The Popstream: The Worst Song of the Decade


I really don't have the words. Well, OK, maybe I do, but they're ones that aren't particularly strong enough since the internet has made them overused and diluted, and new curse words must be invented and then cemented to other, even newer curse words in some kind of cluster-filth portmanteau in order to properly depict the amount of horror and/or rage one is harboring while experiencing something especially atrocious. More than a decade's worth of internet culture and its attendant preversions and grotesqueries, all the shock-site trolling and the adolescent fanboy overreactions and the double-reverse-meta-unfunny memes, all the introspection-free, reflexively-deployed terms like "douchebag" and "fucktard" and "douchetard" -- it's all just a tiny, trembling underdeveloped embryo of loathing in comparison to what we really need to kick back against everything that is truly, venomously stupid, what we need to keep from becoming the empty husks the 21st century is turning us into. We're trying to hold back a Panzer division with a handful of thumbtacks and a middle finger. We, even in a global-wide, instant-communication epoch, are completely unprepared to deal with the task at hand here: what to do about brokeNCYDE.


Never before in the history of YouTube has the entire aesthetic of a band been so succinctly captured in the single frame of a preview.

Maybe you do not want to hit the "play" button, since that image has told you enough. Here is what you will miss: take everything even remotely exciting and creative out of electro and crunk production and smush it all together until it resembles a generic gruel of vaguely clubby signifiers. Alternate between Autotune and emo screaming. Make the first half of the song a checklist of popped-collar dirtbag cliches -- I have enough power over women to make them instantly succumb to my sexual demands, conspicuous-consumption brand names mean something to me, baby we don't have to fuck (but ha ha just kidding shut up and take this) -- and then make the second half about how you stupid bitch you LIED to me, bluaraghgh. Set the video in a McMansiony mallburb populated by flashy cars, the blankest-looking women ever, and an inexplicable pig mascot. Give everybody the haircuts and clothes people will be laughing about 20 years from now when they remember the '00s. Have the singers dance like idiots. Have the singers choke the women and scream directly in their faces. Set the gears in motion for the potential final downfall of the entire music industry.

This isn't all that new a horror, at least in Internet terms. Warren Ellis, creator of Transmetropolitan and one of the most take-no-shit comics writers working today, was railing against what he saw as "one of those 'fall of Western culture' moments" last November, two days after music blog Idolator recoiled in mortified dismay at its existence. But two and a half months have gone by, and nobody has come out yet to say "ha ha, that was just a joke, we're performance artists who are really big fans of the KLF and we wanted to deconstruct the tropes of this era's pop music," so I'm fearing the worst. We need to be ever-vigilant, constantly reminding ourselves that if we are afraid to be better than we already are, this is what will happen.

I am so, deeply, deeply sorry for showing this to you, and now I am going to crawl beneath my desk and weep.