Hot Chelle Rae - Whatever
Record Label: RCA Records
Release Date: November 29th, 2011
Let's talk about the McDonald's McRib. It's not really that good. You don't know why you like it. But something about it makes it so irresistible that you can't get enough, and even though you might feel a little ashamed, you don't seem to mind very much. That could also be applied to the majority of pop music, and Hot Chelle Rae's new album, Whatever, represents it perfectly.
Hot Chelle Rae made their presence known in 2009 with their debut album, Lovesick Electric. It took more of a rock based direction, but it wasn't until their early 2011 pure pop smash, "Tonight Tonight," that helped their popularity skyrocket. Going double platinum since, the track is featured on Whatever, and exemplifies exactly what the rest of the album contains: atrocious lyrics, mediocre to decent vocals, and trite instrumentation ... but when it comes to this genre, the "make or break" lies within the record's lasting appeal -- how memorable and catchy the hooks are. With all things considered, these are some of the catchiest melodies that will be heard all year.
However, even if the songs are insanely catchy, it can only go so far until the glaring flaws become too much to not notice with every listen. Vocalist Ryan Follese has performances that range from sub par to unnecessarily whiny, but for the most part, it fits pretty well. Lyric wise, its all been said and done before, except on Whatever, it gets a little bit worse ("I heard your friends say I changed, so that's hearsay / They only say that when they're drunk, so that's beer say"). Additionally, the whole "put a rap verse in a pop song" gimmick is probably one of the most obnoxious features in music. It never works -- ever. Yet Hot Chelle Rae give it a go three times with features from the artists New Boyz and Bei Maejor ("I Like It Like That", "Whatever", "Radio"). Sure, the random raps might make it "fun" -- but the songs are already fun enough by themselves, and you can't help but to realize how much better the tracks would be without them.
Either way, for what might appear to completely ruin a song, the rap verses don't entirely diminish their overall accessibility. Everything negative about the album might be enough to steer someone away before they even give the band a chance, but what makes Whatever worth the time is all thanks to its production team. Hot Chelle Rae traded Eric Valentine, Butch Walker, and Matt Radosevich (the Lovesick Electric producers) for a plethora of pop powerhouse producers such as S*A*M & Sluggo, Evan Bogart, and Andrew Goldstein (formerly of The Friday Night Boys). Most of the record even sounds like The Friday Night Boys songs on steroids, so that alone shows that their goal for Whatever was to make gigantic hits, and in that sense, they've accomplished it greatly.
Other tracks like "Honestly" and "Forever Unstoppable" further set their "take over the world" vision in motion as they're some of the biggest radio worthy songs in Hot Chelle Rae's arsenal, while "Keep You With Me" and "Why Don't You Love Me" round it out as a whole with what are easily the most substance filled tracks that the band offers. Demi Lovato lends her outstanding vocals on the ballad "Why Don't You Love Me," and she picks back up right where she left off on her recent record, Unbroken. Adding the fact that it was co-written by Boys Like Girls' Martin Johnson, it makes it one of the easy standouts on the album. Whatever hits another rough patch with its two closing numbers, "Beautiful Freaks" and "The Only One," as the former acts as sort of an awkward dance song while the latter is a bit boring to end an album that, despite its faults, is otherwise a solid pop album.
Regardless of how forced or artificial some may think Whatever sounds, the same could be said for their debut, and that was in a genre where a ton of bands did that album the same, and better. Although Hot Chelle Rae obviously aren't doing anything new here either, they've mastered the art of cheese pop and took a much more "natural" new route in sound compared to Lovesick Electric. There is no denying that Hot Chelle Rae's Whatever has as much originality as a stick of celery, but just because something is disposable ... it doesn't mean it needs to be thrown away.
I heard the la la la song the other day on the radio in full, stoned as hell (for the 1st time, ive heard the chorus and "tatto looks like Zach Galiawhogivesafuck" in passing) and i can honestly say that not one person who had anything to do with the recording of that song had a penis, guyliner yes, but definetely no cock n bulls in sight. People are pissed at Lady Gaga? Unleash on Boys Like Gir- er "HOT CHELLE RAE" - the name in and of itself wants me to beat the shit outta my kid sister for even thinking about downloading it from it-leaked.