Posts tagged music
Posts tagged music
The category for Best Original Song is always a bit of a mess. The songs are rarely judged on how they sound; the importance is, of course, how the song fits into the film for which it was written. This year’s nominees are representative of the usual fare. There’s the popular choice (Adele’s “Skyfall,” which will likely win, as it should), the new song for the big-budget musical adaptation (the unnecessary “Suddenly” from Les Misérables), and then there are the forgettable tunes (I didn’t even know what Chasing Ice was before today, much less the song from it). It’s a shame, really, because there were plenty of good tracks included in the list of 75 eligible songs. Here are a few that probably will have a longer shelf life than “Pi’s Lullaby.”
Matador on December 4th will release the 10th Anniversary Double LP of Interpol’s Turn On The Bright Lights. (“All pre-orders include exact replica Interpol pin from the era,” too, so act fast!) I don’t know about you guys, but my relationship with this album never went beyond zoning out to “Untitled”—or maybe “NYC,” if I was feeling especially moody. Here’s the stuff that came out in 2002 and was vastly better. Just sayin’.
Last year, scientists at the University of Bristol announced they’d come up with a formula for predicting whether a song will crack the Top 5 on the U.K. pop charts. The software analyzes such factors as tempo, beat variation, harmonic simplicity, and something called “tertiary time signature,” then measures it against 50 years of data. The algorithm spits out a binary verdict: jam it or slam it.
Sadly, no such science exists for the larger question: whether bona fide U.K.-bred pop stars will find mainstream success in America. For every Amy Winehouse and One Direction, there are a hundred Duffys and Lady Sovereigns: artists who are talented, interesting, and seemingly marketable, but who land at JFK with a resounding thud. True universality requires some quality scientists have yet to discover. But the rewards for popularity among the American audience—which is five times larger—keep the challengers coming.
The latest and greatest hope from across the pond is named Paloma Faith. The coquettish 27-year-old from Hackney, London—“It’s like the equivalent of Harlem,” she says—seems to have everything we Yanks want in a pop star: model-good looks, a highly cultivated sense of style, an engaging personality, a poetic backstory, and, most importantly, soulful, radio-friendly songs that speak to the themes of love, sex, loss, and betrayal. If there’s a reason she won’t succeed here, I can’t find it.
In the past it felt like reunion shows/tours were looked at kind of cynically. Now at least 15-20 acts playing at Primavera are bands that have reunited or come off hiatus. How do you think the public’s attitude has changed towards bands reuniting?
I think a number of things have happened, not the least of which is just that people have just got immured to it, you know? Like, “Well, this is happening, so OK.” [laughs]. And the fact that it’s a group that used to play that stopped playing and started playing again at the end of the day is kind of irrelevant to whether the music is going to be enjoyable to listen or not, you know what I mean? But at the same time, there’s certainly nothing wrong with a little bit of skepticism or even a hair of cynicism regarding it because, you know, there’s an element to it that even to me feels like… I jokingly to my friends call it “Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy Camp” because, yeah, we don’t have any new stuff so we’re kinda bringing up old songs that we wrote when we were young and that is, I don’t know… You don’t wanna put any kind of apotheosis on it or anything.
Of course, but like you said, you didn’t break up because you hated each other. It’s easy to see that you’re doing shows again because you like playing together, so that certainly helps keep people’s opinions positive. This isn’t a Van Halen type situation.
Correct and, admittedly, there was a little bit artistic drift, you know [laughs], like we were kinda getting, stylistically, a little more disparate but we still got along. We still enjoyed writing the songs. The last album we did is definitely a little more different than a lot of the other stuff we did because we were a bit more ascetically fractious at time, but it wasn’t to the point of it being difficult. We still enjoyed writing the songs and we still argued with each other over song parts and structure and all that stuff, so it was rewarding and fun and cool. It was just that we were on the road playing shows 200 something dates a year.
My good buddy Adam Johns interviewed Matt Gentling from Archers of Loaf about their reunion tour. I wish I could say my first music interview went this well! Super proud!
Her songs are still extremely autobiographical, which is perhaps their charm. Following in the footsteps of other singer-songwriters, especially women who emerged in the early ’90s and expressed their emotions in particularly vulnerable ways, Apple’s openness has always had an empowering appeal. Her songs seem to suggest that feeling a variety of emotions—sadness, glee, despair, insanity—is not only normal, but, like those self-reflective musicians before her, she also gives permission to her listeners to feel the same way.
Even for Apple, her older songs are relics of another time, and she now makes them applicable to her life in the present. “They all kind of become poems after a while,” she says. “You can take your own meaning out of them. It’s been a very long time [since my first albums], and I can apply those songs to other situations that are more current in my life.” She admits she has changed greatly since she started writing songs in her late teenage years, especially when it comes to how she portrays herself. “I don’t feel comfortable singing the songs that I wrote. I used to blame other people and not take responsibility. I thought I was a total victim trying to look strong.”
And she is much harder on herself in the songs on The Idler Wheel than she ever was before. Sure, she admitted to being “careless with a delicate man” in “Criminal,” arguably her most famous song, and in When the Pawn’s “Mistake” she sang, “Do I wanna do right, of course but / Do I really wanna feel I’m forced to / Answer you, hell no.” On The Idler Wheel, Apple examines her own solitude and neuroses as well as their effect on her relationships with others. “I can love the same man, in the same bed, in the same city,” she sings on “Left Alone,” “But not in the same room, it’s a pity.” On “Jonathan,” a somber love song layered with robotic, mechanical sounds that’s presumably about her ex-boyfriend, author and Bored to Death creator Jonathan Ames, she urges, “Don’t make me explain / Just tolerate my little fist / Tugging at your forest-chest / I don’t want to talk about anything.”
Read more of my profile of Fiona Apple right here! I’m really proud of this one.