Here is some of the music “post-irony” has opened my eyes to.
2. Adele, “Someone Like You.” I love this song because it’s absolutely vicious. Do you honestly believe she only wishes her former man the best? Not a chance--if she had the chance she would rip him limb from limb, and after accepting the inevitability that her love is gone forever, the best she can do to keep herself happy is be happy for him. That rage permeates Adele’s vocal to the extent that just writing about it makes me want to throw a chair out a window.
3. Port Blue. Though the go-to comparison for Adam Young's Owl City project is usually the Postal Service, there’s also a lot of downtempo and ambient music in his work--parts of the first few Owl City albums could pass for early Ulrich Schnauss or even Boards of Canada circa The Campfire Headphase. His early work as Port Blue is infinitely more satisfying than anything Owl City’s put out, allowing his interest in quality ambient to shine. Though I first listened to Port Blue’s Albatross EP because it was curiously listenable compared to bottomlessly awful songs like “Fireflies,” it’s since become one of my go-to ambient albums.
4. Justin Bieber, Believe. You heard that right. Justin Bieber, the epitome of everything wrong with music according to a hundred million Led Zeppelin fans with YouTube accounts. I’ve sat through My World and Believe just on a lark; neither are great, but at their worst they're more mediocre than terrible, and the latter is actually a pretty good pop album--at least in the mid-sixes if I were to think like Pitchfork. Bieber sounds thoroughly sincere, and the production sounds like the work of people who know they’re working with Justin fucking Bieber and that they’d better make it count.
5. Ke$ha. Unlike the other artists on this list, Ke$ha took her time to grow on me. I used to think of her as a second-rate American Uffie ripoff, but I soon realized that while Uffie does a lot of things not that well, Ke$ha does one thing extremely well, and that one thing is being Ke$ha. I can’t think of another pop star with such a clearly defined personality, nor one who exploits it so effectively. I even feel a bit violated when I listen to her music--something I can only say about a handful of artists, including Danny Brown and Exile-era Stones--and a lot more than you can say about Rihanna’s Talk That Talk, which VH1 proclaimed “the dirtiest pop album since Madonna's Erotica.”
6. LMFAO, “Sexy And I Know It.” I don’t like this song much (well, I’m neutral on it--wouldn’t put it on my iPod, but I can certainly dance to it), but it has one moment of absolute production genius. During the brief moment after the buildup when Redfoo intones “I’m sexy and I know it,” a sample of a drum fill briefly flits across the background. It’s the sound of jizz spilling after a climax, and it’s so perfectly in place it makes me laugh out loud every time I hear it.