Setting a Bad Example

I have two bits of shameless promotion to unload. The first item is an advertisement for the radio show that I will be guest-DJing (in place of DJ Ladies Please) on East Village Radio tomorrow from 4-6pm. You can tune in for a live webcast, or download the show anytime during the following week.

The second item is a vigorous defense of the songs I've suggested for the Great Cover Band Project, an insititution with which many of you will be familiar. I debated with myself whether SC was the appropriate venue for these exhortations, but ultimately decided...well, fuck it. Plus, it's an exercise that necissarily involves a discussion of a song's quality, so it falls withing the SC rubric. In other words, you can just take these as recommendations for songs you should take a(nother) listen to.

I only suggested three songs, and I picked all of them (at least partially) because they were not only great songs, but good canvases to work on top of...

The B-52's, "Dance This Mess Around": I can't claim to be an expert on the B-52's - espeically their earlier work - but take into consideration some of their best-known works: "Love Shack", "Roam", and "Rock Lobster". I think "Dance This Mess Around" has a quality that's missing from the rest of these pop gems - namely, it hinds at something sharp and seething under the bubbly exterior. Like a fist inside a clown glove. First of all, you've got these bouncy organ lines on top of a bass line that, if you sped it up and gave it some fuzz, would be seriously punk. The lyrics incorporate both a play on Diana Ross' "Stop In the Name of Love", and a list of "all 16 dances" which includes "the hypocrite." Covering this song allows for the possibility of drawing out these hostile undertones and turning them into the pivot point of the song. Compositionally, the song is sparse enough to allow for a lot of re-interpretation while remaining melodically recognizeable.

Bikini Kill, "Star Fish": I know that a lot of people will see Bikini Kill on that ballot and get immediately turned off. I ask you to just listen to this song a couple of times. My argument for "Star Fish" sort of runs opposite to what I said about the B-52's. "Star Fish" is far less sonically aggressive than most of Bikini Kill's catalogue, which is what makes it more approachable for a make-over. It's a bit of a weird comparison, I know, but it of reminds me of Portishead's "Sour Times" in terms of a spy movie sountrack kind of aesthetic. Plus, it has one of my favorite opening lyrics: "They want to buy/the look of my abuse/they want to use my blood/to color their perfume." Fucking sharp. Like much of BK's work, this song isn't complicated (and barely over a minute long), so there's a lot of room for re-working and expansion.

The Kinks, "All Day and All of the Night": Supress your memories of that ubiquitous Jolly Rancher commercials; the opening 10 notes of this song constitute one of the most promising rocknroll intros ever composted. Promising in the sense that when you hear those two seconds of sound, you immediately become aware of the impending rock damage that you will have to (and yearn to) sustain. This song was on the Kinks first album (self-titled), which came out in 1964, but you can't listen to this song without hearing the sound of punk to come. The lyrics, taken on a surface level, are more or less vapid, but they're belted out almost viciously. Oh, and the guitar solo is totally bitchin'. I'd like to break this song down and stick it back together with wood glue, scribble on it with a sharpie, and stick it back in my earholes. I think the cover band could accomplish this.

I rest my case.


Blogger d said...

a very bad example indeed. then again, dj-ing is like extreme recommending so there ya go.

dance this mess around is my favorite b-52's song. what about the aqua velva?

7:14 PM, June 28, 2005  

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