Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Monday, July 21, 2014

To be or not to be the song of summer for 2014?

Over the last several years, the whole concept of "the song of the summer" has gone from a subjective thing to a major league pop culture concern. Most of that shift in entertainment emphasis is due to the money to be earned from claiming such a title but it can also be a way of drawing taste lines as well.

As I've said before, my musical preferences are rather mainstream at best(people like me are the reason Greatest Hits CDs exist) but as I'm not a teenager or completely out of touch with what's going on in that section of pop culture, my picks for best song of this summer season are quite the mixed bag to be sure.

HAVING SOME MANDATORY FUN: For the past week, Weird Al Yankovic has been releasing a video a day from his new album "Mandatory Fun" and his level of hilarity is both as high and low as always. A good number of the songs are pitch perfect parodies of popular hits,such as Iggy Azlea's "Fancy"(which has been deemed by some to be the SOTS) and Pharrell Williams' "Happy".

 While I enjoy his take on "Royals" by Lorde, I do agree with many of Weird Al's fans that the best of the bunch is this righteous riff on grammar that plays off that obnoxious "Blurred Lines" in a most engaging manner:

MALEFICENT MISUNDERSTOOD?: With parodies in mind, one of my pleasures this year has been  discovering the AVbyte brothers and their collection of Disney princess themed mini-musicals on YouTube.

Released just in time for the Angelina Jolie version of Sleeping Beauty this past spring, this singalong of classic Disney villainesses lamenting their bad press is charmingly wicked indeed:

A MARVELOUS MOVIE MIX: Songs from movies have been prime SOTS material, even when they use old school hits and the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy film is playing this dance card nicely.

Since one of the characters,Peter "Star Lord" Quill , happens to be an Earthling kidnapped by space aliens as a kid, his lingering connection to our world is in the mix-tape in the Walkman  that he managed to bring with him. 

 Peter protects that tape at all costs and it's a good thing,too as the tunes assembled on that tape are an awesome collection of songs, including "Cherry Bomb" by The Runaways and Norman Greenblaum's "Spirit in the Sky".

However, the mix-tape tune that played in the very first GOTG trailer was "Hooked on a Feeling" by Blue Swede and interest in that 1968 classic was reborn, putting it back on the Billboard charts. One of the many signs that this movie may be the surprise hit of the summer, not to mention getting a new generation to appreciate some excellent rock n' roll:

L.A. LADY OF COOL: Lana Del Rey's latest album, Ultraviolence, has gotten a number of mixed reviews but I still say she has some sweetly scary pipes.

One of the singles from Ultraviolence is "Shades of Cool", which has a shimmery sound that highlights the languid allure that the singer has for the man of her dreams here.

The video features well known tattoo artist Mark Mahoney as the object of affection and the entire look and feel of it puts me in mind of David Lynch, if he had directed the previous season of Mad Men, that is:

Finally, if you pinned me down to it, my true pick for the SOTS for 2014 is John Legend's "You & I(Nobody in the World)".

The song was released this past April,off of his 2013 album Love in the Future and the video(which came out on July 10) has received much acclaim for it's portrayal of all physical types of women and girls celebrated for their own brand of beauty.

It doesn't hurt that Orange is the New Black star Laverne Cox is featured here but the overall impact of both the song and video is beyond her celebrity presence. I applaud John Legend for taking what could have been a typical love song for the woman in his life(his wife, Chrissy Tegen) and extending that sentiment to all women everywhere. Kudos to you, sir, for bringing a touch of true class to your art.

Even without the video, the song itself is a tender and touching melody that celebrates the love and joy of being with that special someone in your life and given the real world tragedies occurring all around us these days, this is an emotion that we need to hold fast to,folks. It may too romantic for some but hey, a little romance can only help,not hurt and that's true for all seasons:

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