Monday, December 8th, 2014

QT – Hey QT

Readers’ Week is ON ON ON with another song by PC Music requested by not one but TWO of you, plus probably by the gods of the inevitable…

David Moore: 58008 ‘514+ <3 1 ‘707

Edward Okulicz: Sounds like bizarro-world Annie and Richard X decided that, instead of the early ’90s, their project should evoke the spirit of Whigfield, only pitch-shifted until complete nausea ensued.

Alfred Soto: “Trance, K-pop, electro, chiptune — it’s all there,” Pitchfork says, and it’s true. But listening for this synthesis isn’t the same as listening through the pipsqueak vocal. “Lene Lovich meets Aqua” needed to happen, but this ain’t it.

Anthony Easton: I love bad taste and respect John Waters deeply, but his abiding love of the Chipmunks is the place where his bad taste and my bad taste split. Having the Chipmunks do a boshed-up sex anthem just makes me want to believe in middlebrow propriety.

Megan Harrington: PC Music are process music made commercial. This is no more enjoyable than hearing every key of the piano pressed in sequence but it seems like it should be a viral strain of superpop. The flashy, saturated surface is nothing more than the emperor’s new clothes on festering carcass.

Iain Mew: Even in a best case scenario with no intentional distancing involved, I can’t get the appeal of this song at all in the face of so many superior alternatives. Calvin Harris has done most of it without the unpleasant flimsiness. Yasutaka Nakata acts have collectively done the rest with infinitely more depth. The moment when an unfiltered voice almost peeks through the processing is the closest it gets to doing anything for me, but that specifically was done better by Perfume. If you want explorations of the effects of twisting voices away from human that do something more interesting with it than over-QTness, there’s an entire genre of vocaloid music out there. I would never want to settle for this.

Sonia Yang: Fizzy, sugary, retro-futuristic pop with child-like vocals I have a soft spot for due to having listened to way too much cutesy anime music. The production is clean and on point. This would be the perfect soundtrack to a time when texting your high school crush “hey qt” was more cool than corny.

Micha Cavaseno: Sophie & A.G. Cook  offer the world a composed version of their mutual sinister visions of pop. QT is all the self-consciousness, the art-school theorem, and corny Tim & Eric humor of the PC Camp’s digital power-pop drained out, leaving an empty skull save for dead cow’s eyes and a slackened jaw pooling out tons of drool. One part Capsule-core electro-spasm, one part nerds fanfic-ing pop and never quite getting it, this record (and this project’s future) is going to be disappointing and unsatisfactory, but in the best ways possible.

Will Adams: People will try to tell you that this is better than the real thing, and they will be wrong. Under a thin veil of satirized consumerism, QT make a mockery of pop music while benefitting from its use. Condescending, cynical, and featuring some of the worst sound design and mixing I’ve ever heard, “Hey QT” asks you to laugh at how awful all the other pop is while exempting itself from the same critique. Even more infuriatingly, the lyrics profess love toward a new song, like “nothing you’ve ever heard before.” But this song was not made with love or respect, and it is something we’ve heard before. But at least Aqua sounded like they were having fun, or at minimum gave a shit. At a time when artists like Grimes and Charli XCX are bridging the gap between the mainstream and underground pop worlds, “Hey QT” is a major step backward.

Josh Winters: I have to admit, there’s a part of me that loves “Hey QT.” It’s quite the expertly-crafted concoction: bubbly synths, banging beats, and a multisensory sentiment in the chorus that perfectly captures the essence of the pop listening experience. But, in a world where Grimes gets a bunch of shit for DJ-ing top-40 pop by the same Boiler Room bros who suck PC Music’s dick, and in a world where Carly Rae Jepsen’s album full of sweet, sugary pop failed to garner the shine it deserved as Sophie and A.G. Cook get acclaim for being revolutionary hitmakers just a couple years later, I can’t say this sits entirely well in my stomach.

Jonathan Bradley: I haven’t bothered to develop Really Deep Thoughts about PC Music, partly because I thought the Hannah Diamond song was only boring, but mostly because when poptimists get territorial, I get nauseous. The flimsy tackiness of “Hey QT” has little to do with whether it gets pop wrong or right: I hear a budget reproduction of the garishness of the Happy Hardcore era. Slot this alongside other junkstore trinkets like “Caramelldansen” or “Pretty Rave Girl” or those early Uffie tunes. The glitter residue left behind by a passing SoundCloud storm.

Patrick St. Michel: Can you picture this song existing in a universe without its eye-rolling concept (something something energy drink) or sans a wall of PC-Music-centric essays floating around it?  I first heard what would eventually be called “Hey QT” back in March, when Sophie was just the guy behind “Bipp” and A.G. Cook was just the dude standing next to him on stage. Half the crowd hated it (“where’s the ‘Bipp’ song??’) while the other half lost it to the Euro-pop overload (I fell in this category). The night ended with “Hey QT,” the most fully formed pop song Sophie played all night and a dizzying blend of Aqua and Yasutaka Nakata. When I hear it now, I can’t really get distracted by discussions about “sincerity,” because I just think about how life affirming this sounded that night.

Katherine St Asaph: Pop is music plus franchise-creation, so it makes sense that the Fake Pop Star book was a small fad in the mid-’00s, as publishers realized that the same kids who grew up with Britney or Christina would graduate to reading YA. It comes with multiple possibilities — protagonists like Wonder Blake in Rachel Cohn’s Pop Princess, antagonists like Panama Goodyear in Grace Dent’s LBD series, Britneys-as-Gatsbys like Darcy Barnes in Tucker Shaw’s Confessions of a Backup Dancer — and ample offshoots (Fake Female-Fronted Rock with Sarra Manning’s Guitar Girl, Fake Indie Pop with Clare Grogan’s Tallulah [Gosh] and the Teenstars). Eventually its cachet grew enough that the next fad was to retcon Real Pop Stars into existing franchises, like Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen or The Cheetah Girls, on to movies and TV, from the Cheetahs to Josie and the Pussycats to Music and Lyrics and probably Hannah Montana, shading further and further into pop as it’s actually produced. It’s a rare instance where I prefer the corporate meddling, because at least those franchises get real, competent songs; even the most prefab of teenpop — your Zetta Bytes, your W.I.T.C.H. soundtracks — is by competent songwriters doing listenable-or-better jobs. Whereas in the YA books, the satire tends to be mallet-blunt, and when pop stars’ lyrics are printed, they’re bad, don’t really work as lyrics, probably wouldn’t chart, and reveal nothing but the author’s contempt. All this is to say that the dudes at PC Music are not being nearly as innovative as they think when they write this e-z-satire: “So what, or who, is QT? She’s a sparkling future pop sensation — albeit one who is set to warp and stretch the notion of what a pop star actually is. It’s a drink, or more precisely a brand new Energy Elixir.” “Hey QT,” to be fair, is a real song; it’s just not a very good one, the track seemingly spliced in Audacity from scraps of David Guetta, RedOne, and Calvin Harris’s Recycle Bins; the vocals less weird than what Vocaloid and its community actually does; and the satire inevitably less weird than a field that satirizes and castigates itself, with a sourer taste.

Brad Shoup: Critics of pop music as a general business still have to contend with the real anarchies — intended or not — they often unleash. And critiques of pop music can find themselves in the uncharted territory of the enjoyable. “Hey QT” takes its market mission pretty seriously — pointing the vocaloidish voice in a wistful direction, keeping the production free from any gimmicks other than a Calvin Harris homage — and thus it’s free to support all kinds of unpredicted pleasures.

James Errington: Here’s what I love about “Hey QT”: the way that immense witch house drone has been cut and stretched into something that sounds almost like pop music, yet completely not. I love the pound-shop-toy cheapness of the sound effects, the cleanness of the clipped synth shots, the way the chorus builds up those different layers of melody and slots them together. I love the J-pop android cutesiness of the vocal, the barely-contained excitement of the estuary accent hiding underneath; that mix of human and alien, innocent and sexual, artificial and sincere. I love the complete lack of concern for coolness or authenticity. Best of all, though, is that build-up and drop into the rush of the chorus, the way that one synth line pulls you up, then twists into a thousand different directions at once. It’s like nothing I’ve ever heard. Here are some things I don’t care about: the silly energy drink concept, the live show, whether it’s pretentious/postmodern/ironic, whether Pitchfork likes it, whether it’s just playing at being pop, whether it’s allowed to join the pop club. These things all seem to have made some people angry for some reason. That’s their loss.

Reader average: [7.23] (17 votes)

Vote: 0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10

27 Responses to “QT – Hey QT”

  1. holy shit, readers’ week couldn’t have gone off to a better (and more controversial) start. bravo everyone.

  2. Katherine, are there any of those books that you’d particularly recommend?

  3. I am so, so glad that we got calculator humor, John Waters, the phrase “festering carcass,” and ZETTA BYTES(!) together for the most controversial song of the year (so far).

  4. OMG and I even missed Annie & Richard X thrown in. Today’s blurbs are a 2003 time warp.

  5. Is this the largest controversy index we’ve gotten?

  6. No, our #1 controversies for ’09 and ’10 are higher. But this is apparently more controversial than Rebecca Black’s “Friday,” so there ya go.

  7. Katherine, there’s exactly one good Bratz song (by some Cheiron alums), “So Good”:

  8. Someone should write an essay on “manufactured pop star” as millennial wish fulfillment dystopia and how it transformed into a hybrid “behind-the-scenes manufactured but actually authentic sorta!” phenomenon by the mid-aughts via (e.g.) “Instant Star” and “Hannah Montana.” I nominate Katherine.

  9. WGibson’s idoru i believe sketches some of the lines of this dystopia? Sadly I only read about 7 pages of it before realising I had gone allergic to his style-tics (also I made the mistake of going to see him read some of it: he doesn’t read his own work well).

  10. Jerzy Kosinski’s “Pinball” is an outrageously inept early version of this phenom from ’82:

  11. (Many of these commentaries strike me as outrageously inept, in fact. WHY ARE THE LEFT SUCH CHUMPS AT THE CHARTS (C) SUKRAT.)

  12. O woooooooow

  13. This question sent me spinning back to a kind of semi-secret history of such novelised commentaries: Trilby (feat.the original Svengali) I’ve never read, but I have read Pygmalion and Zuleika Dobson, which fall somewhere in the ambit. Actually so do Frankenstein and Don Quixote, maybe possibly.

  14. ha, yeah, I didn’t have space to say “I’m not claiming this was made up in 2000 and there are lots of predecessors” in the blurb.

    one trope of these: everyone is Britney Spears, some more than others. (after writing this blurb I went and watched an episode of the Tara Duncan show, which was less this thing than the Defend The Pop Star In Trouble Episode thing, but whoever named the star in question wasn’t even trying: “Madney Speer.”

  15. as for which I recommend it’s a matter of taste but I would recommend the one whose song does not go “I’m floating in the sky! Like a big love pie! You make me feel real high! Oh my, oh my, tra la la la!”

  16. song is supreme garbage

  17. A big comment with a buncha links seems to have been marked as spam, oh well. Yada yada Metal Mike Saunders on Radio Disney yada yada Frank Kogan context of abundance but muted or maybe bounded abundance yada yada Toy-Box mighta “satirized” Aqua but it was irrelevant on Radio Disney yada change the context change the song except maybe not really yada

  18. hey qt yrself, Nelson

  19. I have a copy of Guitar Girl! It is ridiculous in the whole ‘let’s learn 3 chords now minutes later we are on a US tour’ but also er actually I have done the whole 16 months of intensive guitar training and WHO KNEW it totally works…

  20. “Idoru” actually sucks and is just Gibson being a weaboo and never actually gets into the potential of talking about a virtual idol. There’s also Reality TV Breeds Meatheads jokes that proves 4chan really are old-school cyberspace culture’s kids, and they should slap themselves in the face 5 times for that.

    And hopefully 2015 ends up with GFOTY on TSJ. IMHO.

  21. where’s giroud, i feel petty.

  22. This had to be reviewed. A (5) would have been the perfect score.

  23. “I’m floating in the sky! Like a big love pie! You make me feel real high! Oh my, oh my, tra la la la!”

    Yeah, this is really more Bono circa-1991.


  25. Listening to this song after listening to primarily k-pop for the last 5 years is an interesting experience… I kept thinking of the potential dance moves to it, and the various girl groups that have already done iterations of this with longer lasting appeal (Girls Generation, KARA v.2, to name two). I love the chorus, but I like the idea of the song a lot less now that I know it’s some weird satire/critique biz. And I have the same misgivings as Josh. I give it a tentative (6)

  26. I love Gibson and all but even when I was 18 I knew Macross Plus >>>> Idoru. That being said, all his other meditations on musicians/celebrity are funnier/more on point, including the Canto-pop Bono figure the virtual idol dated (iirc), the MBV/Sonic Youth-esque 90s indie rockers who were central characters in his post-9/11 trilogy, and the future Lady Gaga type in his latest.

    The Wang Rong kind of sends this one right into planned obsolescence, doesn’t it?

  27. Spoiler alert, Sabina.