well. In honor of our incredible good fortune in concert tickets,
I really have no choice but to devote a Special Blather Album
Review to *NSync's Celebrity.
Go Boy Bands, go Boy Bands!
Celebrity came out the day of the show here in LA,
but Kelly and I were far too busy with chrome nail polish
and Duran buttons and general dorkiness to go pick it up that
day. (Had I not been driving that low-end rental Geo with
no CD player, mind, I mighta made the effort for the trip
out to the Rose Bowl.) So my first listen of most of these
songs was, shucks, from our FRONT ROW SEATS at the concert.
But rest assured, I picked up the album that weekend and gave
it a couple listens without all those distracting lasers and
costumes and choreographed dance moves and flashing lights
and stuff. Heh.
I was already familiar with the first single, "Pop,"
which I find incredibly catchy
but which I also think
heralds the beginning of the end. I mean, once a band has
to start singing songs about how REAL they are and how they're
HERE TO STAY and they're JUST DOING WHAT THEY LOVE AND IF
YOU DON'T LIKE IT, TOO BAD and are basically trying to argue
a case for their head-spinning commercial success paired with
the questionability of their actual musical talent,
Spice Girls, Forever), they're usually on the slippery
slope to being full-on N-KO'd-TB.
Track 1, "Pop": As I mentioned, this song
is majorly catchy; it epitomizes everything I crave in Teen
["Dirty"] Pop: it's slickly produced- nay, slickly
overproduced, has lots of kickin' drums and techno
samples and appealingly cheesy RockLite riffs, has mondo-silly
lyrics ("Doesn't matter/'bout the car I drive or the
ice around my neck/All that matters/is that you recognize
that it's just about respect"), sounds great blasted
in the car when I'm tearing around the 405, and just boots
it (TM me
it's my new phrase for "kicks ass"
:) ), in general. On the down side though, um, who thought
bringing back human beat-box was a good idea
you just see the meeting at Jive Records? "I know, I'll
do human beat-box!" "
That'll be FAB!" [inwardly:
and the 12-year-old
tards will spend billions of dollars on you no matter HOW
stupid you sound, you little pigfart!] Of course, overall,
this song is about as hardcore "dirty" as a sweet
3-year-old playing in the mud after a gentle spring rain
but, hey. Boy Band.
Track 2, "Celebrity": This is the title
song, and, truthfully, I expected something different from
an *NSync title song. You know, all "No Strings Attached"
and whatnot. But "Celebrity" is mellow. Yeah, it
has the groovy, syncopated drop-beats I dig, and those cheese-wad
Diet Techno samples
but it's a quiet, trying-to-be-cool-and-funky
song. I guess it's worth it for the giggle factor. I mean,
the narcissistic lyrics sound like they came from Mrs. Wilson's
6th-grade creative writing class. "If I couldn't buy
you diamond rings/And all those other expensive things/Would
you be so into me/If I wasn't a celebrity?" Yeah, Boyz.
Life is tough for sensitive artist men like you. And they
didn't even thank Duran Duran for the inspiration with the
oh-so-"Girls On Film" camera samples.
But I can top the Celebrity Narcissism; I'll bet y'all
didn't know that *NSync loves me, did you? To wit: "If
I couldn't have cheese like everyday/Would you still wanna
be with me?" CHEESE! Coincidence? Ha! Hardly!
Track 3, "The Game is Over." This is the
fucking GREATEST SONG OF THE YEAR 2001! Dudes! The Pac-Man
samples are studly; surely Buckner and Garcia are quivering
in paroxysms of inferiority under the counter at the McDonald's
where they're assistant managers. And yeah, this is the song
that JC proudly proclaimed on some KIIS
FM interview was "a love song inspired by the movie
Tron"! HOW could it get better than that?!
As I hit the back button on the CD player yet another time
and shake my azz, I'm more than willing to overlook the fact
that this song is, essentially, just "Digital Get Down"
with video game noises.
Track 4, "Girlfriend": Uhhhh. "I like
you, right/Would you be my girlfriend?" No. No I will
not. This song blows. Too slow, too stupid, lame vocals. Uch.
Track 5, "The Two of Us": Okay, take "Strawberry
Fields Forever," and turn it into a trite, sophomoric
piece of crap, and you've got "The Two of Us."
Track 6, "Gone": Admittedly, I loathe Boy
Band Ballads. But this one starts off with a sample of an
all-1920s-sounding scratchy record playing some anachronistically
sweet something-or-other, a nice touch, before easing into
the mildly rhythm-laden song itself. From there, it's everything
I've come to expect from a Boy Band Ballad
heavy on the "girrrrl" stuff, lots of Justin Earnestness
and Sincerity, plenny o' harmonies during the bridge, all
enough to make any prepubescent heart pitter-pat. But then
as the Boyz head into the chorus, they hit that "gone
gone" an octave higher, creating an unexpected,
mournful and even fairly poignant mood. I don't like
this song, but I have to admit it has
the mood is ruined every time I start giggling at the Boyz
singing "do my best to be a man and be strong"
They just left themselves wide open with that one.
Track 7, "Tell Me, Tell Me
Okay, hang on
I gotta shake my groove thang again! Yeah!
This song does amusingly hokey (hokily amusing?) things in
the beginning as the intro is interrupted by Chris going "Hold
uh, you know what?
Can we back it up just a
little bit?" and then all this, I guess, track-scratching,
with Justin's vocal on "Say I" and "whyyyy"
and rewind-sounding stuff before the rhythm track start up.
The lyrics are consistently hackneyed, but the VERY SPECIAL
features - namely, 1) the rhythmically incorrectly sung "There's
just one THING
the part that is misSING," and 2)
Justin's trademark pronunciation of "me" as "maaaay"
- ease the pain. At least in my world they do.
Track 8, "Up Against the Wall": The disco
ball song! Woo hoo! Again, catchy, lots of those heavy drop-beats
but hearing JC sing "we started grindin'" gives
me heebie-jeebies. My pants, emphatically, are NOT bustin'
for JC! And another thing
what's up with callin' your
girlfriend "Shorty"? I mean, first in that stupid
"Angel of the Morning"-sampled song about "closer
than my peeps you are to me, baby," and now here
What is the origin of this particular trend? I guess I'm just
old, but the "Shorty" thing is really, really silly.
And speaking of silly, hang on
I gotta turn up the volume
for this bit
Mirror, mirror on the wall
Whose the cutest one you saw?
She's underneath the disco ball,
disco ball, the disco ball
Standing next to strobe lights
Dancin' hot, looking tight
The freaks sure do come out at night
Out at night, out at night
Track 9, "See Right Through You": Ooooh,
SO EDGY, guys! They say "pissed off"! How
how DIRTY! This song is about three steps above the ballads,
but one crucial step below songs like "Pop" and
"The Game is Over" and even "Up Against the
Wall." It'll do, with the rhythm fills and scratching
samples, but it's nothing special.
Track 10, "Selfish": Eyew. Ballad. Ick,
ick, ick. Boring, boring, boring!
Track 11, "Just Don't Tell Me That": Otherwise
known as "Digital Get Down, Part Three." But it
boots it! Plus, Justin does that "maaaaay" thang
Track 12, "Something Like You": Oh, God
not only is it another ballad, but it has this HORRIBLE cheeze-wad
clarinet intro. Boyz? Put away Lionel Ritchie albums! I actually
thought this was "Penny Lover" at first, and I don't
appreciate being scared like that, okay?
Track 13, "Do Your Thing": *NSync has a
habit of ending albums with a Grody Ballad/Upbeat Near-Ballad
combo, and this is no exception. This pabulum, meant to inspire
generic self-esteem in 8-year-olds, is totally lame. We can
skip this one, too.
So? Um, well, I think it's worth it. I can skip those 4-5
icky songs and focus on the dance stuff. Listening to the
album as a whole, I can tell the Boyz're trying to do the
"mature" thing; every song is unique and different
(to a certain Teen Poo degree), as if pointedly offering critics
and adults a taste of their (ahem) musical diversity. But
that isn't what this album should be about. It's REALLY about
doing dance moves from the videos, about 20-year-old billionaires
thanking God, their families and their fans in liner notes
and then singing songs about all the trappings of mondo-commercial
success. It's about concerts with six costume changes and
lasers and fireworks and stage sets that take days to set
up and break down. It's about banal lyrics and catchy beats
and hooks and twenty layers of samples and drum machine tracks
and overproduction in the extreme. There's a certain kind
of energy to all that and, while not in the musical virtuoso
category, Celebrity fills a definite niche. And that's
fine with me.
Now excuse me
I have some "Dirty" Pop-ing
to do before the Teen Poo craze dies its inevitable death.