Maggie’s Music Hot Takes

Get ready to set your records a-light when you hear these spicy takes.

Get ready to set your records a-light when you hear these spicy takes.

Maggie Bonfiglio, Team Editor A

Ah, pop music. The cornerstone of our society, the universal language, one of the greatest joys of living. Well, today I’m going to ruin all that. I’m here to tell you why all your favorites are bad, and your opinions are wrong. Just kidding, these are only my personal opinions and should be taken with a grain of salt. Without further ado (and in no particular order) here are my musical hot takes.

  1. Thomas Dolby is the most underrated artist of all time

Being an 80s one-hit-wonder is often considered a curse. It implies you could write a catchy tune, but you weren’t good enough to hit the big time. Thomas Dolby proves that all wrong. He got famous for his hit song “She Blinded Me with Science (1982)” but that’s not the only trick up his sleeve. “Airwaves” and “One of Our Submarines” are must-listens but all of his work is a fun new wave ride. He made synth cool, invented the Nokia ring tone, and created 8 albums (one of which has its own video game.) I would recommend listening to “The Golden Age of Wireless”, “The Flat Earth”, and “Aliens Ate My Buick” as every song on there is a quirky, dorky masterpiece of 80s cheese. This guy is just so cool. He played the villain in an 80s movie called Rockula, was one of the pioneers of synth (back when they were machines the size of stage), and worked on the Muppets, Ferngully, and Howard the Duck. Thomas Dolby continues to make nerds (science, music, history, pulp fiction) cool!

Thomas Dolby, underrated pioneer of nerd rock, in Rockula.  Photo courtesy of IMDb

2. Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge is the Best My Chemical Romance Album

This is pretty self-explanatory. Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge > The Black Parade. Many people rave and rave about The Black Parade and only consider that album when talking about MCR. My Chemical Romance blew it out of the water for both of these stellar albums but Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge stays consistently great on repeat listens (“The Ghost Of You”, “Give Em’ Hell, Kid”, “Cemetery Drive”) while Black Parade rides off its opening track. Not that the songs on Black Parade aren’t all good, they just aren’t all great. 

3. Pearl Jam Type Grunge < Nirvana Type Grunge

It’s common knowledge among my family and friends that I’m a huge Nirvana fan. Yet, every time I say that everyone is like “Pearl Jam is better” or “You can’t compare Nirvana and Pearl Jam, they are too different!” That is precisely the problem! Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Smashing Pumpkins, Stone Temple Pilots, basically, all of 90s Grunge (yes even Hole), is better than bands like Sublime and Pearl Jam. Pearl Jam sounds like millennial beach rock, like Bud Light Lime-a-Ritas and Beach Boys’ Summer in Paradise (why were the Beach Boys still making music in the 90s???) They are just boring! Where are the hooks? It’s never catchy or fun just meandering and unimaginative. I mean they birthed Nickelback!

4. It’s Ok for Music to Just Be Fun

Recently, I was scrolling through Tik Tok and a girl posted a video of her singing, classic white girl with a ukulele. The thing about this video was that the lyrics were perfect. Poetic prose layered with deep subtext. Yet… I still didn’t like the music. Same four chords we’ve heard a thousand times on one instrument with no special singing nor flair of any kind. That’s when I realized music has to have that je ne sais quoi. You can write beautiful lyrics that go on and on about the horrors of our world, but that will get boring even for the most melancholy music fan. It’s ok for music to have no deeper subtext. Beastie Boys, Mommy Long Legs, or early Will Smith, for example, are so much fun and they never dig too deep. 

5. Spoken Word Would be Better if We Put A Beat to It

Frankly, it feels like spoken word poetry is rap with no beat or fun. Put a beat on it! It won’t kill you! This may be too scolding of a hot take, but it almost seems like they are avoiding being regarded as rappers because rap is stereotyped for being all about money, drugs, and girls when it’s not! Which honestly can be traced back to prejudice for a traditionally African American-dominated genre.

6. You Should Listen to the Cardigans

The Cardigans are a one-hit-wonder. Does anyone remember the classic ‘Lovefool” 1996? Nina Persson’s sad, sweet voice sings “Love me, Love me, say that you love me.” Yet, they deserve way more credit for the rest of their discography. The band is from late 90s Sweden, so many of their songs feel like Lovefool. A soft, wistful version of the classic Eurovision sound. They also have songs with a little edge (Hanging Around, My Favorite Game, and I Need Some Fine Wine And You, You Need to be Nicer) which you can rock out to. Not to mention their AMAZING covers of classic rock songs twisted into euro-pop

The Cardigans ruled the 90s, and they should rule your playlist now. Photo courtesy of Nostalgia Central

7. K-Pop is (mostly) a Good Thing

I applaud any foreign music getting big in the United States as it’s always fun. A diverse “melting pot” culture is what makes the US great. Plus, the technology K-Pop brings is amazing! How they switch on stage from pre-recorded voices to their live voices, the dancing choreography, the over-produced music videos, the improved use of pitch correction (Auto-tune). K-Pop is pushing the music industry into the future and doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. The one thing I’m a little iffy about is the fans. They are notorious for being very aggressive on Twitter or other social media sites if you aren’t head over heels for their bias (their favorite member of a group.) In the West, some fans can go too far, fetishizing Asian men and women and even stalking and harassing them. They also seem to harbor this little habit of playing a song over and over even with the sound off (or while they are sleeping) so the charts get confused and put certain K-pop songs higher than they normally would be. You know, if you wanted to help your favorite creators out, you wouldn’t do that because now whenever a K-pop song is big people think it was just the fans messing with the analytics.

Not to mention the industry is extremely toxic. It’s a competitive environment where potential idols (12-13 years old) have extreme pressure put on them to achieve a spot in a group. Both guys and girls are forced into eating disorders and painful plastic surgery. “Honestly, we don’t have much time for eating,” said Ho Ryeong member of Great Guys. “Nor are we free to eat what we want.” 

Youtube has thousands of videos of idols passing out onstage (clip), overworked to the point they get barely any time to rest. Many less popular stars make little pay and for some of the more shady companies, it’s almost slave labor. These idols are over-sexualized, overworked, and on diets that can’t sustain their insane schedules. Some of them have no time to spend with family or date (and some agencies will kick you out for even trying.) “We even needed to give our phones to the [record] company,” said Way a former member of Crayon Pop. “We could hardly meet even our close relatives.”

8. Mitski is Timeless

Mitski is a Japanese American, indie rock artist who debuted in 2012. This may be a bit of an overstatement but I wholeheartedly believe that when every other pop song on the radio is dead and gone, the future will be listening to her powerful voice. Her poetic lyrics and beautiful vocals are the very embodiment of sadness. I’ve never heard songs that can show emotion or sound like poetry like hers. When I was getting tested for ADHD the rooms next door were a therapist’s office and I could hear everything they said through the vents. The poor man was talking about his divorce and the custody battle between his wife and three kids. Mitski is like being a fly on the wall while someone tears themself open and bleeds their emotions out. “Francis Forever” would be the perfect anthem for the father struggling with missing the good old days. The wife may relate to shriveling in the shadow of her husband from “Me and My Husband” or the fear of growing old in “Liquid Smooth”. Maybe the children would relate to the loneliness of “Nobody”. Everyone has a soundtrack to their sadness with Mitski.

Mitski is “Your Best American Girl’. Photo courtesy of Courtney Emery

9. Nicki Minaj is an awful person

I don’t listen to artists based on how good of a person they are. Of course, if someone does something especially awful I’m gonna take them off my playlist but to be honest I’ve always liked Nicki Minaj‘s music. It’s not exactly high art but it’s fun, catchy and she oozes so much confidence you can’t help but kind of feel it yourself. That confidence though is maybe the only good quality I can say about her (other than her rapping skills).

Her husband is a sex offender who is also charged with manslaughter. The victim of his assault was also allegedly harassed by Nikki herself to try and intimidate her into dropping charges.

She frequently works with predators like 6ix9ine. She did a rap verse and music video shoot when he got out of jail early because of Covid. Yet, she has a habit of not showing up to other artists’ music video shoots (just watch Alicia Keys’ This Girl Is On Fire and you’ll see she’s recording from a separate room). Guess your “BFF from Brooklyn” is more important than your BFFs without sex offender status. She came out as bisexual just to admit later it was for attention, then mention it in a guest rap verse for Doja Cat like it was some cute, quirky trait. She is notoriously catty with other women. Let’s not forget her insanely cringey anti-vaccine tweet. I can’t repeat it here but seriously look it up. God, that is the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever seen and a gross message to put out to her 23.2 million Twitter followers.

File:Christopher Macsurak Nicki Minaj cropped.jpg
Nicki Minaj wearing an outfit as ridiculous as her opinions. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

10. Pop Punk is pretty mediocre but it’s a good gateway 

Most 2000s pop-punk other than outliers like My Chemical Romance, Green Day, and early Fall Out Boy is pretty mediocre, the same four chords with the same snotty and frankly misogynistic lyrics about how girls are too stuck up for our little punk boy lead who absolutely cannot sing even if his life depended on it. Even with all that misogyny they still cannot even find a hint of edge to save their lives. They make songs a soccer mom will blast in her minivan as she tries to tune out her kids’ screaming. I still miss Warped tour, mostly because all those little emo middle schoolers are now music fans with quality taste because pop-punk was training wheels on the bike that is rock music over the past 50 years. The first time I started really listening to music was the cheese-fest “Duality” by “Set It Off.” They might be the poppiest pop “punk” ever but they lead me into the holy land that is real punk.

P.S Blink 182 is part of that mix of bad pop-punk. They have like two good songs if you stretch the definition of “good”.

11. Courtney Love Is the Amber Heard of the 90s

She abandoned her kid for drugs. She fights other women for no reason, stole Kathleen Hanna’s style, and abused Kurt Cobain. Not to mention, she is drowning in her racism and anti-LGBT rhetoric. She asked a black fan “Do you really like rock?” and called the Foo Fighters Gay. She has even said the n-word on stage! She is a poser in every sense of the word.

File:Life Ball 2014 Courtney Love Crop.png
Courtney Love in her famous role as the world’s biggest poser.

Lastly, I just want to name some popular bands/artists I don’t like because they are too corporate. Nowadays, to make money if you’re not Taylor Swift or already a billionaire you kinda have to sell out. Spotify pays peanuts and live shows often barely cover the cost of touring itself. Still, there’s a line and these bands cross it. Whenever I hear their songs I think of iPhones spinning on a white background and people with too-white teeth drinking Coke.

The Chain Smokers

Maroon 5

Imagine Dragons

New Fall Out Boy

New Panic at the Disco

They make marketing jingles, not art.