Now that Easter's over and book proposal's turned in, I've had a little bit more time to write for The Singles Jukebox, the extraordinary site that discovered both Gotye and Carly Rae Jepsen before you (or I) did.
fun. - "Some Nights":
About two thirds of the way through, right after Nate Ruess gets sucked into his nephew’s eyes and flips into his little Autotune cadenza, I realize I have no idea what or who this piece of music stands for. It builds a stadium singalong out of insular incoherence, like the verses of Queen’s “We Are the Champions” only even more embarrassing. Who wants to sing along to a 7th grade notebook line like “What do I stand for?” Especially around other people? All this business about martyrs in beds and lips building castles is icky icky icky, “jack my style” is Train-unforgiveable, and this guy can’t expect us to care about his sister if we only just met her. But, yes, this is a singalong, if only because I’m sure I’ll be singing along to it the rest of the year. If anything, the glorious drums and guitar ostinato and Ladysmith Black fun.bazo voices make me wanna get to the bottom of Nate’s narcissism, surely an impossible task, but more exciting for that.
Eric Church - "Springsteen":
“Every time I think of you, I always catch my breath” … that’d make a lot more sense, but this song isn’t about that song. “That song” — the one that means freedom, lust, masculinity, tattoos, a Jeep, amateur astronomy, and a girl not wanting Eric to go — seems to be “Born In the USA,” which isn’t necessarily weirder than “Jack and Diane” for Kenny Chesney or “Sweet Home Alabama” for Kid Rock. Guitar sounds and unnamed drummers evoke what they will and who can understand the connections? Eric doesn’t try, just as he avoids forcing his specific reverie onto his listeners, sneaking the name of the song into the second verse. As an audio madeleine, “Born In the USA” would seem incongruous to most people, but “Springsteen” the song doesn’t even have to be about Springsteen, really, or sound like him — he’s just big and mythical enough to fade into the scenery of a song whose real subject is a night when every listener was seventeen.
Santigold - "Big Mouth":
Why are you so petrified of silence, Big Mouth? Here, can you handle this? (Cue wordless vocal fx building to EXCRUCIATING LOUDNESS YAWP!) Tick tock tock that shit nonstop — you’re such a shit talker, RUN! yaMOUTH! MORE! THANANYONEI’VEEVERKNOWN! You’re everywhere I go, thinkin’ that you know, O Big Mouth, Big Mouth, mymymy you’ve said enough. You talk too much; you even worry my pet! (Cue wordless chirps and shrieks.) GaGaGa all slighty off; not me, I’ll take the loss, I’ll never talk again, you’ve left me speechless, so speechle-ye-ye-yes. (Boobooboo, boobooboo, boobooboo, boobooboo…) Hey, um, Big Mouth… why you so speechless?
Kanye ft. Khaled - "Theraflu":
DJ Pharris! Hometown! Power 92 is way better than WGCI! That said, best case this is Kanye feathering his nest, worst case it’s Kanye as immaculately self-absorbed cat obsessing over the minutiae of his own asshole(ry). I will not give a definitive answer because that’d require listening to it again.
et le mot juste:
Teedra Moses ft. Wale - "Another LuvR":
Nexuses of meaning are embedded in Mickey Bass’s 1973 bassline and its use in hip-hop, and someone should explore them thoroughly. They could examine whether A Tribe Called Quest’s ‘91 “Excursions” now signifies the same elder statesman classiness as Art Blakey’s “A Chant for Bu”, if indeed that’s what Blakey signified for Tribe. (Yes — but that’s not all he signified.) Or how by looping just the first two chords, which happen to have the same relationship as Miles Davis’s “So What” chords, Tribe showed how modal jazz anticipated such loops back in ‘59. Or how the mystical connotations of the “Chant” rub shoulders with the practical, both in Blakey’s famous work ethic and in Q-Tip’s punchline, “If you got the money, Quest is for the bookin’.” This song won’t be a very big part of the story. Moses hands us all these possibilities on a platter and then floats off to worry about something else.