Me, Myself, and iPod 6/30/10: Katy Perry’s giant breasts finally put to good use

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With the long weekend ahead, we have an extra-long list of songs for you to play at your next party/intervention/funeral. Mostly party. And we start by shamelessly using the success of the biggest phony in pop music in order to drive some extra traffic to the site. Given the way she’s made us suffer, she owes us this, at the very least.

Katy Perry – California Gurls (Hyper Crush Remix)
I was willing to give Ms. Everybody Look at Me Why Isn’t Everyone Looking at Me Come On I Have Big Tits Please For God’s Sake Look at Me the benefit of the doubt when EW claimed this was the song of the summer, but I’m sorry, I’m still not convinced. She bends over backwards to be lyrically controversial because she knows that if she doesn’t, everyone will realize how utterly ordinary her songs really are. This one is no exception. Um, I mean, come on and download this killer remix of the summer’s best song by Hype Machine regulars Hyper Crush! Katy RULZ! \nn/

Ugh, that hurt.

The Henry Clay People – Your Famous Friends
It’s like Wilco, back when they used to have fun. Actually, I’m not sure Wilco ever made a record this fun.

Apples in Stereo – Hey Elevator
I’m loving the ELO renaissance that’s sprouting among the indie poppers. First this, and the Silver Seas give them a nice name check (with matching string riff) in their song “What’s the Drawback.” Any fan of Jeff Lynne should check out the Apples’ new one, Travellers in Space and Time. ‘sGood.

Violens – Acid Reign
This is a tune I’ve wanted to share for a while, but only recently got the green light to do so. This is right in my alt-rock-dance wheelhouse, with a driving rhythm section and vaguely Manchester-ish sound. There’s a bit too much swearing (nothing will turn you into a prude faster than having children), but it’s a damn good track. Looking forward to the full-length album Amoral, due in October.

Trances Arc – Boom City
You mean there are white people in Atlanta making music, too? Can’t say I’m crazy about their band name, but I like the Airborne Toxic Event-style slow build-and-explode that the song possesses, and minus the melodrama, to boot.

Steel Train – Bullets
Gotta say, this band is carving out quite a unique niche for themselves. Scarlett Johannson has covered them. They have an undeniable reach-for-the-rafters grandeur to them. And then sometimes, they want to be MGMT. Not on this song (that would be “Turnpike Ghost”), but still, for a band with such an unrevealing name, they’re quite versatile.

Jukebox the Ghost – Empire
Good to see this band back after their impressive debut a couple years ago. This song, from their upcoming album Everything Under the Sun, is a bit more mannered than their debut, but it’s no less catchy. Think Ben Folds, back when he allowed himself to have fun.

Halsted – Walking Shoes
Their name matches a Chicago street I used to live near, so I was predetermined to like these guys before I heard them. But then when I discovered that they play smoothed out guitar pop, well, that’s when they had me.

Isaac Russell – Lighthouse
The love child of Jakob Dylan and Jason Mraz? Sure, that’ll work.

Carl Broemel – Heaven Knows
Taking time from his day job in My Morning Jacket to do a solo record, Broemel gets downright rootsy, at least on this song. Haven’t heard the rest to know if it’s like this or MMJ.


Timbaland: Shock Value II

RIYL: Scott Storch, Dr. Dre, Pharrell Williams

It has the Roman numeral II after its title, but Timbaland’s latest effort has more in common with the artistically bankrupt misery common to watered-down later sequels – think “The Karate Kid III,” “Jason X,” and “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace” – than any mere sophomore jinx can explain. As with 2007’s Shock Value, Timbaland assembles an eclectic-by-modern-standards group of guest vocalists to try and create a sort of jukebox effect; problem is, the once-innovative producer didn’t bother to come up with any interesting beats, and most of the artists in question – including Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, and the dreaded Chad Kroeger – don’t have enough personality to carry these pedestrian tracks on their own.


All things considered, there really should be some shock value in Timbaland collaborating with the likes of Daughtry and Jet, but there isn’t a song in the bunch that feels like anything more than calculated pandering, and the album lacks the kind of savvy songcraft that makes this kind of blatant soullessness forgivable. As competent as it is deeply unmemorable, Shock Value II will probably squeak out a few hits, but that’ll be more about the marquee value of participants like Justin Timberlake and Drake than anything to do with the music. Modern R&B at its most mechanized and least inspired. (Interscope/Mosley 2009)

Timbaland MySpace page


Rivers Cuomo and Katy Perry to collaborate


Does anybody even make music anymore without asking another notable musician to contribute in some way? I mean, we were all used to the ensemble efforts of rap and hip hop albums, but lately it’s been getting ridiculous. Back in the day, the most you had in terms of a guest spot on a track was Jimmy Page tossing off a lead guitar lick or David Crosby lending some backup vocals. Now musical acts are just teaming with whoever willy-nilly to slap something together for their albums. Still, Katy Perry and Rivers Cuomo? Come on now.

“We’re writing together next week. Can’t wait,” Cuomo said. It’s unclear what the “Tired of Sex” and “I Kissed a Girl” stars will be concocting, but it’s possible the fruits of their collaboration may appear on Perry’s follow-up to One of the Boys.

As Rolling Stone previously reported, Cuomo has been feeling quite collaborative lately. He recruited Lil Wayne to join his Raditude posse for the Jermaine Dupri-produced version of the song “Can’t Stop Partying.” The dictionary-defying album also finds the Weezer gang collaborating with the All-American Rejects’ Tyler Ritter and Nick Wheeler on “Put Me Back Together.” 30 seconds clips of Raditude are now streaming over at iTunes, where fans can also sign up for the iTunes Pass to get exclusive tracks.

Guys, I already feel bad enough that you’ve become rich writing silly pop numbers. Stick to what you do, separately.


The Used show off their Artwork

The Used, Artwork

For their fourth studio album, The Used–a band known for their tragic melodies, raw vocals and powerful hooks–have teamed up with producer Matt Squire (Taking Back Sunday, Boys Like Girls, Katy Perry, and 3OH!3) to create a cohesive, emotive alternative record with just the right amount of pop flare.  For more than a year singer Bert McCraken, guitarist Quinn Allman, bassist Jeph Howard, and drummer Dan Whitesides have toiled over the creation of what Allman called a, “more sincere” approach to his bands music.  “Lyrically, it completely engulfs you and makes you feel safe but it’s all about feeling alone and empty and knowing there’s always a light,” said Allman.

In the past, that light Allman spoke of hasn’t always shone through The Used’s dark, troubled lyrics and heavy pulsating riffs.  On Artwork however, the band has managed a perfect combination of the grit that put them on the map and the artistic impulses that have pulled them in a more polished direction.  The first single from Artwork, “Blood On My Hands,” is indeed the perfect blend of shiny pop and edgy alternative rock.  All the attitude The Used have become known for is there, and it’s only re-enforced by the giant sing-along chorus that drives the track.  It’s the perfect way to open the record, and The Used pulls it off flawlessly.

Artwork continues with “Empty With You,” a classic-sounding The Used track that finds McCraken looking for a companion who’s just as dysfunctional as he is.  It feels like an extremely natural progression for the band, and the record, and serves as the perfect bridge to the records second single, and strongest track, “Born to Quit.”  As indie-rock anthems go this one is about as big as they come.  The chorus explodes with a fiery, almost bittersweet quality that channels previous singles like as “All That I’ve Got” and “Buried Myself Alive.”  Fans looking for the band’s old-school sound on Artwork should head straight for “Come Undone.”  It’s loud, angry and in your face, and you can feel the passion in his voice when McCraken screams, “I’ll be the end that you deserve!”

Other standout tracks include the groovy, “On the Cross,” a tune that seems to be an obvious attack on religion as McCraken wails, “pray/ if it makes you feel safe/ all i can say/ is we go our own way.”  The energy, passion and pure attitude on “Cross” is what makes this track stand out, while at the same time allowing  it to fit in seamlessly with the rest of the record.  Even next to the somewhat out of place ballad, “Kissing You Goodbye,” or the heavier, metal-infused jam, “The Best of Me,” it’s tracks like “Cross” that have defined The Used as a consistent, driving force in the world of alternative rock.

After nearly a decade making music Bert McCraken and friends have done what most bands struggle to accomplish.  Instead of trying to keep up with today’s trends, The Used has remained true to the spunky, scream-heavy rock that captured audiences back in 2003.  As a result, Artwork is one of their strongest, most consistent albums to date.  It’s the perfect blend of the raw emotion and unbridled intensity of earlier records like Maybe Memories and Shallow Believer, with just enough of the shiny polished edge that dominated Lies for the Liars and In Love and Death.  It’s loud, it’s raucous and it will stick with you, but most of all it’s a true representation of everything The Used stand for, and with that, it truly is Artwork.


AskMen readers rank 99 Most Desirable Women, inadvertently create world’s worst playlist

Our friends at have unveiled their annual list of the Top 99 Most Desirable Women, as voted by their readers (who cast a staggering 10 million votes), and it is every bit the cornucopia of babeness that you’d expect it to be. We obviously can’t tell you who’s at the top of the list, but on a personal note, I was thrilled to see that my girl Anne Hathaway went Top Ten, even beating out smoking hot Brazilian model Alessandra Ambrosio to boot. Kristen Bell and Megan Fox made the top ten as well, and given the performance by the former in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and “Heroes,” and the performance by the latter’s stomach in “Transformers,” this should surprise no one.

Rihanna However, after a quick glance of the list, I realized something: for as oversexed as everything has gotten these days, rock babes are in disturbingly low supply. Only one singer made the top ten – yes, Scarlett Johannson made an album, but she doesn’t count – and it should surprise no one that it’s the girl that doesn’t go anywhere without her umbrella, ella, ella. From there, though, the pickings are slim. Christina Aguilera is at #35, and Miss Sasha Fierce (Beyoncé) is at #50. Really, #50? That’s the best she could do?

Being the site’s head music geek, I looked at the list of rock babes – and we admit that we use the word ‘rock’ loosely, as these women are all pop stars – and imagined someone assembling a mix of their music and only their music. Along with Rihanna, Beyoncé and Xtina, you can add Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger (#65), Jessica Simpson (#70), and, gulp, Britney Spears (#90). Aiiiiieeeeeeeee! That’s the iPod from hell, right there, though I do think “Umbrella” is a monster jam. Still, imagine going to a party, and all they played were the above artists. Admit it: you’d leave the party. However, if those women were all present at the party, you’d stay, which means that while the voters were asked to look beyond sex appeal and rank the women that have the qualities they would most like in a companion (intelligence, humor, character and ambition), it’s clear that when it comes to music, sex appeal is still driving the car, intelligence is in the back seat, and character is tied up in the trunk.

Katy Perry Ambition, however, is riding shotgun, which brings us to the singer at #32. Katy Perry. Now, if we’re just looking at photographs, I can see why guys would dig Katy Perry. She looks like the slutty third Deschanel sister, and talks about kissing girls, which is catnip to horny guys. There is just one small problem with her: she’s the phoniest phony in all of Phonyland, and a sorry excuse for a pop star. Add her to the party playlist and the people present at the party, and I’m leaving. Give me Kylie Minogue (just missed the cut, we’re told) over Perry any day of the week and twice on Sunday. Please, please give me Kylie Minogue.

The sad, unspoken part of all this is that the performance of women rockers on this list is certainly a ripple effect of how much we devalue music these days. Ten years ago, this list would be crawling with singers. Twenty years ago, there would have been more singers than actresses. Today, we get Katy Perry. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fine list of women overall – hard to argue with Keeley Hazell, after all – but the music fan in me feels like this list serves as a stinging indictment of how completely screwed up the music business is these days. Sigh.


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