Monday, February 14, 2011
Last Week in Jukeboxing
The Ark: "Breaking Up With God"
My old youth group friend, with whom I’d lost touch for a while, said recently that one of the most freeing moments of her life came when she realized she’d always been an atheist. Even though “Breaking Up With God” depicts a slightly different situation — Ola Salo hears the call, he just opts not to follow — I can still imagine the song playing over that scene in the movie of her life, preferably a scene of quiet joy in a restaurant rather than a montage of her twirling and splashing in a big stone fountain or something. It does SOUND like a fountain montage song, with its New Romantic riff and wonderful vocal harmonies. Salo sings with giddy relief, like he just realized he was parched and surrounded by water all at once. And this is why I find the song tremendously moving. As with most great God celebration songs, this one burrows down into the singer’s core and comes up with remnants of inexpressible things. “Reach my heaven alive” — whatever that turns out to be, it’s a necessary goal.
Keyshia Cole ft. Nicki Minaj: "I Ain't Thru"
I didn’t think Keyshia WAS thru until she started insisting otherwise; but then, I haven’t been paying attention, so I don’t know who all these “hatin’ ass broads” are that she’s battling. If she really wants to impress them, she shouldn’t neglect her more interesting upper range, with its strained and girlish desperation, almost totally absent here.
...et le mot juste:
Brad Paisley: "This is Country Music"
OK, YES, it’s utter horseshit, at best an empty writing exercise, at worst a self-correcting sop to anti-government types who roll around on Medicare scooters and clamor for Obama’s birth certificate. The idiotic first line could keep us busy all day. The invaluable Leo’s Lyrics yields 1,019 songs that mention cancer, only two of which appear to be by country artists — David Allen Coe’s “Heaven Only Knows” and Travis Tritt’s “Bible Belt”, if you’re curious. Rap and metal artists get to say the word “cancer” in songs all the time; Neurosis, Carcass, and the Subhumans seem to have weird but unsurprising fetishes for the subject. He might as well say you’re not supposed to say the word “cancer” in a COUNTRY song, and there’s a good reason for that: aesthetically it’s a bad word for the genre, violating the usual subtlety and craft that go into country lyrics. If Tim McGraw had just plopped a “cancer” into the beginning of “Live Like You Were Dying”, it would have violated our subconscious expectations of country songwriting and broken the song’s spell. So Paisley’s a liar and a thief, but here’s the thing — he and Chris DuBois are good enough songwriters that THEY FIGURED OUT HOW TO DO IT. It’s not breaking-the-fourth-wall momentous, but this “cancer” is a sign of Paisley tossing off undeniable skill, the same skill he uses to divide country subject matter into three neat verses, to stick all his rhymes like a gymnast, and to play a guitar that sounds more conscious than most singers on the radio.
Ke$ha: "Blow" 
PJ Harvey: "The Words That Maketh Murder"