what does the chef have that's new? pop on the precipice 2k24

what does the chef have that's new? pop on the precipice 2k24

I write to you, May 20th 2024, feeling something stirring in the air. The grasses are rustling, the crows are cawing, the meerkats are looking around with great interest.

We've been at a weird point in popular culture for a while where, thanks to the decay of legacy music media and the enshittification of all of our social media platforms, we have somehow both been abandoned by monoculture and completely suffocated by it. MTV mostly plays the show where skateboarders watch prank videos. A foxy bot politely offering nudes in profile garnishes every tweet I make about dumb music shit. Music and culture sites have slashed their staffs. Somehow Will.i.am. acquired Uproxx?

What's left in spring 2024 is a sort of tumbleweed-strewn ghost town whose only occupants are Taylor Swift's latest whispersynth homily, and the enervating but ultimately depressing Kendrick-Drake feud. That's it. Are we tired of it? I think I am a little tired of it. Millennials are the largest generation, and though I enjoy millennialmaxxing (being obsessed with treats, using the cry-laughing emoji) as a bit, you can really start to feel the strain of our chokehold on the culture. Four years into "the twenties," we need a new start and new stars.

Arrested Development | Tobias Funke's Cabriolet | ANUSTART | Metal Stamped  Replica Prop License Plate – Celebrity Machines

I want something else

First, I want to carve out an interesting little slice of the Billboard Hot 100 from a couple weeks ago to discuss:

Tucked among various and sundry tortured poetry and the byproducts of the Drake 'n' Kendrick blood feud, some interesting candidates...

My Arrakis...my Boone

"Beautiful Things" is the breakout Benson Boone banger. I Boonesplained in this blog if you want to know anything about him, but TL;DR he is a Mormon-raised American Idol dropout who blew up on TikTok for singing Olivia Rodrigo's "Driver's License" from the boy's point of view. "Beautiful Things" doesn't do anything new, but Benson Boone himself is new, and in the short time he's been popular, he's already ditched a clean-cut look and Harry Styles album cast-offs for a mustache, mullet, and loud heartfelt power ballads. Who knows what Benson Boone could do next?

That me cortado

"Espresso" is the demented caffeine-themed Sabrina Carpenter hit, which made a feint attack through the blizzard of Swift songs and ended up charting higher than ever before. People might already be sick of this style of song—I've seen a lot of chatter about it sounding like Doja Cat's "Say So," though to me all of those beachy lite-disco songs are truly the children of Carly Rae Jepsen's E•MO•TION—but Sabrina Carpenter seems like she has the sauce, and she's a breath of fresh air in a stagnating pool of pop stars, even though she makes me nervous when she dances in such chunky heels...keep those ankles strong, Sabrina.

Teen drinking is very bad

"A Bar Song (Tipsy)" is a twangy interpolation of J-Kwon's legendary club banger "Tipsy" (which came out 20 years ago...I am merely a skeleton with hair) by Shaboozey, who Beyoncé recently tapped for two collaborations on Cowboy Carter. Shaboozey is from Virginia and his parents are from Nigeria; he's already garnered a reputation for mixing hip hop with country, which, as Beyoncé has already proven with her grad school thesis statement of an album, is a big ask for the stodgy gatekeepers of the country genre. I really like "A Bar Song (Tipsy)"—someone on the Dodgers used it as walk-on music when I saw a game the other week, and it somehow manages to capture the table-banging thump of the original, even though it has new verses and a beautiful fiddle part.

Academy Award winner Hilary Swank

"Million Dollar Baby" is perhaps the wildest entry. A song that blew up via the TikTok success of a clip of Tommy Richman mouthing the words to the song in the studio, this song's falsetto vocals and blown-out bass sound extremely new and just plain cool in comparison to a lot of the warmed-over synth pop and imperially snoozy rap we've been braising in for the past couple of years. H.D. Angel wrote a great breakdown of Tommy Richman and the oeuvre of Richman's label boss Brent Faiyaz in Finals, which is very much worth reading.

thoughts on tommy richman
As of this week, to the surprise of almost everyone, Woodbridge, VA singer Tommy Richman’s “MILLION DOLLAR BABY” is the #2 song in America. The song…

Fascinatingly, Richman is from Woodbridge, the same Northern Virginia town as Shaboozey. It's gonna make me sound a million years old but "Million Dollar Baby" sounds as fresh as Justin Timberlake's collaborations with Timbaland (another Northern Virginia-born artist) did over twenty years ago. Because they did sound fresh! JT used to be hot shit before he paid the Trolls toll. Anyway, a common theme of the comments on that original studio TikTok: "Bass better hit just like this when you drop it." The people want music that sounds like someone has roughed it up! Given a bit of a noogie! Do people still say "give someone a noogie" anymore?

Your dream girl's dream girl

Lower on the chart but worth discussing: the rise of Midwest princess Chappell Roan! I pitched her as the next big pop thing on the blog after her Tiny Desk Concert blew up, and since then she had a star-making turn at Coachella and a new single "Good Luck Babe!" near the top of the Spotify Viral 50. This is an artist with a great voice, a point of view, a killer aesthetic, an already-formed stage presence, and a no-skips album (somehow I end up listening to "Coffee" and "Picture You" in my Midwest Princess playthroughs, even though I am not a big lover of ballads).

I see nothing but potential in this young lady, as long as she stays well-rested and doesn't do that thing where she completely burns out on a 2.5-year world tour the label insists she slogs through. I read the Britney memoir and the Mariah Carey memoir. Both those women weren't crazy, they were tired. We need to let our pop stars take naps and go on vacation now and then. Why do you think Dua Lipa always looks so happy?

Passionate kisses from you?

We also have Artemas's "i like the way you kiss me" on the charts. A goth-y spin on the Max Martin broken guitar approach, it is a single that sounds like it is meant expressly for everyone on TikTok currently complaining that the club will not play "Blue Monday" (it will...you are just at the wrong club). I imagine people like the song because it's kinda horny (though I take umbrage with the I'll hit it from the back / Just so you don't get attached lyric...that's not how sex positions work but thank you for playing) and vaguely dark but also lightweight as cotton candy. Like Great British Bake-Off judge Paul Hollywood, Artemas has ties to the island nation of Cyprus.

Freshmen! Do something crazy!

My last prediction: almost all of the big pop girls—Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, Beyoncé, Dua Lipa, Billie Eilish—have released a new album by this point in 2024. That's an amazingly concentrated blast of star power in a short period of time. But a lot of these ladies merely doubled down on the sounds that made them famous, and I don't think that's going to cut it any longer.

Dua Lipa promised a Primal Scream-inspired UK rave album, and instead gave us a very Dua Lipa collection of disco-dance-y vacation bops—meanwhile Madison Beer's "Make You Mine" is drinking Future Nostalgia's milkshake. "we can't be friends (wait for your love)" seems to be the most consistently performing song on Ariana Grande's eternal sunshine, and it's a lovely song, but it feels a little 'Hannah Horvath dancing through the pain of her HPV diagnosis in her bedroom' if you know what I mean.

What feels like it has staying power and promise are the departures: Beyoncé's hoedown "Texas Hold 'Em"; Taylor Swift's gothic melodrama "Florida!!!" (oh, if only The Tortured Poets Department was just an album of "Florida!!!"s); Billie Eilish's new album HIT ME HARD AND SOFT, which breaks up her customary downtempo melancholy with some some extremely cool mid-song vibe switch-ups, showcases her incredible voice with some actual belting, and was released with zero advance singles. We know all the ins and outs and clichés and bad habits of our biggest pop stars—it's time 2 play against type. We know the foie gras tastes yummy. Let's freestyle some soup!

or an omelette...whatever

This is the year that shakes things up. This is the year we get tipsy on me espresso martinis. It's time to get sloppier, sillier, less attached to legacy. It's also very much time to find new stars to love who lack the baggage of fossilized stan armies—wouldn't it be nice to post something even semi-critical about a popular singer without being called ugly by a namesearching 12-year-old? I think it would be nice, but also I'm soooo soft, like a microwaved marshmallow...

...anyway, I'll be sitting here playing "LUNCH," sitting on my hands and waiting patiently for Charli XCX to release Brat.

Thanks for reading I Enjoy Music. If you like it, tell a friend. This is that blog espresso.