Tonight is Z100’s Jingle Ball — headlined by Lady Gaga! with a set by Kelly Clarkson! — and the top-40 station’s annual celebration of its playlist’s biggest stars will be co-hosted by the duo Karmin, a pair of Berklee-educated musicians from Boston who rose to prominence earlier this year with a competent, semi-serious cover of “Look At Me Now.” As you might expect, the “white people performing a self-consciously jokey version of an urban hit” trope was a big hit among those who read the Internet, and Karmin even honored the social-news site Reddit for its support in the video for its cover of Lil Wayne’s “6’7′.” (This comment on that clip has 60 “likes”: “u turn shit in to music.” Hooray!) Earlier this fall they released their first major-label single, the Black Sheep-sampling attention-hog dis “Crash Your Party,” and, well… imagine a boot covered in pictures of Pomplamoose and Jessie J and the band that white-boy covered “Boyz N The Hood” a few years back stomping on a human face. Forever. Six specific problems with it after the jump.
1. Amy Heidemann’s voice. And here I thought the failed British import Jessie J was going to have the most aggressively barky vocal style to come to prominence in 2011. Nope! Heidemann’s toasting on the lite-reggae, despite her alto-ish register, clangs against my eardrums the same way that nails being scratched down a chalkboard do — the smugness in particular grates, if only because it’s so goddamn audible.
2. The rhyme in the chorus. I get that Karmin is trying to be as all-things-to-all-people as possible. The blandness of their music, their attempts to make “serious” that what is seen as trivial by people who consider themselves to have Good Taste In Music, their shoutouts to Reddit — all are ways of saying, “Like us, please! And not just on Facebook!” So of course their songs will be Kidz Bop-ready, with any obscenities being bleeped out as a matter of course. But here’s the chorus, which Heidemann bleats out in a sort of patois:
Who do you think you are, a super S-T-A-R?
Who do you think you are, you can kiss my oh my gah!
Like, is “oh my gah” new slang for an anatomical part? The censoring-oneself joke doesn’t even make sense here!
3. “KAR•MIN [car-men] — noun, in Latin meaning ‘song,’ with altered spelling to hint ‘karma’.” The only thing I can say to this, because my brain is still somewhat melting from listening to Heidemann’s rapping (more on that in a sec), is “Shut up, college.”
4. “Mister TMZ” is considered a choice insult. Please tell me this won’t result in “Crash Your Party” being thrown into some sort of 2011 time capsule, unless that capsule is labeled Things That Epitomize The Worst Aspects Of 2011 Quite Neatly, Which Is Why We’re Throwing This Into A Really Deep Part Of An Ocean. (You’d think such students of current hip-hop would come up with better disses!)
5. The sub-Dr. Luke songwriting. I honestly never thought I was going to want to hear Jessie J’s awful ode to keeping it real “Price Tag” again, but the damn thing sounds like a masterpiece next to this pile of garbage and fronting. Kudos to Dr. Luke for realizing the difference between using a pop formula and running over to a Xerox machine.
6. The rapping. It’s like an Internet joke gone retroviral, a train flying off the tracks to the delight of people who think every tragedy is an opportunity for LOLZ. I’m going to eventually devolve into smashing on my keyboard here, so infuriating is it, so I’ll defer to SOTC hip-hop correspondent Jeff Rosenthal for the last word here.
It was brought to my attention that Karmin is being referred to as ‘swag pop’, which makes me think that:
No one knows how to use the word ‘swag’;
Everyone needs to stop using the word ‘swag’.
Amen, Jeff. Amen.
Z100 Jingle Ball, with Lady Gaga, David Guetta, Foster The People, LMFAO, Pitbull, Kelly Clarkson, Demi Lovato, Gym Class Heroes, and Hot Chelle Rae — and hosted by Karmin and a Kardashian — is at Madison Square Garden tonight.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 9, 2011