Thursday, September 30, 2010

Send in the Clowns

This might very well be the most random song I've had in my head since starting the blog. The melancholy '70s ballad floodgates are now fully open!

Artist: Judy Collins
Written by: Stephen Sondheim
Year: 1973 (original); 1975 (Collins)
Rating: Lukewarm

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)

Just the other evening, I was hanging out with my friend Michael, and he decried people who compare any female indie singer to Björk or Kate Bush. Though it pains me to fall into a cliché, I actually think the comparison to Ms. Bush is apt with Régine Chassagne's vocal performance here. I'm really loving Arcade Fire's The Suburbs, particularly their ability to weave an album concept so skillfully through lyrics and mood.

Artist: Arcade Fire
Year: 2010
Rating: Hot!

Note: This song is now the most recent release I've blogged about, inching out 2009's No You Girls.

Monday, September 27, 2010


My strongest association with the song "Jump" is an argument my friend Julie and I had the summer after our senior year of high school. It was about six years after the song's release in 1984, and thus, well into its influence on the rock radio canon. I had argued that the song paled in comparison to the brilliant music of Phil Collins. Julie contended that "Jump" was a better song from a musical standpoint than any Phil Collins song, hands-down.

I wouldn't argue that a Phil Collins song could beat up a Van Halen song behind the bleachers after school; my argument contended that Phil Collins's songs, including, naturally, the Genesis repertoire, were more robust from a sort of quasi-intellectual standpoint. I was basically just arguing against butt rock in favor of art rock. My argument, of course, was dashed from its inception, since by 1990, Phil Collins had long abandoned unconventional prog for soulless pop like Sussudio and insultingly vague altruism like Another Day in Paradise.*

Julie's argument, however, contained actual substance. A student of voice and music theory, she lectured me on the musicality of "Jump," the complexity of the arrangement, the layered instrumental elements, and the tonality of the entire composition. From her words emerged the grey scale picture of Collins's work placed next to the dynamically technicolored break out single on Van Halen's diamond-certified 1984 album.

I was bested.

Either that year, or a couple years on, Julie and I found ourselves at the same New Year's Eve party (at our friend Jen's place). We were listening to our local rock station's New Year's countdown of the "Top 100 Songs of All Time" (or perhaps the Top 105 Songs, or the Top 1,045 Songs). Imagine the cosmic comeuppance Julie felt when Van Halen's "Jump" was announced as the Number One song.

Julie was right: my esteem for Phil Collins only plummeted with the passing decades, and although I couldn't call it the Number One song of All Time, "Jump" has serious staying power. In my head.

Artist: Van Halen
Year: 1984
Rating: Luke Hot

* (Note to the earworm gods: please don't put either of those songs in my head now. Thank you.)

Friday, September 24, 2010

And We Danced

I've tried to avoid blogging about the songs that have made it to my head just because I've heard them on the radio recently, but I figured this one deserved attention. It's one of those '80s standard rock tunes that got lots of airplay back then but hasn't received lasting attention. I heard it on KFOG's 10@10 several days ago and can't get it out of my head. It's such a facile pop song, but so pleasing to my ears. Yes, The Hooters is an awful name for a band, but I like to think of it in the "hootenanny" sense as opposed to the "boobs" sense. I think that's what was intended, after all.

Artist: The Hooters
Year: 1985
Rating: Luke Hot

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Mr. Roboto

See the official video here. (Apologies for the awful "Japanese-featured" robots. I did not make this shit up.)

"Mr. Roboto" has always been one of the songs I strongly associate with my '80s roller skating days. It got tons of airplay at San Jose's dearly-departed Aloha Roller Palace when I was a kid. Also, see this song for more of my internal roller skating soundtrack.

Really, I just woke up with the outro lyrics, "Thank you, thank you/I wanna thank you..." I think it was 'cause Amber was on a logistics call for work and ended the conversation with "thank you" as I was entering consciousness this morning. I then almost veered into the "thank yous" from Natalie Merchant's "Kind and Generous," but the song only flashed through my mind and didn't stick. Styx stuck.

Artist: Styx
Year: 1983
Rating: Luke Hot

Friday, September 10, 2010

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

No You Girls

A testament to catchy, this song's in my head already, even though I only heard it for the first time a few weeks ago on the radio, and then once more on a friend's mp3 mix (the mind reels at the change in technology; where here I thought I'd gotten used to "CD mixes," we're now onto the next new thing). It's a cute but pernicious song reinscribing the gender norms that girls can't know how boys feel, and boys couldn't care less how girls feel. I like FF, but I'm giving this one a "meh" rating. Artist: Franz Ferdinand Year: 2009 Rating: Lukewarm Note: I think this is the "newest" song to appear in my head thus far.