Heartbreak With Modem Sounds
Pop Music Goes Online
From the moment I ripped the shrink-wrapped plastic off of her ...Baby One More Time CD, Britney Spears' song "Email My Heart" had me captivated. A pop song about new media! How cutting edge! It seemed that Britney had stumbled onto a new sub-genre of pop music.
Smitten by its adorably high-tech theme, I listened to the song again and again. But when I eventually paid attention to the lyrics, it turned out they were kind of creepy. What at first seemed to be a song of heartbreak seemed, on closer inspection, to portray Britney as a bit of a stalker. "It's been hours, seems like days, since you went away," she sings, and a few verses later, "I can see you in my mind, comin' on the line, and opening this letter that I've sent a hundred times." Wait just a sec, Britney! You sent him the same message a hundred times, and it's only been a few hours? This cute little song was soon tarnished by its obsessive lyrics. Confident there must be another ultra-modern pop song for me to love, I set out on a quest to find it.
A friend mentioned that N Sync had an Internet-themed song on their latest CD, so I decided to check it out. From the spoken-word opening, where Justin says, "We get nasty, nasty, we get freaky deaky," I could tell this wasn't my kind of song either, so I said "Bye Bye Bye" to this CD and kept looking.
Technology level: Far more advanced than Britney's simplistic AOL-style relationship, the 'N Sync boys are kickin' it with a web cam girl. "You may be twenty thousand miles away, but I can see ya', and baby, baby you can see me."
Trash level: What exactly is the Digital Get Down? It seems pretty tame until the line "I get so excited when I'm watching girl, I can't wait to see you touch your body girl." While I understand that a boyband is always trying to toughen up its image, the whole online porn angle seems a bit over the top.
Sound effects: Modem beeps and connection noises. They've even got that weird Cher effect on Justin's voice.
Fave line: "We're getting nasty, nasty, we're getting (oh, oh) digital."
Next I turned my attention to a singer with a younger demographic, 13-year-old Aaron Carter. His website calls him "The Little Prince of Pop," and his song seemed to have potential. It starts out with fun lines about how he's "just jammin' online with you." By the time the chorus starts though, even little Aaron seems a bit sketchy. "She's my best kept secret, hooked up online with that girl." So he's telling pre-teen girls that it's smart to have an online relationship and not tell anyone? Umm....somebody doesn't watch the news enough.
Technology level: Basic email, just like Britney. He sings "You left me mail in the inbox."
Trash level: The whole secret relationship thing creeps me out even more than the 'N Sync porn cam.
Sound Effects: A few dialtones.
Fave line: "Shufflin' through my Windows, Gotta' find my way back to you."
Taking the high-tech theme literally, this song is from the computer's perspective. But it's not your average Dell -- this computer was at a "disco, last night in San Francisco." The computerized voice has some great lines, like "Come sit down on my laptop." Even the sexual innuendoes are funny coming from this angle -- "The way you use your joystick has really made me feel sick."
Technology level: Not that high, considering the techy angle. Joysticks? I haven't seen one of those since the Commodore 64. And the computer voice sounds like something out of Tron.
Trash level: It's mostly just silly. "Let's go into the chatroom, and do a little boom boom."
Sound Effects: A few modem noises. Plus, the whole song sounds like a computer is singing.
Fave line: Fave verse, actually.
Okay, so maybe Bad Religion aren't exactly pop, but I'm including this song because it doesn't seem very punk to me either. And since these are the same guys who brought us "21st Century (Digital Boy)" back in 1990, I thought they might have a little more experience in the realm of high-tech songs than, say Aaron Carter (who, incidentally, was three in 1990). Contrary to what the title suggests, "I Love My Computer" isn't about loving a computer. It's about loving the noncommittal aspect of Internet relationships. "We'll never ruin each other's day, 'cause when I'm through I just click, and you just go away."
Technology level: Lots of clicking. "All I need to do is click on you."
Trash level: In the background, a breathy female voice repeats, "Click me, click me here!"
Sound Effects: Background beeps
Fave line: "The world outside is so big, but it's safe in my domain."
So what did I learn from my high-tech pop search? Apparently all pop songs about computers and the Internet are pretty darn trashy. I wasn't intending to look to these songs for advice, but after listening to them, I sure don't want to email anybody's heart! I don't want to be anyone's Internet girl or webcam hooker. I love my computer too, but when it comes to love, I think I'll keep it offline. --Lisa Beebe