August 8, 2011
Another bum TUSH year
It's that time again. I've been on the road for weeks, traveling the country on a mission of cultural exploration, listening to passing car stereos and piped music in convenience stores across the land, trying to identify the Totally Ubiquitous Summer Hit of 2011!
This hasn't been much of a fun conversation for the last couple of years. In 2010, I lamely tried to deny the undeniable "California Gurls" juggernaut, because I can't stand Katy Perry and it's a terrible song without even a glimmer of anything real or funky or good. It's light and catchy, but not particularly fun.
Instead, I claimed that last year's TUSH was Cee-Lo's wonderful "Fuck You", which came out in late August and had every single quality that makes a TUSH a TUSH, except the part about being ubiquitous. But! That came later. By last fall, "Fuck You" was unavoidably overplayed, thanks to "Glee" and Gwyneth. I called it! (Three months early.)
The year before, the TUSH was the Black Eyed Peas' "I Gotta Feeling". I'm pretty sure I was right about that one, because I still hear this song all the time. I'm not happy about this.
This year, we've got a couple of non-compelling options: Katy Perry (again) with "Last Friday Night" from that same damn album of hers that came out an entire f'ing year ago (and is probably going to break Michael Jackson's record of generating five #1 singles. Barf.)
It's a song about partying, so at least it's in the TUSH ballpark, but, like last year's hit, it's irritating as hell. I hear it far too often. Shouldn't we be at least a little bit happy every time we hear the current TUSH? She's releasing a remix with Missy Elliott, which lends "Last Friday Night" some TUSH cred, since Missy's own "Get Ur Freak On" was the 2001 TUSH.
The other big contender is Adele's gigantic hit "Rolling in the Deep". This one has the ubiquity part cold. I heard it at a gas station in the middle of nowhere in Wyoming, I heard it at a family picnic when my teenage cousins' cover band started their backyard set with it. It's everywhere. Friends tell me just about everyone they know likes it, no matter what their usual preferences are.
So maybe it's just me, because I'm not wild about it. It's a downer, which makes it a clumsy fit for a TUSH. It also came out in November of last year, though didn't hit #1 on the charts until late May, where it stayed for 7 weeks.
A few things about Adele that bug me: she owes a lot of her success to Amy Winehouse, who tragically failed to overcome her addictions, but was a far superior artist. Adele may not like the comparison, and it's possible that she wasn't directly influenced by Amy Winehouse, but her career probably wouldn't exist if "Back to Black" hadn't sold millions of copies.
And did you hear her rich-person rant about having to pay taxes earlier this summer? Awful.
There's also this song, "Party Rock Anthem", by uncle-nephew duo LMFAO which is currently at #1 in sales and radio play. Have you heard it? It's like six months old and intended to be a joke, I'm pretty sure. At this point, I don't care, it's ridiculous and fun, so if I start hearing it at Duane Reade or the Korean noodle lunch place on 48th St, it'll be a perfectly serviceable TUSH.
We've certainly got some ubiquitous songs this summer, but there's a certain laziness in identifying the season with songs that have been kicking around since last year. If I'm missing some great, sunshiny tune out there, please let me know!
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