As Jason Derulo announces his fourth album, Shaun Ponsonby laments him and his lazy ilk.
Originally published on Getintothis
The music industry is an astonishing study. Someone as creative and unique as Janelle Monae can be largely missing from the wider realm of popular culture, when Jason Derulo is having continuous hits. That really only happens in the entertainment industry. In any other profession, Monae would be promoted and Derulo would be given limited responsibilities because of his continued display of incompetence that has on occasion put the company’s reputation into disrepute.
For the most part, I’m not one to trash an artist. Contrary to what my friends, family and exes might tell you, I’m not arrogant enough to assume I am the King of Music with my tastes.
But there’s just something about Derulo’s success that baffles me. He’s not the only one, but he has come to represent the sheer lack of substance out there. He’s releasing a new album soon, the stupidly titled Everything Is 4, and it got me thinking. At first I assumed I was baffled due to his sheer blandness. There was a spate of people who came through after Chris Brown revealed himself to be this generation’s Ike Turner, trying to nix his audience. Pretty much a gang of singers whose only reference points seemed to be Michael Jackson and Usher, of which Derulo is certainly a part of.
Give his songs to anybody else and what changes? Someone else’s name said in that horrible autotune at the beginning. That is literally it. That’s the only reason I remember him and am even able to use him as an example in this piece. In some ways that’s ingenious, but it doesn’t change the fact that musically speaking he fades into the background with so many of the other R&B/pop singers out there. There’s nothing more offensive than blandness. I have never heard the majority of these guys (and they are primarily guys) really own a song. That’s why I’d still take a Nicki Minaj over him. She may make me wince, but at least she conjures some kind of reaction.
I consider this sect to be among the laziest artists of all time. It sounds like a “yeah, that’ll do” technique that should solely be the divine right of people who write online articles trashing people for no good reason. Think about Talk Dirty if you can even remember it. If you take him and Bootsy Collins-without-the-flamboyance lookalike 2Chainz off the record (that’s right, this song has not one, but two chainz) and it’s not a bad track. It’s got a bit of an early 90s vibe to it. Then he opens his stupid gob and it all goes downhill.
He may be the most juvenile lyricist I can think of. Look at some of these lines; “Our conversations aren’t long, but you know what is”. Ugh. I could down a gallon of whiskey and regurgitate a wittier line than that. It makes KISS sound intelligent. Plus, if you’re making a point of bragging about the sheer length of your wang, then we’ll prepare for disappointment. It’s almost a bad a line as that awful Bedrock song from a few years ago, where Lil’ Wayne and his gang built an entire lyric around the old joke “Call me Mr Flintstone, I can make your bedrock”. Puh-lease! That joke was only marginally amusing during The Flintstones initial run, it won’t have improved with age over the subsequent half-century. Furthermore, it never, ever, EVER successfully scored chicks. And I say that without fear of contradiction.
In Trumpets he tells the girl of his dreams that she is so beautiful that whenever he sees her, he hears music. This is articulated with lines like “Is it weird that your ass reminds me of a Kanye West song?”
Well, firstly, yes it is. Very weird. As far as I’m aware Kanye is one of the few artists in the charts as of late who hasn’t had a song about butts. It would make more sense if it was a Miley song, or a Nicki song. Secondly, I hope you’ve been dating for a long time and she’s used to you making comments that are supposed to be funny, but ultimately come across as creepy. There’s something very Howard Wollowitz from The Big Bang Theory about a question like that.
He also asks a similar question, arguably one that we have all sensually whispered into someone’s ear, maybe even as we are on one knee proposing; “Is it weird that your bra reminds me of a Katy Perry song?” Not being a major follower of Perry’s, the only bra of hers I can think of off the top of my head is the one that squirted out whipped cream in the California Gurls video. Is that what her bra does, Jason? Does it squirt out whipped cream at random intervals? Does it, really? Because, in fairness, that would be a bra worth writing a song about.
Worse still, those two lines are supposed to be the rhyming couplets. So “song” rhymes with “song“. The very definition of lazy lyrics.
All I have in my head right now is Homer Simpson’s drunken love postcard to Marge from the Duff Brewery; “You got a butt that won’t quit”. Maybe that’s it. Jason Derulo only writes lyrics when he’s toasted.
I’m convinced that his signing was some kind of mistake. Like, he was at death’s door and the Make a Wish Foundation managed to sort a record contract for him. The label didn’t think they had anything to lose because he was dying anyway, so just humoured him. But doctors found some kind of miracle cure and the label were now contractually obliged to release his monotonous drab. As a rationalist, this is the only feasible conclusion I have been able to draw. Either that or they are merely trolling the world.
Sure, he’s had a bunch of hits, but I can’t bleeding well remember any of them, and I spend a lot of time in a radio station that playlists them (not that the staff are aware that I’m there, hiding as I do in a cupboard).
The ones that I do remember are only etched in my brain because of how almost offensively laughable they were. Further to the ones I mentioned above, the most notable recently was Wiggle. It was like LMFAO, but at least – at the very, very least – there was a sense of irony about them. Derulo seemed to be serious. He doesn’t seem to be layered enough to include that level of irony in his work, and he certainly doesn’t have the right amount of charisma to pull it off. That’s what makes the juvenile approach troubling. If he did have a sense of irony, it could be an excellent semi-parodic commentary at the unholy depths some of the more lowest common denominator pop music out there can plunge. But, nope. He just is lowest common denominator pop music plunging to unholy depths.
So, fundamentally, Jason Derulo is less sophisticated than LMFAO. Think long and hard about that (if this was a Derulo lyric, he would probably follow it up with “I’ll show you something long and hard“). Look what’s happening here. As a direct result of his existence, I am praising LMFAO.
Basically, what I’m saying is, I don’t like Jason Derulo. Is there anyone out there who does? Is there anyone who really, really likes Jason Derulo? Please let me know, because I could use some clarification.
But – let me be abundantly clear – he is merely the example. I only single him out because he announces himself with autotune all the damn time. It’s everywhere. Why do we consistently reward such laziness? It’s like they’re not even trying. Yet all of Derulo‘s albums have been Top 10 hits in the UK, whilst D’Angelo has never even mustered a Top 20. What kind of world is this? Have you heard Black Messiah? It’s astonishing. Is this down to the industry, the artist or the audience?
Could there be some real talent in someone like Derulo? I’d like to think so. But we need to stop encouraging lazy pop before it can be seen.
Ringo Starr has complained that people only want to know about the eight years he spent in The Beatles. That’s not true. I’m sure they ask him about Thomas The Tank Engine too. I mean, wouldn’t you?
Rita Ora is on Madonna‘s side when it comes to her beef with Radio 1, actor David Duchovny is releasing an album. I mean, really, why don’t people take heed of my column? Are you suggesting that people shouldn’t take all their cues from a crackpot on the interweb?
Following Tom Petty‘s successful claim on Sam Smith‘s Stay With Me, songwriter Mark Halper is now claiming because a demo he recorded in 1986 titled Don’t Throw Our Love Away begins with the phrase “stay with me“. Which presumably means he is also going to sue; The Faces, Erasure, The Gap Band, Perry Como, Diana Ross, You Me At Six, OMD and the literally dozens of other people who also have songs called Stay With Me, because he was so obviously the first person to put those three words together in a song, and the slyness of stealing it from him and cunningly going back in time and recording it decades before he had the chance to make this unreleased demo is frankly appalling. #TeamHapler.
RIP Percy Sledge