Thursday, August 8, 2013

HateSong


The other day I stumbled upon a series the A.V. Club is doing called HateSong. Essentially, the website invited writers, comedians, and musicians to contribute little blurbs about a song they hate and why. There was a piece on "Thrift Shop" by a father who dislikes the song because it has inspired some awkward questions from his children; one about "Semi-Charmed Life" by a music producer who had an unpleasant personal encounter with Third Eye Blind; and one concerning Katy Perry's "Firework" by a comedian who, well, just seems to hate everything.

Don't listen to that mean man, Katy
I don't dislike any of those songs. I liked "Thrift Shop" fine the first 200 times I heard it. I think Third Eye Blind is actually an underrated band and singling out all the subtle drug references in "Semi-Charmed Life" is a favorite pastime of mine. And don't get me started on Katy Perry -- anyone who knows me will tell you I have a great affinity for all things Teenage Dream, including "Firework." Still, it was fun reading about why these guys hated these songs and it got me thinking about what my HateSong might be.

Not a fan of the 80s. Believe it.
I toyed with the idea of picking John Mayer's "Your Body Is a Wonderland," but I decided I like some of his other stuff enough to where I didn't want to do that. I also thought about "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey, but that might incite a riot from the millions of people who only know the first few lines of the song and sing it loudly then taper off until it gets to the part about cheap perfume, then taper off again love the song. I could pick just about any country song, but I would have a hard time picking just one and anyway, this isn't HateGenre, it's HateSong. Finally, I settled on the offender:

"Bleeding Love" by Leona Lewis

I went big and picked the #1 single of 2008 as my HateSong. I think many of the songs we end up hating are ones that we liked to some degree initially, but grew old as we heard them too often. This isn't the case with Bleeding Love -- I never liked it. I'm not exactly sure what it is about the song that rubs me the wrong way, but it does. Maybe it's the constant bleeding or the overexposure or the alliteration of the artist's name -- who knows? Maybe if I break it down, I can make like Summer Sanders and figure it out.
Maybe it's the lyrics. Bleeding love -- what does that even mean? I don't think it's a good idea to bleed anything, even something as pleasant and reputable as love. And when you are bleeding, it's probably a good idea to close the wound, not sing about it... repeatedly. Still, lots of song lyrics don't really make sense. Jimmy Eat World has a song about bleeding ("Bleed American") and I like it despite its ambiguous, blood-related lyrics, so it's not that.

Maybe it's the singing. I'm not the biggest expert on pitch and tone and all that stuff the American Idol judges are always harping on, but it seems to me that Leona Lewis is a pretty talented singer. Just in case, I googled here (wow, that feels dirty when you type it) and it turns out that she won the UK version of The X-Factor, so I guess that eliminates any doubts of her talent. (I also found out that she's black, which worries me. I wouldn't want anyone to think this is a HateSong Crime.)

Maybe it's associative. Maybe I was in a bad mood the first time I heard the song and I dislike it because I associate it with that memory. Sadly, I don't remember when I first heard Bleeding Love and can't relate it to any bad time in particular. I guess we'll never know -- unless I can get my hands on a time machine and go back in time to the first time I heard the song. Of course, I could also use the time machine to prevent the song from ever happening-- and to warn myself not to draft Ryan Braun in the first round of fantasy baseball this past year.

The McClincher
So what is it about Bleeding Love that makes me turn the station every time it comes on the radio? It's not the singer, it's not the lyrics, it's not association. Is it possible to just not like something for no reason at all? Maybe. But I decided to resort once again to Google, this time to look up the song itself. That's when I saw it: the reason I hate the song.

Jesse McCartney.

I can't believe that kid and his beautiful soul being are responsible for one of the biggest hits of the last decade. You're already a famous, good-looking singer and actor, you don't get to be talented too. I think, on some level, I could tell Jesse McCartney wrote Bleeding Love... and I think maybe that's why I hate it. Regardless, Bleeding Love will forever be on my bad side -- and never on a single one of my mixtapes.