Inertia, 2009

A guilty pleasure is exactly what it sounds like; a pleasure that one receives from something or someone that they would otherwise feel guilt over, either from societal scrutiny or just good old fashioned peer pressure. And because television, movies and music are often so closely critiqued and analyzed, one of the easiest areas to find guilty pleasures in seems to be the arts.

Now, whether Amanda Blank realises it or not, she may be one of the next great guilty pleasures in pop/hip-hop. It felt great blasting M.I.A. or Santogold from tinny car speakers and knowing that both pop/hip-hop wonks as well as stuffy critics alike could take a certain amount of pride in the tunes, as the music split its theoretical time between the dance floor and the cerebral chambers of its listeners’ minds. Blank shares the genre, but absolutely none of the acclaim. She’s a self-proclaimed slut. Vile and profane, but lacking of all the mystery that would otherwise make vile and profane so much fun. Boil down the message, and you can forget about any sort of political awareness, global activism or even a hint of sentimentalism. Her first single, “Might Like You Better”, seems to sum it up best: “Might Like You Better/If We Slept Together”. Ugh.

Blank’s not without her positives. It’s hard to find a song on the album that isn’t catchy. A Saturday night in a hot, sweat-filed nightclub, and her music fits like a tailor-made Russian suit. Her energy, and rapping ability, is phenomenal. The collaborative background with Spank Rock wasn’t just sleeping her way to the top, she really earned her opportunities and made the most of them. She might or might not be a promiscuous hussy in private, but she’s absolutely committed to the bit musically, regardless of the type of negative feedback you’d expect from rapping on a song about the doldrums of putting on your make-up. (“Make-Up”)

On the other hand, SHE RAPPED ABOUT THE DOLDRUMS OF PUTTING ON HER MAKE-UP!!!!! (Five exclamation points seemed to suffice here) Clearly, this is not a road-weary troubadour, a yarn-spinning raconteur here to tell us about the harshness of this life and the small ways we can find to make it more livable. No, this is as empty and carnal as pop music has ever been, and makes Britney Spears look akin to that of Charles Bukowski. It’s a struggle getting through the entire record without feeling dumber, or at least surlier. It’s kind of sexy, but only in an angry, sleazy-motel-in-the-middle-of-the-night, entirely unfulfilling kind of sexy.

No amount of talent or production value can cover up this level of tripe, and the young fresh fellow looking for that next great hippity-hop artist will, sadly, have to look elsewhere. Top 40 radio may have found themselves a hot new star, and they can keep her.