Episode 566: A Coal-Town Boy Who Just Wants to Dance

On the Overthinking It we tackle the Top 10 of the Hot 100, and why the music we like is better than the crap the kids these days listen to.

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6 Comments on “Episode 566: A Coal-Town Boy Who Just Wants to Dance”

  1. Stokes OTI Staff #

    By the way her name is apparently pronounced EYE-lish (so “ei” as in eigenvector and “lish” as in ghoulish.)

    And I just urge everyone to do themselves a favor and listen to Cardi and Bruno if you haven’t, because that is just an amazing piece of songcraft. In particular what gets me is the way that the rhythmic/sonic call and response of “lemme hear you say/Please!” is built right into the already-soaring vocal line. (Content warning slash advertisement, the lyrics are extremely nasty so maybe do not listen at work.)


  2. John C Member #

    Granted, I have no musical training beyond public school music classes back when woolly mammoths roamed the countryside, but as I tried to think through my impressions of the music, the more all the songs remind me of tone poems with vocals.
    There are melodies and rhythms, but they’re minimal, almost buried under playing with vocals (themselves generally tonal) and a slow-tempo, march-like beat, and that’s all there to support an almost storytelling narrative.
    The songs feel like they’re “not music” in the same way that rap was dismissed as “not music.” But it obviously is music, just with an emphasis that we’re not used to hearing.
    At least, I think that’s what I’m hearing. It could also just be that it’s just random noise and I’m giving it a pareidolia-like benefit of the doubt.


  3. Jay #

    As a millennial (lol), the appeal of those songs I think is closer to what Matt posited. The beauty is in its simplicity.
    Melody and multiple instruments is fine, but it can be distracting, especially if you want to just jump around and let off steam or do something while you listen, a simple beat with uncomplicated lyrics is perfect. Instead of a more sophisticated song which meanders and has a ton of instruments which can sound messy coming out of a large speaker. With a simple trap beat, there’s less meandering in rhythm and less you have to distract you when multitasking or just not in the mood to have your ears flooded with too many tonal shifts. And its better to dance with. Since there’s one main consistent throughline beat to move to.
    In many ways its like the appeal of rock anthems.
    Also, for me, the mood the song is evoking counts. If the lyrics and beat are evoking an emotion I can connect to and relate to in a strong way, in that moment it trumps any other better crafted song. In other words, its not about its sophistication, its about how it makes me feel.


  4. yellojkt Member #

    A pop culture podcast I listen to did a segment on Bille Eilish. Notable for being born in the 21st century (however you date it) she and her brother produce her songs in their bedrooms. They also remarked that she steers very clear of that Ariana Grande/Brittney Spears jailbait image by dressing in baggie clothes with minimal goth-ish make-up.

    Yet her lyrics steer into some very dark territory. It’s an emblem of the freeing nature of the DIY nature of contemporary music production where the artists are beholden to producers and image makers.


  5. Benjamin #

    My kingdom for the return of the TFT podcast.


  6. cat #

    I think a missing element of this discussion is the rankings themselves. Many thinkpieces have covered whether Billboard rankings capture what is actually popular in music. But also, we remember the best of a decade differently 15+ years later because (usually) only the best stuff survives in our memory. Whereas taking the rankings from a random week is certainly somewhat reflective of the musical landscape but does not represent what will stand the test of time from this decade. Unless someone is out here still listening to Beyonce’s Check On It.


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