By: Daniel de Lisle
- “Fireflies”- Owl City
In the song “Fireflies,” singer, songwriter, and producer Adam Young (aka Owl City) has mined for success and struck one-hit wonder gold with nothing but a boyish charm, extensive music production, and I can only imagine a full load of tenacity. Finding this song appealing is a lot like doing drugs—most young people have done it at some point and a lot them still do.
The upbeat, techno pop verses are catchy and the simple piano/guitar/rhythm chorus pairs with his voice nicely while building the song as it progresses. The melody lines flow and the singing is adequate but makes use of many studio tricks; hardly noteworthy. Often the lyrics air on the side of sanguine; words that are too sweet for words.
The extensive production makes for a passionless song that limits itself to being no more than a pop break from your average day. With a real drummer, a good guitarist, a little less Kanye and a little more Swift, Owl City could be capable of some great progressive music. For now though they will remain everyone’s dirty shame of 2009.
2. “Party in the USA”- Miley Cyrus
A lot of people would expect me to bag on this song, and those people are going to be disappointed. I actually like this song; it’s got a catchy guitar rhythm, unobtrusive although lackluster drums, and some interesting synth sound effects that somehow manage to add to the chorus. If anyone besides Miley sang this song I would be happy… but I’m not.
My problem with this song is record executives. Song writers are contracted to write songs for famous artists which big name record labels like Atlantic or Columbia buy the rights to for dirt cheap. Every time Miley is going to release some new product, the executives at Hollywood Records will hand her a single and spend a month in a recording studio waiting for her to sing a part perfect once, then cut and paste those correct takes into a Frankenstein song.
That is how you get things like Ms. Cyrus’s seemingly “perfect every time” vocal flailing on this otherwise decent song. I blame the record executives because they are greedy and know Miley brings home the bacon. If they actually cared about music they would give the good songs to someone who could sing them and not sound like a fire truck being repeatedly beaten to death by auto-tune. It’s shenanigans like this that keep Kurt Cobain dead.
3. “Bad Romance”- Lady Gaga
I want to get one thing straight—I love Lady Gaga, whatever the hell she is. If you strip away all the crazy outfits, ridiculous lyrics, and alleged man bits, you are left with one of the most powerful voices in pop today. “Bad Romance” sounds like what would happen if Cher and Techno music got freaky together.
Gaga brought her characteristic ear-catching lyrics, artful melodies, and bold voice to the table with the kind of production, sound effects, and song writing that only a star can buy. The song has just enough variation to keep you interested the whole way through and seems to have borrowed tricks from Madonna, Daft Punk, and even the French—not bad company in my opinion.
With the release of her sophomore album and a great first single, all doubts in my mind have been suspended—I expect to see Lady Gaga lead the techno-pop genre well into the next decade.
-Daniel de Lisle is a Whatcom student and local musician who claims a background in Jazz, Funk, Ska, Classical, Rock, and Pop music. He has played trombone with groups like Snug Harbor, the WWU Jazz Program, the Whatcom Wind Symphony, and the WCC Jazz Ensemble.
He has also played as a guest artist with the Acorn Project, The Love Lights, and the Thomas Harris Quartet. Daniel has recorded on four CDs, including Snug Harbor’s “Sounds from the York,” which has been nominated by What’s Up! Magazine for the CD of the Year Award.