Tuesday, October 24, 2006

An Overview of Teen TV Theme Songs

I briefly touched on some of these in a previous post on Disney Channel shows, but to flesh out and include the other ones I didn't include in that one, I am going to summarize my thoughts on the theme songs of several of the teen/pre-teen shows discussed here-in. I'm gonna try to minimize repeating what I've said before, so if you're curious what I think of the theme songs to most of the current Disney shows, most of it is integrated within this post which also contains all of my thoughts on the shows in general. This is a non-comprehensive guide featuring basically whatever shows I felt like discussing. So there's going to be a lot of stuff left out. Nevertheless, certainly don't feel scared to leave a comment if you feel I have unjustly excluded my thoughts on a personal favorite of yours.

The most timely show (to this blog, anyways), so I guess I should do it first. I'm pretty sure this song existed prior to the show; there's nothing that really connects the song to the show at all (quick internet research reveals it's "Beautiful Day" by Steve Plunkett but I couldn't really figure out whether it previous existed or not). Oh wait, the song features the phrase "beautiful day", and the show takes place in Southern California, where the weather is oft nice? Come on, let's at least attempt to create some connection between the show and song. Not only that, but the song itself isn't that good. A bit too limp and not quite catchy enough to really work as a TV theme song. I should instantly think of the show when I hear the song!
YouTube: Summerland

Phil of the Future
I know I have mentioned this before, and I know my opinion of this song is already noted on the sidebar for all to see, but it quite simply cannot be mentioned enough times. The Phil of the Future theme song is quite possibly not just the worst TV theme song of all time, but the worst song of all time period. You know that when *I* think a pop song goes too far, it's too far off the rails and too cheesy, that it's really hit something special. What absolutely horrible guitar, I don't like the singer at all, and the melody is just far too much. A fairly insignificant stain on an otherwise great show.
YouTube: I really wish I could find it. Somebody help please. I was able to find 50 montages of Phil and Keely moments set to popular songs.

Totally awesome. Like all the music on the show, this was written by Jill Sobule, who I previously only knew from her minor 90's cult hit "I Kissed a Girl". And I only knew that song because VH1 used to play the video, and they only played the video because it featured Fabio, and thus it was entertaining to make fun of. In any event, contrary to expectation, the song is NOT performed by Emma Roberts (Jill herself performs it), even though she does sing all the songs on the show itself. And there's not even a full-length version, at least that I'm aware of. Emma Roberts' album, which was entitled Unfabulous and More and purported to be a soundtrack of sorts to the show, did not have any version of this song. And you know what, I'm OK with that. Like a lot of other great TV themes, what makes it so great is that it seems like a fully formed song as it is. It's like a mini-suite condensed into 45 seconds! OK, I'd like to see what could be done with this song in a full length version, but it's still totally awesome as is. One of my top 20 or so all-time favorite TV themes.
YouTube: Unfabulous <-- bad sound quality and features Spanish language voiceover at the end, but it's all I could find.

Lizzie McGuire
A pretty good pop song. Nothing too special, it actually kind of has the same problem as the Summerland theme in that it seems a bit too limp and forgettable to be a theme song. I actually had to find the video on YouTube to even really remember how it went. Also it has nothing to do with the show. But why isn't it done by Hilary? If Lizzie McGuire were released today, this song would have been performed by Hilary Duff, it would have had tricked out teen production behind it, and it would have been released to Radio Disney a month before the show even aired. Also Lizzie would have had a twin or something. Interesting to see how the progression of Disney theme songs have gone. Now all of the theme songs are highly memorable pop songs, even if some of them are terrible. But the previous generation of huge Disney hit shows, Lizzie and Even Stevens had fairly bland and forgettable theme songs. I highly doubt too much thought went into the creation of them. Interesting.
YouTube: Lizzie McGuire

Kim Possible
I don't generally talk about animated shows on this blog, but this has to be mentioned because it is, I believe, the turning point in the continuum of theme songs mentioned in the write-up above. The theme song to this is "Call Me, Beep Me", and it was performed by Christina Milian, a legitimate recording artist! As my memory serves, this was the first of the Disney Channel series theme songs that they really heavily promoted. It was quickly released as a full length song, it got a lot of Radio Disney plays, the music video of it played CONSTANTLY on the channel, etc. It was probably with this song that the Disney people realized they could make a pretty decent turnaround of money on these theme songs. As to the theme itself, it's a pretty good song on it's own terms, but kind of silly to have as the theme song to a kid's cartoon. It features the words Kim Possible and that's the only thing it remotely has to do with the show. It doesn't even really sound like a theme song, it sounds like a Radio Disney hit song. But a good Radio Disney hit song.
YouTube: Kim Possible

Zoey 101
Oh, Zoey 101. I know I've said a lot of bad things about this show in the past--bad things that I will totally stick behind--, but to give credit where credit is due, the show has a good theme song. It's sung by Jamie Lynn Spears, who also stars in the show of course, and she's a good pop singer. She still as far as I know has not enacted on a pop career, but I hope she does, because she really does seem to be a good singer of these types of songs. Her career can start with a full length version of this theme song, which I'm pretty sure would be a good song. As it stands, the shortened version is OK, it just needs a bit more oomph.
YouTube: Zoey 101

I'll talk about Hannah Montana later, when I review the soundtrack album. The other current shows all have really boring theme songs that I don't have anything to say about. As for the older stuff, the only one that has a theme song that I really love was Pete and Pete and so much has correctly been written about how amazing that theme song is, that there's no reason for me to repeat it. Boy Meets World holds what may be an all time sitcom record as it had, I believe, 4 different theme songs over the course of its run, and they were all terrible and forgettable. Anyways, the real point of this post was to note that the Unfabulous theme song is amazing and that the old Disney original series had stupid theme songs, and I think I've accomplished that. In fact it only took one sentence to accomplish that, so maybe this post wasn't so worthwhile at all...

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Sunday, October 22, 2006


THE BACKGROUND: Summerland was a summer show that aired on the WB for two seasons in 2004 and 2005, comprising 26 episodes in total. The series stars Lori Loughlin, better known as Uncle Jesse's wife on Full House (character name Ava), as a fashion designer living in Playa Linda, California, who, upon the death of her sister and brother-in-law, is left in charge of their three children, who are relocated from Kansas to live with her. Ava raises the three kids together with her three adult roommates (two male and one female), and they go through various teen angst/adult angst issues. Zaniness ensues. Oh yeah, and it stars Kay Panabaker (the Official Actress of the TCR) as Nikki, the middle child. I've written a lot about Kay's other primary projects, so I figured it was time to share my thoughts on this one. Can a painfully extensive review of Life is Ruff be too far behind?

I've only seen the first season so all thoughts herein are confined to that season.

OVERVIEW/REVIEW: Summerland not only stars Kay, it also stars Jesse McCartney (as her older brother), features Zac Efron (as her boyfriend/friend) as a recurring character, and guest stars Sara Paxton (as Jesse's girlfriend) for about 5 or 6 episodes. This is a remarkably talented cast of teen stars. Zac Efron and Sara Paxton have always been good in all of the previous projects I have seen them in, and they are good here as well. Sara Paxton plays a "bad seed" girl, which is completely contrary to her other roles and overall image, but she does it convicingly. Jesse McCartney, I have to say I was surprised by. I've always disliked his music, and from what I've seen of his live performances, I've never found him to exude much charm there. However, he is a very good actor, and he handles the angst of the character really well. Even though all they ever really give him to do is surf and screw up relationships. But he deals with the angst and sadness of the role really well. As to Kay Panabaker, well, I of course love her work. Her facial expressions and vocal inflections are impeccable as always; she handles the drama well, and her essential charm still shines through. She handles the sadness of the character really well, especially at the beginning of the show when she's having trouble coping with the death of her parents. Her "apology" to Suzanne at the end of the pilot was probably my favorite moment of the entire first season. But she also handles the happiness too, the giddiness of young love, very well. Kay continues to impress me more and more with every new project I see her in. The adult stars on the show are generally adequate, but don't seem to be anything special to me.

Unfortunately good acting can't make an otherwise mediocre show a classic. Plotting is a big problem with this show. The plots are all extremely cliched and predictable, and the show overall doesn't seem to be adding anything new to the landscape of teen television. Let's take one plot for an example. Sara gives Bradin (Jesse McCartney) a marijuana cigarette, and he accepts it, not wanting to seem uncool; however, he never plans to actually smoke it. He puts it in the front pocket of his backpack and then doesn't zip it up. If you can predict the resolution of this storyline: congratulations, you too could be a screenwriter on Summerland. In addition, a lot of the dialogue seems stilted and unrealistic.

The relationship between Ava and Johnny is supposed to be the centerpiece of the show, but it shows no development at all over the course of the season. Ava and Johnny used to date, and they both still like each other but they are scared to take the next step and ask each other out on a date. So they have many conversations with their other friends, have many deep, introspective moments, etc. throughout the course of the season, while everybody knows (except them!) that they are meant to be together. There's only so long the audience can take this before getting bored with it, and the show really strains the limit of how far it can go.

Overall, I found the adult based storylines to be mostly fairly boring and wish they had dedicated more time to the kid storylines. I liked the Jesse McCartney love triangle, no matter how cliched it was (Bradin + Callie 4ever). Most of it is probably my Kay Panabaker love, but the Nikki storylines were my favorite part. I liked her interactions with Zac Efron a lot and her relationship with Amber seemed to be the only believable human relationship on the show, to me at least. But the adults seem to get even more face time than the kids. I realize that in a show with such a large cast it's very difficult to allocate the time evenly and properly between the characters, but I really wish less of the allocation had been to Ava and Johnny, and more had been to Nikki, Cameron, and Amber.

THE OFFICIAL OPINION OF THE TCR: A great cast, particularly a great teen cast, turn an otherwise mediocre show into a...well not good, but certainly watchable show. It's entertaining in the way that a drama is entertaining when you get to "know" the characters and who they are. Nothing special about it, I wouldn't be sad if I never saw another episode, and I'm not at all upset that it was cancelled, but it's certainly the type of show I could see myself being a regular viewer of if it had no other great shows in a competing time slot. 6/10.

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Jordan Pruitt/An Open Letter to Nick

Two ideas that weren't long enough to merit their own posts, so they are being combined into one post, in an unholy alliance.

1. Some discussion of Jordan Pruitt on the teenpop thread, and I'll repeat here what I wrote there: I am really loving her song "Outside Looking In". In addition to a really nice vocal performance by Jordan Pruitt, and a nice laid-back melody, I really love the lyrics. It deals with the issue of teen rejection/loneliness (which isn't all that different from adult rejection/loneliness) in a way that totally works, and I don't think I've quite seen used in another song. Rather than attempting to paraphrase, let me quote directly from what I said on the teenpop thread:

"...one thing I really love is the "You don't know how it feels..." aspect to it. Of course, the reason the song works is that EVERYBODY knows how it feels to be on the outside looking in. But that feeling of loneliness can, in my experience, create a kind of self-pity, "Nobody has ever had to face this before me, I'm all alone" feeling. So not saying you don't know how it feels in an accusatory way (a la Tom Petty's "You Don't Know How It Feels to Be Me") but in a self-pitying way. I would guess this feeling is especially prevalent in the more self-centered teen world, which is why I think it works better as a teen pop song than it would in other genres."

Even though the verses have a really accusatory feel to them, like I said that's not how I interpret the chorus. I interpret speaking directly to her tormenters, the ones who are rejecting her, "YOU don't know how it feels..." in a way that feels just so real and raw. Not in a way of trying to blame them or make them feel bad, just trying to show them how much they've hurt her, and self-pitying as I say in the quoted passage above. I think this song is so great because virtually anybody can probably relate to the song, not just as the speaker, but also as the accused. Who here has not felt rejected/alone or made other people to feel rejected/alone? Not only that, but Jordan totally sells the vocals. Jordan's only 15, and her album comes out in early 2007, written entirely by her and her two co-writers on "Outside Looking In". I'm looking forward to it.

Jordan, on her Myspace, also streams a cover of "We Are Family", which seems to be a pretty original and pretty good one to me. In addition, she recently has started streaming a new original song, "Teenager". Definitely really different from "Outside Looking In", as it has a bubble-R&B sound rather than the confessional rock sound. Given my well documented love of the confessional rock sound, I'm obviously not too excited about this, but I still like the song. I do dig the interesting instrumentation in the chorus. Mild bonus points for featuring a totally WTF phone call bridge.

[Ethics force me to reveal I first heard "Outside Looking In" in the Panabaker film Read It and Weep.]

[Also read the reviews of "Outside Looking In" on Myspace which say the same thing I'm trying to in more poignant ways. E.g. "Hey jordan I love your song last year i went though the same thing for your song outside looking in", "i cry every time i hear it... your talking about me".]

Dear Nickelodeon Executives,

Hi, my name is Greg. At the age of 24, I am aware that I am most likely above the typical age of the audience that you are targeting with your programming. Nevertheless I felt compelled to write in to express my discontent with your current programming decisions. I've noticed that you currently have four live-action original series, those being Drake and Josh, Zoey 101, Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide, and Unfabulous. I also noticed that other than Unfabulous, starring the incomparable Emma Roberts, all of these shows are terrible. The reason I'm writing is the distressing current trend that all three of the other shows, other than Unfabulous, receive daily repeats from between 5:30 to 8:30. (Please note that Zoey 101 does not repeat every weekday, just most weekdays). However, distressingly, I have yet to see a daily repeat of Unfabulous except for their weekly Sunday night airing. There are many possible reasons for this that I can think of. Perhaps since Unfabulous is an older show, you want to promote your more recent shows that have not had as much time to build up an audience. Perhaps Unfabulous has been losing viewers and is now just not as popular as the other shows; hell, maybe it was never as popular. Maybe it's because Unfabulous isn't currently airing new episodes whereas Ned and Drake are (I admit that I don't know if Zoey is currently airing new episodes). In any event, I don't really care what the reason is. I just humbly request that you air more repeats of Unfabulous in an attempt to pacify one single 24 year-old fan of a network that is self-proclaimed as a network for kids. I can also make additional programming decisions for you, if you desire.

Lots of love,

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Sunday, October 15, 2006

Album Review: Aly & AJ - Acoustic Hearts of Winter

INITIAL NOTE: Please check out the re-vamped sidebar. In addition to stupid lists of what I am currently liking and hating, and a silly TCR Hall of Fame I have, as you may have noted, added several links. I carefully thought through what links to add, and I will personally endorse any of the linked sites. All of the blogs are ones that I read regularly and enjoy, so check them out!

(terrible album cover)

Acoustic Hearts of Winter is the latest album by Aly & AJ, a Christmas album released just earlier this month. The album features two original songs, "Greatest Time of Year" and "Not This Year", as well as several acoustic covers of classic Christmas carols.

"Greatest Time of Year" is what kicks the album off, and it's really a great song. Not acoustic, as the title of the album might imply, but packed with electric guitar, and a great high-energy chorus. The Martin/Luke sound might be getting slightly played out, but the Michalkas certainly do it better than most, and so I'm not begrudging them of anything. What a great melody, and I love the usage of the bells in the chorus. And despite the familiarity of the structure and general sound of the song, it sounds like a pretty original melody to me.

Lyrically it's a pretty standard secular Christmas "rah rah" song about spending Christmas with friends, being nice to each other, decorating the tree, etc.; basically, a random Christmas lyric generator could have come up with it. Given the rest of their interesting lyrics on Into the Rush and on this album's other original (more on that later) this was slightly disappointing, but it's hard not to love this song anyways, just from a musical standpoint. Strong contender for one of my top 25 singles of the year, but I think I still like "Chemicals React" more. A really fun song, and one of the best Christmas pop songs of all time (with "All I Want for Christmas Is You", "I Wanna Kiss You So", "Christmas in Hollis", et al).

The album then segues into a number of covers of Christmas carols. The songs they have chosen are, in order,

2. "Joy to the World"
3. "We Three Kings"
4. "The First Noel"
5. "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen"
6. "Silent Night"
7. "I'll Be Home for Christmas"
8. "Let It Snow"
9. "Deck the Halls"
10. "Little Drummer Boy"

Please note first, 6 religious Christmas tunes, balanced out by only three of the many secular Christmas carols. Also notice that all three secular carols are sequenced consecutively. This is a pretty uninspired selection of carols, as it leaves off most of my favorite ones in favor of songs that have been done a million times. I wish they had dug down and done some of the other Christmas carols (say "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" or "I Saw Three Ships") that haven't been covered as much and aren't instantly familiar to all listeners. It also lacks "Away in a Manger" which is my favorite of the vastly overdone/pretty carols that are always put on these types of CDs.

However, I guess when you get down to it, my problem isn't that they've selected such familiar carols, but that they've chosen to do them in such familiar ways. Most of the songs are just backed with a simple acoustic guitar and piano backdrop, though some also feature some fairly spare string accompaniments or some bells as well. For the most part though it's just the girls singing over a fairly standard guitar part. Christmas carols obviously lend themselves over to the "pretty" more than the "explosive, catchy", but the girls have shown they can do pretty! (see for example "Protecting Me" or "No One"). I guess I was hoping for an album of spare musical lines, and lots of pretty harmonizing from the girls, and I was a bit disappointed. They've elected to just do the songs straight through, and without even that much harmony. It's mostly just the two of them singing their parts sequentially. Aly and AJ are pretty good singers, but there's absolutely nothing to recommend these versions over the many other versions of these songs that have been done. Exceptions are "Silent Night" which features very little guitar and mostly a string accompaniment, with the girls singing over it. Very pretty, but then again there have been hundreds of very pretty versions of this same song. Also "Deck the Halls" features a nicely bouncy beat and "Little Drummer Boy" is a much more rockin' electric version than the rest of the songs on the CD, but since I hate those songs I can barely stand to listen to the versions.

Then, out of absolutely nowhere comes "Not This Year". I love this song, and I love the lyrics of this song, and I wanted to lay out exactly why, so that's what I'll do right now:

"This Christmas card is contrived / A mannequin looks more alive / Haven't meant a word I've written here / The page is full not one thing sincere"

Taking down the canned sentiments of Christmas cards. I've heard people mention this before, but I don't know of any songs that do in particular, and I like the way they do it here.

"I can't, I can't, I can't, I can't take it / This is the time to smile, I can't fake it / Please allow me the chance now / To break it down"

Having to put on a false front of happiness and cheer due to the fact that it's Christmas, when you're not feeling any happiness inside. I think anybody's whose ever had something sad happen to them around Christmas can relate to this.

"It's not snow, It's rain coming down/ And the lights are cool, But they burn out / And I can't pull off the cheer / Not this year / Not this year / Not this year"

She's sad, she knows the Christmas season is happy and cheerful ("The lights are cool"), but soon enough the season is going to end, and she's back to the everyday pain in her life ("But they burn out"). A cycle she's just not quite up for this time around. She's not willing to just put her personal pain on layaway just because it's Christmas season, when that same pain will just be in the back of her mind, growing and gnawing away at her anyways.

"When I look into the mirror / No happiness is present here / Not supposed to whine, Not supposed to cry / Try to hold it in, but not this time"

More of the same imagery, the pain of pretending to be happy while really being sad.

(chorus again)
"Don't know, don't know / If you can hear me / I will, I will / Speak louder for you / No more whispering / Are you listening / I am pleading / I am pleading"

Whoa. Literally begging and pleading to just be let alone to live her life as always. I'm not really sure what to make of these lines, but they certainly hit to the same ideas as above. Especially when you listen to the plaintive, wailing tone they sing it in, it's kind of harrowing actually.

(Chorus 2x).

I really love this song, and I love the way it hits to a fundamental part of Christmas that I don't think any other song I can think of has. Not stopping loving Christmas as you become older and more mature, and not hating how the season has been killed or choked by canned sentiments (and I'm not sure how their Evangelical Christianity is relevant to this song at all), but how the forced happy emotions of Christmas can cause true sadness to spiral even further down. Most depressing Christmas song ever. But yet, I think most people can relate to it. Depression is supposedly particularly high during the Christmas season, and the girls/their cowriters have really hit to the reasons why here. Additionally, it is a perfect counterpoint to "Greatest Time of Year", the album's lead track and lead single. Featuring a great lyric, good vocals by the girls, and a great melody, this song, if it is released as a single, will be one of my top 10, if not top 5 of the year.

OFFICIAL OPINION OF THE TCR: It's hard to say what I think about this album. Two excellent originals surrounding a bunch of mediocre cover songs. Much as I love "Greatest Time of Year" and "Not This Year", I'd say to save your money and buy one of those Very Special Christmas albums from the bargain bins, for a better value. Into the Rush was, I think, underrated, but Aly & AJ are in serious danger of becoming a chronic "singles band". THUMBS DOWN.

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

The "Disney Era" of Teen Stardom

The current era of teen stars (the "Disney era" for lack of a better term) was trailblazed by Hilary Duff. The career path of trying to simultaneously launch successful careers in both singing and acting is the path followed by virtually all of the teen stars today. Hilary even tried to simultaneously launch/carry on legitimately successful careers as a TV star, a movie star, and a music star. Well, we see she hasn't been too successful at any 3 of those, not since Lizzie was cancelled at least, but she's made a boatload of money for Disney, and they're gonna squeeze whatever they can out of their current crop.

The realization Disney came to is that youth love their favorite stars in a different way than adults do. When an adult loves a star, say Reese Witherspoon, they love the body of the work of that star, maybe find her attractive, but don't tend to get too emotionally attached. Kids on the other hand LOVE not just the work of the star, but the actual star him/her self. They are gonna follow whatever that star does, no matter how awful it is. That realization is what causes Disney to exploit and overexpose all of their current stars, and in some cases to just poach stars from other networks (e.g. Corbin Bleu). Don't forget that Nick blatantly ripped them off by founding their own Nickelodeon record label and putting out show soundtracks sung by the stars on it. E.g. The Drake and Josh soundtrack sung by Drake Bell and Emma's Unfabulous soundtrack. But it seems to me that of all the singing/acting teen stars, none of them are really good at both. Here's a noncomprehensive list:

Hilary Duff - A good actress, and I've defended her voice before, but it's not a great voice. It's just a voice that has had a lot of great songs written for it. Would she be more successful in the mainstream now if not for overexposure/teen pop? I dunno.

Lindsay Lohan - A really great, underrated actress. I think her two albums were OK, but they certainly didn't meet to any kind of great success. I do think she has a lot of personality and charm as a singer and as an actress, which makes her a rare, welcome exception. Yet the fact remains that her singing career was essentially a flop.

Brie Larson - What personality and liveliness as a singer. A great writer! Seemingly impossible not to love! Yet wooden, and not good, as an actress.

Miley Cyrus - I believe my opinions on her acting AND singing are well known by now.

Aly & AJ - Alyson Michalka is a great actress, but a robotic singer. AJ Michalka is a terrible actress but a great singer. So together they are great at both!

JoJo, Emma Roberts, Sara Paxton - The three main stars of Aquamarine. JoJo is a good singer, but if her work in Aquamarine is any forecast for the future, might not have a long career as an actress. Emma R my opinions are known on. Sara Paxton (star of Darcy's Wild Life) is pretty good as a singer and an actress, but not great as either (at least in my opinion).

Ashlee Simpson - Good as a singer, great songs and lyrics. Why, oh why, did she feel the need for that stint on Seventh Heaven? Suffice to say, not a good actress, at least not judging by that yardstick.

Ashley Tisdale/Vanessa Ann Hudgens/Zac Efron/Lucas Grabeel: The stars of High School Musical. All the singers were good enough for what the movie required (wait, except Efron I guess), but none are great singers. Not likely to have long music careers, unless they turn out to be killer songwriters, or hire the best ones anyways. All four, except Vanessa, are good actors.

Almost all of the other Disney stars have at least SOME songs (Christy Carlson Romano, back in the day, Anneliese Van Der Pol, Raven, etc.)

Disney actresses who don't sing:
Brenda Song
Kay Panabaker (obligatory Kay P reference)
Jamie Lynn Spears is on Nick, close enough (though a forthcoming singing career seems really likely)

American teen pop stars who don't act:
Jonas Brothers
Hope Partlow
(Jesse McCartney was on Summerland)

Seriously, the incidence is so high it's scary. So I guess the reason such a low percentage of them are good at both, and none appear to be legitimately great, is that the kids are being forced to go into both even when they are only any good at one. This fleshes out and hopefully explains better some stuff I've been talking about on the Rolling Teenpop thread lately. Let me know if I'm missing anybody/anything obvious up above.

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Monday, October 09, 2006

Teen Culture Aspects Which I Do Not Love

The most common criticism my blog receives is that it seems I have no quality control measures in place as to what I love. Sample quote: "Do you just find one new teen pop icon to pine after every week?" First of all I only pine after Kay P, Aly Michalka and Emma Roberts, so not a new one every week. And yet, I cannot help but feel this is a fair criticism, as one could easily get the impression from reading my blog. This is because I only ever feel compelled to write about things I truly love and never about things I hate or feel neutral about. In the interest of fair time and in order to demonstrate I do have some discretion as to who and what I am enamored with, here is the TCR Hall of Shame:
Drake and Josh: Dear lord, this show is virtually unwatchable, and the pseudo-homosexuality vibes between Drake and Josh leap off the screen and are most unsettling. A very pale imitation of Boy Meets World. Pass.
Vanessa Ann Hudgens: Almost ruined High School Musical for me, and her new single is horrible.
Ashley Tisdale: She's an OK singer and actress and is reasonably attractive, but overall I can't make myself to care about her one way or the other.
Miley Cyrus: Great singer, but quite possibly the worst actress in the history of television to be given her own show. Her horrible acting has pretty much ruined the show for me. What were you thinking, Disney?
Zoey 101: Named after Zoey, but yet she's not usually the main character in the show. And yet all the action seems to revolve around her and how perfect she is, even when not on screen. But she's annoying, and Jamie Lynn Spears is an awful actress who conveys no warmth to the screen. Maybe the worst show on television today.
Dylan and Cole Sprouse: If wanting to punch them in the face is wrong, I don't wanna be right.
Emma Roberts' Music: Love her so much as an actress but this album is really bad and she is not a good singer AT ALL.
Jump5: I'm so very, very glad that their shining day on Radio Disney has passed. I can't even imagine anybody over the age of 12 liking this.
Cow Belles: The Aly & AJ movie. What an incredible disappointment. Aly is so amazing on Phil of the Future but she's clearly phoning it in here. The Michalkas both give wooden performances, the plot is hackneyed and boring and the characters are unlikeable. Nothing to recommend this movie, even though it stars Aly. 2 out of 10.
Hayden Panettiere: Her acting on Heroes is pretty bad and her character is boring. She was in Tiger Cruise, the 9/11 DCOM, and she wasn't good in that either. Her singing career was so bad that her own official website doesn't even mention it. Deservedly second tier.
Aquamarine: Sorry Emma, I love you on Unfabulous, but all of your other projects have been terrible. Show some discretion in the scripts you take!
Raven-Symone: Written about her before and so thus I don't want to pile on. But, seriously, her mugging is unbearable, her acting is atrocious, and she ruins any project she is in. I know some people like her, and good for them, but there is not an actor/actress working today who I can less stand.
Life With Derek: Why does this exist? A waste of quality talent.
Haylie Duff: Pathetic hanger on and may be ruining her sister's career. Go away please.
Cheyenne Kimball: The show and the music are boring. She comes off as a spoiled brat on the show, though that may just be unfavorable editing.
The Hills: So boring that it put me to sleep.
Of course I have nothing bad to say of Kay Panabaker or any Kay Panabaker affiliated product. This is all just my opinion so please don't be offended. That's enough bitterness for now. Hopefully I have restored the faith of the readership of my blog.

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Sunday, October 08, 2006

An Unfabulous Post

OVERVIEW/BACKGROUND: Unfabulous is a live-action show starring Emma Roberts which currently airs on Nickelodeon. I haven't really written too much about Nick on this blog, because I consider children's cartoons to be out of the scope of this blog and I also consider all of the live action teen shows to be pale imitations of Disney Channel shows. Back in the early nineties, Nick had a complete monopoly on live action shows for the younger set, what with Pete and Pete, Clarissa Explains It All, and whatnot. All people my age remember those shows fondly from their youths. But then, they decided to put their focus on children's cartoons, at which they've been really successful, and let Disney Channel take over the live action set. Because their live action shows all blow, except for this one.

THE SHOW: This show follows the Lizzie McGuire formula closely, and it debuted in late 2004, shortly after Lizzie vaulted into super-success, so it's probably fair to say that it's a ripoff. Let's see, main character is an everygirl female, not popular but with two best friends, a girl and a platonic guy friend. One sibling, an older brother, with whom she has a rocky but ultimately loving relationship. Hmm, nope not too similar. The main character is Addie, her brother is named Ben, and her crush is named Jake. An interesting twist is that they have Addie date somebody else for a while, a loser named Randy, who she ultimately breaks up with so that she can continue to pursue her pining for Jake. There's no real central theme to this show, as, like Lizzie, it really just follows the everyday trials and tribulations of its main character, with wacky slapstick thrown in to lighten the mood.

REVIEW: The thing about the Lizzie format is that for shows in this mold, the most important thing is really the main star. The episodes' plots are generally mundane by design, the characters are basically all stereotypes, and the dialogue, while important is nothing to write home about. What makes it all work is how well the main actress sells it. She has to be believably unpopular, but yet loveable. It's a tough balancing act to pull off, but I have to say that Emma Roberts pulls it off really well. She's absolutely a pro at this, far better than Miley Cyrus or Charlotte Arnold or really any other female teen star except Kay and Aly. She makes the whole material work, and makes you really care about the characters. The show also features a fairly talented cast of costars, but Addie is the reason you're gonna watch. Plus the music/soundtrack is kickin'. I love the concept of Addie/Emma just singing stupid and simple songs about her life.

As a demonstration of the above dig the perfect generic/everygirl short episode summaries of this show from Wikipedia:
Instead of spending time with her mother in a "mother daughter book club" Addie sneaks out and goes to a hip hangout place with Geena.
Addie becomes "popular" in a school assignment where the students are put into cliques and not allowed to talk to members of other groups.
Randy invites Addie to his Bar Mitzvah, but Addie does not want to go because she got braces and does not want to be seen in public.
Addie ignores her friends to spend more time with her boyfriend.
Geena and Zach create a fake secret crush for Addie to try to keep her mind off breaking up with Randy.

Seriously change around the names, and you've got a Lizzie McGuire episode in the making. But the generic/easily identifiable plots are what make shows like this so much fun, and plus...Emma!

"THE PERFECT MOMENT": Billed as the Unfabulous movie this aired for the first time just this weekend. (But yet it's just an hour long. Not even Disney has sunk that low [yet]). The episode details Addie's attempt to crash the wedding of Jake's cousin, in order to reveal her crush on him. The problem is that he is at the wedding with his ex-girlfriend/Addie's chief social rival. In parallel, Addie's brother Ben is trying to break up his current crush's new relationship in order to have her to himself. The whole "movie" was pretty great really, it hit all the right notes, and is making me really excited for the impending third season. Plus the first kiss between Addie and Jake was just soo cute.

THE OFFICIAL OPINION OF THE TCR: Since Phil of the Future has been cancelled and Hannah Montana seems to have stagnated out, Unfabulous is currently the best teen/pre-teen show on television. Highly recommended to watch, for Emma if not anything else.

As if it were healthy or desirable to get any more excited about this upcoming Nancy Drew movie project, it stars my newly beloved teen star Emma Roberts in addition to the Official TCR Actress Kay Panabaker. Counting down the days...

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Top 18 Teen Pop Singles of the 00's (Part 2)

aBecause I have no sense of suspense, I'm gonna post my top 10 favorite teen pop singles of the 00's today!

To remind:
1) The definition of what is and is not teen pop is obviously highly judgmental. If I had any real doubt, I left them off the list.
2) This is biased towards more recent music, which I know better. Also biased towards songs that were hits in America.
3) I probably left some stuff out.
4) Limited to one song per artist.

Numbers 18 through 11 were
18) Mandy Moore - "I Wanna Be With You"
17) LMNT - "Juliet"
16) Charlotte Church - "Crazy Chick"
15) Play - "I Must Not Chase the Boys"
14) Britney Spears - "Oops!...I Did It Again"
13) Avril Lavigne - "My Happy Ending"
12) JoJo - "Leave (Get Out)"
11) Ashlee Simpson - "LaLa"


10. M2M - "Pretty Boy"
Year: 2000
Comments: M2M were, of course, the masters of the teen pop ballad in the early 00's. Their breakout single "Don't Say You Love Me" was '99, so not eligible for this list, but they never had any song, including that one, that was as pretty as this. Featuring the signature excellent harmonies between Marion and Marit, and their classic brand of confessional lyrics that shaped the lyrics of teen pop to come, "Pretty Boy" is a shining highlight for their career. In addition, it's got a nicely catchy but downbeat instrumental track. I also considered their uptempo rave up "Everything You Do", but honestly, the harmony ballad is where this band excelled the most. Also I wanted to pick an M2M song that was reasonably typical of their overall sound.
YouTube: Pretty Boy

9. Kelly Clarkson - "Behind These Hazel Eyes"
Year: 2005
Comments: In the official opinion of the TCR, Breakaway is the best teen pop album, hell maybe the best album overall, of the 00's. "Since U Been Gone" is the one that was latched on to by the widest audience, and I guess that's what's going to go down as her classic, but I really enjoyed all 5 of the smash hit songs from this album. Between this song, "Since U Been Gone" and "Breakaway", KC might have had 3 songs on this list if I hadn't limited it to one song per artist. As to why I picked this song, it just seems like her most original song, and it's just the one I most prefer to listen to. I love Kelly's vocals, I think it has the best lyrics of any of her smash hits, and what a catchy chorus. Plus, great work on the production by Max and Dr Luke as always. I especially enjoy the drum parts in the chorus and of course, the fuzzed-out guitar. Also Kelly's best music video ever. I guess, I love drama in songs, and with the video and the song, there's not many songs more dramatic than this. ("Because of You" is arguably more dramatic, but I prefer the catchy rave-up to the ballad in this case).
YouTube: Behind These Hazel Eyes

8. A*Teens - "Bouncing off the Ceiling (Upside Down)"
Year: 2000
Comments: I still can't believe this song never broke in the US. The A*Teens of course started out their career with a pleasant but mostly useless album of ABBA covers. Then, somewhere along the line, somebody (I assume their manager but you never know) convinced them to do an album of original material, and the result was Teen Spirit which is in the official opinion of the TCR the second best teen pop album of the 00's. Whoever convinced them to do this deserves a gold medal. As to why I picked this song over their many other good singles, this is quite possibly the most INSANELY catchy, worm its way into your brain song ever. Like TV theme song/commercial jingle catchy. The kind of song where you hear it once and it permanently lodges itself into your brain. That makes it kind of annoying, but really really fun. This is pop distilled down into its very purest form, which is one of the main reasons I love teen pop so much. Possibly underrated, I decided this song was maybe a bit too light and fluffy to rank any higher (I prefer the confessional lyrics/sound), but I wouldn't quibble with any ranking as high as even number 1.
YouTube: Bouncing off the Ceiling (Upside Down) <--- Forget pop boiled down to its purest form, this video is cheesiness distilled down to its most pure form.

7. Aly & AJ - "Rush"
Year: 2005
Comments: Being an avowed Aly Michalka fan (see embarrassing gushing here), there was of course no way I could avoid ranking this song high. In all seriousness, I love the inspirational lyrics to this song, the Michalkas have really good singing voices (espeically the one with the low voice, whichever that is), and so catchy! What an apt title this song has, as the rush I get from listening to it (esp. the chorus of course) exceeds maybe any of the other songs on this list. Owes a huge debt to "Everywhere" of course, but it's original enough on its own merits. I also really love the production on this song, especially in the verses. I like their album as well but honestly though there are other good songs, there's nothing else the girls have recorded that really approaches this. Mild bonus for having no connection to Cow Belles whatsoever. Am I rating it too high because I love Aly in Phil of the Future so much? It's possible, but I really did try to separate that stuff out.
YouTube: Rush

6. Amy Diamond - "Don't Cry Your Heart Out"
Year: 2006
Comments: Another one I've previously commented on. I still love the faux-reggae beat, and I think this far outstrips Lily Allen or "Stars are Blind", because it's such a pretty song in addition to the reggae catchiness. Also, what I love about Amy is that in addition to being a certified cutie, she's such a good singer. And I don't mean in the sense of a technically good singer, I mean in just the sound of her voice and her delivery. Like Kelly Clarkson, her delivery on the lines is impeccable, and it really does add a lot to the song. Plus she nails the high notes. I seem to like this song more than any of the other teen pop pundits, but catchy + pretty + confessional lyrics = tailor made for Greg. Like JoJo, she sings songs where the lyrical content is way too old for her age, which I normally don't like, but for whatever reason it doesn't bother me too much with her. You can't help but be impressed by this girl.
YouTube: Don't Cry Your Heart Out <-- different from the one I posted earlier, this one contains the actual recorded version of the song (just ignore the annoying kids)

5. Lillix - "Sweet Temptation (Hollow)"
Year: 2006
Comments: This song and "Don't Cry Your Heart Out" are so different that it's hard to compare them, but there's not a hairsbreadth of distance between the two to me. To me, this is the best of the hard rocking, downbeat verse, EXPLOSION in the chorus songs pioneered by "Since U Been Gone" and done many, many times since. But not done as catchy! OK, the lyrics aren't adding to much to this, but the chorus is too much of a force to ignore. The "1, 2, 3, 4" thing is normally the sort of thing I don't like in songs, but it works so well here! Perhaps I am suffering from a lack of perspective in my ranking of this song by ranking this and Amy Diamond ahead of some of the songs I've known for a lot longer, but they just didn't feel right any lower on the countdown. Bonuses for this song: I really love the synth instrumental and the bridge. No complaints at all, this song is unimprovable.
YouTube: Sweet Temptation (Hollow)

4. 'N Sync - "It's Gonna Be Me"
Year: 2000
Comments: "...this song was not a product of its times; it was not a product of any time...there was never a time in popular music when this kind of song was a dominant form of popular music. Compare it to other Boy Band songs, to "Bye, Bye, Bye" or to "I Want it That Way", listen to the weird hook and totally original production on this song compared to the others, and tell me this is a generic pop song. Tell me that this is a product of little girls who only care about how a singer looks and whether they have a decent voice, not the quality of the music." -- taken from my review of the number one singles of 2000. Best boy band single of that wave, behind "I Want It That Way", I guess. Please note I'm not trying to insult "Bye, Bye, Bye" or "I Want It That Way" by that comment, just that they seem sort of generic compared to this song. For all the talk of Justin's solo career, wake me when he does another song this brilliant.
YouTube: It's Gonna Be Me

3. T.A.T.u. - "All the Things She Said"
Year: 2002
Comments: Forget all of the marketing ploys, let's just look at the quality of the song. Several years later and this song still sounds as fresh as the day it came out, and it has stood the test of time better than I think anybody could have expected. What an oddly unconventional song. You can make the complaint, and probably the fair complaint, that a number of the songs on this list are somewhat generic, and same-sounding, but I don't think there's any way you could say that about this song. A true original. It's odd because I don't think any of T.A.T.u.'s other singles have held up very well at all; like for example I also loved "Not Gonna Get Us" at the time, though I now concede this song is far superior. An unexpected and totally deserved hit, all marketing gimmicks aside.
YouTube: All the Things She Said

2. Hilary Duff - "Come Clean"
Year: 2003
Comments: As I've said before, despite anything that anybody says, I love Hilary's voice, and it's perfect for this song. Take any of the other supposedly "good" singers and give them this song, and I can nearly guarantee the result won't be as good as this (analagous to my comments on her performance in Raise Your Voice). Listen to the thin-ness in her voice as she sings "Let the rain fall down...", it just sounds pretty to me. This is one of the songs that it bothers me that some people don't get. I just really don't understand how anybody could not like this song. How can it not just make you smile when you hear that awesome opening instrumental riff? Amazing confessional lyrics! Amazing instrumental link from the bridge to the chorus! This is the entirety of 00's teen pop distilled into one song. When I originally created this list, this song was several spots lower. But it just kept climbing higher and higher up because I would realize that this song was better than the song one space above it. Somewhat generic sounding but if all similar sounding songs were this good, I doubt there'd be any complaints. ("Fly" and "Jericho" make it too if not for limits to one per artist).
YouTube: Come Clean

1. Michelle Branch - "Everywhere"
Year: 2001
Comments: For some reason, Michelle was marketed as some kind of anti-teen pop girl. Unlike Britney/Christina, she was LEGIT because she wrote her own songs and played her own instruments! This specter of legitimacy is now legion in teen pop, and we probably have her/her managers to thank for that, but I don't hold that against the song. She broke out in a huge way with this song, coming at the tail end of the previous wave of teen pop when people were tired of musicians they felt were mere puppets. And this song, along with "Complicated" absolutely set the blueprint for the remaining decade of teen pop to come. What an absolutely amazing soaring hook in the chorus. This song defines the confessional sound, and I just honestly don't think there's any teenpop song I'd rather listen to than this one. That chorus just never gets old, and the verses are great too. I also love the guitar sound in this song, and Michelle's voice. Never came close to matching this, despite some other pretty good singles. It's just the seemingly unending repeatability of the song that brings this song over the top to number one. Quite possibly the best single period of the 00's, although I'd be tempted to give that title to "Digital Love" as well.
YouTube: Everywhere

Summary by year:
2000 - 5
2001 - 2
2002 - 1
2003 - 2
2004 - 2
2005 - 4
2006 - 2

Selections centered around 2000 and 2005 which makes sense because they occur at the very peak at their respective waves of teenpop. Notice that the top 3 all come from that 'tweener period between 2001 and 2003, probably coincidence.

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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Top 18 Teen Pop Singles of the 00's (Part 1)

Here, my friends, is the list of this author's 20 favorite teen pop songs of the 00's. Since the TCR does love lists so.

1) The definition of what is and is not teen pop is obviously highly judgmental. If I had any real doubt, I left them off the list.
2) This is biased towards more recent music, which I know better. Also biased towards songs that were hits in America.
3) I probably left some stuff out.
4) Limited to one song per artist.

With those notes in mind, here is the list.

18. Mandy Moore - "I Wanna Be With You"
Year: 2000
Comments: Mandy Moore was great at making teen pop ballads, and this is her best one in my opinion. She kind of seems embarrassed of her music career now, but this was a really good song! Mandy's third, self-titled album was her best album, but none of the singles of that were as pretty as this song. Featured song in the movie "Center Stage". Interesting thought: Mandy, Christina Aguilera, Jessica Simpson, and Britney Spears all hit on the scene in 1999, seemingly temporary celebrities riding a fad, but they are all still relevant celebrities 7 years later...
YouTube: I Wanna Be With You

17. LMNT - "Juliet"
Year: 2001
Comments: One of the most unexpectly brilliant singles ever. A group of rejects from the original Making the Band -- they weren't good enough for O-Town -- band together and make a terrible album in the wake of the boyband era. But, buried in there is this one, amazing, song. It tore the crap out of Disney Radio and even got some Top 40 radio play, although it came at the very tail end of the boy band phenomenon. I knew and disliked this song at the time; it's only in the past few months I've remembered it's brilliance. See also: SoulDecision - "Faded", which I've always linked with this song for some reason.
YouTube: Juliet

16. Charlotte Church - "Crazy Chick"
Year: 2005
Comments: Like LMNT, I don't think anybody could have seen this coming. Welsh soprano becomes a pop/classical overnight superstar at the age of twelve, leaves the music business for 4 years, then comes back not with another classical album but with a pop album. And a GOOD pop album, with this one EXCELLENT song. None of the other songs on her album appear to be of the same quality as this one, but good work Charlotte. Good work indeed.
YouTube: Crazy Chick

15. Play - "I Must Not Chase the Boys"
Year: 2003
Comments: "Play doesn't seem to be very well liked by teen poppers, as they were from Sweden but marketed to the US and mainly made a career off of shamelessly covering other European hits. Actually I agree with all of that, but this is a really, really good single in my opinion. Easily relatable lyrics for any pre-teen girl or guy (or any girl or guy who was a pre-teen), and really catchy music. Follows the "Everywhere"/"Since U Been Gone" model musically, but still sounds fairly original. A classic." - (copied from my writeup of this song for my under-rated teen pop post)
YouTube: I Must Not Chase the Boys

14. Britney Spears - "Oops!...I Did It Again"
Year: 2000
Comments: Obviously, this is not Ms. Spears' best single, but it's a great song nonetheless. Hell, not everything has to be "...Baby, One More Time" to be great! Also another in a lineage of Britney Spears singles that have memorable, iconic videos. Nevertheless, a cultural milestone. If you leave this off your list, you are fooling yourself.
YouTube: Oops!...I Did It Again <-- Posted for the benefit of the many people who have never seen this video.

13. Avril Lavigne - "My Happy Ending"
Year: 2004
Comments: I spent way too long deciding whether my Avril allotment for this list would to go this song or "Complicated". "Complicated" has the influence factor in its favor, but hell I would just honestly prefer to listen to this song. Needless to say, both would have made the list if I allowed multiple entries per artist. But what a great chorus this song has, and it's got great confessional lyrics too! I was a big Avril Lavigne fan even at the time, which is surprising because I was in a very strong indie/anti-pop phase at the time she hit. She was just too much of a force not to love her though. OK, maybe I just thought she was hot. This song may be under-rated on this list.
YouTube: My Happy Ending

12. JoJo - "Leave (Get Out)"
Year: 2004
Comments: The America's Most Talented Kid competition was one that I derided at the time, but who could have guessed that it would have graduated three relatively well known pop culture figures (JoJo, Cheyenne Kimball, and Diana DeGarmo). Diana DeGarmo had her day later on American Idol and Cheyenne emerged the winner of the competition (plus had the MTV reality factor working for her) but JoJo has had the most success in her musical career of any of them and has produced by far the best songs. Actually there's nothing I can say about JoJo that hasn't already been said by Chart Rigger.
YouTube: Leave (Get Out)

11. Ashlee Simpson - "LaLa"
Year: 2005
Comments: I like Ashlee Simpson, not as much as some of the members of the teenpop community, but I do like her nonetheless. This is to my ears her best single of her career by far. It sounds pretty original to me, and I like the lyrics too. Anyways, yes, Ashlee has for whatever reason been unfairly savaged by the press and critics and appears to be falling between audiences now. This is a shame, as she has released some very good pop music in the 2000's and it's sad to see that people can't appreciate it due to personal biases against the woman herself. This song totally rocks, and it's one of my favorite "high-energy chorus" pop songs of all time.
YouTube: LaLa

I'm going to leave the top 10 for a future post. This will create much tension as people will try to guess which songs have made it to the top 10. Or maybe not.

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Sunday, October 01, 2006

Total Request Live

Not just a clever name, but an actual post about the MTV show "Total Request Live"

Although (big surprise) I used to be one of those fellows who would watch TRL every day after school and during the summer (and these were the TRL glory days of the late 90s), it has been a few years since I had seen an episode. Fortunately, due to the fact that I was on a business trip, I was able to catch an episode this past Thursday, and wished to share my thoughts.

First of all, although it's barely relevant to the show any more, here was the top 10 videos.

10. Vanessa Hudgens - "Come Back to Me" <-- She drooped the Anne!
9. The Game ft. Junior Reid - "It's OK (One Blood)"
8. My Chemical Romance - "Welcome to the Black Parade"
7. Danity Kane - "Showstopper"
6. Cassie - "Long Way to Go"
5. Evanescence - "Call Me When You're Sober"
4. JoJo - "Too Little, Too Late"
3. AFI - "Love Like Winter"
2. Justin Timberlake - "SexyBack"
1. Beyonce - "Ring the Alarm"

Greg's Opinions:
Best song - "Too Little, Too Late"
Best video - "Too Little, Too Late"
Worst song - "Love Like Winter"
Worst video - "Come Back to Me"
Good songs: "Too Little, Too Late", "Call Me When You're Sober"
OK Songs: "Ring the Alarm", "SexyBack", "It's OK (One Blood)", "Showstopper"
Bad Songs: "Live Like Winter", "Long Way to Go", "Welcome to the Black Parade", "Come Back to Me" (poor Vanessa Hudgens)

The host remains affable, personality-less but decent interviewer, much in the vein of Carson Daly. It's good to see not too much changes.

First thing I noticed was how boring all of the videos were. Where is the iconic imagery? Where is the song that when you hear it, instantly calls to mind the video. I think here of former MTV/VH1 staples like "...Baby One More Time" or "I Want it that Way" or "Steal My Sunshine" or even a more recent example like "Fell In Love With a Girl"? I guess the music video industry has really died out.

In addition, the countdown of songs was really an afterthought on the show. There was far, far more time dedicated to talking to the audience, interviewing their guests (Chingy and The Game) and updating the audience on music news than there was to the videos. I guess that's how it's always been on TRL, but I don't remember it being this bad. As in they were literally playing no more than 30 seconds of every video.

Also, where's the rap? Rap/R&B still dominates the current Hot 100, but with only one rap song (and that can be easily explained as The Game was the featured guest on the show) and three additional R&B songs on here, will that be for long? And that counts whitebread Justin Timberlake and reality TV graduates Danity Kane. Emo/Rock could be the wave of the future. Just like in the olden days with the late 90's/early 00's teen pop, the Emo/Rock artists on the list appear to be several weeks ahead of the charts. That is to say, an 'NSync or BSB or Britney song would always peak on TRL months before it peaked on the charts. It's bubbling on the charts pretty high right now, but we could be on the verge of an explosion, if TRL is truly a gauge of popular culture any more.

And if TRL is truly a gauge of teen culture, note that the songs we usually declare to be "teen pop" are basically absent from this chart, save Vanessa Hudgens and JoJo. But is "teen pop" bubbling under, ready for a big break out too? I still think it's the area of music where the most interesting things are happening today. I think big things are in its future, but I could be very wrong.

IN CONCLUSION: Damn kids! It was better in my day!

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