Between the car and the office, I listen to a lot of FM radio. I grew up listening to FM radio. It is a staple in my life. There are better options now -- satellite radio, Internet radio, my iPod -- but I (and happily, my coworkers) enjoy a love-hate relationship with corporate radio stations. Being subjected to the same formats and playlists offers an opportunity to learn, through sheer repetition, what one can grow to like (Chris Brown), tolerate with indifference (the same damn Journey song every day on KFOG -- to this day I still don't know what it's called), and hear with nothing but morbid, clinical fascination (Fergie).
So many broadcasted things annoy me on a regular basis (John Mayer's cover of "Free Fallin'" [John, you prick], Rihanna [but her bizarre vibrato always hooks me into even her most grating material), that damned Los Lonely Boys song ["If I told you I loved you, would you walk awaaaaay?" Yes!]), but my tolerance for a lot of it is pretty high. I also like a lot of things that others revile, such as Sean Kingston or the song "Low" by Flo Rida ("Apple bottom JEANS, boots with the FURRR"). I respect that you can't stand T-Pain -- really, I do -- but you'll excuse me while I like the "Bartender."
Still, some performances emerge as being in a class by themselves, rising above the level of merely annoying and becoming actively torturous. These are songs that actually make me feel mad and exasperated. Congratulations, ladies. Like George W. Bush, Paris Hilton and Keanu Reeves, you have gotten way too far on very, very little.
1. "The Way I Am," Ingrid Michaelson*: A Chinook wind could not compete with this song, so hard does it blow. I hate everything about it, from the bongo drums to the twee phrasing. "If you are chilly, here take my sweater/Your head is aching, I'll make it better." Seriously? Did she write this for her son? Nope, no, she talks about buying Rogaine, so we know it's a full-grown adult to whom she's singing. Terrible.
2. "New Soul," Yael Naim: Is banality more acceptable when it comes from someone who is French-Israeli, recites her lyrics as if she can barely speak English, and in fact does not even bother with actual words for her chorus? Apparently so.
3. "So What," Pink: When I first heard this song, I assumed it was by Katy Perry, and that made sense. The fact that Pink is perpetrating it makes me sad. I think we are supposed to be impressed that a girl is singing the lyric "I wanna start a fight." Like Yael Naim, Pink doesn't come up with actual words for her hook. Na na na na na na-na, la la lah la la-laa, whatever. It all makes Hanson's "Mmm Bop" sound like Chaucer.
4. "Bubbly," Colbie Caillat*: The PR storie for Colbie, which is that of an obscure talent unearthed by the denizens of MySpace, would be a lot more palatable if her dad had not been a producer for Fleetwood Mac. The best thing I can say about this song is that the worst part is over earlie: Her falsely earnest plea, "Will you count me in?" helpfully prompts you to change the station before the song gets too far.
5. "I Kissed a Girl," Katy Perry: To be honest, I don't think this song is that bad. The vocals and production are good. It's just that the facile opportunism inherent in the whole thing is tough to take. It assumes that people are suckers for phony sensationalism, and based on the popularity of the song, it assumes correctly. Not to get overly serious, but in the wake of all the Prop 8 nonsense around here, it would be nice if this song and artist were something that actual lesbians could get behind. It doesn't seem like that's the case, though.
* Apparently these songs technically were released in 2007, but well, they still bothered me in 2008.