've partied to too much Gaga to harbor disdain for her.

  • I think this song is FANTASTIC.
  • Wait, Pitchfork never reviewed Taylor Swift's Red? That's weird. P4K openly embraces a lot of mainstream music (Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, Usher, Nicki Minaj, etc.) but nothing for poor ol' T. Swift?

    One could argue that Beyonce's music pulls from a lot more interesting sources (and I'd agree), but in terms of massively popular pop divas, Taylor and her are of pretty equal footing.
  • "One could argue that Beyonce's music pulls from a lot more interesting sources (and I'd agree), but in terms of massively popular pop divas, Taylor and her are of pretty equal footing. "

    ....Alex, do you wanna be banished again?
  • I meant in terms of recent record sales and pop culture presence/relevance. Sure, Beyonce has sold more records but she's been active longer and half of her albums were released in a time where people didn't listen to their music through YouTube.
  • Just for the record, I do prefer Beyonce, but I still think Taylor Swift is pretty good.
  • Taylor Swift is a tad insufferable. The best descriptor I've read is that she is a "Nice Girl" in the same vein as a "Nice Guy" (see: "You Belong with Me").
  • The Supremes

    Yeah guys, I'm racist.
  • I pull from Beyonce's source

  • i wish beyonce would pull on my source
  • I was trying to eventually reach around to that.

  • @vestenet I agree with you totally about Taylor Swift. @psyche I think P4k doesn't cover Taylor Swift because they simply ignore pop artists they don't like. Beyonce, for example, strikes me as being much more respectable as both an artist and a human being than Taylor Swift. P4k has standards with pop music like they do other genres they cover.
  • Sorry guys, I can't watch that UN Assembly video thing she did without gagging.
  • You're acting like this is a new thing.
  • ^ I look forward to all of that. Let's burn some bridges while listening to the new J.T. album. :)
  • By the way, can we talk about how excited I am about it being called The 20/20 Experience?
  • I mean, this cover:

  • I would've preferred the 60 Minutes Experience featuring a guest spot from Andy Rooney from beyond the grave bitching about ice cream or whatever he did.
  • The Number 23 Experience, starring J.T. as J.C.
  • You know who else is great? His wife. The Bey-on-say.
  • HAIM have a new video for their most recent single. You might remember me talking about them when I ran down my favorite EPs of last year on the podcast.

    They aren't topping Billboards yet, but mark my words they are going to be fucking HUGE. When they're headlining the Hollywood Bowl, I'm going to be all "I was a fan of them from their first release" like y'all are with the Death Grips.
  • No man I totally get you, they're pretty big on the indie station Triple J up round here.
  • Yeah I heard the single, it's good. Pop but good.
  • I like that JT art.

  • I gotta say I enjoy this track, even though I hate the objectification of women in both the lyrics and the video.

    Where's people actually talking about love nowadays, it's all about hookups, I hate it.

    The sound though is super sweet, has a great smooth limber groove which is quietly minimal yet superbly fulfilling at the same time.

    I'm glad that thanks to Frank Ocean and the new Daft Punk record, funk seems to be coming back into pop music. Maybe another pop music renaissance may be upon us in the future?
  • and there's an unrated version of the video where the girls are all topless.

    if you want wack off material or somethin', I dunno.
  • I heard a Kelly Clarkson song on the radio and I liked it a lot. Shoot me
  • this is a thread where we can say that kinda stuff all openly Robby, feel free.
  • Has anyone noticed that low poly 3d graphics have been popping up in mainstream music videos as of late? I think it isn't too much of a leap to connect this trend with the rise of vaporwave.

    It's in everything from Miley Cyrus' latest jam to the leaked video for "Black Skinhead.

    I realize it may seem like just a blip, but you never know. PrismCorp Virtual Enterprises might be on the top of the charts one day.
  • Christ, I hope so.
  • I kind of wish this thread was more active. I don't really seek out compelling mainstream music because I expect it to come to me, but it only does occasionally. Has there been anything good lately?

    After years and years of recoiling at anything played on the radio, I really don't give a fuck about "authenticity" or subscribe to any genre hierarchies anymore. Cloud Nothings are pretty much the Foo Fighters, just on a smaller scale. Pavement played Weenie Roast back in the day. Big deal.
  • Nostalgia operates in about 20-year cycles, so the '80s pastiche is gradually giving way to the early '90s and the steady rise of the personal computer era. And this is indeed fine.
  • the beat for this song sounds like a preset on a consumer grade Casio keyboard, yet I cannot stop listening to it
  • You got something against consumer grade Casio keyboard presets, son?

  • @Robby Pharrell is one of my favorite producers.
  • I like most production I've heard from the guy, but come on that beat is hilariously lazy
  • I dunno. It's not one of his best, but I like it. One of my favorite things about Pharrell is how he's able to do so much with a minimal set of sounds when we're in an age when so many mainstream producers are devoted to taking a maximal approach.
  • I feel you on that. I'd like to see Pharrell try more of that kind of thing
  • Then you should explore his catalog a little. I posted three songs he produced in the first post of this thread, and I especially recommend trying the Clipse album Hell Hath No Fury, one of my favorite hip hop albums. In addition to the song I posted above, try these:

    Their album Lord Willin' is great too, though not quite as much, and I still haven't listened to their other material.
  • will do
  • I've never been impressed by Pharrell's production and I don't think I ever will be nor will I ever forgive him for singing so out of key over some of my would-be favorite tracks on the new daft punk album. I think his beats are minimal because the whole thing would fall apart if he added anything else onto it. That's what invited critics to compare Odd Future to the Neptunes when Goblin was released.

    But I've only heard like 300 out of the 100,000 tracks here so there could be good ones. They have made a significant footprint in cultural trends, and I admire that skill a lot. The quantity and relevance of pop music they've put out is tremendous. I would definitely read a book on how they did it as a business to get inspiration in my own life about making very little into a lot.

  • The difference between The Neptunes' and Odd Future's production styles to me are that the quality of Odd Future's sounds tends to be terrible, whereas each sound on a Neptunes beat sounds great even on its own.
  • Oh my god. Have. you. heard. Corey. Feldman's. new. song?

  • Guys, this video is a tour through the "Feldmansion." This is an actual word in the description.
  • I wish I could unsee/unhear things.
  • And here I was unaware that Mr. Feldman had already released a solo album eleven years ago, featuring one of the funniest pairings of RYM reviews I've ever seen:
  • Feldman? From across the hall?
  • haven't you done enough already?
  • I lol'd when I watched that.
  • this is about 2 skydiving nuns away from being a Harmony Korine project
  • ^ That video is totally racist, right?

    I think so.
  • I think its mysogenistic personally
  • man that blurred lines song is so fucking catchy

    now we know where Drake stole his rap singing thing from.