Karmin's 'Acapella' video: Is it the year's worst?

Here's a small but significant development for your Tuesday morning: Karmin's "Acapella" -- the amazingly irritating lead single from this electro-pop duo's upcoming album -- has somehow gotten worse.

You remember Karmin, don't you?


Two years ago, Amy Heidemann and Nick Noonan -- both alums of Boston's prestigious Berklee College of Music -- zoomed into the pop-cultural consciousness with a remarkable cover of Chris Brown's "Look at Me Now" that's since been viewed on YouTube nearly 85 million times. The online success led to a deal with Epic Records, which last year released an EP of original tunes called "Hello."

"Hello" is kind of fun, with plenty of hooks and an effervescent rhythmic touch seemingly inherited from only the bubbliest of 1990s pop-rock hits; "Brokenhearted," for instance, stakes out a sweet spot between Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream" and "Someday" by Sugar Ray.

The record didn't sell well -- it received pretty uniformly horrible reviews, too -- but Heidemann and Noonan seemed like such troupers that you figured they'd go back to the well and figure out what went wrong after their graduation from the Internet.

In fact, the opposite appears to have happened.

Released last month, "Acapella" is bad, no doubt about it: lame melody, lame beat, lame rapping by Heidemann, who shamelessly copies herself copying Brown's staccato flow from "Look at Me Now." (Sample line: "Out on a first date, he took me gourmet / We hit that Olive Garden, my Little Italy.")

But the song -- about how Heidemann discovered her man's true nature and as a result is now happily flying solo (i.e., without accompaniment) -- goes from terrible to unbearable in a new music video Karmin posted on YouTube on Saturday.

The concept, according to a statement from the band, is "an homage to the '90s videos we grew up with and are still inspired by today," and judging by the fisheye photography and the boldly colored wardrobe, that means classics of the era such as Britney Spears' "(You Drive Me) Crazy," Missy Elliott's "The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)" and "Mo Money Mo Problems" by the Notorious B.I.G. featuring Puff Daddy and Mase.

Sounds fabulous! In reality, though, Karmin's approach in "Acapella" feels like pure condescension, music-school satire unburdened by a sense of amusement or affection. There's nothing about this rancid little clip that suggests Noonan or Heidemann love those '90s videos for any reason other than that they dependably draw clicks from the tech-savvy thirtysomethings who populate their would-be audience.

What's more, it's not funny, especially the excruciating bit with the toast near the end. Say what you will about Britney and Puff, but they knew how to get laughs, even at their own expense -- and even as they projected the kind of cool that made you want to tunnel into the impossibly shiny realms depicted in their videos.

For all its bright colors and complicated hairdos, "Acapella" musters none of that magnetism. Instead, Karmin makes you glad to live in an age when you can tweet about how crummy its new video is.



Twitter: @mikaelwood