Song Review – Bridgit Mendler’s “Ready or Not”

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I like fluffy pop music about love, despite the bad rap it may get in some corners of music connoisseurship.  I must say, though, I may actually be overestimating the degree to which pop music is looked down upon.  There are plenty of critics out there who give pop a fair shake, whether or not they prefer other genres.  But the reason I am even mentioning this information in the first place is because people who know me somewhat but not completely may be surprised at how much I like lovey-dovey pop music, considering that I usually prefer to rock it out, or to roll with the wild experimental EDM beats.  To be honest, I wouldn’t say as a rule that I like this lovey-dovey genre; you won’t be likely to find me doodling hearts and flowers on my notebook.  But I definitely have a romantic side.  So I’m happy to have declarations of love enter my ears, but I prefer when there’s something unique to those declarations.  And I caught on to something unique the first time I heard Bridgit Mendler’s “Ready or Not.”  Genre organizers have lumped Bridgit in with the Demi Lovato’s and the Selena Gomez’s of the pop world- which makes sense considering that like those two, she first became famous on the Disney Channel – but she really has a sensibility that is different from any other tween-targeted artist.  In “Ready or Not,” her reggae- and jazz-inflected vocal style is subtle, but  noticeable, with a satisfying scat breakdown at the end.  Her strange approach (strange by 21st century pop standards, anyway) may not be full-fledged yet, but this debut single portends great things to come.  And in the meantime, this fluffy, lovey-dovey tune is perfectly enjoyable on its own. B+

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Song Review – Ke$ha’s “Die Young”

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The “we’re young”/”let’s live tonight like we’re dying” song is basically a full-fledged subgenre at this point, and Ke$ha makes it clear that she is not messing around with her effort by bringing in Nate Ruess of fun.,  who put out the latest hit in that subgenre.  Actually, the entire songwriting team on this track – Ruess, Dr. Luke, Benny Blanco, Cirkut, and Ke$ha herself – is an all-star team of pop hitmakers.  Dr., Benny, and Cirkut are there for the perfect, electro-tinged pop beat; Nate is there for the inspirational, shout-along worthy tune, and Ke$ha throws in her unique brand of freaky come-ons.  If you love Ke$ha – and you animals know who you are – this will not disappoint you.  You’re probably listening to it ten times a day already.  But if you find her obnoxiously scuzzy, you may be happy to discover that she’s toned it down a bit – or really just corralled it into a more generally palatable package.  The last line of the chorus – “Let’s make the most of the night like we’re gonna die young” – is basically just an explanation of what this song is.  But the rest of the lyrics are more clever than that thesis statement.  “I hear your heart beat to the beat of the drums” calls attention to how polished the production is – the electronic whirrs and whoops are streamlined along with perfectly placed guitar chords to make it sound like actual music.  And “Oh what a shame that you came here with someone” provides a sense of bittersweet longing that makes an otherwise shallow tune that much more poignant.  And lest you think this is not actually Ke$ha, she throws in zingers like “Stripping down to dirty socks” and “That magic in your pants, it’s making me blush” to make it clear that this is her version of “we’re young”/”let’s live tonight like we’re dying.” A-