Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Perfect Pop Pantheon, Vol. III

"Bye Bye Bye" by NSYNC is meaningless, stupid, overproduced, has terrible lyrics, way too self-referential to be sung by a boy band, and actually has Joey Fatone singing some of it. But I love it.

This past season of Scrubs began with Dr. Turk trying to bring "Bye Bye Bye" back because it had slipped out of the public consciousness since being released in early 2000. His colleague, Dr. Reed, is skeptical but when it's played as his ring tone, the whole hospital gets up and starts dancing. Right after their boss, Dr. Kelso, tells them that they work at a hospital, not a "discotech," he is soon caught under the song's spell when the phone goes off again.

So, can someone actually bring it back?

"Bye Bye Bye" was written by the team of Kristian Lundin, Jake Schulze and Andreas Carlsson and was originally supposed to go to 5ive, a shitty boy band even by boy band standards. When they passed, the song went to *NSYNC and appeared on their No Strings Attached album. It would soon become the best song of any BSB or *NSYNC or Britney or Christina. Granted, that's like saying you'd rather die through lethal injection instead of drowning because it'd hurt less, but it's still a compliment.

The song is mostly sung by Justin Timberlake, the one with the talent, and JC Chasez, the one who's first solo song was about lesbians, while the rest are pretty much on background harmonies. The lyrics, although quite shallow, talk about *NSYNC's breakup with their manager, Lou Pearlman, King of the Creeps. Sample:

“Just hit me with the truth,
Now, girl you're more than welcome to.
So, give me one good reason,
Baby, come on
I live for you and me,
And now I really come to see,
That life would be much better once you're gone.”

As I typed that, I was listening to “Maybellene” by Chuck Berry, so I think I died a little. But although they’re lines someone as horrific as Phil Collins could write on a bad day, it really doesn’t matter because the song is catchy as all hell. And isn’t that an indicator of a great pop song?

Here’s what I’m calling for: A few years ago, Richard Thompson took a stab at “Oops…I Did It Again,” the title track of Britney Spears’ second album. Basically, the Britney version is terrible but when Thompson sings it with nothing more than his acoustic guitar, the song sounds fantastic. So, Mr. Thompson, I plead that give “Bye Bye Bye” a try and see the gem buried underneath the thick beats and bad lyrics.

Perfect Pop Pantheon:
"I Love LA" by Randy Newman
"Train in Vain" by The Clash
"Bye Bye Bye" *NSYNC


Liz said...

What does it say about me that I have way more to say about this entry than any other you've written? Nothing good, I suppose.

I think you're wrong about "Bye Bye Bye" being the best of the BSB, N'SYNC Britney and Christinas. Best of boy bands, possibly, but I'd have to think about it more. And thick beats ruining a perfect pop song? I've always believed the beat was a major part of what made pop songs so infectious.
As for Britney and Christina, you're way off base. "...Baby One More Time" far outdoes "Bye Bye Bye," and I'd put "Toxic" in as a competitor as well. On second thought, no singular Christina song really stands out in pop perfection, but her vocal chops alone deserve note, and "Drrty" is pretty awesome for that reason combined with some seriously catchy hooks.

I'd wager you've never given many Britney or Christina songs more than one (if that) good listen. This is by no means a music pedigree sin, but it does alter the perfect pop pantheon discussion a bit.

Liz said...

Christina's "Come On Over" is pretty perfectly poppy as well.

Anonymous said...

Your knowledge about pop music is slim to none to be honest.

Josh Kurp said...

To Nicole, I'm using the term "pop" very lightly. Of course "Bye Bye Bye" isn't a perfect pop song. That list would have "I Want to Hold Your Hand" at the top and it'd take awhile before anything else even comes close to it. I'm using the subject of "perfect pop" in a slightly off way; in the same way I think Dylan's Street Legal is a great album but when you think about it, I'm using the term "great" in a very loose manner. Stuff like Blonde on Blonde or Exile or Main Street are great albums, and most other music doesn't even come close.

To Liz, I still think "Bye Bye Bye" is the best. BSB didn't have the same kind of vocals and as for Britney, I happen to think "Lucky" is her best song. It was around the time of "Toxic" that she really lost me. It just got too involved and too much was going on. Of course, you could say the same thing about "Bye Bye Bye" considering it has strings at one point (not to mention a song break) but it's just that much more catchy. And that's really the word when it comes to these kind of pop songs: catchy.

Josh Kurp said...

Also, I don't think Christina ever mastered pop because, frankly, she might have just been to good. Much of late-90s into the new century had nothing to do with the voice but rather with the music in the background. She never got a great song because she just sounded too good to be dealing with that kind of stuff.

Liz said...

Well, I think we'll just have to agree to disagree about Britney.
I've always hated "Lucky;" I think it's one of her worst songs.