Last weekend I was talking to a friend of mine about how I dislike driving – even though I own a car and it takes me about 35 minutes to drive to work in the morning and an hour and half to get there by bus. I just dislike traffic and looking for parking and having to go in for an oil change every three months. But the one thing I said that I do like is in the summer when I can drive down the interstate (I-90) with my windows rolled down, wearing sunglasses and having the radio up really loud. It is one of the pleasures that makes $4 a gallon worth it.
Yet, this summer I can't see a great song that will be blasting from my speakers AND the speakers of the car the pulls up next to me at the same intersection. Unless I'm missing something, but Sasha Frere-Jones wondered the same thing. I'm going to quote his blog post from the New Yorker verbatim because it is worth repeating and he raises an interesting question (my emphasis):
Ask my hallmates—yesterday, I flapped my arms about and crowed: “What kind of year is this? What world have we inherited from the proto-robots who built the robots that will eventually rule us? Where are the singles? Where is ‘Crazy In Love’? Where is ‘Since U Been Gone’? Where is ‘Hey Ya’?” Over at Vulture, they were fumbling with the same Ouija board, apparently. Their theory is that N.E.R.D.’s tuneless hammer party, “Everybody Nose,” is the best that pop will give us this summer. They are no more sanguine about this prospect than I.
What the Nu Shooz has gone wrong? Is the collapse of the music industry actually making music collapse? Pop songs should be happy, and proliferating like liberated little algae. Are we all hanging on Usher’s abs? Chris Martin’s stubble? Dwayne Carter’s, um, chains? The Jonas Brothers? (Why did we take Hanson for granted?) Where is the song that can slow down time and make us like the fact that Top 40 plays the same hits over and over? (I remember driving down the West Side highway last summer and saying, “It isn’t right that “Umbrella” isn’t playing somewhere, now.” My companion was confused.) My guess is that in 2008 this song will come from a country artist. Or Chris Cornell. (The last one isn’t a guess.)
While I'm now curious to hear what Chris Cornell has in store for us, I can't think of any "Umbrella"s or "Since U Been Gone" or "Toxic"s right now. Songs that make listening to pop radio a worthwhile venture (and sometimes it is).
With the industry in the condition it is in these days, I'm going to have to turn to my own tastes to make my soundtrack of the summer. In a way, I find that depressing.
I guess I'm making this post to ask two different questions: what will be blasting from your cars or headphones this summer and/or am I missing a great 2008 pop hit (think more Justin Timberlake and less The Shins)?
Right now my summer hit (and every single person who was at the Triple Door last night would agree) is "Little Bit" by Lykke Li, but it's not univesal: