Pop Cult: Brad Paisley, The-Dream, Paramore

Allen Huang / April 11, 2013

Pop Cult: On Purpose Idiot

from youtube.com
Photo courtesy of youtube.com

Brad Paisley ft LL Cool J – “Accidental Racist” : D


The only reason this song is not an ‘F’ is that Brad Paisley is at least confident enough in his songwriting to write a response to his controversial sporting of a Confederate flag as a shirt. But, as both a pop tune and an intelligent foray into racial relations, ‘Accidental Racist’ tumbles from the top of the stupid tree and hits every branch on the way down. If you grow up in the South, or wherever, and you know that your own area has a special flag for some reason, and you attribute it to Skynyrd? Like, that’s as far back as you think it goes? As they say on the Twitter, FOH.

Paisley knows what the so-named “Blood Stained Banner” means and it’s not just ‘Sweet Home Alabama’. And getting LL Cool J to limply use the chains/chains metaphor in this travesty of a tune is the equivalent of saying “I have a black friend, guys.” It’s a dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb song and one of the few songs that can go into the tiny pile of “If you like this you are probably not a good person” pop songs.

The-Dream – “Slow It Down” : B-


Guys. Guys. IV is finally coming out. Terius Nash has dilly-dallied long enough to make me consider 1977 a true catalogue album, but enough of this foolish business. The world demands a true, finessed product, an R&B album that shows all the newcomers what chops they’re missing. Which is why these new singles are kind of middling at best.

The first singles for the Love/Hate trilogy were stunning right out the gate. “IV: is just not very good, even compared to the weaker songs on the uneven 1977. “Slow It Down” is better, with its casual melody and “BAA-OOP” rally points sprinkled throughout. Fabolous helps a bunch too. But it’s a very light, breezy affair, more of a spring break filler than a summer jam. Here’s hoping the best is yet to come.

Paramore – “Still Into You” : A-


In the canon of Pop-dom, Paramore and Hayley Williams are a sort of a proto-Taylor Swift, in that giving in to their Pop charms meant you took the idea of Pop seriously (specifically the portion of the genre aimed at teenage mall culture). With her fiery orange hair and the Machiavellian process in which she ran her band, a dichotomy was drawn between Hayley’s real life personality and the pop gems she produced. Three years later and with a new (more obedient?) backing band, Paramore returns with its most uplifting single ever.

“Still Into You” is great for all the reasons that “Tonight I’m Getting Over You” succeeded: it buys into its emotion and sells its high points like no one’s business. The way Hayley crashes into the chorus on the wheels of a line about stomach butterflies is sublime. And the way the vocal melody weaves through the big-boned framework of the verse structure is endlessly charming. Those alone would be enough to vault into summer jam territory, but the “you and I” breakdown seals the deal with a confident innocence that all pure pop requires. I’ve never really gotten on the Paramore train because of its abject angst, but this I can get behind.

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