Number Ones: The Veronicas 'You Ruin Me'

The new #1 single in Australia is ‘You Ruin Me’ by The Veronicas. The song follows the template set by the producers, DNA Songs, of being safe, formulaic and a bit boring (IMHO) - it just follows the current sad ballad formula rather than the spiky 2005 era pop formula. And recently, I’ve been thinking about the words of Mike Caren in that Justin Timberlake Has A Cold piece, where he had 9 Rules of Hit Songwriting, which I thought were a bit rubbish. So I was thinking, what is the formula for a pop hit?

An inside look at how Pandora can pick the next song you want to hear.

I interviewed Steve Hogan, the head of Pandora Internet Radio’s Music Genome Project, which is basically a team of musicologists who analyse/categorise songs in various ways. They use this analysis in an algorithm to try and predict what song you’ll hear next. I was curious what the most important ‘weighted’ stuff in the algorithm was; presumably that’s what matters to people when they want to listen to music.

Science Reader: Car Faces, Carbon, The Jesus Experiment, Ebola, more

If you ever wanted to know what would happen if you made three people with Jesus delusions go into group therapy together, or why we see cars as having faces and personalities, well, click here to find out what happened next! (Also, Milgram’s creepiest experiment is not the…shocking one you might know about).

Science Reader - Face Mites, Caffeine, Typos, Buzzsaw Jaws, more

The fortnight in awesome writing about science! I mean, look at that weirdo buzzsaw jaw ratfish.

Music Reader: Justin Timberlake, U2, Maroon 5, more

Me at the Vine linking to awesome writing about music.

Number Ones: Taylor Swift 'Shake It Off'

In which I compare Max Martin to a Cyberman, discuss butt tunnels, etc, but mostly try and show how the song musically echoes Pharrell, and how it works in making us believe Taylor Swift might want to shake something off (and in the process how it ends up being usable).

Music Reader: Vinyl, Kanye West, FKA twigs, Bob Dylan, more

Me at TheVine linking to music writing. It’s monthly rather than weekly now, because of reasons. This means that everything in it is amazing, of course.

Science Reader: Womb Wars, Pokies Science, Space Drugs, more

Featuring stuff on the drugs astronauts take in space, the war of the womb (between the mother and the child), the US government killing 10,000 people with poison, the science of how they extract money out of you using poker machines, why scientists can never quite rule out Bigfoot, the fascinating life of the African wild dog, the effect of the Cretaceous extinction on the plants, and the genes behind an artistic family.

There is a new Nickelback single.

[Scene: Australian treasurer JOE HOCKEY sits back in his comfy chair in his office, an unlit cigar in his hand. A BUTLER hovers unobtrusively. There is a knock on the door. An UNDERLING enters the room, carrying a smartphone]

UNDERLING: Mister Hockey, there is some important news.

HOCKEY: Oh yes? Is it as surprising as the news that the underclasses still have cars these days?

UNDERLING: Um…no, Mister Hockey. But I was here because—

HOCKEY: Out with it, underling!

UNDERLING: Well, you said you wanted to know when there was a new Nickelback single

HOCKEY: Phew, I thought this was going to be about how badly we were polling. Good news for a change! 

UNDERLING: I have the song here on my phone.

HOCKEY: Even better! Put it on the stereo, Jeeves.

[The UNDERLING gives the portable music device to the BUTLER, who connects it to the stereo, while Hockey lights a cigar]

HOCKEY: Underling, leave me.

[The song plays, as HOCKEY smokes a cigar and the UNDERLING leaves]

HOCKEY: Why are people so down on Nickelback? Surely with Foo Fighters they are the closest modern rival to AC/DC for a sing a long rock!

[HOCKEY gets a happy faraway look on his face as he hears Kroeger’s voice howl]

HOCKEY [to BUTLER]: You know, I was worrying about how things were polling before, but this music nourishes my soul…you know, now I feel like slashing more funding again.

BUTLER [mildly reproaching]: Very good, sir.

Number Ones: Meghan Trainor 'All About That Bass'

Me at TheVine on the current #1 single in Australia; I also discuss the post-Freudian personality theories of Alfred Adler, and use about a dozen euphemisms for ‘bum’.