Friday, September 28th, 2018

Avril Lavigne, Ashley Tisdale & G.E.M. – Trophy Boy

He was a trophy boi, she was an Avril decoy, he wasn’t good enough for her?


Alex Clifton: “Who decided it was a good idea to put these three people together?” I wondered. It turns out that our singers are also the voices for a film called Charming, which looks weird and also features the vocal talents of Demi Lovato (fine) and Steve Aoki (also fine, but unexpected). Normally I view catchiness as a good thing, but “Trophy Boy” falls into  the rare (for me) category of “annoyingly catchy.” I know that Ashley  Tisdale singing “my trophy boy! my trophy boy!” is going to be stuck in  my head for the rest of the day, no matter how much indie folk I try to  drown it out with. In the end, it’s a bratty song from a kid’s movie that doesn’t try to go any further than that. Forget any crossover appeal that we found with “Happy” or “Can’t Stop the Feeling”; if there’s any justice in the world, this one will remain squarely on the soundtrack rather than ever being played on the radio.

Katie Gill: I love this song in the same way that I love Hallmark Channel Christmas movies: you know the plot, it’s a giant tropey mess, there aren’t any surprises, but it’s like a siphon of so bad it’s good directly to my brain. Is “Trophy Boy” good? Nope! Aside from the first ten seconds, it features absolutely NOTHING that would suggest Patrick Stump’s handiwork: this feels like a song that Maddie & Tae or Kelsea Ballerini would reject for being too on the nose. But this song knows exactly what it is. The lyrics and sound outright scream “we wrote this song to play in a Disney Channel Original movie and/or a low budget animated film.” Lyrics like “he’s like my glass slipper / he fits me so good and he’s such a good tipper” are absolutely stupid and that’s why I adore it. Likewise, Avril, Ashley, and G.E.M. know exactly what type of of song this is as well, and give it the required level of effort (minimal.) And that confluence of everybody being in on the predictability and exactly the right amount of non-effort being put in is like liquid crack to me and the reason I wrote a massive paragraph on a piece of shit song that everybody else will probably score under a four.

Crystal Leww: I like Lavigne, Tisdale, and GEM, and I get that in many ways, they did make music for girls, but well, this is certainly a song made for a children’s movie. I just hope that we don’t turn this into a *thing* like “Cut to the Feeling” was. 

Hannah Jocelyn: Just as Vanguard Animation has been to Dreamworks – to the point where their advertisements solely hinge on “from the producer of Shrek” – so is this to Carly Rae Jepsen’s fellow animated movie cast-off “Cut To The Feeling.” Except “Trophy Boy” was explicitly written for the movie, by Patrick Stump of all people. It’s hard not to tell – like Ed Sheeran shoehorning timeskips in “2002,” all the most annoying tics of him as a writer are present. Rhymes that spill over to the point where an acapella break is needed (like “I am the opposite of amnesia”) and words that sound clever fall apart just by reading them (for instance “I am the opposite of amnesia.”) Avril Lavigne just released an actual great song, but I’m not complaining that her, Ashley Tisdale, and G.E.M are getting this kind of paycheck.

Alfred Soto: Although I relish turning young men into the inanimate objects of desire they deserve to be and often aspire to be, these random performers — the Traveling Wilburys of movie soundtrack themes — trade one set of clichés for another. “Trophy Boy” is still a song about princesses for princesses. 

Micha Cavaseno: There’s some deep, dark horrors to be found when one realizes that the distance between Avril Lavigne and Meghan Trainor is actually a thin red line of irritation.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: Automatically terrible because it’s a song for a 3D CGI film in the Disney mold and the last thing we need is more celebrity-studded children’s films to perpetuate the decline of American animation. Even then, this has little worth to anyone beyond being a possible short-lived guilty pleasure or something that’s posted on Twitter alongside an ironic explanation that “your faves could never,” etc.

Katherine St Asaph: The 1999 Mary-Kate and Ashley movie Passport to Paris, which I am not super-proud to admit my sister and I owned, has a surprisingly good soundtrack, featuring unassailable alt-rock tracks “Sugar” by Stretch Princess and “Mz. Popularity” by Mz. Moxy (also of the Ben 10 theme). But listening to the latter when you’re older than 10, it is very quickly apparent that this song on a tween movie soundtrack is actually an cheery-ironic song about a handjob, and the reputation that asshole popular boys give a girl — i.e. maybe best heard elsewhere. “Trophy Boy” isn’t quite so dark but has its share of 👀 moments: the glass slipper line; singing “abs” but rhyming it with “class.” But that’s what happens when adult artists do kids’ soundtracks — over a decade separates each artist from her teenpop years — and as the vindication of Josie and the Pussycats reminds us, if you pretend these songs are written for and not just by adults, they’re often not bad. “Trophy Boy,” a non-confrontational pop “The Boy Is Mine,” isn’t bad either, but not much more. Patrick Stump wrote it, and the arena-stomp verses are recognizably him. But elsewhere the song starts with the RedOne synths of “Just Dance” for some reason, goes into a Southern-rock chorus for some reason, has a piano bridge for some reason. Maybe the movie has some kind of montage to explain it, with Cinderella on a ranch and Sleeping Beauty in a club and Snow White on stage or something — but as a standalone song, it baffles. Avril Lavigne, in particular, tries very hard not to sound too much like “Girlfriend,” perhaps because that is this song done right.

Taylor Alatorre: It’s about time Patrick Stump started using his sellout powers for good and not evil. His soul-punk fingerprints are all over this, from the elastic precision of the drumming to the stretched-out vocal phrases. The bulk of the appeal, though, comes from the unlikely chemistry between the singers and the puckish glee they bring to their roles. We’ve got Avril inserting an oblique reference to the “motherfucking princess” line in “Girlfriend,” a song released before this film’s target demographic was even born. Because why not? This is an anything-goes confessional about surface-level attraction, so the less propriety the better.

Anthony Easton: Slick trans-national commerce, with a touch of nostalgia, made possible by the sheer self-preserving quality of these three artists. Avril has been working since she was 14, Tisdale since she was 3, GEM since she was 5. The problem with starting this early, especially as a pop career, is that it becomes stuck in a perpetual shadow-land of adolescent desire. Thirty year olds, trying to make hits like they were fifteen, always has this factory sheen, and an ear towards market. It’s robotic, but not unpleasant. 

Reader average: [3.2] (5 votes)

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3 Responses to “Avril Lavigne, Ashley Tisdale & G.E.M. – Trophy Boy”

  1. Katie your blurb almost has me convinced I did not give this song the fair review it deserves

  2. lmao, thank you Alex. <3 This song spoke to the same part of my soul that is seriously contemplating buying "A Princess For Christmas" on DVD.

  3. loved your blurb, Katie!