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Category Archives: shady dudes

The two dominant sounds of mainstream pop in 1999 were undoubtedly the melodic perkiness of teenpop (Britney, Aguilera, Backstreet Boys, and NSync) and the shouting misogyny of mook-rock (Limp Bizkit), while the underground saw the beginnings of the short-lived robo-synth hipster fagginess of electroclash (Le Tigre, Fischerspooner, Peaches). The ungodly spawn of this threesome is now making headway onto American pop radio a decade later in the form of the horribly named bands 3OH!3 and Cobra Starship. 3OH3+30H3

Pictured above is 3OH!3, named for the area code of their native Boulder, CO. Don’t they look like they come from Boulder, CO? And they make music that sounds like it too. (Doesn’t blondie look like beardo Jesse McCartney?)

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And this is Cobra Starship, named for no reason that I can see except that they contributed a song to the Snakes on a Plane soundtrack.

3OH!3’s “Don’t Trust Me” and Cobra Starship’s “Good Girls Go Bad” have both incredulously peaked at #7 on the Hot 100, which is apropos considering they both feature synth-fueled rave-ups supporting standard issue emo boy whine-vocals which undercut the bravado both songs/bands aim to project (main goal: treating girls like shit) while also shoe-horning cheerleader chant middle eighths that are completely unnecessary.

“Don’t Trust Me” is interesting in that in seems to aim for Lady GaGa-esque metajokeness and falls as flat as GaGa in the clever sweepstakes while also lacking her natural songwriting talent, but there’s something nearly breathtaking about the song’s (and the band’s) commitment to being Completely Wrong but sounding as if they’re Having Fun doing it. Sample lyric: “Don’t trust a ho/Never trust a ho/Won’t trust a ho/’Cause the ho won’t trust me.” Charming. And why would she?

“Good Girls Go Bad” is, in contrast, a joylessly shouty piece of braggadocio featuring actress Leighton Meester, who fulfills this song’s apparent need for a female voice to repeat the protagonist’s point of view, reinforcing his awesomeness (and her complete lack of agency, so who better than a Gossip Girl star?). Look, bravado is fun and great when people like Beyonce or Courtney Love or Tupac or even Toby fucking Keith do it, but this lead singer kid named Gabe Saporta? He has negative sexual charisma, so his boasts need a little bit more color to be convincing. And he doesn’t even provide that. Sample lyric: “I make them good girls go bad.” Oh? How? “You heard that I was trouble but you couldn’t resist?” Why is that?! “I make them good girls go bad.” Classic example of tell-not-show writing.

Both songs don’t hold a candle, however, to the repugnance of 3OH!3’s current song “Starstrukk,” which flopped so bad on release that they decided to do a remix with Katy Perry (as if this wasn’t hate-worthy enough). It sounds ugly, for one, and also has the jaw-dropping lines “I think I should know how to make love to something innocent without leaving my fingerprints out now/L-O-V-E’s just another word I never learned to pronounce.” This has none of the supposed Fun of their previous hit, and instead shows that any attempt at humor or self-awareness in “Don’t Trust Me” veiled exactly how much these two were actual sociopaths.

When I first heard these songs I thought, “Popped-collar music.” But these two bands’ self-presentation indicates how far scenesterism’s American Apparel
stunted-growth appeal has drifted into mainstream culture, now becoming Cool and Edgy. Because hipster men have always been misogynists (what do you think Exile In Guyville was reacting to?), and now the mooks are wearing the same clothes and highlighting the gross anti-woman subtleties of scene culture. And making it seem “fun.” 3OH!3 is much worse though; if Cobra Starship is just some frat dude hounding you at a bar thinking he’s all that (and calling you a bitch if you turn him down), 3OH!3 is that dude using his peculiar charm to bring you back to the house to get gang-raped. In your ears especially.

…after setting foot in Los Angeles did some guy come up to me and be SUSPICIOUS.

A six-hour-plus flight that included a stop-off in Denver to refuel WTF which meant I hadn’t had a cigarette in eleventy thousand hours and my head was pounding and I was frantically searching for my ride and this dude stops me and says, all friendly-like, “I love your haircut where are you from?” HANDSHAKE WILL NOT LET GO OF MY HAND.

Now, being a Californian, I figured he obviously had one of four things in mind:

1) He wanted to fuck me (he was old white and bald, which is some kind of unholy trinity; if only he’d been fat)
2) He thought I was some Axl-fresh-off-the-bus hayseed and was trying to hustle me
3) He wanted to put me in the MOVIES
4) He wanted to take me to the San Fernando Valley and put me in THOSE KIND OF MOVIES

Anyway I said all brusque-like, not even thinking, “I’m from New York I’m sorry I’m BUSY.” I guess I’ve become a douchebag New Yorker in my five years away. When I’m in New York, I’m from California; when I’m in California, I’m from New York.

But whatever I just had a DOUBLE DOUBLE ANIMAL STYLE FROM IN-N-OUT so I’m good.