All of the Lights: Miley Cyrus & Rick Ross – Cop Lights

Pop Culture, Soundtrek, TGRI, Uncategorized

Turn up the lights in here, baby / extra bright, I want y’all to see this  / turn up the lights in here, baby / you know what I need, want you to see everything / want you to see all of the lights – Kanye West, “All of the Lights”

Miley Cyrus and Rick Ross were our patriots on patrol this year. Living the high life where MiCy met Miami, these two lit up the Pop scape with the red, white, and blue hues of stars, bars, strips, whips, chains, gangs, and the incessant inability of ever being tamed. He was the Teflon Don: gun dirty, brick clean; she hung on a pole and a prayer: the jailbait-in-waiting, craving to be scene.

All of the Lights: Lady Gaga & Kanye West – Soular

Pop Culture, TGRI, TrapperKeeper

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Turn up the lights in here, baby / extra bright, I want y’all to see this / turn up the lights in here, baby / you know what I need, want you to see everything / want you to see all of the lights – Kanye West, “All of the Lights”

Kanye West and Lady Gaga… beyond, beneath, within, and without the flashing lights these two remained suspended in infinite existence. Modern Pop has known no before nor after these two… 21st century children will live to recount tales to their grandchildren of crucial kreugers emanating from nothingness, beautiful dark twisted fantasies in the midst of a blissfully bleak reality, the climate-shifting global state of monstrosity where beasts reigned as belles of the endless ball… a world void of time and space… a post-apocalyptic period where two prophets destroyed their own made world, an archaic rebirth after the darkest decade known to warholian man, a cultural sonicscape perpetuated by the synergy of two sources of sheer energy… in 2010 amidst all of the flashing lights Lady Gaga and Kanye West were The Sun: the ubiquitous body cultivating the craft through their presence and, even more so, propelling secondary stars to shine brighter in the darkness of their absence.

All of the Lights: Willow Smith & Far East Movement – Flashlights

Pop Culture, Soundtrek, TGRI, Uncategorized

Turn up the lights in here, baby / extra bright, I want y’all to see this  / turn up the lights in here, baby / you know what I need, want you to see everything / want you to see all of the lights – Kanye West, “All of the Lights”

Willow Smith and Far East Movement whipped across the globe this year like junior jetsetters; their infectious electro pop sounds emerged from obscurity and hit ubiquity at the speed of light, they broke records beyond the speed of sound with a sonic boom that resonated across the planet. The free wired high flyers captured the world in a state of infinite liftoff; illuminating the world like it was their runway, Smith and FM lit up the skies like flashlights over an airstrip.

All of the Lights: Ke$ha & Eminem – The Bic

Pop Culture, Soundtrek, TGRI, Uncategorized

Turn up the lights in here, baby / extra bright, I want y’all to see this  / turn up the lights in here, baby / you know what I need, want you to see everything / want you to see all of the lights – Kanye West, “All of the Lights”

Amidst the darkened sky of endless pop, visibly void of any specific stars; Ke$ha and Eminem emerged as groundskeepers sparking the scene from the floor – lighters up. This year we saw a party animal, a rehabilitated recovery, and a cultural cannibal unleashed; and behind the music we saw kindred kindling ignited, revealing both sides of the Bic: the disposable house-party-fueling flicker, and the timeless stadium torch.

This year Ke$ha served the purpose of the former, sparking the fire that fueled the gutter-grime-glitter sound lingering across basements and American airwaves like a tobacco smoky haze over the backseat of a golden Trans-Am. She opened the year with “Tik-Tok” and, by default of its January 1 release date, started the proverbial pop party with her entrance. Ke$ha was that frathouse staple – ready to spark the camel, willing to blaze the j, and able to pop the top off a Pabst at a seconds notice. She was the music that set the mood, the tunes that kept the backyard bacchanals alive, and – much like that flick-happy Bic with a flame as disposable as the fueled fun – she was out by the dawn, right before your parents get home. The Southern truckette raised Hell with tales of rogue revelry at rich kids’ parties, and was the exalted embodiment of too-drunk-to-function-but-lit-enough-to-keep-gunnin’.

All of the Lights: Drake & Justin Bieber – Nightlights #spoton

Pop Culture, Soundtrek, TGRI, TrapperKeeper

Turn up the lights in here, baby / extra bright, I want y’all to see this  / turn up the lights in here, baby / you know what I need, want you to see everything / want you to see all of the lights – Kanye West, “All of the Lights”

Justin Bieber and Drake, Drake and Justin Bieber… Our neighbors to the North brought a bit of the every-Canadaian to American mainstream this year: Thank Me Later emerged as an emo-rap twist on Jagged Little Pill for the Tumblr generation, while Bieber Fever took stranglehold on a nation of young girls nary seen since the grip of Avril Lavigne’s necktie. Amidst all of Pop’s flashing lights surfaced these two – millions of teenagers’ charming knights, with legendary musical vises in tow as their shield. If the market was a castle, these two boys would be the steady fixture beside every princess’ canopy; this debonair duo amidst the still dark of the room are her pseudo-safety nets, and in reality nary more than her mere nightlights.

Ah yes, Justin Bieber… from the pixie frame, glassy eyes, lucid skin, and soprano voice, he is the spinning image of a miniature lightbulb – transparent and empty, emanating a subdued pure glow. Put him behind the vibrant shields of iconic figures, though – Ludacris, Usher, Kanye, Diddy – and he displays a magnificent display of soft colors and caricatures upon which a sea of princesses can gaze eternally for nights on end. Close your eyes, open your ears and hear his world of hollow harmonies; blink: eyes wide behind 3D spectacles and experience Justin Bieber 2.0 – a white dwarfed black hole pulling the Pop universe into oblivion.

All of the Lights: Taylor Swift & Usher – Flood Lights

Pop Culture, Soundtrek, TGRI, TrapperKeeper, Uncategorized

Turn up the lights in here, baby / extra bright, I want y’all to see this  / turn up the lights in here, baby / you know what I need, want you to see everything / want you to see all of the lights – Kanye West, “All of the Lights”

This year Taylor Swift and Usher flooded the nation in fluorescence. She spoke now, well after the deafening sounds of Swiftgate settled to a dull roar. He saturated the market in music, void of a message, but with a ubiquitous mask so clean it bordered translucence. They were so bright, so white, so everywhere, so endlessly empty, and yet so inescapably enveloping. Mainstream music’s absence of creativity opened the doors for an influx of sheer commerce, and this year panoramic sterility sold.

This is America, we love our flood lights – so bright and unyielding, so integral to the world of endless recreation of the most mind-numbing, so fundamental to the 24/7 push of profitable play – night games. These aren’t streetlights that keep stickball games going past the dusk on a Brooklyn block… these are those overhead satellites keeping NASCAR motorcades roving around in circles ad naseum at primetime for ad revenue. Swift and Raymond are those forces bleaching the scene, sweetening the mean, and softening the screams of midnight melody makers whose cathartic cries were held at bay during the day.

All of the Lights: Nicki Minaj & Katy Perry – Fireworks

Pop Culture, Popisodics, Soundtrek, TGRI, TK:NYC, TrapperKeeper

Turn up the lights in here, baby / extra bright, I want y’all to see this  / turn up the lights in here, baby / you know what I need, want you to see everything / want you to see all of the lights – Kanye West, “All of the Lights”

Once upon a rhyme two bubblegum nymphs lit up the pitch black pop sky with tales of teenage dreams and rose-colored weekends. Princess Katy Perry sang this year from atop her Golden Coast lollipop tower; while Dutchess Nicki Minaj led a brigade of bad Barbies across the hard candy-coated pop landscape. This year we saw the rise and reign of the psuedo-sexual siren; from adolescent dreams to Roman’s vengeful screams Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj exemplified both sides of Barbie – the pinup princess and the dutchess behind barbs. Amidst all of the flashing lights, these two were the fireworks that took fantastical flight.

Nicki Minaj opened the year launching feature after brilliant feature across star-studded tracks. She held court with the divas, the dons, and the du jours; throwing down with everyone from Mariah Carey and Christina Aguilera, to Rick Ross, Kanye West, Jay-Z, Eminem, Ludacris, Usher, and will.i.am. Co-sign after co-sign Minaj built hype and suffocated hearsay. Before long, it seemed as if the collective culture’s eyes were glued to Nicki’s rocketeering rise, awaiting with bated breath the halogenic blast of her solo debut; Pink Friday was the explosive result. The album is truly Minaj’s child, and capstoned her rookie year exceptionally well. It’s the pink hybrid hue between that clean white naive newness and raw red monstrosity; it’s the bridge between the come-up of the work week and the kick-back of the weekend, where Miss Minaj continues to blaze somewhere in between as the not-quite-a-babydoll-but-not-yet-a-boss.

Unforgettable, Vol. 18: La Roux – La Roux

Soundtrek, TGRI

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The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill painted a music scene reflective of urban culture on the brink of a new millennium; eleven years later we – as a culture and creative class – have evolved and devolved from that reality. We have since found our souls in the synthetic, and were given our new sonic aesthetic with an anthemic 2009 soundtrack of our virtual reality.

Enter La Roux. La Roux is music that reaches beyond sound, into the mood and mindset of an apathetically passionate generation. Literally, “La Roux” is founded upon adamant ambiguity, fusing the masculine “Le Roux” and the feminine “Le Rousse” to mean “The Red-Headed One.” “That One” would be none other than the Annie Lennox-esque frontwoman Elly Jackson. Jackson’s pale features beneath a fiery red coif depict brilliantly the sonic aesthetic of a colourless coloured culture.

Unforgettable, Vol. 17: Lauryn Hill – The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

Anthropopogy // Culture, Deconstruction, Soundtrek, TGRI, TK:NYC

In 1998 Lauryn Hill released a cultural landmark – one part enemy of the state, one part love story – which entirely rewrote the curriculum for hip-hop on the brink of a new millennium. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is H.E.R. story – of hip-hop and its truest personification. Lauryn recorded The Miseducation to resurrect a genre, a culture, an artist, and a girl headed towards commodification. “Lost Ones” comes in right after roll call, on the heels of a visibly absent – but always present – Hill. This is the anthem. This is L. Boogie’s freestyle to introduce her voice and her vantage. Here we hear Lauryn literally taking it to the streets, and revisiting hip-hop’s roots: the battle. She is not battling any other one MC, she is battling them all – and the modern concept of what it means to be an MC. She knocks out her bio in 4 lines or less: “It’s funny how money change a situation, miscommunication leads to complication; my emancipation don’t fit your equation, I was on the humble, you – on every station.” Who knew that ten years from then: she would be the exile that turned on the industry in the face of the corporate stranglehold on creative expression, she would be seen as a misunderstood genius whose public persona would be miscommunicated as “crazy,” whose post-success emancipation didn’t quite fit the conventional mold, and who would inevitably – beyond the crazy – seem quite content with herself working the unplugged circuit while hip-hop superstars dominated the auto-tuned airwaves? She did – here.

Unforgettable, Vol. 16: Madonna – Confessions on a Dance Floor

Pop Culture, Soundtrek, TGRI

In 2005, Madonna dropped the world like a discoball. She created one of the decade’s best albums as she had created her entire career: by producing a self-context so great that it becomes the world’s Pop conscience. If “the main problem with 2008′s Hard Candy was that Madonna seemingly didn’t care,” and “with American Life she cared too much, to the point where it came across pushy and self-important,” 2005’s Confessions on a Dance Floor was the perfect medium where she cared-enough-to-count. Madonna’s greatest strength is her narcissism. She is Pop, and Confessions is nothing short of a brilliant response to Madonna’s answer to her own morning inquiry: “Mirrors, mirrors on the ball: whose four minutes saves them all?”