Haim – ‘Days Are Gone’ debut album – iTunes Chart Performance in 7 countries

How_Haim_s_Three_Geeky_Sisters-85e14dc14250323dd73d87c36cf2d4f1

It’s OK honey, we’ll be rock stars someday…

Haim may have been ill-served by the hype surrounding them.~ Philip Matusavage

The rat pack of the music industry has been salivating and doing their weasel wiener dance (insert Redfoo from LMFAO’s “wiggle dance”) over the Haim’s trio. But in reality nothing on this album seems genuine in the least, there are some pleasant moments… much in the same way that a credit card commercial can make you smirk. I have a hard time believing that any artist could follow their muse to this sort of a sonic conclusion; if they’re not at least 25% money-motivated or manufactured by a manager/label/marketing company/department store, then I don’t want to live in this world anymore.

No matter how hard the hype machine pushed forward the geeky sisters, it’s the public who decided whether to listen or not to the sisters’ debut album or just to that song they found entertaining.  France kept the album in the charts 3 days, Italy, two days; Canada 53 days, Spain 3 days, Australia 107 days, the UK, their adoptive country, 68 days and in the U.S., the trio’s native country,  57 days.  Clearly, the group is lacking something.

It seems that touring with Phoenix didn’t help Haim much to charm the french,  and the sisters did pretty bad in Italy, with the highest position remaining 92 from beginning to end.  Australia and the UK seem to be the countries where Haim have more fans.

Writer Andy Gill of  The Independent was criticized by his peers for “giving a less enthusiastic review” of the sisters’ Days Are Gone album.  Gill gave the album three out of five stars, saying that the band has an “insubstantiality” at their core:

“Given their status as BBC Sound Of 2013 poll-winners, it’s hard not to feel somewhat underwhelmed by Haim’s debut album. The LA girl group are pleasant enough – though early descriptions of them as a folk/R&B crossover are absurdly wide of the mark – but there’s an insubstantiality at their core. They plug unashamedly into their West Coast heritage: sleek with a veneer of mystique, “Falling” could be a Fleetwood Mac outtake, but the pop-rock of “Forever” and “The Wire” brings to mind the likes of The Bangles and The Go Gos. Even when they attempt something a bit more outré, like the contrast of lumbering drums with sleek harmonies in “My Song 5″, it sounds like something off Tusk. Okay, but not much more.”

In his review of Days are Gone, Philip Matusavage of musicOMG stated:

It’s somewhere in the middle of Days Are Gone’s third track (and recent single) The Wire that you realise just how atypical Haim are as a 2013 buzz band. Feted by acts as diverse as The xx and Katy Perry, the Californian band has appeared in endless promo shots which look lifted straight from Hipstamatic while being the name on the lips of taste makers for well over a year.  It’s something of a surprise, then, to hear them sounding like mega-selling country-pop star Shania Twain. Sure, there are far more credible names that could be dropped with regards to The Wire – like much of the album it’s produced by Ariel Rechtshaid, known for his work with Usher and Vampire Weekend, while its stomping country-rock owes much to The Eagles (specifically Heartache Tonight). Nonetheless, the resemblance to Twain’s 1999 smash (and mainstay of hen parties) Man! I Feel Like A Woman! is unavoidable.

This isn’t, of course, necessarily a bad thing, not least because the band clearly shares a massive influence with Twain. The imprint of Fleetwood Mac is clear in most of the album – more specifically, Fleetwood Mac led by Christine McVie, whose frictionless vocals find an echo in main Haim singer Danielle. Further to this, much of Days Are Gone owes a debt to the glossy MOR of McVie’s Tango In The Night singles (of which Everywhere and Little Lies are the most famous).

Still, if the comparison is inescapable it’s also somewhat refreshing in an era where much mainstream pop follows the same deadening EDM template. Haim also escape accusations of imitation by placing a sparse, inventive rhythm at the heart of their music – an influence the band attributes to the r&b influences of acts like TLC and Destiny’s Child. This cross-fertilisation fits neatly with current trends (it certainly explains the adoration of The xx) and undoubtedly played a large part in the hyperbolic reception afforded to Haim’s first single Forever, a sugary rush which rides on clattering percussion and tight harmonies. Several songs here follow the same pattern: the thrilling Falling adds poppy cries of ‘hey!’ and a wall of vocals to strong effect but elsewhere (as on Don’t Save Me) the formula grows stale.

Indeed, while Haim are undeniably appealing in small doses, there is something lacking over the course of a whole album. The tasteful synths and FM choruses run into one another and ultimately feel flat – you could say that the album needs a bit of Stevie Nicks grit to coarsen Danielle’s McVie silk. Certainly when main vocals are handed over to sister Alana on the album’s title track (co-written by Jessie Ware)  the results are inspired, with her more textured voice lending personality to a dance-oriented number which has a main synth line seemingly borrowed from Tom Tom Club. The penultimate Let Me Go is also a standout, beginning starkly before building furiously into a convincingly atmospheric portrayal of an obsessive, almost deranged relationship. Elsewhere, however, the efforts at variation can feel somewhat forced, with the oscillating vocal lines and busy, foreboding backing of My Song 5 sounding like a Fiona Apple tribute act. The shuffling sweetness of Honey & I is enjoyable enough, though it sounds uncannily like Indigo Girls (and causes you to realise that Danielle Haim’s voice is also reminiscent of that band’s Emily Saliers).

Haim’s stock has risen far on the basis of a few singles and an EP. Days Are Gone reveals that these compact formats are the best way to experience the band. Stretched to album length, Haim’s shtick grows repetitive and the music is too frequently solid rather than inspired. There is potential in this power pop, but Haim need to develop further, and may have been ill-served by the hype surrounding them.

FRANCE

Haim – ‘Days Are Gone’
French iTunes Chart Performance

“Days Are Gone”: Chart Statistics

  • Release date: 27 Sep 2013
  • Chart debut: #60 (30 Sep 2013) (low)
  • Highest Position: #60 (30 Sep 2013) (low)
  • Most recent chart position: #97 (01 Oct 2013) (down)
  • Days on French Albums Chart: 3 Days

Detailed Chart Progress for “Days Are Gone” (Haim)

French Albums chart performance history for Days Are Gone

Year Month Day Position Movement Number 1
2013 Sep 30 Mon 60 new Stromae
Racine Carrée
2013 Oct 1 Tue 97 down

ITALY

Haim – ‘Days Are Gone’
Italian iTunes Chart Performance

“Days Are Gone”: Chart Statistics

  • Release date: 27 Sep 2013
  • Chart debut: #92 (30 Sep 2013) (down)
  • Highest Position: #92 (30 Sep 2013) (didn’t move)
  • Most recent chart position: #92 (30 Sep 2013) (didn’t move)
  • Days on Italian Albums Chart: 2 Days

Italy Detailed Chart Progress for “Days Are Gone” (Haim)

Italian Albums chart performance history for Days Are Gone

Year Month Day Position Movement Number 1
2013 Sep 30 Mon 92 new Alessandra Amoroso
Amore puro

AUSTRALIA

Haim – ‘Days Are Gone’ Chart Statistics
Australian iTunes Chart Performance

 Album Release date: 27 September 2013

  • Chart debut: #88 (05 Aug 2013)
  • Highest Position: #2 (27 Sep 2013) (up)
  • Most recent chart position: #43 (25 Nov 2013) (down)
  • Days on Australian Albums Chart: 107 Days

Chart Progress Graph:

chart

Detailed Chart Progress for “Days Are Gone” (Haim)

Australian Albums chart performance history for Days Are Gone

Year Month Day Position Movement Number 1
2013 Aug 5 Mon 88 new Lorde
The Love Club – EP
6 Tue 24 up
7 Wed 17 up
8 Thu 23 down
9 Fri 27 down RÜFÜS
Atlas
10 Sat 31 down
11 Sun 33 down Fleetwood Mac
Fleetwood Mac: Greatest Hits
12 Mon 37 down
13 Tue 31 up RÜFÜS
Atlas
14 Wed 39 down Lady GaGa
ARTPOP
15 Thu 40 down RÜFÜS
Atlas
16 Fri 57 down Boy & Bear
Harlequin Dream
17 Sat 79 down
18 Sun 73 up
19 Mon 89 down
23 Fri 74 re-entry John Mayer
Paradise Valley
24 Sat 69 up
25 Sun 92 down
26 Mon 76 up
27 Tue 71 up
28 Wed 87 down Katy Perry
PRISM
29 Thu 96 down Various Artists
triple j House Party, Vol. 2
30 Fri 73 up Ariana Grande
Yours Truly
31 Sat 84 down
2013 Sep 1 Sun 84 no-move Vance Joy
God Loves You When You’re Dancing – EP
2 Mon 73 re-entry
3 Tue 67 up
4 Wed 80 down Bethel Music
Tides
5 Thu 74 up Arctic Monkeys
AM
6 Fri 83 down
9 Mon 94 re-entry
10 Tue 66 up
11 Wed 73 down
12 Thu 86 down
13 Fri 94 down Avicii
True
15 Sun 82 re-entry Keith Urban
Fuse
16 Mon 94 down
17 Tue 76 up Avicii
True
18 Wed 67 up Various Artists
So Fresh: The Hits of Spring 2013
20 Fri 76 re-entry Kings of Leon
Mechanical Bull
21 Sat 61 up Drake
Nothing Was the Same
22 Sun 55 up
23 Mon 38 up
24 Tue 37 up
25 Wed 28 up
26 Thu 15 up
27 Fri 2 up Lorde
Pure Heroine
28 Sat 2 no-move
29 Sun 3 down
30 Mon 3 no-move
2013 Oct 1 Tue 5 down Hillsong Young & Free
We Are Young & Free
2 Wed 4 up Lorde
Pure Heroine
3 Thu 3 up
4 Fri 12 down Miley Cyrus
Bangerz
5 Sat 8 up Lorde
Pure Heroine
6 Sun 7 up
7 Mon 8 down
8 Tue 4 up
9 Wed 4 no-move
10 Thu 9 down
11 Fri 9 no-move Pearl Jam
Lightning Bolt
12 Sat 8 up
13 Sun 9 down Lorde
Pure Heroine
14 Mon 9 no-move
15 Tue 12 down
16 Wed 13 down
17 Thu 11 up
18 Fri 16 down Various Artists
Triple J – Like a Version 9
19 Sat 17 down
20 Sun 19 down
21 Mon 20 down
22 Tue 25 down
23 Wed 25 no-move
24 Thu 27 down
25 Fri 23 up Katy Perry
PRISM
26 Sat 21 up
27 Sun 35 down
28 Mon 34 up
29 Tue 33 up
30 Wed 25 up
31 Thu 29 down
2013 Nov 1 Fri 39 down Arcade Fire
Reflektor
2 Sat 31 up Katy Perry
PRISM
3 Sun 36 down
4 Mon 41 down Eminem
The Marshall Mathers LP2
5 Tue 37 up
6 Wed 27 up
7 Thu 24 up
8 Fri 37 down Lady GaGa
ARTPOP
9 Sat 43 down Eminem
The Marshall Mathers LP2
10 Sun 43 no-move
11 Mon 34 up
12 Tue 28 up
13 Wed 26 up
14 Thu 26 no-move
15 Fri 39 down Dami Im
Dami Im
16 Sat 32 up
17 Sun 34 down
18 Mon 35 down
19 Tue 40 down One Direction
Midnight Memories
20 Wed 34 up
21 Thu 33 up Various Artists
Ministry of Sound – The Annual 2014
22 Fri 57 down Bernard Fanning
iTunes Session
23 Sat 53 up Various Artists
Ministry of Sound – The Annual 2014
24 Sun 48 up One Direction
Midnight Memories
25 Mon 43 up

Latest Australian Albums Top 10

  • 1 One Direction – Midnight Memories
  • 2 One Direction – Midnight Memories
  • 3 Various Artists – Ministry of Sound – The Annual 2014
  • 4 Eminem – The Marshall Mathers LP2
  • 5 The 12th Man – Willy Nilly – The 12th Man’s Biggest Hits, V
  • 6 Various Artists – So Fresh: The Hits of Summer 2014 + Best of 2013
  • 7 Bernard Fanning – iTunes Session
  • 8 Avicii – True
  • 9 Lorde – Pure Heroine
  • 10 Various Artists – Ministry of Sound Presents Chillout Sessions XVI

UNITED STATES OF NORTH AMERICA

Haim – ‘Days Are Gone’ Chart Statistics
U.S.  iTunes Chart Performance

Chart Statistics

  • Release date: 30 Sep 2013
  • Chart debut: #70 (06 Aug 2013) (low)
  • Highest Position: #4 (30 Sep 2013) (up)
  • Most recent chart position: #6 (24 Nov 2013) (down)
  • Days on US Albums Chart: 57 Days

U.S. Chart Progress Graph

uschart

Detailed Chart Progress for “Days Are Gone” (Haim)

US Albums chart performance history for Days Are Gone

Year Month Day Position Movement Number 1
2013 Aug 6 Tue 70 new The Civil Wars
The Civil Wars
7 Wed 76 down
14 Wed 99 re-entry Luke Bryan
Crash My Party
2013 Sep 25 Wed 96 re-entry Drake
Nothing Was the Same
26 Thu 90 up
27 Fri 85 up
28 Sat 89 down
29 Sun 79 up
30 Mon 4 up Justin Timberlake
The 20/20 Experience – 2 of 2
2013 Oct 2 Wed 4 no-move
3 Thu 5 down Lorde
Pure Heroine
4 Fri 5 no-move
5 Sat 5 no-move
6 Sun 5 no-move
7 Mon 5 no-move
8 Tue 22 down Miley Cyrus
Bangerz
9 Wed 20 up
10 Thu 22 down
11 Fri 22 no-move Glee Cast
The Quarterback – EP
12 Sat 23 down Miley Cyrus
Bangerz
13 Sun 20 up
14 Mon 24 down
15 Tue 47 down Pearl Jam
Lightning Bolt
16 Wed 48 down
17 Thu 44 up
18 Fri 42 up
19 Sat 38 up
20 Sun 33 up Lorde
Pure Heroine
21 Mon 36 down
22 Tue 69 down Katy Perry
PRISM
23 Wed 70 down
24 Thu 55 up
25 Fri 57 down
26 Sat 57 no-move
27 Sun 62 down
28 Mon 58 up One Direction
Midnight Memories
29 Tue 88 down Arcade Fire
Reflektor
30 Wed 81 up Eminem
The Marshall Mathers LP 2
31 Thu 86 down
2013 Nov 1 Fri 86 no-move
2 Sat 66 up
3 Sun 72 down
4 Mon 81 down
8 Fri 98 re-entry
13 Wed 88 re-entry Lady GaGa
Artpop
14 Thu 80 up Eminem
The Marshall Mathers LP2
15 Fri 78 up
16 Sat 82 down
17 Sun 74 up
18 Mon 82 down
19 Tue 83 down Various Artists
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
20 Wed 66 up Eminem
The Marshall Mathers LP2
21 Thu 60 up
22 Fri 41 up
23 Sat 39 up
24 Sun 6 up One Direction
Midnight Memories

CANADA

Haim – ‘Days Are Gone’
Canadian iTunes Chart Performance

“Days Are Gone”: Chart Statistics

  • Release date: 30 Sep 2013
  • Chart debut: #85 (26 Sep 2013)
  • Highest Position: #2 (30 Sep 2013) (up)
  • Most recent chart position: #14 (24 Nov 2013) (down)
  • Days on Canadian Albums Chart: 53 Days

Chart Progress Graph

chartCanada

Detailed Chart Progress for “Days Are Gone” (Haim)

Canadian Albums chart performance history for Days Are Gone

Year Month Day Position Movement Number 1
2013 Sep 26 Thu 85 new Drake
Nothing Was the Same
30 Mon 2 re-entry Justin Timberlake
The 20/20 Experience – 2 of 2
2013 Oct 1 Tue 4 down
2 Wed 4 no-move Lorde
Pure Heroine
3 Thu 5 down
4 Fri 5 no-move
5 Sat 6 down
7 Mon 7 down
8 Tue 20 down Miley Cyrus
Bangerz
9 Wed 20 no-move
10 Thu 21 down
11 Fri 25 down Glee Cast
The Quarterback – EP
12 Sat 26 down Miley Cyrus
Bangerz
13 Sun 27 down Lorde
Pure Heroine
14 Mon 24 up
15 Tue 42 down Pearl Jam
Lightning Bolt
16 Wed 60 down
17 Thu 45 up
18 Fri 35 up
19 Sat 36 down
20 Sun 49 down Lorde
Pure Heroine
21 Mon 37 up Lou Doillon
Places
22 Tue 52 down Katy Perry
PRISM
23 Wed 43 up
24 Thu 53 down
25 Fri 32 up
26 Sat 35 down
27 Sun 62 down
28 Mon 41 up
29 Tue 100 down Arcade Fire
Reflektor
30 Wed 80 up
31 Thu 86 down
2013 Nov 1 Fri 90 down
3 Sun 94 re-entry
4 Mon 59 up Eminem
The Marshall Mathers LP 2
5 Tue 71 down
6 Wed 83 down
8 Fri 100 re-entry
9 Sat 99 up
12 Tue 90 re-entry Lady GaGa
Artpop
13 Wed 61 up Eminem
The Marshall Mathers LP2
14 Thu 63 down
15 Fri 42 up
16 Sat 46 down
17 Sun 31 up
18 Mon 43 down
19 Tue 56 down François Pérusse
L’album du peuple – tome 9
20 Wed 68 down
21 Thu 80 down Eminem
The Marshall Mathers LP2
22 Fri 85 down
23 Sat 79 up
24 Sun 14 up One Direction
Midnight Memories

SPAIN

Haim – ‘Days Are Gone’
Spanish iTunes Chart Performance

“Days Are Gone”: Chart Statistics

  • Release date: 27 Sep 2013
  • Chart debut: #23 (30 Sep 2013)
  • Highest Position: #23 (30 Sep 2013) (didn’t move)
  • Most recent chart position: #81 (01 Oct 2013) (down)
  • Days on Spanish Albums Chart: 3 Days

Detailed Chart Progress for “Days Are Gone” (Haim)

Spanish Albums chart performance history for Days Are Gone

Year Month Day Position Movement Number 1
2013 Sep 30 Mon 23 new Dani Martín
Dani Martín
2013 Oct 1 Tue 81 down Els Pets
L’àrea petita

Why does today’s pop music sound the same?

Taylor+Swift

Why does today’s pop music sound the same?
Because the same people make it.

Experimentation is being pushed to the margins as labels rely on successful producers

Pop music is in trouble – it all sounds the same and people will do just about anything to avoid having to pay for it. Long gone are the days of Top of the Pops (and Jimmy Savile), instead replaced with 24-hour music TV and YouTube. We’re also waving goodbye to the traditional singer-songwriter and bands who write their own material – the assistance of successful co-writers and producers being too lucrative to ignore. With Universal’s bid to take over EMI approved by the European Commission, music is also fast becoming a monopolised business.

Universal will soon welcome to its label EMI names including The Beatles, David Bowie and Coldplay, in total acquiring close to two thirds of all recording artists signed to EMI since it began in 1972.

They’ll join Universal’s stellar roster which already includes the likes of Rihanna and U2. Not satisfied with one industry shake-up alone, Universal has also recently secured a music distribution deal with UK high street clothing retailer Primark .

The venture, which will begin as a trial in selected stores, will enable customers to buy some of Universal’s best-selling albums in Primark stores nationwide. Although digital music sales continue to grow, physical album sales still account for the majority of albums sold in the UK this year. The consequences of the venture, were it to be a commercial success, could be significant as Primark has more UK stores than market leader HMV; 242 to HMV’s 220.

‘Pop’ originated from the rock ‘n’ roll of the 1950s but typically refers to chart-friendly music. A pop single tends to be between three and five minutes in length, and they have long been built around a golden formula of hook and big chorus.

But the music sitting at the top of the charts today shows signs of unusual conformity, and with reason – it’s all written by the same people; the same few people, in fact. The majority of hit singles are written by producers who know what they’re doing and who have done it, successfully, before.

Overlap

For Taylor Swift’s new album RED, for example, a host of co-writers were brought in to develop Swift’s sound. Adele’s ‘Set Fire to the Rain’ was co-written by Fraser T Smith who also worked on James Morrison’s ‘Broken Strings’ and Taio Cruz’s ‘Break Your Heart’, and who has in the past worked with Britney, Kylie, Leona Lewis, Keane and Ellie Goulding. Then there’s Greg Kurstin who wrote Kelly Clarkson’s ‘Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)’ and who had previously won three Ivor Novello awards for his work with Lily Allen (now Lily Rose Cooper). 90s-pop-star-turned-songwriter Cathy Dennis has written 8 UK number ones including S Club 7’s ‘Never Had a Dream Come True’ and ‘Have You Ever’, Katy Perry’s ‘I Kissed a Girl’, Britney’s ‘Toxic’ and Kylie Minogue’s ‘Can’t Get You Out of My Head’.

It should come as no surprise, then, that three of the most commercially successful songs this year (Taylor Swift’sWe Are Never Ever Getting Back Together’, Maroon 5’s ‘Payphone’ and Katy Perry’s ‘Part of Me’) were all written by the same group of people. Maratone, a Swedish music production company formed in 2001, comprises Max Martin, Alexandra and Shellback; a group of musicians who, if they wanted to, could take credit for the careers of most household names in pop in the past decade. In 2010 they collaborated with songwriter and producer Dr Luke on Katy Perry’s record-breaking album Teenage Dream which became the second record in history (after Michael Jackson’s Bad) to produce five US number ones.

It all sounds the same because, when you’re in an industry which is in trouble and you find something that actually works, you stick to it. Co-writers provide the modern-day music industry with the financial crutch it needs; after all, it’s the hits that keep the lights on.

Pop Music’s Unyouth Movement: Why We Want To Remain 25 Forever

Britney Spears

Britney Spears

In a rare moment of candidness during last Sunday’s 2013 Grammy awards, pop music finally showed its age. An incredulous Nate Ruess, singer from the indie pop band Fun, had just taken the stage to accept the Best Pop Song award for the tune he had penned, the inane yet inescapable “We Are Young.” The diminutive, almost elf-like Ruess has been in the music business for over a decade, originally fronting indie rock band The Format from 2001 to 2008. He’s the kind of guy you’re happy to see win; he’s certainly had his share of failures. The Format’s debut album Interventions + Lullabies had the kind of major key melodies, strong vocals, and catchy choruses that seemed destined to make it a crossover hit, but it never came close to panning out, languishing in bargain bin purgatory instead. I think my mother is one of the six of people who actually bought that record.

What’s fascinating is why Fun succeeded where The Format did not. Maybe alternative radio wasn’t ready for something so pop-sounding in 2003. But I think the reason is something a little sneakier. For all their polish and sweet harmonies, the Format professed serious worries about adult problems: “The thought of death just scares me to death” Ruess sang on “Try Try Try.” But a decade later, with appropriately named Fun (no confusing his intentions there), Ruess adopts a more light-hearted tone: “Tonight, we are young/ Let’s set the world on fire/ We can burn brighter/ Than the sun.” This song and it’s cousins “Some Nights” and “Carry On” have become self-appointed anthems of happy-go-lucky high schoolers and beer bong hitting college kids everywhere. They carry the distinct aura of youth’s promise, endless possibilities, and immortality. It doesn’t hurt that Ruess sounds like he’s about 19.

Upon accepting the award, the thirty-one year old lead singer began his speech with a wry observation: “I don’t know what I was thinking when I wrote the chorus to this song. This is in HD, everyone can see our faces, and we are not very young.” It got a lot of laughs. But Ruess is getting the last laugh because he, along with several other musicians, have discovered a little secret in today’s entertainment business. Pop music may be for the young, but these days you don’t have to be young to make it.

Nate Ruess

Nate Ruess

Historically, artists in their teens and twenties have always been the epicenter of popular music — from the Beach Boys and the Monkees, to Little Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson, to Debbie Gibson and NKOTB, to Britney Spears and N’Sync. When a pop star like Wonder or MJ experienced success into their 30′s, it was typically as a result of some “artistic maturation” or “creative evolution” that they underwent. Artists who couldn’t make that leap typically faded into obscurity (or Celebrity Apprentice and 20 year reunion tours). It’s almost like every musician gets a memo before their 30th birthday that read: “Sorry, your guest pass to Pop World has expired. It’s time to grow up now.”

Nowadays, the memo gets tossed. There are a rising number of pop artists — the Unyouth Movement we’ll call them — who don’t play by the rules. They have crossed the chasm into their thirties (or even beyond), but still make music for adolescents, which in many cases causes them to act like adolescents. Its a curious, glorious, and occasionally indecent phenomenon to witness.

Britney Spears (four kids and all) still wants all eyes on her in the club at age 31. Katy Perry (who at 28 is still hanging on) wrote a song in which she professes to “be your teenage dream.” Oddly enough, this satisfies the desires of her current beau John Mayer, a 35-year old who’s been known to date other musicians just out of high school. Maroon 5′s Adam Levine, he of body tattoos, young Victoria’s Secret model girlfriends, and deep v-necks, is 33. The list goes on: Pitbull – 32. Pink – 33 Usher – 34 Enrique – 37. JLo – 43. (Ever see the “On the Floor” video where Lopez presides like a slutty puppet master over a room of sycophantic club goers half her age? Awkward.) Madonna still wears spandex and pointy bras at age 54. There’s nothing wrong with people being over 30 (thank heavens) — it just seems a little weird when their day job is making music for the age 8-25 demographic.

Madonna

Madonna

All of this might help explain how and why the themes of pop music have…. shall we say, matured. In the old days, pop music was associated with youthful notions of joy, optimism, yearning, and (naturally) pubescent curiosity. Even in 1987 when Tiffany co-opted the Tommy James and Shondell’s song “I think we’re alone now,” there was a certain naïveté to it — you thought she might be stealing kisses in the library.

But something happened along the way to 2013. Youthful notions got redefined. 17 year old Britney Spears did that Catholic schoolgirl thing, 15 year old Miley Cyrus was photographed in what appeared to be only bedsheets, and 18 year old Justin Bieber got busted playing beer pong. Underage pop stars began doing very overage things. And so, of course, did their fans. Maybe the pleasures of “being free” in pop music have always been code language for being trashed, getting laid, and owning the world, but today’s kids have certainly become more forward about it. When Ke$ha sings: “Young hunks, taking shots/ Stripping down to dirty socks/ It’s pretty obvious that you’ve got a crush/ That magic in your pants, it’s making me blush/ We’re gonna die young,” she’s as subtle as a fart in church. She’s 25, performing for 15 year olds who are behaving like they’re 21.

Ke$ha

Ke$ha

Is this a surprise? Not really. Peering through the glass of the Hollywood fishbowl guarantees you a warped view of life, but society’s entertainment reflects its values at some level. It’s no secret that given Western culture’s obsession with beauty and fame, we are forever looking for the perfect combination of the best things in life. Who doesn’t want to be good-looking, rich, and talented, yet still have the physical prime of your life just ahead of you? Big deal if the older folks want to be younger and younger kids want to be older. The grass seems greener on both sides, but we’re all aiming for the same holy middle ground — the one that houses a fountain of youth from which to insatiably quaff. Unfortunately, the result is often just a hangover. Or the sort of devil’s bargain that exists only in movies — like Justin Timberlake’s straight to video sci-fi thriller “In Time” in which everyone stops physically aging at 25, so they can stay hot, avoid beer bellies, and keep clubbing til the break of dawn. Until they genetically self destruct, that is.

Interestingly enough, Justin Timberlake was one of the two exceptions to the Unyouth Movement on display at the Grammys. His performance, while scintillating, somehow felt age appropriate. (It was even shown on TV in tasteful black and white) The new songs he played, “Suit & Tie” and “Pusher Love Girl,” have been criticized for not pushing pop boundaries enough, but they feel just right for him. At age 31, he’s stepping back from the cutting edge, utilizing full band ensembles, horn sections, and harps instead of sleek synth-driven beats, exhibiting a fashion sense that never goes out of style, and enjoying the finer moments of newly wedded bliss. It just so happens that he’s married to Jessica Biel and hosts dinner parties with Jay Z and Beyonce. A little unrealism is good for everyone.

The second exception to the rule was Prince, and he didn’t play a single note of music. He simply presented the Record of the Year award, exuding so much charisma that people gave him a standing ovation just for strutting on stage. Award winner Gotye appeared awestruck, but then again, we all were. Prince scratches his ass, and people think its cool. He carried a cane and wore bug-eyed wraparound shades, perfectly splitting the difference between 15 and 50. Remember, this is the man who once famously sang “act your age, not your shoe size,” and he practices what he preaches — partying like it’s 1999 never seemed so old-fashioned.

Prince

Prince

The fact is, whether they like it or not, pop musicians are getting older by the minute. In fact, we all are. We just want to pretend that we aren’t. I guess, in that regard, pop music is doing what it always has — providing a healthy form of escapism. It just feels so much more obvious these days. We’ll probably never be able to pinpoint the exact moment when America’s youth staring losing its innocence and middle aged singers’ efforts to look young became pathetic (though its probably Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” and fat Elvis circa 1977, respectively), but I think we can all agree that the trend has turned into a trainwreck of epic proportions. Pop stars aren’t without hope, though. Ruess’s admission that Fun was a bunch of old dudes capitalizing on the fact that they were pretending to be young was actually quite endearing in its honesty. It was also very smart, since the best way to dodge the slings and arrows of your detractors is to launch them at yourself first.

Village Voice: 11 Somewhat Fourth Of July-Appropriate Songs That Are Way Better Than Katy Perry’s “Firework”

The Village Voice
Jul. 3 2012 at 9:00 AM

Tomorrow is the fourth of July, which means the celebration of American independence from Great Britain, which means Americans gathering in various wide-open spaces in order to watch things blow up. The big New York fireworks party is sponsored by Macy’s, with the featured entertainment being none other than one-woman spectacle Katy Perry, who has a pop hit called “Firework” and a new movie about how her self-proclaimed “weirdo” persona became really really popular coming out this Friday. How fortuitous! Of course, the “it gets better, you be you!” message of her song is completely undercut by her insistence on continuing to play her metrosexual-shaming ditty “U R So Gay” in concert, not to mention the mean-girlness inherent in way too many of her other songs. If the celebration of her noxious persona on America’s big day is enough to make you renounce your citizenship, fret not! After the jump are 11 (because seven plus four, get it?) tracks about the holiday, bright things in the sky, and blowing things up that you can turn up while Perry is trying to turn on the sincerity act. Feel free to suggest your own favorites!

11. Keel, “Fourth Of July”
[Keel was formed by former Steeler vocalist Ron Keel. The original members were Ron Keel on vocals, David Michael Phillips on guitar, Marc Ferrari on lead & rhythm guitars, Bobby Marks on drums and Kenny Chaisson on bass guitar. Within months, Phillips left to join King Kobra and was replaced by Brian Jay. Ron Keel has pursued numerous musical projects since Keel’s disbandment. ]


Unfortunately, the “beer can solo” that imprinted this song on my consciousness when I was but a cassette-collecting youth is not really audible in this video. You can probably get the idea.

10. Explosions In The Sky, “Your Hand In Mine”
[Originally called Breaker Morant, Explosions in the Sky was formed in Austin, Texas in 1999. Drummer Chris Hrasky is from Rockford, Illinois, and the rest of the band hails from Midland, Texas. Band members are Munaf Rayani – guitar, Mark Smith – guitar, Michael James – guitar, bass guitar and Chris Hrasky – drums.]


Because someone is going to ask, “What about Explosions In The Sky?”

8. Magnetic Fields, “100,000 Fireflies”
[The Magnetic Fields (named after the André Breton novel, Les Champs Magnétiques)[1] is an American indie pop group founded and led by Stephin Merritt. He is the group’s primary songwriter, producer and vocalist, as well as frequent multi-instrumentalist. Band members are Stephin Merritt – ukulele/keyboard/harmonium/melodica/lead vocals, Claudia Gonson – percussion/piano/vocals (and group manager), Sam Davol – cello/flute, John Woo – banjo/guitar and Shirley Simms – vocals/autoharp/ukulele.]

For the part of the night after the fireworks show ends.

7. Patrick Stump, “Explode”
[Patrick Vaughn Stump (born Patrick Martin Stumph on April 27, 1984) is an American singer-songwriter, composer, record producer, actor and music critic, best known as the lead singer/guitarist of Fall Out Boy, an American rock band from Wilmette, Illinois. Since the band’s hiatus, Stump has embarked on a solo career.]

Mreo about the psychotic-break type of explosion than the type that’s orchestrated by pyrotechnicians, but I’m going to ride for this record until I die.

6. Kelis, “4th Of July (Firework)”
[Kelis Rogers better known mononymously as Kelis, is an American singer-songwriter and certified chef.]

5. Galaxie 500, “Fourth Of July”

4. JC Chasez, “Blowing Me Up With Her Love”

Tara Reid and a marching-band breakdown? Come on.

3. Mariah Carey, “Fourth Of July”

Lighter than air. Perry could take notes on subtlety from this one.

2. Shackleton, “Fireworks”

1. Soundgarden, “Blow Up The Outside World”

Also one of the more karaoke-accessible Soundgarden songs, should your Fourth of July plans involve singing along with recreated versions of pop songs.