Sunday, September 27, 2009

Party in the USA

Every once in a while I try to make an effort to listen to the radio, though recently these efforts have always been short-lived. Take this weekend, for example. I turned on the radio on six different occasions (actually seven, but that last one I'm going to discuss separately), and each time turned it back off within a few seconds. One of these six times there was an ad playing and I didn't have the patience to listen all the way through. The other five times I turned it off because the same song was playing, each and every time, and that song was "Party in the USA" by Miley Cyrus.

Now, I don't need to get into why that's ridiculous and also why that song is overwhelmingly terrible, right? Like, laughably inept and just startlingly bad. OK.

So then a few minutes ago I turned on the radio for the seventh time, and what should be on? Well, the end of some other song, but I didn't even hear enough of it to identify it (if I even knew it, which is unlikely these days) before "Party in the USA" came on. And I decided to listen to it all the way through.

And you know what? It's so bad that I actually find it weirdly appealing. I'm not usually much of a one for the "so bad it's good" thing--if I like something, I tend to think it's good, and whether it's good intentionally or not is irrelevant--or for the "guilty pleasure" thing, either. But I think I may just feel that way about "Party in the USA".

I do think it's interesting that in the late 90's and early 00's teen music was electro dance-pop--"Genie in a Bottle" and "Baby One More Time" and "Bye Bye Bye" and all of that. And then after that there was a big thing with guitary "singer-songwriters" coming in and everyone was saying they were gonna destroy dance-pop (I remember Avril Lavigne on the cover of Rolling Stone with the headline "The Britney-Killer"). And now all of those people have moved on to adult pop (in the adult versions of their teen styles, too, with predictable results as far as quality, i.e., the dance-pop people are still good and the singer-songwriters are still terrible--when the best thing your genre has going for it, by far, is Pink, your genre has troubles). And what's teen pop now? It is a completely un-self-conscious combination of the two. "Party in the USA" is exactly halfway between Britney Spears and Avril Lavigne, at least stylistically (as far as quality goes it's far closer to Avril). In a way it reminds me of the way elements of punk and disco fused to form new wave, with the difference (among others, including the cultural use of the forms) that punk and disco happened concurrently, where these two forms of teen pop were almost entirely discrete.

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