The Rich Girls Are Weeping

11 May 2006

I hate the hard upsell. I really do. So, I'll be out of town for a few days starting tomorrow; I may update from the road, but if I don't, now, don't freak out or anything.
But music can save your life sometimes. It probably saved me from working in a bank or something. That's a kind of salvation right there. // Richard Thompson
Hot Chip -- Laws of Salvation
Blur -- Tender
Richard & Linda Thompson -- I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight
(repost)

I have something to confess: I'm afraid I just don't care for Gnarls Barkley; or rather, it's not that I hate the project, it's that it just doesn't move me. (Does this make me racist? I kid, I kid. Sort of.) Seriously, though -- I've been thinking on this for months, pretty much since the online buzz started. "Crazy" is an interesting song, but ultimately devoid of that which it purports to be full of -- soul. For some reason, the part of my brain that loves classic R'n'B and soul (Irma. Thomas. Forever.) shrivels up and rejects Gnarls Barkley. It's a very strange feeling, and I can't explain it, other than that it's just too perfect. Yes, that's right. Cee-lo Green's voice is the perfect point between Nina Simone and Al Green; and Danger Mouse's beats have always seemed sort of mathematically perfect to me; which is to say they don't feel organic -- if that's the right term. I always thought his Grey Album was an interesting project, and his production with Gorillaz is neat, but both ultimately fell flat over the long run for me because of that lack of spontaneousness and yeah -- I'll say it -- funk. Which yes, is kind of the key to that missing soulfulness. But how can you tell Brian Burton not to be perfect, as well as weirdly anonymous (sometimes I wonder if he's a fan of Jerzy Kosiński's Pinball; I mean, he loves the 13th Floor Elevators and Morricone, so maybe, right?)? You can't, really. And we wouldn't want him that way either. So I'll just appreciate Gnarls Barkley, but I can't love it.

Then again, I have the same problem with a little indie power pop outfit called Irving, who also seem to be missing one key thing that would make them power pop perfection (a la Sloan or Teenage Fanclub or Matthew Sweet), but it's just not there. Mr. Perpetua and I usually agree on things, but I can't share his enthusiasm for Irving. Sure, we could talk influences, and execution, but in the end, it's that near-mechanical songwriting and execution (you know, OK GO and We Are Scientists and Phantom Planet kind of succumbed to this as well: Boring Power Pop Syndrome, as popularized by The Posies. Zzzzz.) that ends up sucking the life out of a genre that's supposed to be a little bit scrappy and messy and adorable. Isn't it?

Then again, you could just argue that that's what good pop music has become in the digital age. Perfectly cranked-out and sterile beats, perfectly filtered vocals. But you know, it's never that simple. I mean, how exactly do you live with yourself after writing these paragraphs and then have a sudden desire to listen to Girls Aloud? Well, you're screwed, I'll tell you that much. Maybe I'll listen to The Carpenters instead. Will it help if I go AM gold and analog? Wait, don't answer that.

Girls Aloud -- The Show
The Carpenters -- Superstar


Anyway, this is not to say that a band that performs like a well-oiled machine isn't a joy and a pleasure to watch; I enjoy the stark precision of Interpol as much as I do the unpredictable shambles of a band like Okkervil River or The Wrens.

Interpol -- NYC (repost)
Okkervil River -- Okkervil River Song (live at Emo's)
The Wrens -- Everyone Chooses Sides (live on WOXY)


So wow, I've totally argued myself back around to the beginning of my thought process, which means this post was apparently a written for the sole purpose of linking to that definitive Slate article that should really shut the door on the utterly ridiculous Stephen Merritt IS A RACIST! debacle. Clearly. Oh, and I forgot to post a Sloan song. Oops.

Sloan -- Losing California

ps -- I finally got that Celebration interview uploaded and Pinkie provided the text.

16 Comments:

Blogger Michael said...

nooo the hot chip link won't work.

Thursday, May 11, 2006 8:36:00 PM  
Blogger cindy hotpoint said...

I thought I checked it, my bad. It's working now!

Friday, May 12, 2006 12:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

how sweeeet is that hot chip song. i feel i'm gona be playin this alot, folky goodness

Friday, May 12, 2006 5:12:00 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

thaaaank you!!

Friday, May 12, 2006 10:41:00 AM  
Blogger cookies from elastic said...

The Blur link also seems to be on the fritz.

I enjoyed reading your thoughts on why certain music leaves you cold. Even though I can't agree with you on all points (Gnarls Barkley still makes me spastic--in a good way--and OK Go won me over when I saw them live, having never heard of them before), you make some excellent observations. Plus, sometimes I think I'm not discriminating enough. My problem seems to be that I like everything. Well, almost.

Anyway, thanks!

Friday, May 12, 2006 11:56:00 AM  
Anonymous colleen said...

ny cares dear cindy! yes, yes it does :)

Friday, May 12, 2006 11:58:00 AM  
Blogger cindy hotpoint said...

cookies: OMG, it might help if I actually *uploaded* the song. The link should work now. Sorry about that -- can you tell I posted this in a hurry yesterday? I didn't check the links, obvs! (:

Friday, May 12, 2006 12:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice to see some love for Blur, very underappreciated

Friday, May 12, 2006 3:57:00 PM  
Anonymous paige said...

Kudos on calling a spade a spade with Gnarls. Double those kudos and eat 'em up for dropping Irma in the mix, too. Hott.

Friday, May 12, 2006 7:31:00 PM  
Blogger Mycardo said...

Hot Chip and The Carpenters - what an awesome post!

Saturday, May 13, 2006 4:22:00 AM  
Blogger Marten said...

I agree on the Gnarls. I see that it's not bad music, and I understand the hype, but still I go all meh.

Saturday, May 13, 2006 9:46:00 AM  
Blogger J Frank Parnell said...

but in the end, it's that near-mechanical songwriting and execution (you know, OK GO and We Are Scientists and Phantom Planet kind of succumbed to this as well: Boring Power Pop Syndrome, as popularized by The Posies. Zzzzz.) that ends up sucking the life out of a genre that's supposed to be a little bit scrappy and messy and adorable. Isn't it?

Well said. Wish I'd said it myself. The Sloan track, like most of their music, says it too, and I mean that as a compliment to Sloan.

The Gnarls sounds just like Jamiroquai, which was nothing to revive, ever. I can see why 'Crazy' is a hit, at least in Europe, where different heads are on different bodies so much differently than America, due to our differing race histories and art and class histories ... but that's creepier, deeper stuff.

Monday, May 15, 2006 5:54:00 PM  
Blogger chris said...

That live Okkervil River track makes me giddy. They got a lot of love for Black Sheep Boy, and I dug that one too, but I miss that mandolin!

Monday, May 15, 2006 8:34:00 PM  
Blogger cindy hotpoint said...

Mr Parnell: It's funny that you mention Jamiroquai -- I'd actually planned to mention that Gnarls Barkley more than a little reminiscent of the work of Jason Kay, but thought that might be too much of a stretch for some people to swallow! I guess it wasn't, then!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006 11:43:00 AM  
Anonymous lism. said...

I didn't get the Gnarls love at all - until I heard the Ray LaMontagne cover of "Crazy". What. A. Song.

Monday, May 22, 2006 2:55:00 PM  
Blogger cindy hotpoint said...

I can't agree about the over-emotive Ray LaMontagne version -- what the world needs now is another "sensitive" singer/songwriter who "interprets" other people's bad songs like I need a hole in the head (with apologies to Cracker...).

I'm also looking squarely at you, Jose Gonzales. Totally.

Monday, May 22, 2006 3:52:00 PM  

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