Sometimes pop and rock songs are at their best when the grooves are especially spiral-like or boa-constricted, when melodic ecstasy and sonic claustrophobia combine to create something amazing.
This week, 5ingles explores that idea with five recent jams that aren't trying to make you listen passively.
5. Mission of Burma, "Dust Devil"
Chopped & Screwed: The magic's in the guitars, guv'nor, in how they scrape and grind and strip screw threads, throwing up all kinds of sparks.
The Scam: Now this is what a lead single should be - gnashing, slashing, just barely at the edge of control. Burma's fiftysomethings smoke every twentysomethings on the front lines right now.
Rimshot: I'm actually a little afraid of these dudes now.
4. Penny Royale, "La-Bar-Tu"
Chopped & Screwed: The whole jam, pretty much. It convulses and arches then pierces like an endless radioactive javelin, straining roughly three times harder than it really should have to excrete a pile of feedback.
The Scam: What if your mechanic took a bunch of steroids and broke into your house and dismantled your entire car in the middle of the night, just for shiggles?
Rimshot: No need to call Roto-Router.
3. Killer Mike, "JoJo's Chillin'"
Chopped & Screwed: Killer Mike's artillery-fire flow, which is registered as a weapon in most Southern states.
The Scam: "Jojo" out-Ghostfaces Ghostface with the flash-flood Mile-High Club exploits of a guy who might be the luckiest fictional rap character ever.
Rimshot: There needs to be a 20-minute long Saturday Night Live skit, based around an otherwise unremarkable boardroom meeting, where every three minutes or so Andy Samberg randomly shouts "JOJO'S CHILLIN'!" like Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man.
2. White Suns, "Cenote"
Chopped & Screwed: Guitarist Kevin Barry's barbed-wire garrote primal-noise therapy.
The Scam: NYC trash trio simmer down - last year's Waking In The Reservoir was just too much, too heavy - and find the perfect balance of propulsion, discordance, and disdain.
Rimshot: So gnarly that 6 minutes and 20 seconds fly past in the blink of an eye.
1. Justin Bieber, "Boyfriend"
Chopped & Screwed: That whining background synthesizer, on some wolf-whistle shit.
The Scam: So this is the Full Timberlake, basically, and it'll have to do since Justin Timberlake can't much be bothered these days. I do love how the Biebs lets the undulating guitars and electronics do the heavy lifting; he sounds like he honestly doesn't care whether or not you're buying his sales pitch, and he doesn't have to: this single sounds like a billion bucks.
Rimshot: Why not, you know? Biebs probably has a Jimmy Choo expense account.