Sunday, December 22, 2013

November 2013 - Popular Music

Tori Amos - Gold Dust
Paula Cole - This Fire
Wendy Matthews - Ghosts
Over the Rhine - Ohio
Radiohead - In Rainbows
Rachael Yamagata - Happenstance 

I wasn't listening to pop music a lot during the month, and when I was I was tending to go for tried and true classics.

In one case, Gold Dust,  it wasn't a classic album but a selection of classic songs. Which I was pleased to discover I enjoyed quite a lot. I hadn't listened to the album for quite a while, since the initial period of listening when it was first released.

All the other albums were basically things that I could be confident of enjoying. I wasn't in a very exploratory mood (at least, not in popular music).  I'm still conscious of the fact that I haven't completely catalogued my pop collection in the period since I started keeping records (now getting towards 3 years), much less listened to everything that's in there. And so there's a large untapped reservoir to tackle... when I feel more inclined to tackle it.

It's also perhaps worth mentioning, not for the first time, that for pop music I generally only keep track of albums.  Or more accurately, complete discs.

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Which means that the above list doesn't reflect a song I became completely obsessed with during the month: Katy Perry's 'Wide Awake'.

And Glee's 'Wide Awake'. Yes, the show did it to me again. As far as I know I had never heard the song before its Glee appearance. But unlike previous times, I didn't end up deciding either that Glee didn't really live up to the original OR that Glee had rescued a beautiful song from overproduction.  No, this time, I became completely obsessed with two distinct versions of the same song.


And bought them both.

...I had no idea how much longer it was possible to extend an obsession with a song if one has two different versions to switch between.

Now, on the whole, I don't really like Katy Perry all that much.  The occasional song attracts some admiration.  Bizarrely, I had read this Katy Perry review a short while before hearing 'Wide Awake', which mentions the song as one of her finest. Given that much of the review fits my thoughts about Perry more generally (including mentioning 'Hot n Cold' as another of one her strong moments), I perhaps should have paid more attention. But it didn't occur to me to hunt out this song I'd never heard because... well, because it was a Katy Perry song and I don't spend a lot of time hunting out Katy Perry songs.


Instead, the song found me. And lodged in my brain. And tapped into surprising emotions - mostly to do with a previous relationship which ended some time ago, but which I was reevaluating more recently in the light of subsequent behaviour.

This little pop song, in some ways ridiculously simple in its construction (4 chords going around and around and never hitting a proper resolution) first struck me for its beautiful sound, and stayed with me as much for its lyrics. It gave my feelings voice. And I played it again and again, declaring that I was over the relationship while secretly knowing that was a lie, and hoping that sheer repetition would turn it into the truth. And marvelling at how the song could bear both interpretations.

Well played, manufactured pop industry. Well played.

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