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Not Exactly Pop Icons

Daniel Barabasi | Thursday, September 26, 2013

There’s always a feeling of anticipation when a one-hit wonder drops a new album. It’s this little fizz inside you that is so hopeful, wanting another 11 copies of that one song you just couldn’t get out of your head. But, let’s be honest, one-hit wonders are one-hit wonders for a reason.

This is how you have to approach the Swedish electropop duo Icona Pop’s latest album, “This is … Icona Pop.” If one blanket positive statement can be said about the album, it’s that the beats and bass are just as catchy as they are in “I Love It.” On top of this, the album has “I Love It,” and that basically ends the list of what the album has going for it.

The list of The Bad starts off with lyrics. It’s obviously a stretch to ask for meaning from an album under the electropop genre, but when every song just talks about how great partying is, all the motivation I get is to sit down on a couch and read the dictionary to make up for all the education I just lost.

Meanwhile, The Ugly can be summed up with the fourth song on the album, “Ready for the Weekend.” Call me a bad music critic, but just to show how bad this song is, I haven’t been able to listen to the song all the way through yet.

To paint a cochlear image of this track, imagine the song you hate the most from Skrillex (personally, the un-remixed version of “Kill Everybody”), add a bit more nails on a chalkboard, then auto-tune the entire song with whatever J. Biebs uses to get his voice so high on recordings. Really, it’s that bad. The last 30 seconds are a drawn-out screech of “weekend” (or so I’d assume – the farthest I’ve gotten is 15 seconds from the end, when the vocals were still at the “e” in “end”).

My best guess as to how this album was put together is this: Icona Pop decided that the structure of “I Love It” worked so well that they could just vary the bpm (beats per minute) and lyrics, and stick with the same drops and basic beats. They throw in a few slower songs (“All Night,” which, surprisingly, is about partying all night), but they take up the same formula: a few lines about partying, pause, cue the hook, pause, and then the drop.

To make the point clear, this isn’t an album you want to be caught listening to day to day, but to be fair to Icona Pop’s audience, it should also be taken into account from the angle of partying and clubs. I got a few weird stares from people thinking I’m handing out enthusiastic nods, but in reality I couldn’t listen to any of the songs without moving at least three parts of my body to the beat. Like a good dance song, the lyrics don’t try to get anything done, unlike some of the Avicii (I’m looking at you “Wake Me Up”) and Calvin Harris beats playing, where all you can really do is sing along with feigned excitement, and hope you can pull out the moves you were practicing in front of the mirror a few hours earlier. 

So if you want to pull ahead of your friends on the dance floor, listen to the album and think what you can bust out once it hits Feve. If you’re not big on the whole electropop scene, skip “This is … Icona Pop,” and shelve them next to Vanilla Ice on the list of one-hits who really, really did have potential. 

Contact Daniel Barabasi at                 dbaraba1@nd.edu