Better Now/Lucid Dreams
August 25, 2018
Todd plays "Better Now" and then "Lucid Dreams" on the piano.
POST MALONE - BETTER NOW
JUICE WRLD - LUCID DREAMS
A pop song(s) review
Todd: Man, cheer up!
Clip of Lil Uzi Vert - "The Way Life Goes"
Lil Uzi Vert: I know it hurts sometimesTodd (VO): Yes, the last year has seen a dramatic rise of a new genre of music that most are calling "sad rap" or "emo rap."
Clip of XXXTentacion - "Sad!"
XXXTentacion: Suicide if you ever try to let goTodd (VO): Yeah, that's a thing now. I mentioned this in the "This is America" review, but let me just repeat it. When we look back at 2018, we're gonna say the sound of the youth of America was extremely depressed.
Todd: And I've also already talked about how [shot of article: "Report: Make It Stop", which features Logan Paul and Donald Trump among other things] the sociopolitical current events and the zeitgeist is related to that and...
Clip of Lil Peep ft. Lil Tracy - "Awful Things"Todd (VO): ...really that's not all that groundbreaking insight, it's like, no duh. So if we're gonna talk about sad rap, I think I'm gonna take a different approach.
Todd: It's about goddamn time!
Clip of Lil Uzi Vert - "XO Tour Llif3"Todd (VO): I mean, why hasn't rap had an emo phase already? Shouldn't it have by this point? It's been around awhile! [clip of Rich Homie Quan - "Flex (Ooh Ooh Ooh)"] Hip hop is extremely repetitive. It's been dominated by the same topics since the '90's. It's all just macho posturing. Even the women.
Todd: I have sex. I like drugs. I do crimes. I am better at rapping than other people are at rapping.
Todd (VO): Obviously there are tons of rap songs about other things, but those are the predominant ones, right? And it's all so stale to me at this point.
Todd: I'm not saying all boast raps are bad, I'm not that far up my ass...yet.
Video for Kid Cudi - "Day 'n Nite"Todd (VO): But it seems like hip hop should have a broader scope than it does. I mean, Kid Cudi broke new ground just by rapping about getting high and spacing out. It's time for some other themes to have their day. Gangstas get upset about shit too.
Todd: So what I'm saying is, sad rap, emo rap, this is a good thing, this is growth, this is all a trend I support. I mean, in theory at least.
Clip of Kanye West - "Heartless"Todd (VO): And this didn't come from nowhere, obviously, there's precedent. Kanye had that one album. [clip of Drake - "Marvin's Room"] The only rapper previously who's made a career out of it is Drake, and [clip of "God's Plan"] it's not a coincidence that he's having a fucking monster year right now.
Todd: But there is one other guy who seems to be slightly ahead of the trend and cashed in [video for...wait for it...] big on it, and that was this guy right here.
Clip of "White Iverson"
Post Malone: Saucin', saucin'Todd (VO): Ah, Post Malone. It's weird that we let a guy who looks like a [image of...] Danny McBride character become a big rap star, right? Especially since the guy looks like that, you'd think he'd be more fun to be around, but...
Todd: ...Post Malone is the saddest man in hip hop.
Todd (VO): Actually, I don't know that he even is sad, he just sounds sad. I've compared him to [front cover for Rolling Stone magazine featuring...] Staind.
Todd: Honestly, I think of it mostly in terms of early 2000's nu-metal, and partly because he looks exactly like a cross between [image of...] Jonathan Davis and Fred Durst.
Clip of live performance of "I Fall Apart"Todd (VO) : But also he sounds so angsty in a very dude-bro-y kind of way. He gives off a...very downbeat energy. Maybe because there's an extreme funklessness to his music, or maybe it's because he looks like he's in the [picture of Post Malone giving peace sign] "too sad to groom or bathe" phase of depression. There's nothing wrong with that necessarily. It's obviously just part of his aesthetic and people like it.
Todd: It even worked for me for one song.
Clip of "Congratulations"
Post Malone: They was never friendly, yeah
Now I'm jumpin' out the Bentley, yeahTodd (VO): Usually when I find that one song I like from an artist, the rest of their work unlocks for me too, but...
Todd: ...for me I started liking him less.
Todd (VO): It's just not a sound I can listen to for more than one song.
Todd: I mean, he's just so joyless.
Clip of "Rockstar"
Post Malone: Man I feel just like a rockstarTodd (VO): He wrote a song called "Rockstar" which managed to rock less [clip of...] than Nickelback's "Rockstar." [single cover for...] And he followed it up with something called "Psycho." He's a rockstar, and he's a psycho.
Todd: Here, let me look up every song I can find with the word "psycho" in it.
Clips of Talking Heads - "Psycho Killer"...
David Byrne: Psycho Killer
...Kiss - "Psycho Circus"...
Paul Stanley: In the Psycho Circus
...lyric video for Muse - "Psycho"...
Matt Bellamy: A fucking psycho
...Slipknot - "Psychosocial"...
Chris Fehn: Psychosocial, psychosocial
...live performance of System of a Down - "Psycho #13"
Serj Tankian: Psycho, groupie, cocaine
Brief clips of aforementioned songs play before cutting to Post Malone - "Psycho"
Post Malone: Damn, my AP goin' psycho, lil' mama bad like MichaelTodd: One of these things is not like the other things!
Todd (VO): This is a lullaby. Is this what he wants to make? Apparently, because his new album has a song called [track listing for Beerbongs & Bentleys with song title circled...] "Rich & Sad," which...I mean that kinda...
Todd: ...gives the game away, doesn't it? That tells you everything you need to know. It's like if will.i.am released a song called [album cover for "#willpower" with that replaced by...] "Annoying Parties." [...(Really Annoying)]
Video for Juice WRLD - "Black & White"Todd (VO): But he's not the only guy who's had big hits with sad rap. One of the hottest new rappers in the rap world is Chicago 19-year-old, Jarad Higgins, better known by his rap name...
Todd: [hangs his head in shame] Better known by his rap name [image of Juice WRLD with name] Juice WRLD. Are we just out of rap names? I mean, two of the bigger names of the past few years [images of...] were G-Eazy and Young Thug. I mean, try harder. And it's not generic shit, it's just a bunch of random words, like Uzi Vert or Juice WRLD? That's the name of a [picture of...] mall kiosk. Like, the O doesn't light up anymore. Whatever, I'm gonna pretend his name stands for [image of glass of orange juice next to Skyrim avatar] Juice Warlord. Marginally better.
Todd (VO): Now, they both have dueling songs right now, both about breakups. Malone's is called "Better Now." Juice WRLD's is called "Lucid Dreams."
Todd: Let's listen.
Audio for "Better Now" plays over clip of live performance
Post Malone: You probably think that you are better now, better now
You only say that 'cause I'm not around, not around
You know I never meant to let you down, let you down
Woulda gave you anything, woulda gave you everythingTodd (VO): OK, see, I already like this at least a little better than most Post Ma...
Todd: ...better than most Post...most Post Malone...I like it better than...
Todd (VO): ...most of his songs, 'cause there's at least some intensity to it, it seems like it's setting a mood beyond [image of guy taking a...] weed nap.
Todd: I mean, it's a good solid hook. You say you're better because I'm gone.
Post Malone: You know I say that I am better now, better now
I only say that 'cause you're not around, not aroundTodd: O-OK, wait, we're flipping it now? Wait, wait...I'm lost.
Todd (VO): OK, hold on, go back.
Post Malone: You probably think that you are better now, better now
You only say that 'cause I'm not around, not aroundTodd (VO): Is-is Post Malone accusing her of something? "I mean, you say you're better, but that's only because I'm gone. Maybe that's a little better, but you're still a garbage person living in a toilet! And also, my life is better without you too! And I miss you and I'm sorry." [sighs] OK, that perspective flip might have seemed like a good idea, but it does not work. It just makes things confusing.
Todd: Well, let's check out [image of Juice WRLD with name changed to...] Juice WLDR and see what's going on with him.
Video for Juice WRLD - "Lucid Dreams"
Enviyon: Enviyon on the mix
Juice WRLD: No, no, noTodd (VO): Oh my God. I recognize that sample! Oh no. [groans]
Todd: OK, for those of you who, like [same image of...] Juice WLDR, were not alive in 1993...
Clip of Sting in the studioTodd (VO): ...that is Sting's "Shape of My Heart," a song which I thought we'd all thankfully escaped.
Sting: That's not the shape of my heartTodd (VO): No, this song sucks. This is Sting at his sleepiest, dullest, Richard Marx-iest. This is, like, fifth-tier Sting. It's...
Todd: ...better than "Mother."
Audio for "Mother" plays over album cover for Synchronicity
Andy Summers: Well the telephone is ringing,
Is that my mother on the phone?
Telephone is ringing,
Is that my mother on the phone?Todd: But that's about as high as it goes in the Sting rankings.
Clip of "Lucid Dreams"
Juice WRLD: It's to the point where I love and I hate you
And I cannot change you so I must replace you (oh)Todd (VO): Uh, I dunno what this video's going for here. I guess this is going with the whole dreams theme. Either that or the director really liked the [clip of Marcy Playground's...] "Sex and Candy" video, but this song's not really about dreams.
Todd: It's just a single line in the song.
Juice WRLD: I have these lucid dreams where I can't move a thing
Thinking of you in my bedTodd (VO): Yeah, that's...that's not...no.
Todd: A lucid dream [cover for book: Lucid Dreams for Beginners] is when you're aware that you're dreaming and you can control it.
Juice WRLD: I can't move a thingTodd (VO): So if you can't move, that's not a lucid dream, it's just a regular dream. Of course, he doesn't know that because he's a fuckin' kid. He can't even drink yet.
Todd: I mean, that's a pretty big error, right? It's the title of the song! [clip of live performance of...] It's like if Lynyrd Skynyrd wrote their Alabama song and accidentally named it "Sweet Home Massachussetts."
Juice WRLD: You were my everything
Thoughts of a wedding ring
Now I'm just better off deadTodd (VO): Ugh, this is a whiny song. I'm thinking of all the jokes we used to crack at the original emo kids now. [image of kitten with caption: "go cry, emo kid"] A bloo bloo bloo.
Todd: Now let's check out Post Malone.
Todd (VO): So what's going on with you, man? Why'd you two break up in the first place?
Post Malone: I did not believe that it would end, no
Everything came second to the BenzoTodd: [taken aback] OK! Drugs! That's...not a small thing to come between people.
Todd (VO): Sounds like she is indeed better now that you're not around!
Post Malone: We were looking forward to the rest of our lives
Used to keep my picture posted by your bedside
Now it's in your dresser with the socks you don't likeTodd: [opens his mouth to say something but hesitates] ...OK, that's a great line.
Post Malone: In your dresser with the socks you don't likeTodd (VO): I mean, that's a great little detail. I'm glad someone finally acknowledged that there is a hierarchy of socks. [image of knit socks] I mean, fuck these socks! Who gave me these?!
Todd: And of course, there's also that weird little habit of putting mementos of past relationships in random places.
Todd (VO): Just throwing them out seems like too strong of a move, but...you don't wanna be reminded of it either, so they get tossed somewhere random, and then, like, [cut to Todd looking through his drawer] a year later, you'd be like "God damnit, where'd I put my nail clippers," and then, "Oh hey...my prom photos." (SAD!) OK, so point to Post Malone I guess for a good lyric.
Todd: Now let's see what Juice has in the lyrical department.
Clip of "Lucid Dreams"
Juice WRLD: You left me falling and landing inside my grave
I know that you want me deadTodd: I'm sorry, the lyrics to this are very bad.
Juice WRLD: I gave you my heart and you made heart breakTodd (VO): It was obviously written by a teenager. Like someone who's experiencing everything for the first time.
Todd: Like when people used "emo" as an insult, [image of emo kid with...] it wasn't about floppy bangs or even the actual music they listened to. It was about self-centered adolescent narcissism where your angst is the only thing that matters.
Video for...Todd (VO): And that's why, whether they were "emo" technically or not, the quintessential emo song to me is Simple Plan's "Welcome to My Life."
Pierre Bouvier: You don't know what it's like to be like me
To be hurtTodd (VO): Yeah, that's where the singer believes he's literally the only person in the world to feel pain.
Todd: That's the vibe I get from "Lucid Dreams."
Juice WRLD: Tangled up in your drastic ways
Who knew evil girls had the prettiest face?Todd (VO): Kid, what do you know about it?! You're 19! You have had, at most, one serious breakup in your life!
Todd: And if you've had more than one breakup, then none of them were serious! You didn't have time.
Todd (VO): Yeah, pretty girls are evil! She was evil 'cause she broke up with you! I hope you grow out of this phase, kid, 'cause right now he's on a path to an MRA subreddit.
Todd: And no, I'm not reading too much into it. His first single is tltled "All Girls Are the Same," which...I mean, that kinda gives the game away, doesn't it?
Video for Juice WRLD - "All Girls Are the Same"Todd (VO): That pretty much tells you he's gonna write exclusively for butthurt baby-bros.
Juice WRLD: These girls are the sameTodd (VO): I mean, that's true enough. Girls are all the same.They all just wanna have fun; they're demonic harpies ready to crush the souls of poor innocent boys; they spawn by releasing batches of eggs from their cloacas. I mean, I'm sure there's more wisdom he's ready to drop on us about bitches and how shit they are. But here's a thought: Maybe he doesn't know anything about it 'cause he's a fucking infant!
Todd: This is what he sounds like to me.
Clip from Say Anything...
Joe (Loren Dean): Walk tall, my man.
Luke: Bitches, man.Todd: I'd go back and forth about how [air quote] "nice" breakup songs should be, I mean, come on, no one looks good in a breakup.
Todd (VO): If it was less ugly, it wouldn't be honest, right? [sighs] But there's a limit. This just doesn't at all work for me. I'm too old for this shit. I mean, it's not honest! Juice is talking shit about all girls and not thinking about why.
Todd: Post Malone is more willing to self-examine, but he's not 100% being real either.
Clip of "Better Now"
Post Malone: You know I never meant to let you down, let you down
Woulda gave you anything, woulda gave you everythingTodd (VO): You clearly would not have given her everything!
Todd: You literally said the drugs came first! Oh, what, do you mean now that you're sober?
Post Malone: Drinkin' Henny and I'm tryna forgetTodd (VO): OK, well, you're clearly not that either, so no, what does "I'd have given you everything" even mean?
Todd: You'd have shared your drugs?
Todd (VO): But my big problem with both of these songs isn't really the sentiments; it's just that they're just such slogs.
Todd: Like, this seems to be a problem that's weighing down, like, a good chunk of all R&B and hip-hop songs.
Video for Travis Scott - "Antidote"Todd (VO): I tried. I try to be down with the hot new trends, but I just cannot get myself to love three minutes of ambient droning. I want something to grab onto, something that doesn't sound like it's being played by an [picture of...] air conditioner on low.
Clip of "Lucid Dreams""Lucid Dreams" seems to be a cut above the rest, because it has Sting's delicate guitar picking over it.
Todd: And I'd rather eat fiberglass than listen to that! What, are we gonna sample [album cover for The Best Of...] Kenny G next? And another thing, is "emo rap" really the correct term for these songs?
Todd (VO): It's actually kind of a controversial label, and there's a lot of debate over it. Like "Is this emo enough to be called emo rap?"
Todd: For that matter, is it even rap enough to be called emo rap?
Todd (VO): I've heard Post Malone get called a "pop sellout" a lot, which is...weird to me, because to me personally, this is not pop at all.
Todd: But I do get it at least, because in a very real sense, Post Malone is not a rapper.
Post Malone: And I'm rollin', rollin', rollin', rollin'Todd (VO): I mean, that's not rapping, that's singing. Juice is also not rapping. If anything, it's R&B, except none of them sing well enough.
Todd: But going back to the emo part.
Todd (VO): When I think emo, the original emo, I think wild and tense angst. Stuff that makes your heart wanna explode. If you're gonna be teenage, put everything into it. Nothing matters more than when you're a teenager. Even though I'm like 80 years old now, that's the stuff I still relate to, and the stuff I still wanna listen to. And there is emo rap that is that intense.
Todd: Post Malone and [same image of...] Juice WLRS are not that.
Todd (VO): They're not desperate or angst-filled or wracked with emotion. They're just mopey.
Juice WRLD: I take prescriptions to make me feel a-okayTodd (VO): Like, the big theme through all emo rap is Xanax, Valium, other mood-deadening pills like that. And that's what the music sounds like. [clip of "Better Now"] This is stuff to deaden your mood, and that just doesn't work for me. That's just not emo enough. If you're gonna be emo, be emo.
Todd: If you're not gonna do that, well...jeez, I say, let's just go back to rapping about bitches and cars.
Video for Offset & Metro Boomin - "Ric Flair Drip"
Offset: Ric Flair drip, go "woo" on a bitch (woo)
Fifty-seven ninety, split the coupe on my wrist (ice)Todd (VO): Yeah, that's more like it.
Todd: God, what was I complaining about?
Video for "Lucid Dreams" endsClosing Tag Song: The Partridge Family Theme - "C'mon, Get Happy"
"Better Now" is owned by Republic Records
"Lucid Dreams" is owned by Grade A Productions
This video is owned by me
THANK YOU TO THE LOYAL PATRONS!