The Pop Cycle - Emeli Sande, Maroon 5, and Macklemore

I am a bearded, early 30s Portlander who loves listening to pop radio. This column is about the best and the worst of that medium. This column is not ironic. This week, it's Emeli Sande, Maroon 5, an a guy from Seattle. I will try not to hold this against him.

"Next to Me" - Emeli Sande

I could've sworn this was Leona Lewis on first listen.

This is my type of song. It's got a simple melody, rolling drums, and piano and horns reminiscent of Northern soul. (NOTE: I thought Motown until Dan Gibson informed me it was more closely linked with Northern soul.) It's even got post-apocalyptic lyrics for some reason.

Besides the dying world imagery, however, I'm not wild about the words. I also wish the horns were louder and more soulful, but that's a production complaint. It's a fun track, and I hope there are more like it. I've been wishing a Motown resurgence would come around for years now.

Rating (1-10): 8

"Daylight" - Maroon 5

On one hand,

I want to like the DIY, united world aesthetic this video is going for. On the other, it's nine minutes of whiny YouTube footage set to an awful song, and I watched it all for you. I guarantee at least 40% of the people who appear in that video thought maybe it could be their big break.

I watch The Voice, and I like Adam Levine. He's got some annoying ADHD traits, but he's a good coach and makes decent song choices. So why in the world can't he get better songs for Maroon 5? It's the same thing with "One More Night" and "Moves Like Jagger". (The latter is slightly more bearable.) I can't change the station fast enough when these come on. This song is like being compelled to eat cardboard. I don't know why it's like that, but it is.

Rating: 2

"Can't Hold Us (featuring Ray Dalton)" - Macklemore + Ryan Lewis

Macklemore is two things I'm typically wary of: from Seattle and a white rapper. But you know what? As much as I like to think of Seattleites as scurvy-riddled Washingtonian fish-throwers, they're really not all that different from me. They live near rainy forests and mountains. They like good music and good food. They produce creative works. Maybe, in the end, I'm not so much a Portlander as I am a southern Cascadian.

(Seriously, click on that last link. Would that independent nation not be awesome? Consider me a secessionist.)

Anyway, my fellow Cascadian Macklemore makes some damn fine hip hop. It's got everything you want in hip hop. It's fun, funny, swaggering, has a solid beat, and espouses vaguely leftist politics. I officially nominate "Can't Hold Us" as the national anthem for the Free Republic of Cascadia.

Rating: 8

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