The Songs We Can't Escape
THE BLACK EYED PEAS
"Boom Boom Pow"
This song is the anti-"We Made You" in how it, like, accurately embodies much of the pop zeitgeist: Autotune extremism yoked to retro-futuristic electrobeats (complete with "3008" reference), overall robotic ambiance, EQ vertigo, loopy quips about leprechauns. Yet "Pow" retains that candy-rap opportunism that's so quintessentially Peas and has always made me hate them. But I love this song, so is the world broken?
"Be an Encore"
Ape School might be the sleeper hit of spring '09, a masterstroke of pop shading in which Philly-based principal Michael Johnson draws on Anglo music's zillion source codes to swirl together totemic miniatures. "Encore" slouches and yawns even as it takes you hostage, its broken-glass keys and bleary schlub guitars stabbing gray matter like steel splinters.
"The More That I Do"
It's not difficult to grasp why this project is so adored; what's not to love about eclipsed-synapse trance jams for pre-summer car-cruisin' where there's nothing heavy—momentarily, blessedly—to dwell upon? Arguing about the relative ease of construction on internet message boards totally misses the point. I'll shorthand it for you: "More" is Andres Serrano's infamous Piss Christ photo, only the listener is Jesus, the urine is morphine, and some unseen benefactor is rhythmically rocking the enclosure. Capiche?
Reading and digesting this sentence will eat up more time than listening to this song will. Which experience is more satisfying depends on whether Poon strikes you as a deluded hobbyist dreaming up '80s exercise-VHS themes in his attic, a ringtone genius-in-waiting, or the future of pop itself.
Yo La Tengo named their last album I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass, but that title fits Tortoise's present-tense brawler's moxie so much better.
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