Tag Archives: pop music

In Defense Of John Mayer


John Mayer has a bad rep. Once a soulful crooner with a baby face, he’s morphed into a cocky megastar making his way around the proverbial Hollywood block. In 2006, he used his relationship with ex Jennifer Love Hewitt as material for his stand-up and he went on to date (and ditch) Jessica Simpson, Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Aniston. In January, he hit a new low when he appeared to be macking on America’s sweetheart, 20-year-old Taylor Swift. A few weeks later, an interview he did with Playboy came out. The quote that reverberated around the interwebs: “Yeah, [Jessica Simpson] is like crack cocaine to me … Sexually it was crazy. It was like napalm, sexual napalm …”

After that, John became persona non grata. Even this video he posted this month, called “A Life In the Day,” couldn’t redeem him.

But here’s the thing. Even after all the bonkers tweets and swarmy quotes,

I’ve given up trying to reconcile John Mayer’s social sewage with his art. I won’t claim to know his soul, but I will say that during the past eight years, it seems like sometimes he knows my own. Mayer, in music, has been nothing but good to me.

See, I have spent countless nights falling asleep to John Mayer’s voice whispering from my speakers. I was a senior in high school when Room for Squares debuted. Before that, I had no point of reference in music. A good jam could get me dancing, but there was no musical artist who activated my soul and left an ineffaceable mark on it. Mayer unbuckled my musical chastity belt. I felt every song, as his lyrics took on a sweet synchronicity with my life and with my thoughts. Listening to his albums was like finishing a long run. Where at the crest of a hill, short of breath, I look at the view and think, “This is me. At least for now.”

I am not the type of fan to paste pictures of him on my wall, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have an inclination for the schmaltzy. I’ve never been to one of his concerts because I am holding out for my boyfriend to take me. I don’t need a concert, though, to celebrate Mayer’s music. It is the places I take his words with me that matter. As a student, with Mayer echoing from my dashboard, I started my five-hour drives between home and school. Despite the long highway, his melodies made me feel like I was home, back in a familiar rhythm. In 2006, when I was living in Paris, I took long walks, tuning out to the song “3×5.” It was during one of these strolls, when I was relishing the Belleville neighborhood I now miss, that I realized the name Mayer sounds like meilleur, the French word for “better.”

Back in the States, over a year later, I found out how much John Mayer’s fame had blown up. I was listening to “Gravity” in the dentist’s office while high-speed drills buzzed as if they were singing backup. Or in the grocery store, Mayer played as the intercom interrupted to announce specials on Country Crock margarine. Then, he himself transformed, going from a shaggy fluff hairdo to luscious locks and round cheeks to a chiseled jawbone. Hunky and borderline pretty, he became a bona fide rock star with a proclivity for high-profile relationships and kissing and telling. Maybe he’s not bothered by the reaction his behavior begets. Yet, for a man who creates original compositions, it seems like he’s stuck on repeat.

Picking up a 2009 magazine interview, I didn’t make it to the third paragraph before his Porsche Cayenne and Land Rover Defender got as many mentions as his manager. Mayer, it seemed, was making the transition from a man of music and depth to a man of acquisition and status. This set a glum and insincere tone to his art of melody for me from then on.

The dichotomy of John Mayer’s image and his tunes left me a confused fan. I wrestled with this for over a year, feeling silly for taking it too seriously, yet not silly enough to throw him back on my dream-time playlist.

When his latest album, Battle Studies, came out I waited months before buying it. I tiptoed past it in the record store and then would look back, unsure which part of the musician I’d be getting, the contrived rock star or the lyrical wunderkind. In order to avoid last-moment register retreat, I took standing in line out of the equation and bought the album on iTunes by simply pressing “enter.” Alone in my room I played the album once, twice, three times, and afterward I kept thinking, Damn John, you did it again. His music peeled away emotional layers that weigh me down, leaving me lucid and light.

I’ve given up trying to reconcile John Mayer’s social sewage with his art. I won’t claim to know his soul, but I will say that during the past eight years, it seems like sometimes he knows my own. Mayer, in music, has been nothing but good to me.

I now know that is more than I could ever ask for in a musician. Yes, the fame is there. But the music came first; it always does.

“Peaches Christ Superstar” Gets A Revival

Maybe she was inspired by Green Day bringing “American Idiot” to Broadway? Or maybe she’s just the biggest Andrew Lloyd Webber fan ever? Either way, earlier this year electro-rapper Peaches had the genius idea to stage “Peaches Christ Superstar,” a one-woman-show based on the classic musical “Jesus Christ Superstar” featuring her accompanied by pianist Chilly Gonzales, at a Berlin theater. “Peaches will sing all roles including: Jesus, Maria Magdalena, the disciples and the pharisees,” the press release proudly announced. Only there was a big issue—the person who owned the German rights to the show’s music refused to license the songs to her. Evidently, he decided to turn the other cheek and the show went on. Peaches got rave reviews and sold out each and every show during a three-day run in late March. And now lucky Berliners can catch it again. The show is being brought back to the stage, running on May 31st to June 2nd. The teaches of Peaches, indeed. Now if only she’ll bring the musical to the US of A. [Guardian, Peaches Rocks] Keep reading »

Album Drop: This Week’s New Releases, From David Cross To Karen Elson

It’s Tuesday, and you know what that means, folks—new jams! This week, model Karen Elson turns crooner; STP puts out for the first time in almost a decade; David Cross is trying to get even bigger; Marina and the Diamonds carry their piano across the pond; Damien Jurado reps the Seattle sound; and First Aid Kit tries to bruise your heart. So get those head phones on and let’s get into the groove, after the jump! Keep reading »

Rihanna’s “Rockstar 101″ Full Video


You peeped the preview, now check out the full video for Rihanna‘s “Rockstar 101.” It’s rather enjoyable, especially her sexier version of Slash from Guns N’ Roses and the weird “True Blood” Maryann Foster-esque scenes about two-thirds of the way through. Plus, the video is much more exciting and attention-grabbing in black and white, unlike the preview. Oh, and there’s quite a bit of Rihanna rubbing herself and writhing on the floor. Good times, indeed! Keep reading »

Quotable: Lady Gaga Loves That People Think She Has A Penis

“I love the rumor that I have a penis. I’m fascinated by it. In fact, it makes me love my fans even more that this rumor is in the world because 17,000 of them come to an arena every night and they don’t care if I’m a man, a woman, a hermaphrodite, gay, straight, transgendered, or transsexual. They don’t care! They are there for the music and the freedom.”

Lady Gaga weighs in on the rumor that she has a penis to a French TV station [Celebitchy] Keep reading »

Jonas Brothers Trapped And Other Concert Catastrophes!

In what I’m sure would constitute many a tweenager’s wildest dream, the Jonas Brothers were trapped in an elevator for 45 minutes last Saturday after a free outdoor concert. I like to imagine hundreds of girls running from the American Girl doll store in tears, tearing our their hair and screaming for their rescue. There were eight people in the 21-person elevator, including the Bros’ security guard Big Rob, Chef Tim Love, and their photographer, Rob Hoffman, who videotaped the ordeal. When asked who freaked out first, Joe said, “Me and Nick … It went from, ‘Okay, this is hilarious, we’re stuck in an elevator, okay press the button,’ to ‘This is crazy, okay, I can’t breathe, this is insane.’” But Nick insists he only panicked because of his diabetes, “I just didn’t have my [blood-sugar] checker with me. No one had it on them, and I was afraid that if [my blood-sugar level] went low in an elevator we wouldn’t be able to do anything about it.” The fire department eventually rescued the Tiger Beat heartthrobs with axes. [People]

It seems like, despite all the preparations, something always goes wrong at concerts. So we rounded up some concert catastrophes — enjoy! Keep reading »

The Sexiest Album Covers Ever That Came Out Not Sexy

It’s a scientific fact that you’re more likely to buy something if the advertising features someone you’d like to bone, be it a Victoria’s Secret commercial or the cover of a box of sexy, sexy Cheerios.

The recording industry knows this, but sometimes forgets that not every musician is suitable for the role of sexy cover model. So, we get unintentionally hilarious/horrifying results like this one. Read more Keep reading »

Tinie Tempah’s “Frisky” Is The Frisky Anthem

OK, Tinie Tempah’s “Frisky” isn’t the official anthem for The Frisky, but it does say the word “frisky” in it. I’d never heard of Mr. Tempah until today, but apparently he’s a London-born and based rapper and MC whose first big hit was called “Wifey.” He’s also released a series of mixtapes with interesting titles: Hood Economics Room 147: The 80 Minute Course and Sexy Beast: Volume 1. “Frisky” is his second single. It follows on the heels of “Pass Out.” I’m sensing a theme here. Wikipedia describes the “Frisky” track as “Electro-grime, hip hop, drum and bass, dubstep,” but it sounds mostly like your average (or, well, honestly, sub-par) pop-rap to me. Also, they should say “frisky” more. [Vimeo] Keep reading »

Sneak Peek: Rihanna’s New Video For “Rockstar 101″

Here’s 29 seconds from Rihanna‘s soon-to-be-released video for her new song, “Rockstar 101.” Alongside fashion-and-music peers Christina Aguilera and Lady Gaga, Rihanna is rocking the latex look and wears a brilliant scarlet wig. It’s a little bit Thierry Mugler, a little bit Rachael from “Blade Runner,” and not at all ’80s hair band. I think Rihanna is great, and she looks terrific, but I wouldn’t mind seeing her in a music video where she does something other than rub her hands all over herself. Agree? [Just Jared] Keep reading »

Album Drop: This Week’s New Releases, From Reggie Watts To LCD Soundsystem

Oh, baby! This is one of those weeks where there are too many jams and too little time. For starters, Reggie Watts, that sexy beat-makin’ weirdo, finally busts out his first awesome record. Then, LCD Soundsystem’s new tracks are giving us the get-down dance fever. Plus, the Black Keys went all bluesy and badass; Nas and Damian Marley team up for a record of rad rhymes; Janelle Monae goes droid’; Tracey Thorn throws some haterade on marriage; Jamie Lidell changes everything for the better; and Band of Horses debut their first major label record. Now, normally here’s where I tell you to get your headphones on, but I know you did it on your own after that list of tempting new tracks. So, without further blabber, let’s let the tunes speak for themselves, after the jump! Keep reading »

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