Crate Skimmers Sloot Super Special #1 Pokémon 25: The Album

Owned since: Oct. 23, 2021, 11:31 AM

Where I bought it: The local Target while my car was getting shit done on it

Year: 2021

Label/Pressing: Capitol Records/The Pokémon Company International 

Ah yes, the cultural juggernaut that is Pokémon. Birthed the same year as the International Year for the Eradication of Poverty, it sure has succeeded beyond its wildest imagination at stuffing the coffers of the The Pokémon Company. And that kind of money gets you the freedom to indulge in snagging people like noted Lularoe hire Katy Perry for your tie-in album. Pokémon is no stranger to musical productions, Pokémon 2.B.A. Master, the first album released, has sold over three million copies over the years and the traveling stage show Pokémon Live! was itself a musical. And this isn’t even the first album to consist of songs from established artists that have never actually appeared in Pokémon media besides the album- that honor belongs to Pokémon: The First Movie soundtrack, with half of the songs not appearing in the movie or the short before the movie. Pokémon 25 continues that album’s fine tradition of being a weird slice of up-and-comers (that may hit it big or fade away into the ether) and established acts across a variety of genres (with a heavy pop slant). My only hope is that in 22 years some soul looks back at this album with the same sense of bafflement I bring to you today. Crate Skimmers, I choose you!

We have such sights to show you
  1. Katy Perry – Electric

That Pokémon’s Who?: Alcremie. You cannot escape your past, Katy. You will always be the singer who shot whipped cream from your boobs. Embrace your legacy.

Our opening track is just very typical current Katy Perry from tip to toe. Pablum platitudes of believing in yourself over a pretty forgettable beat. Honestly, a perfect fit for Pokémon’s anime side. Roar is a perfectly valid move, but I guess she already used that synergistic idea up so we’re left with its week-old leftovers. 

2.5 Pokéblocks
2.5 Pokéblocks

How Pokémony: Besides the title, the first verse references the first opening song of the English dubbed anime. A classic, if easy, way to show your Pokécreds. 2.5 Pokéblocks

  1. Jax Jones ft. Sinead Harnett – Phases

That Pokémon’s Who?: Salandit and Salazzle. I didn’t know who these people were before buying this album so I have no clue if this actually fits. But here they are together, and like any good DJ/Producer Jax has partnered with a female vocalist for his contribution.

Not much to write about this one. A very typical, if solid, house track that wouldn’t cause me to seek out either of them. And in doing (very light) research for this, I couldn’t even find an interview blurb to jump off of. 

1.5 Pokéblocks
1.5 Pokéblocks

How Pokémony: Fighting through tall grass is the most overt, but I’m giving it points for referencing ‘confused’ the status effect and in a stretch, I’m interpreting ‘teaching’ as a nod to TMs. 1.5 Pokéblocks

  1. Mabel – Take It Home / 12) Take It Home (ZHU Remix)

That Pokémon’s Who?:  Bouffalant. Your mom is Neneh Cherry, what other choice do I have?

A big, booming pop banger. A lot more personality to this track, which is probably also why it’s the first of the tracks to get a remix by DJ/Producer ZHU (since he doesn’t have a standalone track for me to compare, gonna go ahead and say a Murkrow fits him best). This feels like a better version of what Katy Perry was trying to achieve earlier, even if the lyrics aren’t as complex they have that Swedish je ne sais quois where they serve the music above anything else. 

1 Pokéblock
1 Pokéblock

How Pokémony: Not very Pokérich. Starting with Pokémon and in assorted entries since, one could walk around the overworld with your favorite mon. And before plot gets in the way, the main goal of all the mainline games is to defeat the Elite Four (or their equivalents) and become League Champion. 1 Pokéblock

  1. Lil Yachty – Believing

That Pokémon’s Who?: Whismur. Mumblecore rap needs the soft gentle touch of the whisper Pokémon

At this point in the album I’m wondering if there was a note attached to the sacks of Pokémon Dollars mandating that the theme of all the songs should be about believing in yourself and receiving said note, Lil Yachty took it to heart and made this song. This song is pretty much a trap lullaby.

7 Pokéblocks
7 Pokéblocks

How Pokémony: The first track to namecheck actual Pokémon! Five of them to be precise. All Gen 1, but that’s to be expected. Extra points for also dropping “catch ‘em all” into the lyrics. 7 Pokéblocks

  1. J Balvin – Ten Cuidado (Pokémon 25 Version)

That Pokémon’s Who?: Tropius. Reggaeton’s all about that big tropical beat. Idk, I’m grasping for straws at this point. Chaining myself to a gimmick only leads to heartbreak.

I’m not one for genres that are dominated by a single beat (looking at you D&B, dubstep, etc.), so I can’t give this a fair shake. At least I don’t think I can. The problem is reggaeton’s central beat is a fucking beast, almost always guaranteed to get asses on the dancefloor. And I could definitely see this cleaning up at an ersatz 90’s nostalgia night at the club. This is a weird one to do right now because as of this writing J Balvin’s having to do some apologizing and backtracking for some racially insensitive shit in a music video of his. 

11 Pokéblocks
11 Pokéblocks

How Pokémony: Explicitly saying the word Pokémon repeatedly and using Pikachu as part of the chorus, can’t get more Pokémon flavor out of this. 11 Pokéblocks

  1. cYn – Wonderful / 13) Wonderful (ZHU Remix)

That Pokémon’s Who?: Frillish. Once more, I have only myself to blame for this. Do you actually need a reasoning laid out for you, or will you just quickly google the mon, go ‘oh yeah’ and leave me be? Please?

When interviewed about this CyN, who I never heard or heard of except for the gossip around her, her partner and her partner’s ex, she mostly mentioned the anime and it shows in the song. This sounds like it could be chopped to fit an anime opening; light and breezy, not only in production but in lyrical content as well. Despite being apparently under Katy Perry’s wing, there’s no big dramatic moment to the song so it all melds into something you’d probably be fine cranking up at the start of a summer road trip. The remix doesn’t really change much, it cranks up the vocals a lot along with more twangy guitar parts, while changing the drum sounds a bit. Much like how Jellicent is just a bigger version of Frillish, heyooooo brought it back to That Pokémon’s Who?. Probably the most unneeded remix on the album, and there’s only three of these things! The Pidove of remixes.

0.5 Pokéblocks
0.5 Pokéblocks

How Pokémony: CYN did not fortify her song with Pokévitamins, rendering it rather Pokéweak and thin. Goes for a vibe more than actual textual references, I guess. Maybe we can stretch that egg line to be about hatching your Ditto spawn. 0.5 Pokéblocks

  1. Vince Staples – Got ‘Em / 14) Got ‘Em (ZHU Remix ft. Trombone Shorty)

That Pokémon’s Who?: Medicham. Both are adherents to the straight-edge lifestyle, channeling that focus into their art or battling. Or both.

This song would slot in pretty well on Vince’s recent self-titled album, complete with conversational delivery and sleepier production, if it weren’t for being a song on this album. But let’s talk about the remix, the best of the three for many reasons. Rather than being content in adding standard bleeps and bloops, ZHU throws in and chops game music with aplomb. Cranking up the snares and replacing a lot of instrumentation with the more Game Boy sounding synths lends it an increased sense of punchiness compared to the original, which is only further enhanced when the horns kick in for almost the last minute of the song. These honks go hard! Trombone Shorty just adds so much to this, I love it, a perfect way to end the (digital version) album. 

8 Pokéblocks
8 Pokéblocks

How Pokémony: Pretty Pokémeaty! There’s the obvious reference in the song title but Vince also namechecks four Pokémon, and while not obscure and still Gen. 1 all are not the most obvious choices, and Team Rocket. 8 Pokéblocks

  1. Louane – Game Girl

That Pokémon’s Who?: Aromatisse. As I write this, I have foolishly agreed to add to my burdens by reviewing another album. Nothing makes sense anymore, my life is nothing but this. This just is one of the more French sounding mons out there. Help me.

Another artist featured I know nothing about! Louane, getting her start on the French The Voice,  is another in a long (generally good) line of synthpop chanteuses and has done well for herself on those charts. As commendable as it is for having non-American representation on the tracklist, I’m now finding it odd that there’s only one Japanese artist (three if we include his featured artists) on this album, and that track is stuck to the digital version only to boot. This is a perfectly serviceable pop song, in a just world this would be the song that plays over an teen drama’s end-of-episode sad singles montage. Again, another song succeeding where Katy Perry’s stumbled.

0.5 Pokéblocks
0.5 Pokéblocks

How Pokémony: Uhhh, she mentions ‘game boy’ but not as in ‘Game Boy’, the original platform for the Pokémon games. That’s about it. 0.5 Pokéblocks

  1. Tierra Whack – Art Show

That Pokémon’s Who?: Celebi. Tierra Whack’s known for being severely allergic to insects, and as a Psychic/Grass type, leading to a 4x damage multiplier from Bug type moves, Celebi knows that pain all too well.

Considering her album Whack World, consisting of 15 one minute tracks, it’s fitting that this track is the album’s shortest one at 2:09. And it’s probably the weirdest one on here. I’ve played it on a loop to try and dissect it more. Is it the simple synths, with the throwback chintzy drums and fading, repeated fake claps? Or is it just the joyful ‘Yeah!’ in the middle of the chorus along with all the other flourishes? Nothing else on the album sounds like this, a song full of giddy childishness and I wouldn’t ask for all of Pokémon 25 to be like this because it would take away from how distinct this is. 

A Eurovision meme depicting the UK Eurovision symbol frequently bought together with 0 points
0 Pokéblocks

How Pokémony: Not very Pokémony at all! Which is a shame, since this stands out for how simple and odd it is. 0 Pokéblocks

  1.  Post Malone – Only Wanna Be With You (Pokémon 25 Version)

That Pokémon’s Who?: Bidoof. Bidoof Bidoof Bidoof.

This is the track that closes the physical releases of the album and hoo boy, where to even start. I guess the big questions are why a) a cover b) a cover of this song and c) what?. I have no answers, I can only say that Post Malone rewrote the song to reference the Cowboys as opposed to the Dolphins as the NFL team causing him grief. Any other changes? None that make any significant changes to the song. 

A comment from Ivo Shandor, Architect aka Maitland saying "Only Want A Pikachu"
Should’ve been this

I dunno, this cover just kinda loses a lot of the corny charm of the original since Post’s vibrato overwhelms in comparison to Darius Rucker’s yarling. Will this be a wedding staple in the years to come? One can only hope, if only I can yell about how this was a fucking Pokémon tie-in song down the line.

1 Pokéblock
1 Pokéblock

How Pokémony: It’s gone some game music samples in it, but otherwise how the fuck what even. I now own a Pokémon album that has this on it. 1 Pokéblocks

  1. Yaffle ft. Daichi Yamamoto & Aaamyyy – Reconnect

That Pokémon’s Who?: Dugtrio. I had not heard of any of these artists until this album, but they are now forever linked together. A horrible Pokémalgamation, worthy of a Cronenberg movie.

The final (non-remix) track on the (digital) album, and despite being an interesting use of game samples I don’t have much to say about it due to my lack of familiarity with the artists. Daichi’s got the most English language information on him, followed by Aaamyyy but Yaffle’s much more of a mystery. It’s confusing why this can only be found on digital versions of the album. As befuddled I am over Only Wanna Be With You’s inclusion, it’s a very fitting end to the album while this track is much harsher in mood, but not aggressive enough to end the album on. Which it doesn’t thanks to the remixes, but that’s a technicality. 

13 Pokéblocks
13 Pokéblocks

How Pokémony: A veritable Pokémelange. Probably the track that uses the most game samples, recognizable or otherwise, along with references to game mechanics like the universal concept of HP to more franchise specific Rare Candy. Extra points for actually mentioning the number 25, and for doing it in the context of a line Google translate tells me means ‘Chasing the same drama’. 13 Pokéblocks

And there we have it, over 2,000 words spilled on an album I had no inkling of until a Saturday morning of boring adult errands. Much like the games themselves, this was built on a foundation solidly established years ago with odd/new and exciting choices mixed in with the necessarily formulaic. Would I buy it again? In a heartbeat. But I’m probably never gonna listen to it again after this.

Oh no it’s your rival Bresson: This piece just makes me glad I don’t own a car whose repairs force me to buy CDs like this. It’s also way longer than most Crate Skimmers pieces also, thanks Sloot for making me look even more lazy than usual. Jokes aside, this album is pretty weird and I still have no idea what the reason is why this got a physical release beside capitalism. I had a good laugh when the Post Malone track came out because besides its Pokémon bursting video, it has nothing to do with the little pocket monsters. Honestly thought it would be a weird digital only release but, well, here we are with a discounted CD because who honestly buys this. There’s some fine stuff on this, the Tierra Whack track is even great, but little more and a lot is pretty generic pop music. At least Sloot could fill 5 pages about this while I struggle to do 2 about my favorite records here. Oh, the suffering that is not Post Malone covers.