Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike.

Join me, won't you, on a musical journey of discovery through the highs and lows of everything Youtube has to offer.

Today's journey starts with:

Los Campesinos!--"Avocado, Baby".   There's a whole genre of music videos that basically just say "we'll go weird" and run with it. This one starts there, but ... well, it definitely says there. I mean, coffins, cheerleaders, game show, fire breathers, bath tubs--I'm sure there's a way to do all those things without going "weird," but it didn't come today. Still, there is a loose plot thing going on, with a disillusioned celebrity sort of thing. And while I can't quite make out long stretches of the lyrics, what I do hear is pretty catchy. "That is why they call you the avacodo" INDEED. Yeah, a second listen without looking at the video confirms it's a decent song.

Omar Souleyman -- "Warni Warni." It's immediately catchy and distinctly Middle Eastern, to the point where my white liberal guilt immediately asks if my reaction is in anyway racist. (The answer is the same as always: probably, yes.)  He's apparently released hundreds of albums, most made by recording performances of weddings, which I suppose gives his music a... what's the word? Closer to rehearsed than spontaneous, but not the sort of rehearsed you get by studio mixing. And not quite the same as a live show, because the context is more intimate. His stillness in the video is kind of intriguing--it's weird to see a performer who moves so minimally.  It's a cool contrast with the dancers.

And at this point, Bloggr failed to save my draft because it's the worst, and I lost all the other songs. But I've decided to bravely forge through them again, repeating the exact same choices, like someone living out the plot to Vonnegut's Time Quake.

Thao & The Get Down Stay Down -- The Feeling Kind.  I like this a lot. The lead singer is sexy, without having to go typical Hollywood exploitative, or showing a lot of skin. According to the band's wikipedia page, Thao was getting a sociology and women's studies degrees when the band first formed, which is cool. And the action is simple--crossing a bridge. I'll admit, I can't make out a lot of the lyrics, but I really like the tempo. The brass instruments add a sense of fun to the whole thing--the trumpet and instrumental bit at the end works really well.

And now I'm in trouble, because the list of possible songs offered to me is definitely not the one I did the first time around. I refresh the page and my memory a few times, and eventually, it spits out a list with the right song:

Fiona Apple -- Criminal. And there's the other direction you can go in the sexy spectrum. I like that it's a reversal of the music trope where the guy sings about how awesome it is that he's done wrong but his lady stands by him, and it wasn't his fault, it was the fame, anyway. There's also something here about the illicit nature of female desire. Likewise, the surveillance implications with the TV and photos is neat.  Her voice is nice--deep in a way that makes it stand out.

Cranberries -- Linger. You can tell we're getting towards the more popular stuff when it's a song I actually recognize--though I think I know the Kelly Clarkson cover better. I have to admit, I only know the lyrics for the chorus. Video-wise, I'm not sure what's going on. There's a noir vibe, with the detective and the run-down conditions and the black and white. But the detective is clearly terrible, as he seems to think hiding about two inches from her is sufficient to disguise his presence.

Amy Winehouse -- Back to Black.I'll admit, Winehouse never really made it onto my radar until after her death. Looks like I was missing out. I'm not sure I get quite what's going on here: there's a funeral, but the lyrics suggest more a drifting apart kind of distance. "We only said goodbye with words." Nice.

Lana Del Rey. Born to Die. This starts with a couple embracing, topless, before the American flag, then cuts to a cathedral interior where Del Rey is sitting in a simple throne flanked by tigers. It's weird, is what I'm saying. It's got a carpe diem theme to it, as you might think from the title. Or it might be a relationship falling apart. Not that relationships inevitably falling apart don't work with carpe diem--seize what you've got while you have it. I think I hate the silent male boyfriend, though. Something about the tattoos and earrings. Not that he has tattoos and earrings, but that he has those particular ones.

Ed Sheeran. Give Me Love.   Well, there's a creepy start--dead bodies do not a cheery video make. It's disconcerting--for me, at least--to see a video focusing on a female character when the singer is a male. It's like he's speaking for her, which is uncomfortable. Also uncomfortable: the woman pulling a feather out of her back. Not plucking a feather that's already there--reaching into her back, into her skin and pulling a feather out. Given the body at the beginning, I'm predicting an Icarus ending. Okay, didn't see the cupid twist coming--nice rise and fall into chaos. I actually liked this; not the song, but the story.

Passenger. Let Her Go.  I really hesitated on selecting this one.It's striking a little close to home for me. That's the amazing thing about music--the way a single song randomly chosen can seem to speak directly to what you're feeling and thinking in that moment. In a different century, we'd be using poetry for the same thing. Okay, I'm going to do the full sap thing:  "Well you only need the light when it's burning low / Only miss the sun when it starts to snow / Only know you love her when you let her go. / Only know you've been high when you're feeling low/ Only hate the road when you're missin' home / Only know you love her when you let her go / And you let her go."

Well, this journey took an unexpected nose dive in the pentultimate act. Can the final song cheer thing up?

Imagine Dragons -- Demons. NOPE. I dunno, the cuts between the demons of the people in the crowd and the larger concert feels a little cheap to me--that the video is exploiting painful situations for a band that hasn't earned the right to be posed as the solution. And then the ending re: their friend who died of cancer knocks me the hell off my high horse. Good cause, but still not for me.

All in all, this was a pretty successful iteration of journey. I don't think we've had any other one with so many songs from bands I didn't know that I liked: Passenger's "Let Her Go," Winehouse's "Back to Black," Cranberries' "Linger,"  Thao & the Get Down Stay Down's "The Feeling Kind," Fiona Apple's "Criminal," Los Campesinos!' "The Avacado"--all good songs. 6 out of 10 randomly chosen songs work out? Pretty good.

Later Daysa.

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