by Kelly Clarkson
Over a month after it leapfrogged from 97 to 1 on the Billboard charts, I still don't like Kelly Clarkson's "My Life Would Suck Without You"—which is not the same thing as saying I'm immune to it. Damn thing gets in my head for absolutely no reason at all; if anything, it's more dynamic than the song it rips off, "Since U Been Gone." But I don't enjoy having "Suck" there, and I don't care for her new album, either. But "I Do Not Hook Up," the hardest-rocking teenage-abstinence anthem in history—this I love. "Baby, put the bottle down" is the offhanded, and hence alarming, first line; the title phrase says it, means it, stamps it, sends it, and she caps it when she hollers, "I go slow!" Not on this song she doesn't. The "ah-oh, ah-oh" on the chorus induces flashing images of pom-pom girls wearing chastity belts. Absolute kicker and/or evidence that the world is turning upside down: The song's writer is none other than one of my least favorite pop personages, Katy Perry.
(A&M/Octone and mixtape)
I like this guy a lot, which isn't to say I always feel the same way about his music: I find Troubadour spottier than I'd prefer, though parts of it are fantastic. It gets no better than its lead track, "T.I.A.," which stands for "This Is Africa," something its booming drum track evokes precisely, even though the central sample is from "Simmer Down," Bob Marley's first hit with the Wailers, and the track itself sounds like it could have come from any number of (American) producers' labs.
Before Troubadour's release, K'naan commissioned K-Salaam & Beatnick to put together a promo mixtape, You Can't Buy This, which I found on the freebie windowsill at the Capitol Hill Sonic Boom some weeks ago. The easy highlight is "Kicked Pushed," which utilizes the music from the Lupe Fiasco hit you think it does, and recounts an attack on K'naan and a companion by racist skinheads following a concert in Göteborg, Sweden: "When the cops showed up, I felt a little at ease/Although to be honest, I don't trust the police (yep)/But I thought this was Sweden/Progressive liberal vegans/Religiously tolerant, even/Plus the evidence is breathing/A black man on the ground, bleeding/What else could they be needing to take these criminals to the precinct?" There is, of course, a lot more.