What makes a song “catchy”? What does that broad, often pop-associated term really mean? And is a catchy song worth more or less relative to that of a non-catchy song? This may all sound like silly, “Oh boy, he’s out of material” nonsense talk, but let’s take a look at the new “Fluorescent EP” by Atlanta rapper and all around blissful guy Villa and see.
With “Fluorescent EP” we have a short rather hook-heavy project focused on positivity and the life of an everyday guy type of hustler. Now “Fluorescent EP” doesn’t hold up to hip hop excellence on many fronts, particularly individual bars and depth of subject matter. However, it does something different that many would label pop music when they shouldn’t.
On this project, Villa stacks each track with a standout hook. These hooks don’t stand out because they’re done well, in fact, they’re actually quite boring, but they have that “catchy” quality to them; they stick to the wall of your right brain like a neon Mickey Mouse sticker, constantly present for days after each listen. The verses have a little taste of substance here and there, such as when Villa mentions his mother and grandmother’s cancer on “Turbo,” but even this is quickly followed up by more generic money talk and boasts. The power of this EP comes from its positive, catchy hooks.
So where does that put “Fluorescent”? Does its failure to meet standards such as above par wordplay, skilled rapping technique and truly substantial lyrics disqualify it from winning a metaphorical hip hop award? Is the “catchiness” of this project only worth a participation trophy? Or does everything about what “Fluorescent” does point to a fun, audience-pleasing goal that is commonly found in pop music?[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/276802058″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]
The short answer (the long one on this topic deserves a multi-page essay) is that this may have a “pop” vibe to it, but the topics, while not particularly unique, are hip-hop based. This album is most definitely “catchy,” which essentially winds up meaning that some part of each song (in this case the hooks) catch the attention of the ear more than usual and stay lurking in one’s memory for some drawn out length of time. What exactly makes one song more catchy than another can be explored much more extensively, but, once again, that’s for a more in depth piece of writing.
With his “Fluorescent EP”, Atlanta-based rapper Villa delivers a positive project. Nevertheless, much work is still to be done.
What one wonders as a fan, critic or artist is how much catchiness is worth. The answer is that it does count for something, the ability to implant your words and sonics in a listener’s mind for a significant length of time is noteworthy. However, is it indicative of quality? After all, Rebecca Black’s ridiculously viral hit “Friday” was burrowed into the ears of millions of YouTubers for much longer than your average tune whereas a complex, multi-syllabic rhyme scheme layered with excellent metaphors and a double entendre is much harder to find and achieve.
Ultimately, credit must be given where credit is due: Villa delivers a positive and ear-grabbing project with “Fluorescent EP.” This is the nicest way of putting it, however. Nevertheless, much work is to be done for Villa, but I can’t say I’ve gotten “Oooo I think they underestimate me” out of my head yet.