It’s been a hot and miserable summer. I never thought I’d see the day when I was looking forward to being in an office, purely because of the air-conditioning (oh, and those neat little paycheck thingys). But what makes this almost anti-Semitic weather worse is the horrible entertainment choices we’ve been provided with over the past three brutal months. In the past, we have turned to the entertainment outlet for comfort from our suffering. But weirdly enough, this summer we all made the move to Bizzaro world, where pleasure is pain and acting is Vin Diesel. Or perhaps Hollywood etc has changed its goal to increase our suffering. Maybe this is “their” master plan—to shrink our expectations so low that even Tom Green could make a movie—or was that done already? Well, I, for one, commend them for doing that so well. I am shrunken. I am whimpering in the corner.
While I am not Jordan Hiller—I can only strive to be—I know that the movie industry has been dishing out one brainless flop after the other (of course, “Blue Crush” looks like a masterpiece of Shakespearean nature). Television shows were, for the most part, repeats, which is the case during the summer, and those that weren’t repeats were reality shows that reminded me I wanted nothing to do with reality.
So we turn to music for our solace and pleasure. The quick three-minute pop song, the summer hit that makes everything feel alright. The guitar, bass and drums combination that helps us forget that we are unwillingly losing 12 pounds a minute. In the past we’ve had bursts of “Mmmbop” greeting us with open arms. There was nothing like three prepubescent boys singing to us the wonders of love. Then there was Len’s “Steal My Sunshine” which almost did just that. It was a four minutes of shade in a summer that makes this one look like winter. And lest we forget “Who Let the Dogs Out” was a summer time hit, everyone in every sports venue painfully reminds us.
So, what about this summer?
If I was the doctor of music, then I would give you this prognosis: It’s not looking good, ma’am. I’m afraid we’re losing her. The summer hit, that is.
Keeping an open mind and open ears, I conclude that nothing has struck a chord—pun intended—with the audience as a whole. Yes, Jimmy Eat World can write a cute little pop tune but nobody likes the band name. Indeed, it does suck when your initials spell out J.E.W.
Well, as a critic, it is my job to criticize things, which the people around me could tell you I do quite often. I have never found it easier to do that than this summer. I am foaming with my teeth gnashing. I am ready to bite the rump of the summer song. I am prepared to break it down for you.
I have graciously selected a list of summer hit potentials and I will tell you why they fail despite the fact that they came close. Because I am a good man. I am noble and I am modest. Love me.
Michelle Branch’s “Everywhere” and Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles” Michelle Branch is Vanessa Carlton. There. I said it. No one knows it because MTV keeps it a tight secret but these two average looking brunettes who write songs that sound exactly alike are really the same person.
Don’t get me wrong – I like annoying high school girls just as much as the next guy but, girls, we see right through you. Despite the fact that you’re fully dressed, you’re still a “pop star,” not the next Alanis Morrisette (a compliment or an insult? Discuss). So, lose the schitzo act. We’re not buying it. Merge together and become “Vaneselle Branton.”
Summer Hit Bottom Line: Vanessa/Michelle is a slightly cooler version of Debbie Gibson. How sad for her/them.
Nelly “Hot In Here”
It’s getting hot in here so take off….aww, forget it. This is just getting dumb.
Summer Hit Bottom Line: Whoa, Nelly, I think MC Hammer is calling you.
Eminem “Without Me”
An almost near perfect song…if it had come out in 1999. Marshall Mathers ne’ Eminem picks on Moby, Chris Kirkpatrick, and Dick Cheney in a ditty that ends with a wonderful Hasidic tune (imagine a table of Rabbis belting out that one). But the question is asked: how irrelevant can a song be? Here is a man who supposedly has his finger on the pulse of America and he picks on people who are already appearing in Where Are They Now? episodes. Hey, Slim, why don’t you start a fight with Hall & Oats while you’re at it? I hear they’re vegetarians.
Side note: And what about that pronouncing yourself “the king of controversy?!?” Can one truly be objective about him or herself? Better yet, am I the greatest writer of all time?
Summer Hit Bottom Line: Everyone else has used the melt-in-your-mouth joke so I have nothing really witty to say.
Sheryl Crow “Soak In The Sun”
This is what we call the unintentional ode to the mid-life crisis. Be honest with me; you know this song goes nowhere and it’s a desperate attempt to stay hip with the kids. First off, there is no chorus really. Secondly, there’s no chorus really. And those programmed drum beats…..uch. I can’t explain why people even liked this song in the first place. It could be that we feel bad about that ridiculous cover of Maxim her label pressured her into doing.
Speaking of inappropriate; have you seen this video? She prances around like a floozy on Spring Break. Now, go put some clothes on, Sheryl, and start acting like someone my mother’s age.
Summer Hit Bottom Line: Crows—I like to shoo them away (if I couldn’t pun off Eminem’s name, then I’ll do a pun here, damn it).
The Hives “Hate To Say I Told You So”
A great song but I liked it even more when I heard it the first time as “Song 2” by Blur (Isn’t it fun to make references that most people don’t get? No, it isn’t).
Summer Hit Bottom Line: They’re from Sweden. They probably live near Abba and that’s good enough to automatically disqualify them.
Pink “Don’t Let Me Be Me”
Everyone refers to Pink as the “anti-Britney.” Well, if that’s the case, then you can call me the “anti-Pink.” No, seriously, call me the “anit-Pink.” See if I answer you.
But the song’s title– “Don’t Let Me Be Me….” just what the heck does that mean? Is it like, don’t let that guy be him, either. Or what about her? Don’t let her be she because that would be bad. I’ve seen her be her and it gets a bit weird.
Seriously, when are we going to start supplying singers with Strunk’s and White’s Elements of Style?
Summer Hit Bottom Line: You’re not a 14-year old girl so chances are you’ve never heard this song anyway.
Avril Lavigne “Complicated”
Talk about your unsuccessful attempts at hiding your religion. Couldn’t she have been a bit more radical when coming up with an alternative to Avigail Levine? This girl would’ve totally made a lousy Morano. She would’ve been hiding her shabbos candles in the basement but worn her Maagen David necklace to church. Like, duh. Here’s a suggestion: how about something like “Christie Jesus.” Nobody would have found her out with that one.
Summer Hit Bottom Line: This one comes the closest to being a summer hit because it was sunshiney, poppy, fun and slightly rebellious. But here is the problem—publicly admit you love a 14 year old girl and her “perky” music and you are so not getting any more babysitting gigs. And in this economy, that would truly suck. Either that or you’re my roommate.
So in conclusion, sadly, there has been no summer hit. It’s as obvious as Jimmy Fallon is not funny. We need to admit these things and move on or we will have to tolerate this for a long time…I’m referring to bad music, not bad Jimmy Fallon, of course. We should just ignore him.
If you think otherwise, you are welcome to email me your suggestions and I will dismiss them as quickly as possible.