Over/Underrated 2014 – Part Three

3 Jan


Pharrell Williams/”Happy”


Look at any list of overrated songs in 2014, and you’re guaranteed to find “Happy” by Pharrell Williams.

Which is hard to believe, because I mean, c’mon it’s freaking Pharrell Williams.

Every time I turned on the radio this year, “Happy” was undoubtedly playing.

Now, to be fair, there’s nothing really wrong with the song. On its face, it’s fine. But 1) it’s a song about being “happy” in a minor key, which is counterintuitive because things in minor keys are typically sad. But maybe they meant it ironically, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt there. And 2) the song plays on roughly a 15-second loop, making it even more repetitive than “Blurred Lines,” if that’s even possible.

But the real problem that I have with the song isn’t the song itself, it’s the fact that it’s Pharrell’s song.

In my very sheltered, suburban, utterly undiversified upbringing, Pharrell was the closest thing to a musical genius my friends and I had ever stumbled upon, especially considering he was a hip-hop artist.

In the early 2000s, we listened to N.E.R.D with the same fervor that kids in South Central LA listened to Cypress Hill or N.W.A in the early 90s. We thought we had found something special, and for once music critics agreed with us, considering they often slammed the boybands to whom we pledged our undying love.

We thought we were cool, and listening to Pharrell (and other music produced by The Neptunes) made us cool.

However, as with most things that have an “underground” following, the moment they reach mainstream popularity, the coolness once associated them instantly disappears.

2014 was the year of “Happy” and Pharrell’s stupid Arby’s hat, and everyone apparently loved it. I, on the other hand, was left remembering the days my friends and I thought we were hood, rolling down the streets of Maple Grove, blaring “Rockstar” on repeat.



Mad Men Season Seven, Part One


True Confession of a Self-Proclaimed Television Junkie: When I first started watching Mad Men, I didn’t like it.

You have no idea how good it feels to finally get that off my chest.

I was introduced to Mad Men relatively late in the game, watching the first few seasons on DVD in an attempt to understand all the critical acclaim the show was getting, as well as to understand what was so special about that Jon Hamm fella.

I watched at least the first two seasons thinking, Why does everyone love this show so much? When on earth is something actually going to happen? What I finally realized, and what made me a fan for life, was the realization that things had been happening all along; events were just unfolding so delicately that I didn’t see them approaching.

Up until this past season, I had been under the impression that the world understood this fundamental truth about Mad Men. You can imagine my surprise, then, when the overall fan reaction to part one of season seven, the last season, was a scant “meh.” Critics’ reviews were generally positive, but Mad Men fans seemed to be shrugging their shoulders in disinterest. Even Banana Republic seemed blasé, forgoing their Mad Men inspired line for 2014. Bizarre behavior on all counts, considering that more actually happened in these seven episodes than in many previous seasons combined.

To use a particularly appropriate metaphor, I’d like to remind Mad Men fans everywhere that watching Mad Men is not like taking shots of whiskey. You’re not going to get that immediate burn, à la Game of Thrones. No, watching Mad Men is like drinking well-made cocktails. At first the effects are so subtle that you hardly notice they’re happening. By the time you realize what’s going on, you’re five drinks in and it’s far too late to turn back.

If part two of season seven is anything at all like its first half, then I am going to be left with a hangover even Don Draper himself wouldn’t see coming.



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