Thursday, August 17, 2006

Songs in heavy rotation ...

Sometimes the brilliance of certain songs doesn't hit for you months, or even years. Everybody is familiar with this concept, right? Here are some songs that fit the bill for me, all of them are currently in heavy rotation on my iPod:

Broken Social Scene, "Ibi Dreams of Pavement (A Better Day)". "You Forgot It in People", as great as it is, feels like a time share, where each member's former (or current) band gets their proper allowance of recording tape. The songs could have carried subtitles straight out of "Friends", i.e. "KC Accidental (The One That Sounds like Do Make Say Think)", "Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl (The One That Sounds Twee, like the Cranberries Back When They Were Good)", and "Shampoo Suicide (The One That Is Supposed to Sound Like Reggae, but not Rocking in that Zeppelin-y Way)".

Finally, here is a song that justifies the need to have five guitarists among the twelve people onstage from seven different bands. It truly sounds like all those bands mashed into one song, with guitars wailing like vacuum cleaners over what passes for the tune, a vocal that demands for you to shout along with it, and just when you think they can't throw any more madness into a five minute track, along comes a horn-driven ending that kicks everything up a level (the ending could use another two minutes, one of the only weaknesses of the song). The loudest and best thing they've ever done, possibly. Too bad most of the album that followed it was indulgent, overly long, similarly overproduced junk (note: this is probably the reason that it took me so long to come around to this song -- I couldn't bear to sit through the entire album).

Michael Jackson, "Billie Jean". One of my all-time growers -- I didn't start liking it until I dunno, the late 90's? What was I thinking? All the child molesting allegations in the world can't dampen this song's funky sheen. Even the notion of Michael being slapped with a paternity suit in 1983 can't make this the least bit laughable (although I suppose the sex is implied, not confirmed, in the song's lyrics).

Bangles, "Manic Monday". For those who don't remember the 80's, Prince was essentially Pharrell + Radiohead + Christina Aguilera. He needed an airline hangar to contain his critical acclaim, he could rock, he could funk, and he could raunch. He played, wrote, and performed on big hits for several other artists, all of which owed a large part of their success to him. I heard "Sexy MF" a couple of weeks ago for the first time in ages, and while thinking about how easily its lyrics could be incorporated into contemporary hip-hop (why haven't the Ying Yang Twins covered this yet?), I realized that I'd forgotten that Prince, when he wanted to, could write 60's-style girl group songs with the best of them. Of course, this being Prince, there has to a line about getting busy ("He tells me in his bedroom voice / C'mon honey, let's go make some noise) but otherwise this is bittersweet pop at its finest.

Bardo Pond, "From the Sky". Most often, one isn't in the mood to sit through a 31-minute song. That's what kept me at arm's length from the final track on the "Cypher Documents" compilation, but the song absolutely crushes, like the vocal-less middle section of "Destroying Angel" stretched out for another half hour.

No comments: