Mainstream Music Appreciation 2021 :)
Updated: Dec 30, 2021
LET'S SEE WHAT'S HAPPENING IN THE MUSIC MAINSTREAM THIS HOLIDAY SEASON?!
Working a part-time retail job at a music shop during the holiday season I can tell you that the people of Britain were certainly excited about five particular albums: Adele's 30, Ed Sheeran's =, Silk Sonic's An Evening with Silk Sonic, Coldplay's Music of the Spheres and Abba's Voyage! Let's look at the music that the UK public loved to purchase this holiday season! Also a few other things that dominated the mainstream that I can talk about because I'm so plugged in, man. You could call this a tourist experiment into the top 40 or something else pretentious and dumb, it's all in good fun though xo ;)
Coldplay - Music of the Spheres
Genre: Car Commercial Music
Seems like Coldplay have been a punching bag for a while now. This is because they have shamelessly gone pop several times and this year, following their more understated album Everyday Life they've bounced back with a pop record like we've never seen before! Topical collabs with BTS and Selena Gomez among others, and unashamedly soaring pop choruses make for music fit ready for car adverts! Not really that surprising. Some of their song titles are emojis and I guess some people think that's a big deal. Kinda funny to imagine being like "yo slap on ✨ by Coldplay" but the emoji songs are all interludes sadly :(
Anyway the album is kinda what you expect (not that good), I want to highlight this though:
Last year BTS released their first English language single Dynamite and when I first heard it I was just like "fair play, they've done it, it's the best song of all-time™". An incredibly addicting track. They also gave us Butter this year which was also good, and then there's this seemingly Spotify algorithm created collaboration with Coldplay. We want the audience of LITERALLY everyone who apparently enjoy the usually dull modern Coldplay pop stuff with BTS' Army of rabid stans.
You know what though? this is actually kinda good. Of course lyrically it's absolutely simple, but the production from Max Martin (of course) is nice, the chorus is soaring and it feels like a genuine collab fitting in BTS verses tastefully and the highlight for me is the way the bring the beat back in at the end of the song.
This is probably a hugely cynical cash-grab, but it sounds nice so fair play to them. Speaking of...
Ed Sheeran - =
Genre: Music for your Fiat 500
I have not once willingly listened to Shape of You by Ed Sheeran, but it's probably one of the songs I have heard the most, because it plays everywhere. Such a synthetic and soulless pop song. Mr. Ed Sheeran seems like a chill guy but BRO your music is the safest stuff ever. This year he made a grand return with the synthetic dance-pop single Bad Habits. Ready for the dancefloor of every "Revs" bar in the UK as well as every Tesco, Asda and of course every Fiat 500 in the country. Ed Sheeran's so edgy, he has "bad habits" so cool! He stays out after 2am 😳 what the FUCK,, this man is out of control! Anyway whatever congrats on all the success Ed Sheeran I think some of your songs are novel ideas, this just is possibly the most boring pop song of the year by a major artist.
Oh I didn't listen to the album sorry. I'm sure it bumps in the Fiat 500 though.
Adele - 30
Adele is the biggest artist in the world but I'm pretty sure anybody who enjoys Bladee (me) cannot also enjoy Adele, we're simply incompatible. Also I'm pretty far and away from Adele's target audience of adult women who drink wine. So I can't really say anything bad about this, it's perfectly good music! But it just goes in one ear and out the other for me.
I'd like to instead take this time and use Adele's stature & pedigree to highlight "REAL™" music. For example while Adele might provide deft lyricism and smart song-writing, Bladee offers the musical equivalent of getting a strobe light shone in your face while you ascend off of the planet. Comparatively to Adele, Playboi Carti's lyrics are nonsensical, but the energy, the delirious ad-libbing and the banging trap beats makes this essential music for anybody in the world (even your mother who drinks wine). Or why not check out Sematary, who has music so blown out it you can barely make out what's going on, and that kinda rules!
Just some suggestions, Adele is cool though!
ABBA - Voyage
Genre: Grandma Music
ABBA rule, so it's cool that they came back with such a strong song after 40 years, it really sounds like an emotional re-union. I'd imagine Grandmas and Grandads across the globe were shedding a tear listening to track 1 of their first new album in 40 years™. I certainly feel the palpable emotion behind this track, it's worth a shot even if you're a zoomer who's like "who tf is abba lol"?
I don't have anything much to say about their music, it's nice, though I'm quite interested in their accompanying tour which isn't "OFFICIALLY™" a live performance and instead a weird mo-capped thing where they holographically appear as younger versions of themselves in a custom built venue in London, like what's up with that? I guess it's more exciting than seeing a bunch of old Swedish Grandparents struggle to perform but, this sort of thing feels like the stepping stone to us getting virtual Nirvana concerts in 2035 with holographic Kurt Cobain singing the hits. Maybe that's a bit cynical though ;) To be fair it seems kind of novel in this case, but also a bit weird honestly. Seems like a fun show though, probably unlike anything else.
Silk Sonic - An Evening with Silk Sonic
Genre: NOTHIN BUT HITS BABYYYYY
I actually like this album a lot so I'll write about it in my "BEST OF THE YEAR™" list (SPOILERS). Thanks to you, Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak for making interesting mainstream throwback R&B/Soul/Pop crossover stuff, that despite playing every day I was working in retail, I barely got bored of it.
Some OTHER Mainstream stuff...
Drake - Certified Lover Boy
Just look at this album cover, man. I used to rep for Drake, he has good albums, he has good songs. Even his pop hits are decent. But now he's just having a laugh, and the majority of the public are laughing with him. bruh. I'm done with him. Here's some good Drake songs from along the years, it's like I'm writing a eulogy but this dude will be back in a year or two with more of the same I'm sure:
(^this whole album is so good)
(^ shout-out Carti as usual)
Olivia Rodrigo - Sour
Genre: Pop (for zoomers)
Hey have you heard Drivers License by Olivia Rodrigo? Hey, have you heard that new pop song by Disney star Olivia Rodrigo, it's called Drivers License. Drivers License by Olivia Rodrigo is now the biggest song ever?! Have you heard it yet? It's had the most successful first week on Spotify ever! You should definitely listen to it! It's got so many Grammy nominations!
WELL ACTUALLY NO I HAVEN'T HEARD IT!!!!!! Until right now... I'll listen, wait a second dear reader...
Ok it's a good song, cool. Honestly probably the best Lorde song of the year, Olivia especially channels her with that excellent bridge. Crazily despite having the makings of a potential one-hit wonder, Olivia Rodrigo is now one of the biggest popstars in the world and capitalised on Drivers Licence's success with a pretty good album and another big hit single with a lightly pop-punk vibe good 4 u which is also pretty good bratty teenage melodrama being aired in a very tasteful pop-punk track. Somehow they found a way to be even less pop-punk than Avril Lavigne, but whatever it's a novel sound for the top 40 at this point. SHOUT OUT TO OLIVIA RODRIGO FOR KEEPING THE MAINSTREAM FRESH!
I guess Billie Eilish is a pretty big artist. I like this song by her, it's a kinda weird, dark club whisper-sing banger.
Most of the rest of her album is firmly in the 'not for me category. It's like Adele for women who aren't quite at the age to be drinking wine yet.
Taylor Swift is just cheating and re-releasing her old albums again. Don't care Taylor, sorry :( But apparently that 10 minute version of All Too Well is an extremely unsubtle diss track to Jake Gyllenhaal. Cool! More popstars should do diss tracks to actors they used to date.
OH SHIT Lil Nas X came back and proved he wasn't a one hit wonder by making two more hits and having a successful debut album. MONTERO (Call Me by Your Name) is a decent track, but most interesting for its high-budget, hilariously gay, religion-baiting video:
I prefer his other hit, the more rap-focused INDUSTRY BABY, that's supposedly co-produced by none other than Kanye West and features the white boi rapper of the moment, Jack Harlow (who now makes better Drake music than Drake). Also another hilariously gay video. Very cool song!
Anyway that ends the pop music tourism of the moment. Some good songs, some boring ones. None that are offensively bad, though Drake did manage to commission one of the most iconicly bad album covers of all-time. Well done Drake you rascal 👏