If you went down to B & Q or other similar DIY store today to buy some paint to redecorate your bedroom and found that because it was the biggest seller B & Q had decided that from now on they would only be stocking magnolia you’d probably be pretty pissed off, right? It’s a bit like that with a hell of a lot of mainstream pop music right now. It’s colourless, very bland and all the f*ckin’ same - because that seems to be what sells. Now of course the argument is that mainstream pop is always that way, that’s what makes it mainstream, but to my ears the variety that there used to be has been flushed down the drain.
I could probably write a thesis on the reasons for this rapid dilution of pop but we’re all busy people, so for now here’s just one factor that I believe is to blame: Production. In the past pop has always concerned itself with songs. You know, the basic stuff such as interesting melodies that distance themselves from the verses. But now it seems that the production is more important. Mainstream pop music now seems to be full of meandering flavourless identikit tunes (Drake, one of the biggest stars in the world is the biggest exponent of this) that forget that a big proper chorus with a great melody is a grand thing. Love him or hate him, it's probably one of the reasons why Ed Sheeran is so popular - first and foremost with his material comes the song, not the production.
Which brings me to Naaz. She’s already impressed with her delightful ditty Words (here) and now she has done it again with Up To Something. It only takes about 20 seconds to get to a hooky pre-chorus and from there on the whole thing just sticks. Sure, it’s simple, but that’s so much better than a song being overloaded with ‘clever’ production. It’s the same as so called ‘good’ writers who use a thesaurus to find the most complex words possible and use six sentences to express something that could be said in 5 simply understood words. (No comments about this blog post please!) This is mainstream pop done well, with a simple personal commentary thrown in: “I don’t want to hurt them, but this is who I am. Chasing ambition making my own mistakes,” which no doubt refers to Naaz’s Kurdish background and the conflict with her parents about pursuing a career in music, which is detailed in the video with a scene of her sitting to eat with other Kurdish people, taking a break from running around a sterile white building.
Naaz - Up To Something (Video)