I really want to do more SF-themed posts, but when I’m out of the city (and out of the country), it’s difficult to think of good topics. If you want more SF entries, please send my boss a letter asking him to bring me home. Instead, this week, I’m going to rant about the sorry state of music today, in particular, the music played in clubs, and in more particular (if that makes sense), the music played in clubs in Tokyo, which is the same music that was played in clubs in the states 2-3 years ago (from what I’ve been told). But hey, give them some credit, they finally pulled Usher’s “Yeah Yeah” out of heavy rotation, after a 7-year run. This is actually my only exposure to this entire genre of music—back home, I don’t ever go to clubs where they play poppy contemporary crap. Don’t get me wrong, I like going dancing—I love me some Soul Night at Elbo Room and 1984 at Cat Club is an occasional indulgence—but I’ve never actually been to Double Dutch or Ruby Skye or any of these places. I actually think that the last time I regularly went to clubs that played club anthems was when I was 18 years old and living in Israel, and the biggest hits were Eiffel 65’s “Blue” and Wamdue Project’s “King of My Castle”. Oh man, when “King of My Castle” came on, all of the Russian dudes would get in line and do this crazy awesome Russian dance. Remind me to show you sometime when I’m drunk.
When I go out in Tokyo, I normally like to see my DJ friends spin or go to Elbo Room-ish types of places until the break-a break-a dawn. However, after hours of being in such environments that are interesting musically, I will most likely have to back home. On the way back to my hotel, I will inevitably stop for kebab at the Turkish place around the corner, and then I’ll have to swing into Vibration Bar for one last drink. Actually, that’s not quite how it works. The usual progression is that I buy a kebab, wolf it down in 10 seconds, then start to stumble home when a big Nigerian dude grabs my arm and asks if I want to go to Ultimate, a gentleman’s club on the second floor, above the Spaghetti shop. When I decline, he asks if I want to go to a normal bar to get a drink, and I say okay and he points me down the stairs to Vibration Bar, promising that he’ll take me to Ultimate afterwards. I still have yet to go to Ultimate, but I’ve been to Vibration Bar way too many times. I usually only stay for a drink or two, although occasionally I’ll stick around a bit longer to see what unfolds. I’m quite embarrassed to say that all of the staff there, from the bartenders to the waitresses to the bouncers, know who I am.
And what kind of place is Vibration Bar?
Here’s what you have to understand about the bars of Roppongi—they’re all kind of the same: meat markets for foreign men and the Japanese women who love them. Gaspanic is the most famous and the dirtiest—so dirty, in fact, that I won’t even step inside. Muse tries to pretend that it’s a bit nicer, and Vanity is the more Hollywood-style club (read: bankers and gold-diggers), but in the end the general theme is the same: you’ve got one night in Tokyo, you don’t speak a word of Japanese, and you’re hoping to get laid—here’s where you go.
Vibration Bar is no different, but it attracts a special subset. One of the first times I went there, I met a zaftig young German lass named Marie, a regular who showed me the ropes as we knocked down 900 yen bottles of Asahi. Try to imagine her saying this in a cute German accent (first, try to imagine what a “cute German accent” sounds like): “So look J, here is how Vibration Bar works. Over on this side of the room, we have big African men, from Nigeria and Ghana. And over here, we have American military boys. In the middle, we have what I call the ‘Burger Girls’.”
“Why do you call them the Burger Girls?”
“Well you see, although they like the African men and the military men, the true goal is to get the military men of African descent. They are worth the most points.”
“Like a Venn Diagram?”
“Exactly. But since black guys like girls with big butts, and the girls are all Japanese, they know they can’t compete with me. So they go to McDonalds and eat a lot of burgers because they want to make their butts bigger, but it doesn’t work, so all the big black American men who like big butts come to Marie!”
I guess I probably should have warned you in advance that this post is not very PC. I’ll also give the general disclaimer that nothing Marie said or says in the future reflects the opinions of this blog. Anyway, after a little while, a group of 3 black Navy dudes came in. Marie hopped up and said, “Oh good, now I will go fishing!” She walked up to the tallest of the 3 (he was huge, I’d say about 6’8”, and by the way Marie is 5’3” at most), and pulled on his shoulder. He bent down and she said something into his ear. His head popped up and he started laughing. Then she grabbed his shoulder again and yanked his head down to hers, and again said something into his ear. This time he pulled his head up more slowly, and then Marie took him by the hand and started walking him out of the club. The dude stopped into the bathroom on the way out, so she came back to say goodbye to me.
“What just happened?” I asked.
“First, I told him he was hot,” Marie replied. “Then I told him we were going back to my place. Now we’re gonna go back to my place to fuck.” DAYUM! Really ladies, is it that easy?
But this post isn’t about Marie—it’s about the music I was listening to when talking with her. As I noted before, this was my first exposure to “club music” in about 12 years, and I gotta say, it sucks. It sucks HARD, and I’ve compiled a list of the suckiest sucks of all, just so you can understand the agony I suffer through these days. Keep in mind that Japan is a couple of years behind, but also remember that even though this music isn’t all new, it’s all new to me. Without further ado, I present, coming from you live from Vibration Bar’s DJ Scratch, or as I like to call him, “DJ Now That’s What I Call Music Volume 38”:
THE TOP 10 CRAPPIEST CLUB ANTHEMS PLAYING IN ROPPONGI TODAY
10. LFMAO – “Shots”
The good news is Li’l John is still relevant in Roppongi, even without “Yeah Yeah”. The bad news is…Li’L John is still relevant. I can just imagine the session with the producers: “Hey guys, do college kids still like getting intoxicated and having sex? And do they still like saying ‘fuck’? I got it! I’m fucked up…and I’m trying to fuck! Er, tryin’—tryin’ to fuck!” The worst part is that when they play this one in Vibration Bar, everybody gets excited and actually orders shots. Fucking sheeple.
9. Taio Cruz – Break Your Heart
Can somebody please explain to me how “R&B”, which stands for “rhythm and blues,” went from Joe Turner and Chuck Berry and Elvis and Otis Redding to this:
Okay, I actually just watched the video for the first time. My G-d that girl is hot. It almost makes me forget how much this song sucks. Almost.
8. Wiz Khalifa – Black and Yellow
Marie told me that this song was about romance in Vibration Bar, and I believed her, although I thought that I probably would have heard some uproar about a song that blatantly racist. About a month later my friend told me that it’s actually about a football team.
I’m sorry, that’s bullshit. There’s only one good rap song about a football team out there, and I think we all know what it is.
7. J-Lo – On the Floor
I went to Vibration Bar a while ago with a Brazilian friend and when this song came on he pointed out how it’s actually a remake of an old Brazilian song. But little did he know that the Brazilian song was actually a remake of a Portuguese song, which in turn was a remake of a Bolivian song (with pan flutes and all), and somewhere in between then and now there was an Indian version too. Check it out. And then there’s J-Lo:
Meh. A so-so remake at best. Frankly, my thoughts on her version are similar to my thoughts on most everything in life: if there’s no pan flute involved, I’m simply not interested.
6. Black Eyed Peas – Time (Dirty Bit)
Let me say, for the record, that I have always thought that Black Eyed Peas sucked, even before the whole Superbowl debacle. Their special brand of “positive dance rap” or whatever you want to call it has always made me nauseated, from “Where is the Love?” to “My Humps” (although my brother-in-law does a really hilarious version of that one in karaoke) to this newest bit of fluff and drivel, which ruins one of the greatest cinematic themes of all time. Honestly, hearing somebody say that she’s had the time of her life used to make me think totally heterosexual thoughts about Patrick Swayze (may he rest in peace), but now it makes me think of—Fergie? Hey—don’t phunk with my heart!
5. Afrojack ft. Eva Simons– Take Over Control
About a month ago I went to Vibration Bar and this song came on (as it always does), and this one girl started dancing. Now, this girl had already been grooving on the dance floor—clearly she had more dancing ability than your average Japanese girl (and I was later informed that she was actually Taiwanese, if that makes a difference), but when this song came on, she just exploded into the most incredibly powerful, raw, sexual display of rhythmic gyration that I or any other male in the place had ever seen in our lives. Nigerians, navy boys, Jewish lawyer, all of us stopped whatever we were doing, put down our drinks, and allowed ourselves to me mesmerized by this modern-day dance of the seven veils. I don’t think there’s a male who was in the club that night who hasn’t…uh…thought about that dance many, many times since then.
As a result, I had this damn song stuck in my head for a week.
This is what passes for dance music in the year 2012 (actual year of release: 2009). We need another “Blue Monday”.
4. Cali Swag District – Teach Me How to Dougie
So I just watched the video of this for the first time, and I realized that “the Dougie” is sort of an actual dance—it’s basically what the dude from Jamiroquai was doing 14 years ago, where he kind of danced like he had no bones. This is weird to me, because when this song comes on at Vibration Bar, all of the girls put their hands on the tables, stick their butts out, and move their hips in an inviting way, as if making their asses into targets against which men can rub their crotches, which is usually what happens. Remember how, in middle school dances, boys and girls used to “freak”, which was about as close as some of us would get to sex for quite some time? Well at some point in the past 17 years (Christ we’re old) since we graduated from middle school, doggy-style has become the official “freaking” position. And in Roppongi, this song has become the doggy-style freak anthem. And it sucks.
Teach me how to jam my ass into your crotch, teach me teach me how to jam my ass into your crotch…
3. Jay-Z and Kanye – Ninjas in Paris
If you ask me, hip-hop died with Tupac and Biggie. I know you love Jay-Z, and I guess I can respect him, but he’s just not my thing (except that album he did with the Beatles). Kanye is just incredibly irritating—can we all agree on that?—although his cameo on Southpark was brilliant. I don’t understand the appeal to this song in a club setting—it’s not all that danceable, the beat is just annoying, and you can’t really sing along. In fact, it kinda clears the dance floor of Vibration Bar, and that, my friends, is just sad.
I much prefer the version by the ladies of Social Proof, which is an extremely dope SF/tech industry blog that you must check out (even though it makes me feel incredibly old).
Incidentally, the ladies of Social Proof (who are clearly Mission People) never responded to my letter asking them out on a date—it must have gotten lost in the mail. I’m also assuming that the roses I sent them went to the wrong address. I’m not sure what happened to the 18 emails and 32 voicemails I left for them. Sigh, I will never understand women.
2. Katy Perry – California Gurls
It’s really interesting watching all of these videos for the first time (except for the Black Eyed Peas video, which I literally could not stomach for more than 15 seconds)—I have a new appreciation for these songs. For example, with this song, at first I didn’t understand the appeal. Seriously, this pop shit is so cheesy that it’s making Madonna and Paula Abdul roll in their graves. But then I watched the video, and it suddenly made sense:
First, Katy and her production team made a song targeting the key 13 year-old girl demographic, and then they made it into a soft-core porn video (complete with the requisite “money shot”) in order to tap into the “horny male” segment. I mean, let’s face it, after watching that, you’re still humming that song in your head, right? But really, it is G-d-awful. In fact, when Marie told me this was her favorite song, I knew that we could never be together. That, and the fact that she likes younger, large black men as opposed to older Jewish men of average stature.
1.5. Chris Brown – Yeah 3x
Before I started writing this post I actually wrote down my list of the 10 worst popular songs, and somehow I forgot to include this gem, which is probably the most popular of them all. Heck, you might say that “Yeah Yeah Yeah” is the new “Yeah Yeah.” It should probably tide Tokyo over for another 7 years until somebody even worse than Chris Brown (if that’s possible) comes up with “Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah,” which will undoubtedly include a reprise of Li’l John.
The choreography of the video ain’t bad, but this song is definitely making Michael Jackson roll in his grave (and I believe he’s actually dead).
AND THE SINGLE WORST SONG PLAYING IN ROPPONGI CLUBS TODAY IS…
1. LMFAO – PARTY ROCK ANTHEM
Yes, the worst songs playing in Tokyo today do make an LMFAO sandwich.* I actually encountered this song before I came to Tokyo—you may recall that it was in a commercial for Kia (you know, the affordable Korean car) that featured hamsters doing the Running Man, which apparently is now called “shuffling”. Then, when I got to Tokyo, I learned that this piece of crap was not just a really bad snippet from Kia’s creative team, but an actual song that people listen to. And when I realized that, I wept.
Incidentally, today I went to the Tokyo Dome to see the Hanshin Tigers face the Seattle Mariners. My friend and I were mortified to find that this song is Ichiro’s current walk-up music. The Mariners got clobbered 5-1, and frankly, when your star player chooses this as his walk-up music, your team deserves to suck.
So there you have it kiddies—welcome to my world and the heinous club anthems that exist herein. Clearly, I need to get my ass home to SF and its “Stuff White People Like” musical appeal ASAP.
*I know, I know, sandwiches are not named for what’s on the outside, but what’s on the inside—you call it a “pastrami sandwich”, not a “rye bread sandwich”. And yes, this would normally annoy me. It reminds me of when I was in 8th grade and my best friend dyed his hair blue. Everybody called him “Smurf”, which pissed him off because Smurfs are all blue except for their hair (for those Smurfs who have hair). This is similar, and I’m sorry. Deal with it.