Demi Lovato makes weird noises

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In my opinion, right now is the most exciting time in pop music since I was born, mostly because it's just so intensely weird. Flirting with dubstep, a style that even just a couple of years ago was considered stylishly avant-garde, has become de rigueur for any pop artist who wants to seem up-to-date. Meanwhile rap music sounds more and more like Aphex Twin with every passing day. I sometimes imagine going back in time to play someone Beyonce's "Bow Down/I Been On" so I can tell them that the pile of weird, warped noises that they're hearing is in the future the latest single by one of the most popular musicians on earth.

I also like to go the opposite way and picture how pop fans in the coming decades will see us. At this point I'm pretty certain that in 2033, when not very imaginative people put together "2010s" costumes for Halloween, they'll be wearing Kanye-style shutter shades and "Sex, Drugs & Dubstep" T-shirts. And when the hipsters of the time start digging for songs that are just soooo 2010s they'll snicker with glee over Demi Lovato's "Heart Attack" the same way my friends and I once did over crappy pop songs from the 60s that were loaded with egregious amounts of sitar.

"Heart Attack" is an extremely simple pop song, following a verse-chorus-bridge structure that's had a lot of use over the past century or so, and a melody that might manage to get stuck in the occasional listener's head but is just as likely to turn one off with its cloyingness. It's the very definition of an unexceptional pop song, and throughout the years producers have been slapping conspicuously fashionable sounds over unexceptional pop songs to occasionally great success. In the 60s the preferred way to sound up-to-date was sitars. In the 2010s it's digitally chopped vocals and quasi-dubstep synth lines and drops.

On one hand there's a certain ironic pleasure in seeing the music of the moment reduced to its shallowest cliche right in front of us, sort of like seeing someone walking around in a hot-pink trucker cap with "#YOLO" printed on it and knowing that in the future everyone will think everyone back then wore them, the way people who weren't alive during the 70s assumes that everyone back then wore leisure suits and platform boots. But more than that there's a real, genuine satisfaction in the fact that when a producer's trying to make a song sound like it fits on the pop charts in 2013, their solution is to throw every weird-ass thing they can think of at it. That's a reputation I can be happy to live with.

Miles Raymer writes about what's on the charts on Tuesday.

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