Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Rock Otaku’s Rockin’ Billboard Chart Watch: The Top 5 Songs I Forgot to mention in my worst list.

Hello degenerates, heathens, weirdos, and deviants.  I am the Rock Otaku, and I’m here to show you worlds such as hard rock, metal, punk, alternative rock, movies, TV, anime, video games, and anything that makes us scream, shout, and let it all out.

If you’re wondering, I did say last week that I would be making a best of 2016 list of songs for this week.  But something happened: time.  There were issues that came up such as my normal life getting in the way, me taking on some new things like a showcase of how I make Spotify playlists as well as interacting with like-minded people (primarily to study Japanese).  As a result, I have barely started on that.  The closest I got to was what songs I’d put on the list.  I haven’t determined order or how many honorable mentions I’d have.  To make up for this quasi-blunder, I am changing the list from Top 10 Hit Rock Songs of 2016 to Top 20 Hit Rock Songs of 2016.  Why?  Because I found more songs I liked than I did hated.  But there was more in the suck category that I completely missed.

Specifically, these 5 songs were ones that I heard and thought that they were either okay or terrible, but weren’t on my mind when I decided to make my initial worst list.  If I ever redid that list to show my real thoughts a while down the line (probably late June or early July), then the 5 songs here are likely going to be mentioned.  Either I’ve realized that these songs suck, I agree with other critics that these songs suck, or I cannot recommend them to fellow listeners.  As for the rules, I’m still restricting myself to the Year End entries of the Hot Rock Song, Rock Airplay, Rock Digital, Rock Streaming, Alternative Songs, Adult Alternative Songs, and Mainstream Rock Songs charts for 2016, so these songs were hits of some kind.  Also, I’m also trying to make sure that these songs were from 2016 and/or a few years back, so there are no classic stinkers here.

Also, I'm thinking of a new counting system.  To not alienate my current fans, I'll include the actual numbers for each ranking.  But I've set it up in a way that I'll probably test your current knowledge of Japanese writing.  Okay?  これをやろう! これを私の胸から外す時です。 (Kore o yarou! Kore o watashi no mune kara hazusu tokidesu. That should mean "Let's do this! It's time to get this off my chest." The rest of my Japanese use will not be in English, but I'll include romaji)

Starting With 5:

または  シーザーが話すときに耳を傾ける。(Matawa go. Shīzā ga hanasu toki ni mimiwokatamukeru.)

I have made it clear that I am not a fan of “White Guy with Acoustic Guitar” songs.  The genre is loaded with bland, uninteresting, and almost-frat boyish dudes who sing about whatever’s on their mind, and it’s usually stuff EVERYBODY sings about or knows.  Hell, this is why I consider “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn” by Poison to be extremely overrated, it’s a WGWAG song posing as a hair ballad (and if it wasn’t for C.C., it would have been true garbage).  But here’s an example of that stupid genre: Let It Go by James Bay.  

Talk about a load of blah, it’s a pure, unfiltered example of this lame genre, but there are reasons it initially didn’t make the list: the melody is interesting to me.  I’m a sucker for songs in this key (I’m sure it’s Bm, but that’s because I looked up where the capo goes on the guitar when playing this track).  But I can even draw the line and admit a song sucks.  This is about a girl James Bay is into that, probably, was on top of the world and is now trying to get back on her feet, and he’s telling her to “Let it go” and be with him.  If it wasn’t for the possibly negative elements that could happen to her, this would have been a sweet song, but thanks to the credo of WGWAGs, it’s smug as hell.  Plus that guitar line, while bluesy and based around a key I admitted I’m a sucker for, is pretty meh, and it almost ruins that key.  The song is way too airy for me to do anything but drift off and forget that I’m trying to listen to a song.  It’s white noise.  Nice-sounding, but white noise.  As a result, I give this song the Bluto treatment:

Meanwhile, I’d recommend you all to stick with this “Let It Go”:

Next is 4:

または四彼女はその数を意味する。(Matawa shi/yon. Kanojo wa sono sū o imi suru.)

Of all the songs here, this is arguably the nicest-sounding one here.  But that doesn’t mean that it is overall a good song.  What I am referring to is Handclap by Fitz And The Tantrums, a song that’s so obsessed with how it wants to make you do this one thing: make your hands clap, that it forgets to write any good lyrics that can ensure said hand clapping. 

As for the nice sound, it has a decent melody.  But that is ruined when it doesn’t do anything else with it.  But I do have to give credit to the song for having a few extra musical lines added in, such as a guitar line at the end.  But what keeps this melody from being good is that its pop production is way too obvious.  Plus the lyrics are pure fluff.  I’ve like songs with fluffy lyrics before, some more sugary than this track, but I’m sure that this song’s lyrics are the kind of fluff with an ego, the kind I’m not sure I could even stand.  It says how it can make my hands clap, but it doesn’t offer enough good lines in the lyrics or even amazing instrumentation and melodies to ensure that I’m clapping my hands to this song.  Plus, with the singer’s age (he’s currently 46), it sounds like the kind of song that’s made for parents, which can either be surprisingly enlightening or extremely lame, and this falls in the latter.  Such a waste, but not the biggest waste of time here.

Next is 3:

または三。言い訳を許しなさい。(Matawa san. Iiwake o yurushi nasai.)

I’m going to get a lot of crap from my Christian fans for this.

The next song I could have considered for worst (probably because of the hate boner for it from other, more respected critics) is Feel Invincible by Skillet. 

Not to say this song entirely sucks, I have some enjoyment from it due to how stupid it kinda is.  Plus, I can recommend it to total meatheads, both for its “inspirational” lyrics and aggressive instrumentation.  As for the song, where it fails is its usage of electronica.  While this could add some dynamics to the song while offering something new and interesting , Skillet somehow make their sound, well, sound less interesting.  Outside of the more aggressive elements, this sounds like a pop song.  A POP song.  Not to say that pop rock cannot work, it does, but this is nowhere near as testosterone-driven as it wants to be.  While some of you may accuse me of selling out to the critical ideology, one influenced by atheism, for attempting to bash this song, let me point this out: I may have liked it initially, but I don’t play enough Call of Duty or Madden to be in this song’s intended fan base, so I’ve been feeling that this song is merely okay.  It doesn’t do anything empowering unless I’m uber-Christian, or neither do I find it repulsive.  I find it to be musically meh.  Heck, the aspects of Skillet I originally liked, the symphonic elements, the vocal interplay between John Cooper and Drummer Jen Ledger, where the latter sings her heart out, and the Three Days Grace-sounding riffs are seriously downplayed, making each sound more generic than it should while also going for a bouncy pop beat.  Whatever grit could have been used to dirty this song up is scrubbed off, causing this song to only have the initial punch, then get weaker with each subsequent listen.  But that’s just my opinion, but I also feel that it doesn’t have the power that the triple attack of “Monster,” “Hero,” and “Awake and Alive” had (in each song mentioned by itself, by the way).  As a result, this hits, in my enlightened opinion, with a thud.  The Lord deserves better music than this, and I feel that I’d have to stick to Stryper and P.O.D. for my Christian Rock fixings (I haven’t listened to enough Narnia to consider them, but their C.S. Lewis-inspired approach is interesting to me).  Such a same.  And speaking of Three Days Grace…

Next is 2:

またはあなたはこの場面を知っておくべきです。(Matawa ni. Anata wa kono bamen o shitte okubekidesu.)

Next on this mini-countdown is Fallen Angel by Three Days Grace.  

While this may tickle my nostalgia for radio rock from my high school years (with Three Days Grace being one of the more interesting bands), this is everything that could have made the band less distinctive and more generic.  Why?  Adam Gontier is no longer in the band, and his forceful vocals are heavily missing here.  While the current singer tries too hard to make this work, he is no Adam Gontier.  He sounds like a generic emo butt rock singer that would rather sing songs about strippers and cocaine than he would about broken relationships.  The guitars are surprisingly generic, the bass is blah, and the drums are processed poorly, and so is the guitar.  It sounds as if it was programmed rather than played.  While I could have forgiven this if it were more distinctive, it’s the band at their most generic.  The lyrics are so blah and bland that they could have worked with their earlier material, when there was more punch in the production and instrumentation and the singer was ADAM GONTIER!  Seriously I miss that guy.  While I can admit this, what kept this song from the true worst list was that the lyrics did deal with the singer dealing with someone who’s depressed but is trying to do right for him.  But then he realizes that it will be hard to return the favor and cheer that person up.  Well, the depressing music is not helping, and the vocalist doesn’t have the power to sell this song as an anti-depressant.  In my mind, Three Days Grace are the true fallen angels.  But who is this singer?

Matt Walst?

From My Darkest Days?!  No wonder he sounds better singing about strippers and cocaine.  HE DID!

Finally 1:

または一。言い訳を許しなさい。 (Matawa ichi. Iiwake o yurushi nasai.)

Let me get this out of the way.  This may sound like I’m just making the easy choices, but I do have to say that these two artists deserve better.  If you haven’t clued in from that sentence, I’m referring to Irresistible by Fall Out Boy w/ Demi Lovato. 

For Fall Out Boy, of the many emo bands that came out in the Noughties, they were arguably the kings (with Panic! At The Disco, My Chemical Romance, Avenged Sevenfold, and Bullet For My Valentine close to them in rank).  While their earlier rock songs are pretty good, I felt that they’ve been extremely hit-or-miss when they went pop (ironic that their first straight pop record was called Save Rock and Roll).  For Demi Lovato, while I do not have a very strong(ly positive) opinion on Radio Disney bubblegum, she’s arguably one of the more powerful vocalists I’ve heard in pop music.  Despite that, I haven’t heard “Cool for the Summer” in its entirety, though I respect Spectrum Pulse and Todd in the Shadows for putting it on their Best of 2015 lists because, from what I’ve heard of it, it sounds like something that, with a little more grit and sleaze, could be a song I’d definitely put on my playlist.  Plus I felt “Confident,” despite a few issues, was a pretty confident pop tune.  But combine the two artists, and somehow they’re both wasted.  This song is a complete pop song, and NOT in a good way.  As for that spectrum of musical style, it’s okay.  Not good, not bad, but okay.  But as a “rock” song…

No seriously, this is a rock song?  It’s pop, and it doesn’t belong here.  The drums are plastic as crap, the guitars and bass are shoved in the background in favor of whatever sounds are trendy.  The vocals are too safe and formulaic, and so are the lyrics with added stupidity.  IT!  DOESN’T!  WORK!  WHEN YOU CONSIDER!  WHAT!  BOTH ARTISTS!  ARE!  CAPABLE OF!  Based on their respective track records, this song is just lame.  That is why this song belongs on this list on sheer principle alone.  If I want commercial, processed pop rock, I'd rather have more grit or stick with the 80s.

Possible Dishonorable Mentions:

Anything by Shinedown, 3 Doors Down, Seether, Pop Evil, and Disturbed.  I don’t hate these bands with a burning passion (3 Doors Down are okay at best), and I feel that their songs weren’t that bad anyway.  Hell, the last band listed would probably make my best list next week, I’m certain.

As for the true list that should have been released this week, I’m really sorry for that.  But if I can make it up to you all, I have already mentioned that it will be a Top 20 rather than a Top 10.  Last year was that good for rock music.  I’m not sure if was because of what was going on in the world, or because the rock scene decided to be the opposite of the pop scene last year, but things were great for rock music (outside of the songs I’ve deemed bad).  If you disagree, then feel free to mention what you thought sucked about rock music in 2016.  I’d like to know what you thought.

Isn’t learning Japanese fun?

Next week: The REAL List – The Top 20 Best Hit Rock Songs of 2016.

Until Next Time, this is the Rock Otaku.  Live Loud, Play Hard, and Let’s Hope 2017 Doesn’t Suck More than 2016.

All used references are done under the rules of fair use and are owned by their original creators. 

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