The Pop Cycle: Ke$ha, Anna Kendrick and Mariah Carey (But Really Miguel)

This week on The Pop Cycle, your weekly assessment of three songs on Top 40 radio: a pop singer second only to Julia Louis-Dreyfus on my "20 Year Old Crushes" list, an actress and her infernal cups, and the classiest lady in pop culture.

"#Beautiful (ft. Miguel)" - Mariah Carey

You need blinders to fully appreciate this song. You have to forget the hashtag in the title. You have to imagine Mariah Carey as she was 20 years ago. I can't decide what I think about this video. It's like my brain is creeped out, but my body is like, "Let's not be too hasty here."

(It has to be pointed out: this is a Mariah Carey song. The song features a male narrator talking about how much he wants to take a woman to the bone zone, and the woman in this song happens to be Mariah Carey. So wouldn't you assume this was Miguel's song? In summary, this is a Mariah Carey song about how "****ing beautiful" Mariah Carey is. I understand Mariah gets a pass for being a diva, but these are unprecedented ego levels we're talking about.)

"#Beautiful" is terrific, even if it makes me groan every time I type it out. I've probably listened to it seven or eight times in a row just now. This was the first Miguel song I've heard, and his voice is just filthy as a hobo's hiking boots. Mariah Carey is fine, but Miguel steals the show. This song inspired me to pick up Miguel's Kaleidoscope Dream, and that album is AWESOME.

Also, this song's opening sounds kind of like Andrew Bird's "Heretics". Steal all the intros in the world if it means more tracks like this.

Rating: 10

"Cups" or "When I'm Gone" or something else. I'm not sure. - Anna Kendrick

I don't know what this song is called. I also don't know what "Pitch Perfect" is, and based on this video, I don't care to learn. All I know is the blinding hate I feel when those cups start clacking.

Is this some sort of "Glee" thing? It's like they took a a diary entry from a scorned 7th grader, told Mumford and Sons to write a song over it and "really lay on the twee", and then, in post-production, raised the cutesy levels to unprecedented heights. And then there's the cups. Don't get me started on the cups. Now I gotta listen to "#Beautiful" twice more to get this taste out of my mouth.

Rating: 2

"C'Mon" - Ke$ha

What do you want me to say here? Ke$ha is one of the strangest pop culture figures alive. The content of her lyrics makes me wonder if she's not mentally handicapped. Her philosophy seems to consist of getting drunk, getting high, banging random dudes and that's all. SHE WENT TO BELMONT UNIVERSITY.

Take "C'mon". On first impression, the lyrics are inane, but they also captures what it's like to be young and and free and inane. The white girl rapping of the verse might initially make you cringe, but there's a decent flow there, and at least it has personality.

The chorus is the best part, though. I can't believe I'm using this word in relation to a Ke$ha song, but something about it just comes out transcendent. Mindy told me I was being overly dramatic saying that, but I'm telling you, it's something about the notes that just does it for me. Maybe it's the way the melody runs over the backing synths. Whatever it is speaks directly to my soul, enough to make me forget the hedonistic femininity Ke$ha advocates. I'm telling you, I love this song.

Some of this can be chalked up to the production team, but Ke$ha is a gifted entertainer, and she's crafted a wholly unique pop music character, like Katy Perry if Katy Perry had Hep C, a switchblade, and an oxy addiction.

Whatever it is, I dig it, and so far the rest of Ke$ha's latest album is no exception "Die Young" is similarly catchy, and I've liked what I've heard of "Crazy Kids", which is surprising since will.i.am is involved.

Rating: 9


  1. Miguel is amazing. Kaleidoscope Dream nearly stole the show from Frank Ocean last year in terms of soulful music for the "bone zone."

    1. I picked it up immediately after hearing this song and you're right. It's probably the most blown away I've been at an album in three years.

  2. The production ruined the 'Cups' song.

    It's actually a lot better when you see her do it with just the cup and her voice. Check out her appearance on Letterman for an example.

    Pitch Perfect is a movie about college a capella groups - which is where the song was popularized (it's actually a cover of a cover of the original song). I think the single was released to capitalize on the popularity of the movie. As musical movies go, it actually wasn't bad.

    The video for the song doesn't really correlate with the movie.