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July 20, 2009


TUSH 2009, a late bloomer

I Gotta Feeling

Now that everyone's become an expert on the phenomenon of the song of the summer, there have been predictions about the Totally Ubiquitous Summer Hit on every pop culture website you read. Vulture at New York Mag has owned the debate this year, with a weekly post ranking contenders that I guess will keep plugging along until everybody gets their hands on advance copies of The Blueprint 3 and loses interest in disposable pop.

I've been waiting to see if any TUSH was going to emerge from underneath the Lady Gaga juggernaut of year-old songs that are still cluttering up the charts. Then the Michael Jackson shockwave hit, which has kept the record industry afloat for at least another couple of months. The sales story of the year belongs to MJ. Check out this Billboard chart of album sales--he owns it, and probably will for months to come.

So if I was going to declare the 2009 TUSH to be the one song that I've heard more than any other for the last month, it would be "Billie Jean". Obviously. That's the ubiquitous song (Sasha Frere-Jones claims this year's summer jam is defined by Michael Jackson's death, but doesn't say which song.) But in the long term, "Billie Jean" doesn't belong to this year. You won't associate it with the places where you heard that song over and over again this summer, because it will always take you back to the 80's. So I'm going to stick to the spirit of the TUSH and pick a new song that isn't popular only because of a sad death and the resulting media hyperventilation.

It was looking like this year's TUSH would be some Lady Gaga song. She is everywhere -- still -- and it has been suggested that her persona might be a creation of Sacha Baron Cohen. But her album came out last fall, even if it didn't really take off until this spring. "LoveGame" [video] could be a TUSH contender--it's irresistibly catchy and has the best vocal hook of the year, and any song whose beat is self-described as "sick" I am automatically going to love. But by now it's too old and it's not sunny enough to capture the feel of a summer hit.

Then came the Black Eyed Peas. Their new album The E.N.D. was released in early June, and shortly after its release they had the #1 and #2 songs on the charts, something that no one's done since OutKast in 2004. Here's this week's chart.

Their first single was "Boom Boom Pow" [video]. I don't like it. Doesn't go anywhere and isn't actually that fun.

But the song that was born to be a TUSH is their most recent single, "I Gotta Feeling". This is the song that all of a sudden I hear everywhere. It's on the radio when I set the alarm at night, it's on the radio when the alarm goes off in the morning, it's in the Indian fast food place on West 48th, at the gym, everywhere. It didn't come out until the end of June, but already sounds like it's been around forever. It was produced by French electro-dancepop producer David Guetta.

Plus the admittedly ridiculous video is pretty great--the band goes to a wild house party which is like a condensed version of every 80's teen movie party montage you've ever seen. Everyone's jumping on the bed and spraying beer all over everything and making out with each other and jumping in the pool, except, hey, look! There's will.i.am waving a red cup around! There's apl.de.ap dancing on the kitchen counter! There's a girl spilling cookies onto the floor as she takes them out of the oven! Because this is the kind of party where people bake! It's fun, goofy, disposable.

Also: "I Gotta Feeling" gets the award for best use of Yiddish in a pop song: "Fill my cup! (Drank) / Mazel tov! (L'Chaim!)"

As a tribute to better BEP, here's the video for "Fallin' Up" from their first album. This song has a verse about how they'll never sell out. Ahem.

categories: Culture, Music
posted by amy at 1:40 PM | #

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I Gotta Feeling sounds like it was written in ten minutes, and the video looks like it was filmed in five. The Yiddish is embarrassing. The whole thing makes me physically angry.

Sean Kingston's "Fire Burning" is the TUSH. Mean synth intro, sweet major chord harmony in the chorus, decent video (extreme swing dancing!). Again, written in ten, but can't deny it drops the birthday cake (what?).

Posted by: Matt S at July 20, 2009 3:45 PM

I'm not trying to pick the best song of this summer here, just the one that's ubiquitous. Or, in the case of "I Gotta Feeling", maybe hardest to escape.

"Fire Burning" is a much better song than Sean Kingston's 2007 single "Beautiful Girls", which as the song said, had me suicidal. That one skipped over ubiquitous and went straight to overplayed. "Fire Burning" is also probably a better song than "I Gotta Feeling", which is not especially well-developed or interesting, it's just catchy and easy.

But I don't hear "Fire Burning" everywhere I go. If I want to hear it, I pretty much have to watch the video.


Have you been hearing it pumping out of car stereos and in the DeMoulas all over NH? I can't say it's reached any kind of ubiquity here in NYC.

Posted by: amy at July 20, 2009 4:34 PM

Right, not the best, the one that's everywhere. Hmm. Well, Fire Burning is always on KISS 108's Top Seven at 7, but that might be a function of chart position, not sure. DeMoulas certainly doesn't crank the pop hits - you'd have seniors adjusting their hearing aids and keeling over in the aisles.

I'll have to hit Rock n' Bowl or wherever the kids hang out for some research.

Posted by: Matt S at July 20, 2009 4:46 PM

Yeah, where do the kids hang out? Somewhere a little bit cool, but not too cool would be the place for NH TUSH research. Izzy's ice cream in Portsmouth? Or maybe Funspot at Weirs Beach if you want to find out what the TUSH 1982 was.

Posted by: amy at July 21, 2009 3:06 PM

I saw the word TUSH and immediately thought Boom Boom Pow. Which I don't like.

The European TUSH this summer is undoubtedly "When Love Takes Over", by David Guetta featuring Kelly Rowland.


This is based on my one-week trip to Germany in which I heard it on a car radio and a clothing store in Bavaria, and a gay leather bar in Berlin. When an upbeat disco song makes it into a gay leather bar in Berlin, it has by definition attained ubiquity since those guys don't fuck around. Also, #9 on UK iTunes and #2 on French and German iTunes.

The use of B-list vocalist Kelly Rowland also adds a sense of tragedy. And I assume the French looking dude on the turntables is Monsieur David Guetta himself.

Posted by: T-Rock at July 21, 2009 4:12 PM

I thought 'Boom Boom Pow' too, up until a few weeks ago, when 'I Gotta Feelin' started taking over. I do think 'When Love Takes Over' and 'Knock You Down' are worthy of being in the conversation, for sure.

But oh boy, they sure play the booboo out of 'Fire Burning' here in BFE Oregon, and it's pretty much been stuck in my head all summer. Heck, they even have 2 versions that they play on two different stations. It may get edged out as the summer hit, but I think after the season passes and we head into 2010 and 2011, this is the one we'll still be hearing on the radio.

Still, 'I Gotta Feeling' has super summer anthem written all over it. It's uptempo sugar candy-ness may be gone by the end of September, but it's burning hot right now. Every time we hop in the truck, my 9 year-old scans the airwaves for Black-Eyed Peas. It's just like me and 'The Reflex' back in the summer of 198...4? I'd say that's a heavy endorsement.

That and the fact that every time I hear 'I Gotta Feeling', I feel like grabbing a case of Heineken and jumping in my pimped out Scion with my bros for some all night club hoppin' - that'll win it my vote.

Posted by: ORStylee at July 22, 2009 10:52 PM

ORStylee, your "I Gotta Feeling" fantasy is a marketing director's product placement dream! Throw in an Ecko sweatshirt and a bag of Cheetos and you've got 80% of an MTV reality show ready to air. Let's get you in touch with someone in development over at Viacom.

I'm being swayed by all the love for "Fire Burning" out there--it is unstoppably catchy, and I can see it's getting widespread play, even if I haven't happened to hear it out in public all that often. Need to hang out at the arcade more, I guess.

Any song that introduces "birthday cake" as a new (I think?) butt slang term gets a tip of my hat.

Oh wait, I just learned from Urban Dictionary that Snoop used that term a few years back in "Step Yo Game Up". Count on Snoop for the innovative butt nomenclature.


Posted by: amy at July 23, 2009 10:28 AM

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