The state of pop – 2005…

It’s that time again folks. Time for me to heap scorn on the current state of pop music by wandering through the top 20 records of the year and giving you my take on them. This is either an excercise in stupidity or mean-spiritedness. I’m not sure. Or just perhaps, it’s a way of further proving to the world how old and out of touch I’m getting. Hmmm.

Well, without further ado…

20. Ray Charles – Genius Loves Company
I adore Ray Charles. My mother listened to Uncle Ray a lot when I was a little kid and his music always makes me happy. Maybe one day our Congress will get its collective head plucked from its collective ass long enough to dump the Star Spangled Banner as our national anthem and replace it with America The Beautiful, with Ray’s version naturally being the offical version. When that happens I’ll be proud of my government. All that having been said, this record is a dog. Ray was practically on his deathbed and the people chosen to duet with him largely weren’t fit to shine his shoes.

19. Ciara – Goodies
Weak Beyonce clone. Nuff said.

18. The Black Eyed Peas – Monkey Business
Ugh. I’m sorry folks but these folks make messy and pointless music. Fergie may be “hotttt” as my other half says, but My Humps is a truly dreadful song.

17. The Killers – Hot Fuss
Color me torn here. I absolutely love Somebody Told Me and I’m a big fan of the way this record sounds – it’s about time someone went post-punk retro and did it right – but ultimately I keep coming back to Hot Hot Heat doing this whole schtick much better.

16. The Game – Documentary
I’m with Chuck D here – the very notion of a black ganster is absurd. A gangster is someone who breaks the law constantly and constantly gets away with it. Does that describe any black men in America that you know of? I’m sick of this whole genre. The backing tracks are uninspired and the rappers don’t even have interesting sounding voices. They’re certainly lacking any kind of original or innovative perspective on the world they claim to be telling stories about. Gee, I wonder why that is? Could it be because the primary audience for this bullshit is white, suburban, teenage boys?

15. Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz – Crunk Juice
I weep for the future.

14. Coldplay – X&Y
I blame U2 for this band in much the same way I blame the Beatles for ELO. I have to admit that I like Speed of Sound, but I’ll bet that after the 10th time I’ve heard it (which will no doubt occur while I’m watching the closing montage to some heart-rending drama on network TV) I’ll hate it as much as I utterly and completely hate Where The Streets Have No Name. Ultimately this is music that makes your dick go limp.

13. Various Artists – Now 17
That this series of hits collections is now rapidly approaching its 20th edition should be telling the record industry a lot about the state of contemporary music – people aren’t interested in entire CDs by the lame and feeble artists you insist on signing and developing.

12. Toby Keith – Greatest Hits 2
I hate this guy. I see a picture of him and it makes me want to kick puppies. But beyond that, how does someone who has made a grand total of 10 records in his career (not counting his Christmas album) have two CDs full of greatest hits?

11. Usher – Confessions
Yeah! was such a massive hit that there was practically no way to avoid it for months on end last year. And each time I heard that song or any of the others off of this record I couldn’t help but think what a waste of talent it is to have this man, who can defintely sing, and who oozes sex (although it would be interesting to see how much sex appeal he’d have if he kept his shirt on every once in awhile) doing such dull and generic robot R&B. Get this man together with Alica Keys‘ band and some decent song writers and he’d own the charts.

10. Rascal Flatts – Feels Like Today
So, someone want to explain to me why when John Cougar Mellencamp did this kind of stuff it wasn’t considered “country” but it is now? My god this is weak shit. This crap makes my penis shrivel even more than Coldplay does.

9. Shania Twain – Greatest Hits
Shania, hon, darlin’ – you haven’t been around long enough for a Greatest Hits record. Unless you’re using this to fulfill a contractual obligation prior to jumping to a new label then this is just sad. Granted, I’ve never been all that impressed with your music, but, well, um, please make more videos.

8. U2 – How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb
I nominate this record for stupidest title of the year. Really, honestly, this was the best you could come up with? Vertigo is a genius single, but you made a really weird move when you released all the outtakes from these sessions on iTunes. When I heard your original version of Vertigo I was stunned. It sounded much more like the rest of the album – laid back and atmospheric – sort of like an Unforgettable Fire redux, and that made the version of Vertigo that you released sound like what it most obviously was – a rework that your label demanded because they didn’t hear a single on the album you delivered. Not that I blame them. This record is a huge snore. Go back to making vaguely gay disco records lest you turn into another REM.

7. Destiny’s Child – Destiny Fulfilled
Yawn. Beyonce is better than this. She doesn’t need you girls anymore. Buh bye.

6. Gwen Stefani – Love. Angel. Music. Baby.
Horrid. Putrid. Noisy. Baby.

5. Kelly Clarkson – Breakaway
Amazing. I figured American Idol winners would be limited to making one forgettable and dismal record after their fifteen minutes of fame were up. I actually really like Since You’ve Been Gone, but it stands out on this record quite a bit. True, it’s generic girl-singer contemporary pop-rock in the style of Avril Lavigne (or, sadly these days, Liz Phair) but it’s a good song and she delivers it well. The rest of the record is dreadfully dull stuff your mom would like.

4. Mariah Carey – The Emancipation of Mimi
I bet Mariah Carey can’t even spell emancipation. It’s a fair bet most of her fans can’t either, which explains why the label so kindly included a definition in the liner notes. Ok, all kidding aside, poor Mariah, she’s got a beautiful voice and lousy material. Kiddo, you were born in the wrong decade.

3. Green Day – American Idiot
Stop the presses – a guitar oriented record is in the top 5! Ok, I’m biased. I love Green Day and this record happened to be recorded at Studio 880, which is owned by one of my oldest friends and a guy who was pretty much my first guitar teacher. However, this is a phenomenal album. It’s so solid it’s scary.

2. Eminem – Encore
Yay, more whiney white guy rap. Please god, no more white rappers. Serioiusly folks, anyone who bases their career on shocking the masses is doomed. In order to keep it up you have to literally become a monster. Since Eminem is really just a bitchy white kid with a shitty attitude his monster potential was never that great to begin with. So what are we left with? A guy complaining that no one understands him over tedious loops and beats.

1. 50 Cent – The Massacre
Ok, maybe I should say please god no more rappers, period. This record is just flat out awful. Talk about tedious loops and beats – whoa! I’m sure owning this CD and blasting it in the school parking lot makes lots of wiggas feel tough. Ultimately this shit is just embarassing.

So, that’s the Top 20 for 2005 folks. Pretty pathetic. I’d say there are 3, possibly 4 worthy records on this list, and two of them are marginal. No wonder the record biz is in the shitter.

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