2007, let me holla at you, you so hot hot hot hot
Ah, December–easily the most magical time of the year. Not for all those boring religious and sentimental reasons, and not because of all that snow either (snow being easily the most overrated form of condensation). For a true pop culture buff, December means but one thing–YEAR IN MOTHERFUCKING REVIEW. That’s right, with 11 of 2007’s months officially over and done with, it’s time to start the demanding but infinitely rewarding practice of separating the year’s classics from the clunkers, the epoch-makers from the airspace-wasters, the immortal from the ephemeral. Can’t you feel the electricity in the air?
If not, then it’s time to start. All this week on Intensities and Ten Suburbs, we’ll be looking at the nominees for that most prestigious of year-end distinctions: entry into the IITS Pop Culture Hall of Fame. Long after memories of Big Shots, Hurricane Chris and Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married? fade into the ether, these giants will endure in the public consciousness, towering over all to follow. Over the next five days, we’ll be looking at the music, movies, television, commercials and miscellany that has defined 2007 in popular culture–ten items each, which will ultimately be pared down to the five each, which will go on to live forever in the hallowed annals of Intensites in Ten Suburbs’ trophy room.
This, dear readers, is where you (hopefully) come in. I’d like to have the entries into our hall of fame be decided by you. So at the end of each day, I want you all to write-in your votes of the nominees mentioned. You can vote for up to five, as well as an optional write-in vote that can get honorable mention if I find it a particularly egregious miss on my part. You can post your vote in the comments box, or e-mail it to me at email@example.com. If you don’t want to vote every day, you can wait until the end of the week and submit one complete ballot.
IF YOU ARE A SEMI-REGULAR IITS READER AND PAID SLIGHT ATTENTION TO ANYTHING THIS YEAR, YOU SHOULD BE VOTING IN THIS.
That said, I have learned to be realistic in terms of reader response, and if I don’t receive enough votes, I’ll simply pick the inductees myself. But that won’t be as much fun, now, will it? So please, don’t force me to have to do so.
Now, about the nominees: as should be no surprise to anyone reading this blog, this will not simply be a listing of my favorite songs, albums, movies, TV shows, commercials and current events–you can find best of lists just about anywhere this time of year, and I’ll not be adding to them, not here anyway. Rather, these nominees are culled from the moments that I felt most defined the pop culture landscape in 2007. Consequently, such future-classic songs like The National’s “Mistaken for Strangers” and LCD Soundsystem’s “All My Friends” are not represented, nor are movies like Hot Fuzz or The King of Kong, TV shows like The Wire or Friday Night Lights, or commercials…well, all right, the commercials are probably mostly just gonna be listings of my favorites (there are not yet, to my knowledge, such a thing as indie commercials). But you get the idea.
So first up are the music nominees. Remember, vote for up to five (only voting one or two is OK), with one optional write-in, either in the comments box or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s set a standard for what is hopefully many induction ceremonies to come.
Avril Lavigne Unwittingly Introduces An Obscure Power Pop Act to a New Generation
Choosing just one “Girlfriend”-related moment to put up for the Pop Culture hall of fame is an impossibility. After all, this is the song that was recorded in eight different languages (including the infamous Mandarin version), saw Avril fighting over a guy with her own nerdy doppleganger in the video, and of course featured the best call-and-response hook (and maybe just the best chorus hook period) of the year. But just as good as any was the lawsuit levied against Ms. Lavigne by forgotten 70s power-poppers Rubinoos on the claims that the song was a rip-off of their “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend“–a claim which might have carried more weight had that song not been a rip-off itself of The Rolling Stones’ “Get Off of My Cloud”. C’mon guys, don’t you know by now? When it comes to music royalty suits, it always comes back to Mick and Keith.
Akon and T-Pain Buy a Time Share in the Top 40
Let’s do a run-down of the Senegalese Sensation and the Robo-R&Ber’s ’07 rap sheet, shall we?
Akon: “Don’t Matter” (#1), Gwen Stefani’s “The Sweet Escape” (#2), Bone Thugz n Harmony’s “I Tried” (#6), “Sorry, Blame it On Me” (#7), Plies’ “Hypnotized” (#24), DJ Khaled’s “We Takin’ Over” (#28), Wyclef Jean’s “The Sweetest Girl” (#32 and rising), and two mega-hits from ’06 still lingering on the charts in the beginning of ’07 (“Smack That” and “I Wanna Love You”)
T-Pain: “Buy U a Drank” (#1), Chris Brown’s “Kiss Kiss” (#1), Flo Rida’s “Low” (#4), Baby Bash’s “Cyclone” (#7), Kanye West’s “Good Life” (#7), Plies’ “Shawty” (#9), R. Kelly’s “I’m a Flirt” (#12), DJ Khaled’s “I’m So Hood” (#19), Bow Wow’s “Outta My System” (#22), “Baby Don’t Go” (#23)
Both: “Bartender” (#5)
And this isn’t even mentioning Akon’s on-stage underage dry hump or long distance fan toss.
Um-buh-reh-lla, ella, ella, ay ay
If you could sum up 2007 pop music in one grammatically inaccurate word, it’d have to be this one. Rihanna rode her irresistible mispronunciation to her second chart-topper, the Best Video award at the VMAs, the unofficial jam of the summer, and the collective ire of more Elementary School english teachers that had been raised by a pop culture item since those “The Birds is coming!” ads in the early 60s. And chart geeks will of course rejoice at the obscure trivia fact that “Umbrella” now makes Jay-Z the only artist in Billboard history to be featured on three different artists’ #1 hits, without ever getting one of his own. Take that, (Ex-)Murda Ma$e!
Soulja Boy Teaches a Grateful Nation How to Crank Dat Soulja Boy
The song and video was inescapable enough, and a more oppressively hypnotic single in recent years I can not recall. But really, when was the last time our country got swept up by a dance craze like this? I mean yeah, “The Cha Cha Slide,” but that was more of a gradual permeation than a genuine sweep, and the “Lean Back” is disqualified on the grounds that I believe you need at least two steps to qualify as a dance craze. Hell, not even Los Del Rio actually released an instructional video for the “Maccarena”. I’ve still yet to hear a proper explanation as to what “Cranking that Roosevelt” entails, however. Do you need a wheelchair for it?
Rock Puts on Its Boogie Shoes
For a while there, it was like 1979 all over again. Seems like almost every band was going disco this year, whether it was designed to revive their lagging careers (Finger Eleven’s “Paralyzer,” Good Charlotte’s “Dance Floor Anthem”), bump their already taking-off careers to the next level (Maroon 5’s “Makes Me Wonder,” Fall Out Boy’s “This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race”) or get that ever-elusive first radio hit (Say Anything’s “Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too,” the failure of which to break into the mainstream continues to perplex me somewhat). Fans might’ve cried bloody murder at these crossover attempts the first time around, but luckily, no one really cares about rock any more these days, so we were able to enjoy these radio-ready delectables in a mostly judgement-free environment.
Mims Breaks Down Hotness for the Lay Man
In a rare rap representation of the Reflexive Property of Equality (no, thank you, Mrs. Machnichi!), Mims explains the root cause of his hotness, and your notness: “I’m hot ‘coz I’m fly / You ain’t ‘coz you not.” In most other years, this chorus would mark a nadir of sorts for hip-hop lyricism, but as it turns out, 2007 was just getting going. Nonetheless, the song did display a higher musical IQ than most other rap hits this year (“Shook Ones, Pt. 2”!!!), and it did have a certain self-explanatory charm to it. I still can’t make out 95% of the chorus to “Crank That Soulja Boy,” but there really isn’t any way that “This is Why I’m Hot” could be too much clearer.
Alanis Morissette Puts a Different Spin on Things
Yeah, I did the eye-roll thing when I first heard about this. Forgive me, but I figured Alanis Morissette doing “My Humps” would pack about as much appeal as one of Tori Amos’s SHOCKING covers of Slayer or Eminem or something. But oh, was I proven wrong, as not only did Alanis’s novelty cover become one of the viral video smashes of the calendar year, but it actually didn’t suck much at all. Really, this is because the song sounds less like a parody of “My Humps” (truly one of the most readily-parodiable songs of all-time) than it does a parody of Alanis herself–listen to the bitterness she seethes with as she asks “what you gonna do with alllll that juuuunkkkk, all that juunk IIIN-SAAYYYIIIDE YOUR TRUNK??!?” and flash back to your uncomfortable memories of that annoying girl at school doing a performance of “You Oughta Know” at your 8th grade talent show or something. But then again, here Alanis is, a whole 12 years after Jagged Little Pill, on a list of the elite pop culture moments of the year. So I suppose the last laugh is truly hers.
Amy Winehouse Goes to Rehab
The punniest and least-surprisng music celebrity headline since C-Murder (OK, loose definition of celebrity) was arrested for murder, Amy Winehouse was struck with some exceptionally bad (or good, depending) timing when she entered rehab just weeks after her single of the same name peaked in the top ten in the US. Really though, it was sort of unreal that Winehouse got there in the first place–chalk it up to that once a year phenomenon (’04: “Float On,” ’05: “Feel Good Inc.,” ’06: “Crazy”) of a single eclipsing presumed commercial boundaries just because it really was that good. Let’s just hope she lives to enjoy her success for at least a little while.
MTV Takes Issue With the Chorus to Sean Kingston’s “Beautiful Girls”
Now, I’m not generally for Radio Edits replacing objectionable words in songs with ones that are less so–unless, of course it’s taken to comically ridiculous levels, as in the classic case of Weezer’s “We Are All In Love.” But in any event, it’s generally preferrable to edits that just blur out the words entirely, especially in the case of Sean Kingston’s summer smash, wher those objectionable words made up about half of the chorus. So instead of getting one of the great singalong choruses of 2007 when you see the video on MTV, you get “You’re way too beaaauuuuutiful girl / That’s why it’ll never work / You’ll leave me …. / …. / when you say that it’s ooooverrrr.” Also, if MTV really dislikes even the most casual “suicidal” mentions, then they have the extreme over-exposure of a certain early-90s grunge video to answer for.
It’s Britney, Bitch
2007…it probably didn’t quite turn out the way Britney Spears had hoped. Rehab, a high-profile divorce, a freak gardening accident that left her the least sexy bald woman since Marcia Cross in Melrose Place, a titanically disastrous interview in OK! Magazine, and, of course, a total bomb of a performance at the 2007 VMAs, where even lip synching properly seems too much for the drugged out and/or very, very sleep-deprived Spears to handle. However, she managed to hang on to some semblance of a career, thanks to those three sweetest words in the English Language, which provided the ringtone-ready hook to an otherwise entirely lifeless comeback single. And if the “Gimme More” video showed that Britney has little desire to turn around her wayward ways, well, at least we got one of the decade’s great catchphrases out of it.
Timbaland Moves to the Left of the “F/” Symbol
Colbie Calliat and Taylor Swift: Guitar is the New Piano
“THROW SOME D’S ON THAT BITCH!”
Gym Class Heroes sampling Supertramp and Jermaine Stewart
R. Kelly’s Videos for “Real Talk,” “Same Girl” and “Trapped in the Closet (Parts 13-22)”
***VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE****