Looking at the stuff I’ve covered so far in Radio Rants, I’ve noticed that I’m going for stuff that people will at least remember in the future. Kesha will be some one or two album novelty act that makes everyone chuckle when they hear “Tik Tok”, B.o.B might end up having a stable career with a number one every now and then, and Katy Perry might even stick around for awhile.
Which is more than I can say for Jason Derulo.
Alright, before I really get going, I’ve got to say a thing or two about sampling and originality. Am I anti-sampling? Well, no. It’s a process that’s gone on for decades, and has opened the door to some really clever work. But at the same time, I’m against blatantly swiping something from another song and throwing it fairly unaltered into your own music. A sample takes a small piece of something else, reworks it, integrates it, and the piece functions as something new. A sample that just takes something from another song and puts it in something else? Much more like “ripping off” than sampling.
Jason Derulo has had two singles so far. The first one, “Whatcha Say”, ‘sampled’ Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek” so much that I’m surprised Imogen Heap didn’t get partial writing credit for the entire chorus. Mr. Derulo’s next hit was “In My Head”, which didn’t sample Lady Gaga’s “Just Dance” as much as lazily rewrite it and strip it of any charm and originality. So what about third single “Ridin’ Solo”? Did Derulo ditch his sampling past and write a song without samples? Did he ditch the Auto-Tune?
Don’t I wish. A few electronic beeps, and…oh, hey, there’s the chorus already. So this time we’re ripping off “Bittersweet Symphony” by The Verve, a 90’s hit everyone’s heard at least a few times in their life. That’s…that’s great. And the chorus consists of cliches (“Feeling like a star/you can’t stop my shine/I’m riding cloud nine/my head’s in the sky”) and “I’m ridin’ solo” too many damn times. It’s kinda catc–actually, no. This song is not catchy. “Bittersweet Symphony” is. This is why I hate lazy sampling; the newer song is only remembered for copying the old one, it doesn’t stand on its own, and it relies on piggybacking off an older, more established tune to get by.
Lyrically, the fact that the song’s about feeling good after a breakup should tell you everything. Now that I think about it, hasn’t he written about girls before? “Whatcha Say” was about him cheating on a girl, then “In My Head” was about him wanting to get with a girl at a club (this led to the cheating?), and now he’s happy to be single in “Ridin’ Solo” (as a result of “Whatcha Say”?). These might be the three most covered topics in pop/r ‘n b, just adding to Jason Derivative’s list of cliches. The bridge consists of him hitting some “sing like a girl” high notes and spelling the damn title. One more chorus, and we’re done.
People talk about generic and bland pop all the time, but shockingly few songs on the radio really fit into the mold as well as “Ridin’ Solo” does. It’s the third run of the mill single by an artist without an original bone in his body, it’ll go to number one, and I’ll be grumpy about it. Next!