Thursday, May 15th, 2014

MKTO – Classic

References beget references…


Thomas Inskeep: Boy-band pop that doesn’t stoop to its audience. I bet this sounds awesome on Radio Disney.

Crystal Leww: Even if almost no one takes it seriously, this kind of pop aimed at younger audiences and made by the Disney and Nickelodeon machines can be quite good. There is always a collective amnesia about where Selena Gomez and Zendaya and Ariana Grande got their starts. This is despite the fact that some of their hits overlapped with their network tenures and especially despite the very simple reasoning that it totally makes sense that the Disneys and Nicks of the world can afford very expensive and very good songwriters who have made hit after hit. “Classic” was written by a team that boasts an impressive resume that includes Beyoncé, Jason Derulo, and the Backstreet Boys. It’s very sweet and super-corny, but the melodies are on-point, the boys are charming enough to pull it off, and hell, it even sounds like a cohesive song, something that pop is increasingly failing to deliver. These seasoned vets and their industry overlords aren’t going to create anything that changes the pop music formula, but they’re excellent at executing it. +1 for the canonization of Beyoncé; real recognize real.

David Sheffieck: Likely the best stalker song since “Dancing on my Own” (though ultimately not as good), with the line “Four dozen of roses/Anything for you to notice” the clearest indication that this bro hasn’t even managed to get the attention of the girl he’s comparing to Beyoncé. Maybe if MKTO spent a little less time thinking of all those reference points from before they were born, they could carry a conversation?

Patrick St. Michel: Something like Kanye West’s “Slow Jamz” works because the song itself sounds like the artists being name dropped (helped by an honest-to-goodness Luther Vandross sample). It also works because it has fun with the subject matter. MKTO’s “Classic” manages neither, the folks involved hoping that just mentioning Prince and Marvin Gaye will distract from the fact that this sorta sounds like American Authors but with a rapper. And it isn’t even trying to be funny or charming, just strutting around in an aged suit and hoping you don’t notice how it sounds more “plastic” than most other contemporary love songs.

Jer Fairall: The most unworthy string of pop culture referents since Adam Levine claimed to move like Jagger, on a track that sounds like it was uncovered while digging through O-Town’s garbage. About as “classic” as a Ted Turner colorization.

Will Adams: When I wished that Smash Mouth would get hit by a Train, this is not what I had in mind.

Katherine St Asaph: “Throwback-ish”? What, is she wearing a shirtdress? I bet those other girls, those slutty plastic girls, wear retro-inspired clothes sometimes, it’s kind of in style. Also, dude, you don’t get to say “wanna kiss you like Prince” when you wanna sing like Adam Levine.

Megan Harrington: I know that by “classic” they almost certainly mean “virginal,” but for fun and sanity I’m going to interpret this as a thinly veiled ode to necrophilia. 

Andy Hutchins: Sub-Train bullshit songwriting, but at least the Donny Hathaway reference is clever and subtle enough that the young people this bright piece of Glee-level fauxstalgia is aimed at will never even figure out that it’s a Donny Hathaway reference. (No, really, it didn’t dawn on me for a while that it was a Hathaway reference AND a “A Song For You” reference.) And the rap verse is terrible: “Got me trippin’ out like the ’60s, hippies” is the worst hashtag bar of our time and that one.

Alfred Soto: Yes, of course this Fisher Price funk has assaulted us for the last three years, and Hedley did it better a few months ago, but the chorus has buoyancy and the tune is mercifully brief.

Brad Shoup: When the chords are thrown so hard, I tend to strap on the catcher’s gear. This is astoundingly aggressive bubblegum, so intent on hitting its marks that it mercifully whiffs on pounding home all these signifiers. (I mean, “I never met a girl like you ever ’til we met”? Holy shittttttt.) The compression employed here normally takes millions of years and a cataclysmic flood. And hey, maybe someone will stream “Be Real Black For Me,” y’know? 

David Lee: For a song that frames the plastic as something undesirable, the production situates this squarely in the pop realm (for heaven’s sake they enlisted the writers of fucking “Tonight Tonight”). And you want to designate Prince as a beacon of classiness (whatever that even means, but sharp diction is not the endgame here, is it)? Go ahead. But remember: Prince, in addition to penning “Kiss,” wrote verses like the deliciously filthy ones on “Head.” It is a snag in the writers’ argument, glossed over for the sake of…nostalgia? Michael Jackson! Audrey Hepburn! Donny Hathaway! Do these writers even know what demographic they are targeting? Though I suppose those examples bespeak the kind of listener who helps this moralistic fizz weasel its way to the top of Adult Contemporary radio charts. It would be a feat of sorts to get (neutered, useless) rap played on those stations which tend to market themselves as “not one of those stations with all the bleeps!” Speaking of race’s role in this, isn’t it curious that all except one of the exemplary women name-dropped here are all white? To which the song only has one response: its shit-eating, overbearing cheer. Relax man! Let’s do it like Michael in the 1940s with Marvin Gaye and silver-screen starlets. Wait, what? Listening to this song repeatedly feels like staring at a Candy Crush board that’s so fucked there’s no other option but to start over.

Anthony Easton: Experiments in plastic art from the 1960s and 1970s have now often degraded, because they were new enough then, no one quite knew what to expect, and they tend to fall apart or even liquefy. In one terrible example, a early Craig Kauffmann wall piece fell off the wall at the Center Pompidou a few years ago, completely shattering on the floor. We think of plastic as artificial and eternal, an example of that which is against the natural and pure. But, there is no better example of the intemperance of the human heart than that beautiful Kauffman just breaking apart because it could not hold itself together.

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3 Responses to “MKTO – Classic”

  1. megan im dead rip me

  2. controversy index of 2.42!

  3. choosing to interpret “moralistic fizz weasel” as a noun