Despite what the editors of Rolling Stone want you to believe, 2014 was not, in fact, "another great year for music." In all honesty, it was one of the worst on record for new creations that innovated or inspired. Sure, there were some highlights: Jack White, FKA Twigs, Schoolboy Q, St Vincent. But overall, the year was somewhat of a bust.
Photo courtesy of Big Machine Records Will we hear even a little less about Taylor in 2015? One can only hope...
The good news is that there is no need to abandon hope for popular music. All that needs to happen is that these dreadful pieces of 2014 need to stay on that side of the calendar. Here's to 2015!
24/7/365 Taylor Swift Coverage Unless one dons earplugs and a blindfold, it was nearly impossible to avoid daily "news" coverage of Taylor Swift in 2014. This is not an exaggeration: The red-lipped hitmaker seemed to pop up in every possible source of information that one could use.
What is so troubling about this? Most Americans cannot tell you anything about ISIS, locate Liberia on a map or let you know how this year's elections will affect the Senate in 2015. However, they can tell you which songs on 1989 are probably about Harry Styles, why T-Swift loves NYC and how her haircut sparked the great "Bob" movement of 2014.
Taylor Swift can craft a pop song, that is for certain. But do we really need to hear about her every single day? Taylor Swift is not the president. She is not curing cancer. She's a singer-songwriter. Hopefully 2015 cuts down the asinine amount of coverage.
Meghan Trainor's Horribly Affected Baby Voice
It's a scientific fact that "All About That Bass" causes nausea, headaches and dizziness, and the root cause is Trainor's employment of overly-affected word-shaping throughout. Particularly, when the word "bass" is sung (which must be at least 100 times), the singer actually says "mmmbbbyyaaaasssss." It's like aural Ipecac. For a song supposedly celebrating how much men love a curvaceous female physique, this adult/baby hybrid thing is a real boner-killer.
Photo courtesy of Epic Records Warning: Do not listen to "All About That Bass" while operating heavy machinery.
Every EDM Song Suddenly Has Vocals For the record, there is an overabundance of amazing EDM songs that have vocals. Last year alone, Disclosure gave emo-crooner Sam Smith quite the boost with the fantastic "Latch," Cash Cash became a headliner with "Take Me Home," and Calvin Harris delighted us again with Top 40 radio that was actually listenable. That being said, not everyone who makes EDM is as good as blending vocals into beats as he is.
Suddenly it seems that every EDM act thinks vocals are mandatory in order to be a success. Even worse, several styles are often worsened by the presence of a full-on melodic track overlay -- drum and bass and jungle, just to name a couple. Hopefully 2015 lightens the pressure on EDM acts to be more like Zedd and less like themselves.
Nicki Minaj's Attitude Problem and Boring Persona
Seriously, when isn't Nicki Minaj bitching about something or someone? She plasters on her fake smile, blinks a lot, shows her ass, makes mediocre-to-bad music, and then bitches about things. Boring! Anyone else out there interested in actually entertaining? Please take this woman's place.
It must be addressed that some fans love the Pink lady because they think she is "outspoken," and defend her by saying that in a patriarchal society, outspoken women are automatically labeled as "bitches." This is a strong feminist theory that is often very true, but it does not negate the fact that some people really do bitch too much. Nicki Minaj is hella negative, yo. And it's borrrrring.
Iggy Azalea, Period
Here's a fun thing to think about: The best part of EVERY Iggy Azalea song that was released in 2014 was the part starring her featured guest. The best part of "Fancy"? Charli XCX. The best part of "Black Widow"? Rita Ora. Fun fact: Switch the word "best" to "worst" and the answer turns into Iggy Azalea.
Photo by Jack Gorman Yawn.
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Maroon 5's "Sound"
It's a pipe dream to hope that a highly profitable group with mass popularity will stop making the music that's made them millionaires and return to a less lucrative (albeit better) sound from days gone by, but one can hope. Once upon a time in the 2000s, Maroon 5 released Songs About Jane, a commercially successful album that went multiplatinum in the U.S. and granted the band three Top 20 hits. It also included some solidly good music, particularly sleeper singles "Sunday Morning" and "Must Get Out."
Photo by Nicholas Zalud Just think: Adam Levine could have been taping another episode of The Voice during this RodeoHouston show.
Not since this time has the band generated a similar quality in music, despite subsequent records being even more successful than the freshman effort. On the last two, but particularly 2014's hit V, lead singer and full-time heartthrob Adam Levine sounds like he is perpetually being kneed in the gonads. Worse than his contorted falsetto alone is the fact that it is the only consistent sound the band makes. Without this horrible flag of identification, there is no distinctiveness to who this band is or what sound it makes. Maroon 5, it's time to get back to your roots.
Okay, Eminem, we get it: Pretty much every important woman in your life has been a piece of trash. Your mom wasn't exactly Donna Reed, and your ex-wife Kim was a crazy ho (note: any woman who wears black lipliner with light-pink lipstick is generally a crazy ho). We will give you that. But really, chill out with the woman-bashing already. It seems like every opportunity you get to tear down women, you take it...and this isn't exactly a new hobby.
Photo by Marco Torres Not cute anymore, Shady.
You've been bashing successful women since the '90s: Britney, Christina, Mariah, etc. Iggy Azalea was your main target in 2014, and who will be next? Whoever threatens your chart success, apparently. Look, Iggy might suck as an artist, but it's clear that you were hating on her as a woman, not a rapper. What kind of message are you giving your daughter here? And Rihanna, quit doing those awful duets with him. You are an enabler.
p.s., "Monster" was atrocious and annoying.
Unlistenable Hip-Hop Let's get this out of the way: Small positives can be gleaned out of anything bad, like Charlize Theron's great performance in the otherwise horrible movie The Devil's Advocate, for example. So sure, we could say that there were a (very) few hip-hop artists or songs in 2014 that were not totally awful (Schoolboy Q, Chance the Rapper, fill in the blank here with something you felt was decent), but on the whole, 2014 was one of the worst years on record for new hip-hop.
Stylistically, emcees all sounded like they were rapping through Novocain injections and a mouthful of pudding. Simply put, this year's hip-hop was wholly unlistenable, filled from beginning to end with songs that validated the age-old proverb said by dads everywhere: "How do you listen to that shit? That's not even music." In 2014 we didn't, because it wasn't.
Here's to a better 2015.
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