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Confection Corner: March 11th, 2009 Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Posted by Andy Hutchins in Confection Corner, Rockabye.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

All sorts of fun today. We have some new Keri Hilson, the All-American Rejects getting some love, and me, too, disliking “Get on Your Boots.” Oh, and a surprise. Jump with me.

This is “Knock You Down,” which is Ms. Hilson plus two of music’s highest-wattage superstars, Ne-Yo and Kanye West. If this isn’t a label-designated single, I know absolutely nothing about music. (And Wikipedia confirms that I do know something: “It was announced on March 10th that the video for “Knock You Down” (featuring Ne-Yo & Kanye West) was in production and would be released as the fourth single.”)

There’s nothing as inherently memorable or catchy in this song as in “Turnin’ Me On,” which would still be in my 2009 top ten, but it’s an ebullient bit of synthy pop, with the three stars each contributing verses that sort of blend into the background with a gem here (Ne-Yo calls himself “the commander-in-chief of the pimp ship”) and there (Kanye’s high school reminisce of a verse, gloriously free of Auto-Tune, has a great rhyme scheme with “hourglass” and “ashes” which sounds stupidly epic for this song). I’m not sure the hook is big or loud enough for the song to be a chart-topper, and it seems like The Clutch’s production is a little high and fast, with those sky-high synths and a skittering drum riff, for this to fit in the right middle-energy niche for radio. But I wouldn’t skip it on the album.

Confession: I loved “Move Along.” I thought it was a great mix of noisy guitar-and-drum rock, earnest lyricism, and lead singer Tyson Ritter’s piercing voice. This song, then, is that one’s inverse.

It starts slowly, softly, with almost a minute before all the components kick in, and only flares up as the stomper it wants to be in the hook. Ritter is snarky here, wishing ill on a former lover, clearly not moving on as in past songs. The key, though, is the choral breakdown, just drums and the band chanting the hook near the three-minute mark; once more, this band finds a way to give even a low-tempo breakup song an anthemic moment.

Sure, this isn’t weighty pop, but if we’re choosing between the All-American Rejects and pretty much every other band with an album out this year as the pop-rock troubadours of 2009, I’d lean towards AAR frequently.

After all, this may be the alternative.

I really liked How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. I thought it was a great synthesis of some of the melodramatic and stadium-sized songs U2 have been vacillating between for much of their career, and would still consider “City of Blinding Lights” and “Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own” for inclusion on “Song of the Decade” lists. (This doesn’t mean I don’t realize, in retrospect, that I missed a lot of the leaden sentiment and creative walls on the first few times through the CD.)

I don’t think I’m going to like No Line on the Horizon if this is the tone and tenor: Bono’s voice can’t carry a rock song without some wizardry from the booth at this point, there are all sorts of ludicrous lyrics in here (“I got a submarine/You got gasoline/I don’t want to talk about wars between nations” is basically a couple of words that rhyme and the reason to not use them in consecutive breaths) and it falls flat by aiming too high. I’m not surprised this hasn’t soared; it’s U2 doing their best U2 imitation, and that shouldn’t fly in a world with bands that produce better music with a less-known brand name.

One-Hit Wonder of the Week

Yeah, you remember this song. It topped charts from Norway to Mexico with it’s “Rapper’s Delight”-in-Spanglish chorus and simple dance, but I’m proud to say it maxed out at #54 on the Billboard Hot 100. Sometimes, we Americans can resist the allure of a trio of attractive Spaniards.

Tell me more in the comments. See you next Wednesday.



1. John G - Wednesday, March 11, 2009

This is where I get off on my U2 rant …

I bought “No Line” last Friday and have had a hard time taking my earphones out. The album is easily the best U2 album since Zooropa, possibly Achtung Baby. The Title Track, “Magnificent”, “Moment of Surrender” and “Breathe” stand beside “Stay (Faraway, So Close!)”, “One Tree Hill” and “The Fly” in that second-tier of just-below-classic U2 songs. It’s infinitely more complex and inventive than Leave Behind, and far more tuneful than “A-Bomb”, although I agree that “Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own” ranks right up there as a first-tier U2 track.

That said, “Get On Your Boots” is a steaming pile of WTF-dogshit. Even within the frame of the album, where it works marginally better, it appears smack in the middle and is frustrating as hell when you forget to skip the track because you’re concentrating elsewhere. It might just be the worst U2 song I’ve ever heard, if Yahweh wasn’t so fresh in my memory.

So, before you knock the whole album, listen to it. And I have it if you want it. And if anything I’ve said so far resonates with you, I suspect that you will. It truly is that good.

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