“Jumpman” by Drake and Future

I have to admit, of all the trends in modern Pop music, I never expected the fragmented, repetitive hook to be elevated into an actual legitimate artistic technique. I suppose I shouldn’t have been so surprised, since Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” had already done basically the same thing as far back as 2008, but it took so many years for anyone to follow suit that I had just assumed it was never going to happen. Like most of Future’s work, this song features fairly empty, generic lyrics, but in this particular subgenre of Rap the lyrics are irrelevant anyway. The vocals just serve as a component of the song’s hypnotic rhythm, and the haunting atmosphere this creates puts this way ahead of any of the standard-issue Nu-Crunk/Vine Rap hits, confirming that Future (and his peers like Young Thug, Travis Scott and Post Malone) is in a completely different genre from acts like T-Wayne or O.T. Genasis. A few less-than-stellar featured credits notwithstanding, this was the first real Future song to really take off as a major hit, and while that may be partly because of Drake’s presence, Drake basically took on Future’s sound and style for the duration of the collaborative mixtape from which this song is derived. So this is still essentially Future’s song, and it seems as good a choice as any to launch him into the Top Forty.

Verdict: Good.

“Jordan, Minnesota” by Big Black

This song offends a lot of people, and frankly I can understand their position. The lyrics are a cheap attempt at shock value in the vein of the crasser Death Metal acts like Cannibal Corpse; this song predates most of them, but that only makes it worse, as it seems to have served as an influence. The subject is pedophilia, but not an honest if melodramatic treatment of the issue like Korn’s “Daddy”…no, this one clearly exists purely for shock purposes, falling somewhere between the Who’s “Fiddle About” and Eminem’s “Insane” on the scale of disgusting songs about this subject. However, unlike most of the acts that resort to these kinds of lyrics, this song features genuinely fascinating music. Big Black were known for synthesizing an extremely daring mix of Hardcore Punk, Noise Music and early Industrial influences into an abrasive but fascinating new sound. It was utterly unique at the time they debuted, and even now, after they had a major hand in pioneering the Industrial Music and Indie Noise-Rock genres, influencing everyone from Nine Inch Nails to Sonic Youth, their music still sounds fresh and distinctive to the modern ear. As reprehensible as the lyrics are, the music is so interesting that I can’t really dismiss this song or the band it comes from, not only because of their historical importance but because they made genuinely valid and important music in their own right.

Verdict: The lyric is indeed terrible, but the music really is good enough to make up for it.

“Animals” by Martin Garrix

This attempt to combine modern club music with minimalist technique is…misguided, to say the least. Granted, Minimalist Techno has a respectable legacy, having produced some fascinating artists like Ricardo Villalobos, but it is a genre that relies on subtlety and sophistication for its appeal, and does not lend itself to being watered down into a pop-friendly form. This incredibly repetitive brainslug of an instrumental gets tedious within the first few seconds, and becomes downright intolerable by end of its five minute running time.

Verdict: Bad.