Thursday, February 16th, 2012

Karmin – Brokenhearted

So now that Dr. Luke (or similar, we honestly didn’t think it was worth checking) is producing them, what’s the point of the quiet dude?


Katherine St Asaph: Imagine two Funfetti cake pops who got famous solely for being white people chortling through a Busta Rhymes verse. Imagine enough millions tittering at their buttercream charms to awaken the industry giants. Imagine if “Broken Record” wasn’t by Katy B but Katy Perry, and one’s genuinely petrified post-hookup “I’m so scared of what you’re gonna do” was replaced by another’s self-hating caricature of a brash-yet-desperate lady, swigging Patron by the phone and mugging about her “sticky situation” while pleading that she’ll do whatever he wants. Or imagine “Heart of Glass” ripped off and dumbed down, but with just enough sound and situation remaining that you realize you’ve let it diddle your pleasure receptors despite your better judgment. Imagine if this world only existed inside your imagination.

John Seroff: I feel a certain guilt for infinitesimally bulking up Karmin’s YouTube viewcounts without considering it might lead to cheerless, colorless Katy/Nikki/Ke$ha-clone drek like “Brokenhearted”.  Honestly, had I known, I would’ve given an Action Bronson track the extra spin instead.  Leastwise when he’s talking Cheerios, he’s likely cooking with them.

Brad Shoup: Perhaps Dr. Luke, in presenting a paucity of instrumental elements, was trying to replicate the spirit of the duo’s typical YouTube setup. He putters around the edges with a guitar stutter, but it’s mostly the heavy-gated, super-sunny riff and perpetual-motion drum programming. It’s a bit like Pink without the watch out, we got a badass over here thing. I could do without the “cheerio” bullshit and the rippity-rapping — somehow, the “Black and White” homages are OK — but if I hold my nose, the overall effect out-Earworms DJ Earworm. Plus, one of these songwriters has clearly won some kind of bet, so that’s cool.

Iain Mew: I am well aware of Karmin but have no experience of ever encountering them other than as a punchline or punching bag. That makes actually listening to them for the first time quite a weird experience. My expectations are set so low that it would be very difficult for them not to exceed them! The rapping is cringeworthy, yes, and the rest of it does sound like an extra garish and basic take on “Last Friday Night”, but mostly I find myself thinking that it could be much worse. Who knows what I’ll willingly put up with if we ever cover Pomplamoose or Two Lights?

Alfred Soto: The kind of recombinant horror created by splicing Jessie J and Katy Perry. She also recorded a ballad, you know.

Jer Fairall: This year’s Jessie J, though this one chooses to do her own rapping rather than recruiting B.o.B. for it. Not entirely sure if this is a good or a bad thing yet.

Jonathan Bradley: And it is at that word “cheerio,” my darlings, that marks the first place in “Brokenhearted” at which Tonstant Listener fwowed up.

Michaela Drapes: Karmin’s a walking representation of my increasing detachment from meme-bands, which is to say they make me feel incredibly ancient. This wouldn’t be so annoying if they weren’t so tiresomely dull; I’d actually respect them, a little, if what they were doing was actually good. And if didn’t have that massive YouTube following, I’d suspect “Brokenhearted” was cranked out of a shiny machine that spits out insipid, disposable pop stars that then promptly destroys them the moment they’re past the freshness date.

Edward Okulicz: Complete and utter shit, the kind of thing people who hate pop assume it all sounds like. Makes Katy Perry seem deep and suggests that if Dr. Luke’s sound hasn’t run his course, maybe his ability to execute it properly has. For god’s sake, if everything with a YouTube account is going to get an album, can’t we just sack these twits and have a Nyan Cat LP or something?

18 Responses to “Karmin – Brokenhearted”

  1. This is actually better than “Crash Your Party” (the WORST) but that’s not saying much. Her “LOL a white girl rapping” shtick is incredibly annoying/borderline offensive and she actively guns for singing more harshly than Jessie J. People, enough with giving novelty YouTube acts record deals (and a stint on SNL WTF??).

    PS according to Wikipedia this was apparently produced by Benny Blanco, not Dr. Luke (same thing, basically).

  2. Benny Blanco is literally Dr. Luke’s lowest common denominator. There’s an interview where Luke (or Max, I forget) was like “Whenever I make a record, I have to Benny-proof it. If Benny doesn’t get it, America won’t get it.”

    Also, this is better than “Crash Your Party” solely because it rips off Blondie. I was so proud of myself when I figured out the less offensive analogue.

    (More required reading.)

  3. The backstory is cringe-inducing, but surely this song in isolation isn’t *that* bad…?

  4. Well, that’s what I thought, anyway…

  5. Benny Blanco is literally Dr. Luke’s lowest common denominator.

    No, he may figuratively be Dr. Luke’s lowest common denominator (though I thought he was pretty damned great on the Ke$ha album), but he is not, literally, a number. At least he’s not, literally, within the numbers 2 through 9, which are the lowest common denominators available.

  6. kudos for the dorothy parker reference Jonathan

  7. At this point, it wouldn’t surprise me if Benny Blanco was literally the numeral 2, given breath and life and a seat in a studio.

  8. (And, FWIW, whichever comments I post here during work hours are probably fairly dashed-off. For past and future reference.)

  9. So are mine, obv., since I neglected to say that Benny’s not eligible to be 4, 6, 8, or 9, either.

  10. lolz that all of us are working slobs peeking in on our comment threads for cheap succor

  11. Yes, J. Brads wins this one.

  12. Incidentally, Benny Blanco produced Neon Hitch’s latest single, a similar artist in that she is attempting to ride the wave of half-ironic Waka Flocka Flame covers into pop stardom.

  13. Oh no! I thought this was just Jessie J, which for some reason would be a lot less shameful for me to enjoy whenever it comes on the radio. I think my logic was “well I already shamefully like ‘Domino’ so I guess one more can’t hurt.” I’ll recover by convincing myself that songs this generic, with no personality at the helm, can’t be blamed or credited with how our earballs respond to them. Catchy earworminess is the name of the game, isn’t it?

    Anyway this is a hit now.

  14. Trying to decide what would be worse for this song: Karmin’s charisma-free take as it is now, or Jessie J trying to inject her own persona into it.

    And yes, I heard this in a convenience store the other day. Ugh. Also, Wikipedia is now saying this was produced by Cirkut (yet another Dr. Luke minion), not Blanco.

  15. Well, seeing as Jessie J’s entire persona boils down to “inserting annoying tics to the margins of generic Katy Perry songs”, I’m not sure this would sound much different. Except being a Brit she probably wouldn’t go with “cheerio.” “Ahoy, matey,” perhaps.

  16. I’m still hoping someone gets famous covering this, so we can get some pop recursion going on.

  17. Just heard this on the radio. Can I go back in time and give this a [0] please?

  18. This always seems to be on the radio at the cafe I get my lunch at. Fortunately today, I came in at the end of it, and then they played “Settle Down” and that was much better.