I think you’re at the worst of it right now. I think it can only get better. If you think of Radiohead after they wrote “Creep.” Those guys were fucking miserable. And it’s all about getting through that part and all of a sudden you get this opportunity. You’re stuck in this place where you know what the perception is and you feel helpless to change it and you sort of have to persevere until you get to that other thing.
The key to pop music that becomes exceedingly autonomous…Björk did the pop thing. Now she can do whatever the fuck she wants and sing obtuse ballads and close with “Human Behavior.” You have to play the game, shake the hands, do the political thing. And after that, once you’re in, it’s all yours. This is essentially what I’m trying to do. I love playing the game because the jokes on them, really. I understand what they want and how they work and I can give them what they want and then do what I want someday, hopefully.
I’m such a huge fan of pop music for pop music’s sake. But every time I try to write about that stuff it’s an uphill battle because everybody is stuck in their identity crisis of who they are and what they listen to.
People just don’t want to like pop music. I have no problem loving parts of like Owl City. We met them at Sasquatch; they opened for us to maybe 600 people. He’s the Postal Service 2.0. But, holy shit, does that kid have it fucking down, and it’s so amazing. I looked at him and was like, “you are singing live with auto-tune. I don’t know if that’s the coolest thing ever or the stupidest thing ever.” And all the guys in the band were like, you’re crazy, this band is awful. No, this band is predictable and you don’t want predictability, you’re looking for cool. This band is so not cool. And let’s be honest, there are a bunch of early high school girls freaking out. There’s a song called “Hot Air Balloon” where he talks about this romantic journey on this hot air balloon where he’s brushing the trees and his lyrics are so mid-career Death Cab for Cutie. Look, I want that kid to succeed, I absolutely do, because he should. That shit should be top 40. If that’s Top 40, I’m happy, because he’s got formula and he’s smart. People who say that pop music is dumb and obvious…I appreciate pop music where I can say whoever’s been writing the Jonas Brothers’ songs is a fucking genius.
The guy I’m a fan of now is Ryan Tedder from One Republic, he wrote “Halo,” “Bleeding Love,” and Jordan Sparks’ hit “Battlefield.” “Battlefield” is the Fray ripping off Coldplay ripping off everybody else, but it’s the perfect version of that. Ten years from now, people will remember what the Fray sounds like in the same way that people remember what Nickelback sounds like, but people will remember that fucking song, not because it’s original, but because he does it better than anybody else does.
I’m just in love with it because there is such an intelligence to the construction and the build. It’s not the predictability that’s easy; it’s the hardest part, developing what’s predictable. There’s a bunch of songwriters in the UK that I’m supposed to be meeting with because I want to talk with them. I want to see what they do. At the end of the day, that’s my love, just writing good songs. I just downloaded Rob Thomas’ “Lonely No More.” What the fuck? That song is so good.
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