About ten years ago, my father, Rick, made the leap from making mixed tapes to burning mixed CDs. Depending on the day or how many cups of coffee he’s had, he calls his “mixed CD production company” Rick Ross Productions or Park Lane Music. He even has an alter ego named Corey who likes to part his hair, wear tight jeans, and listen to syrupy sweet pop music.
About eight years ago, Corey produced his first compilation, a classic mixed CD called “Rick’s Top Pop.” Now, wait. Why did Corey call his CD “Rick’s Top Pop” if it was made by Corey? Excellent question. See, just like Rick has an alter ego, so does Corey. My father is a complicated man. Let it never be said he is not a man of symmetry with a cyclical commitment to the arts. This first album found roots in both my own and my sister’s musical collections. For weeks, our CDs would disappear and then strangely reappear on the bottom step of the staircase, the unofficial spot where items collected, indicating that not only had we left our shit downstairs, but now we had to take it up stairs to our rooms. But why were our CDs down there? Why would the sickly sweet bad pop music that my sister and I had listened to only years before not only been taken out of our rooms, but now lay on the step of doom?
Later we discovered while we were at school, Corey would climb the stairs to our rooms and raided our rooms for “choice nuggets,” as he likes to refer to them.
Now eight years after “Rick’s Top Pop” comes the long awaited follow-up: “Rick’s Top Pop . . . Again.” Only this time, Corey has spread his wings and delved into iTunes to flesh out and explore the regions of pop music to bring us a sinister mix of teeny bop, pop punk, alt country pop, and American Idol.
Track #1: 1985 by Bowling For Soup
I am surprised by this song, which is an excellent way to kickoff the pop compilation. Not only is this a fast and fun song, but it is nostalgic, which is Corey through-and-through.
Track #2: To All the Girls by Aaron Carter
This has to be one of my favorite tracks on the album. Not because I like it, but because Aaron Carter is trying to convince us that a) he has had a really hard life, b) has had a lot of lady friends, and c) wants us to know he likes tank tops and low-rise jeans. Corey and Aaron would make total bff’s.
Track #3: Shutup Shutup by Simple Plan
Simple Plan had a main stay on the original RTP (Rick’s Tip Pop) album and I am glad to see another choice nugget. Nothing says pop like fake punk littered with neutered lyrics and Xanax-ed guitars.
Track #4: According to you by Orianthi
I have no idea who this is. I am thankful Corey discovered iTunes.
Track #5: Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Green Day
Kings of pop punk (along with Blink 182), Green Day still finds a way to remain relevant, which is why I believe Corey added them into this mix early. Corey is saying, “I am a lunatic, but trust me. I am going to take you on a tilt-a-whirl ride of fun and sparkles. Buckle up and enjoy the event.” See, it’s not a show, but an event. This is Corey lingo.
Track #6: Pay You Back with Interest by Mitch Easter
Original pop! Ok, so it’s not the Beatles, but Easter was the original producer of R.E.M. in the early 80’s and here Corey slides us a nugget of pop. And thanks for not putting and R.E.M. on here. I hate R.E.M.
Track #7: Since U Been Gone by A Day to Remember
What a deranged cover of American Idol’s sweetheart! Listen to it once. Then, listen to it again in the car with the windows down and volume up. See how many times strangers peek into your back seat to see if anyone is bound and gagged with duct taped and electrical cord.
Track #8: Sounds of the City by Lucero
I wasn’t sure how “pop” this song is in the context of the other songs in its company. However, that’s the beauty of Corey. he gives us his skewed vision of “pop.” Memphis pop.
Track #9: Use Somebody by Kings of Leon
I, personally, was happy to get a little Kings of Leon, especially this song as it is the song that is always on the radio at 5am when my alarm goes off. I usually hear it and begin to play air drums in bed, waking my wife, only to receive a sharp elbow to the side or a slap to the face. I should know better than to practice my air drums at 5am every morning, but when this songs comes on the speakers, I now know that Corey is out there somewhere dancing under a street lamp as it begins to rain, his arms raised out and up to the sky.
Track #10: You’re Pretty Good Looking (For a Girl):
Corey hits us with a lo-fi recording, about halfway through, reminding us that we have no idea what Corey is thinking. Based on this song, it is confirmed–Corey is mentally disturbed.
Track #11: The Blue by Jason Isbell
Now I may be biased as I think this is just a terrific song and that Jason Isbell is quite possibly one of the best songwriters writing today, but again we are spoon fed a minor chord track of sadness and desperation. Like Lucero covered the Memphis pop, here we have Alabama Pop.
Track #12: Hey, Soul Sister by Train
And with Train we are back in the middle of the middle of pop. Although still, Corey is drawn to the uniqueness of the song with the mandolin introducing and welcoming us down a country-ish road. I hear this track and I can totally see a VH1 morning music video. Nothing says Adult Contemporary like Train. And Kelly Clarkson, of course.
Track #13: White Liar by Miranda Lambert
Another newbie to me, Lambert sounds completely Nashville and definitely pop country. Corey can’t help himself. Corey let’s his alter ego “Rick” shine through more than he should in compilations like this, but we forgive him because we know he has a sick obsession with Kelly Clarkson and we have a double shot right around the corner.
Track #14: Since U Been Gone by Kelly Clarkson
Clearly, Corey has a crush on Clarkson. This the second of two songs on this collection (the third if you count the cover of “Since U Been Gone”). It is a gamble to play the cover first and follow it up with the original, but here it works. We are given the heavy dregs of the song behind tonally-vacant guitars and a male voice, only to get hit with Clarkson’s rendition shortly after. The payoff is not only surprising, but appreciated. Team Clarkson, Corey. Team Clarkson.
Track #15: You Belong with Me by Taylor Swift
You know that when Corey first heard this, he said, “Wait. Kelly? Kelly Clarkson singing country? Really! REALLY!?” But sadly it’s Taylor “Kelly Clarkson-ator” Swift. It ties in a lot of the familiar imagery that we have heard up to this point–sadness, tears, short-shorts, tank tops, misunderstanding, and being scorned.
Track #16: Breakaway by Kelly Clarkson
Corey’s favorite! I picture Corey’s bedroom covered in Clarkson posters, Clarkson magnets, Clarkson foam fingers, Clarkson beer cozies, Clarkson tank tops, Clarkson bedspread, and a Clarkson alarm clock. It is my belief that Corey is Kelly Clarkson’s number one fan.
Track #17: The Captain by Kasey Chambers
This song is about ugliness. Being ugly. Pop, country, rock, and ugly. Thematically it fits with RTPA, but musically strays a bit. Corey’s alter ego, Rick, pops up again.
Track #18: Never Gonna Be Alone by Nickelback
Here we go! The official Tiger Woods band! Nothing says bullshit pop like Nickelback. I picture a smokey bar in Downtown Baltimore on a Wednesday night. A busted ass woman dancing by herself in front of a jukebox and an equally busted man watching from across the room.
Track #19: Worn Me Down by Rachel Yamagata
Now I know for a fact that Rick loves Rachel Yamagata, like, big time. So it’s not entirely surprising to see her make an appearance here. She certainly fits the pop aesthetic, but does seem a bit bland next to the likes of Simple Plan, Nickelback and Train. Or, just better.
Track #20: Bad Romance by Lady GaGa
GaGa! Now I recently received a hardcore GaGa tutorial and education from my wife. I actually like most of her music, but don’t fully get it. Now as I see it, she is pop. But next to her RTPA mates, he destroys the competition with the except of Corey’s girlfriend, Kelly Clarkson.
Track #21: Naturally by Selena Gomez & The Scene
I am disappointed with the last track here. I feel lifted by the GaGa and then let down by what followed. For future compilations, Corey should cut the 21 track and end on GaGa’s classic.