In this editorial I will be providing thoughtful criticism of pop music with an emphasis on chart topping music and how it could be elevated to a higher standard while still holding its mass appeal. I will take the space Pop Culture Primer has provided me to explore the effectiveness of pop music as art. I hope to provide a critical eye that comes from a place of respect. Today, I review “Rude” by MAGIC!.
You want a song stuck in your head for the rest of your life? Say yes, say yes, cause this ones for you.
My God. Nothing gets stuck in your head more than this song. Listening to the radio nowadays is basically listening to this on loop every half hour. This song’s repetitive chorus and reggae fusion pop beat might actually kill me. But here I am listening to it over and over again for this review…
I blame you Matthew Cox. I blame you.
“So why did you pick this song Kyle?” Well, horrible screeching demon chorus I hear when I’m alone, that’s a good question. It’s because… it could have been good.
When I first listened to the song in the car on the way home from work, it was all I could do was keep myself from jerking the wheel to the right and gifting my wife enough insurance money to absolve her debts. However, as it replayed itself over and over again in my head for the next 72 hours, interrupted only by sleep, barking dogs, or the occasional sound of static coming from nowhere, did it start to grow on me.
(Or rather in me, like Ebola.)
I thought, it really felt like there was something raw and human in the words, “Why do you have to be so rude, don’t you know I’m human too”. I began to analyze what this rawness could be. It seems disproportionate to the response of the father. Immediately I began to distrust the narrator. Was this even a close approximation to what the man said? Most people who are upset exaggerate. If this is the exaggerated version, how tame was the actual thing the guy said. There was something dissonant about it. It was like all the pieces didn’t fit together.
However, what if there is a bit of the story I’m missing? What if it’s subtly trying to insinuate that the narrator is a minority and the man he’s asking is white? Does that change the narrative? Yes. Most certainly it does. So I began on hour 70 of my brain looping ‘why you gotta be so rude‘ to think of the narrator played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
This helped greatly. Suddenly, the song was a veiled anthem of love in a time that can still be decidedly racist. I had figured it out. Now, it was time to do some research and figure out if that is what the writer intended.
Me and the horrible screeching demon chorus in my head were very disappointed.
Turns out, that the writer wrote it after a horrible relationship where his girlfriend was being verbally abusive to him. He started writing a song that had, what he called, a “dark vibe”. However, the concept didn’t work well with the band’s themes. So they re-wrote it in order to market it better with the band’s image and predetermined style. I imagine these are the exact words they exchanged.
Band member 1- I really like the new song. It’s got this emotional quality that is based on real human understanding and suffering. It stretches the bounds of what we normally do in a way that challenges us and takes us out of the box we live in.
Band member 2- It’s kinda a bummer though.
Band member 1- So? It’s a real piece of art that communicates a truth about the human experience?
Band member 2- Yeah, but art doesn’t sell well.
Band member 1- You’re right! F$%^ that. Lets make it trite, accessible, and repetitive!
Band member 2- Now you’re onto something!
I’m going to go pour some Electric Wizard into my ears before I kill something.