Sunday, November 01, 2009

Music That Scares Me

After yesterdays post I came to the conclusion that there are some songs that scare me - scare me because I like them even though my brain tells me I really shouldn't. It's funny this should even happen to me because I generally like music that critics and snobs would label relentlessly cheesy (like Slaughter's "Up All Night"), but there are tunes that even I am ashamed to admit liking. And now, the day after Halloween, get ready for those things that go bump in the night...because I wouldn't want to be caught listening to them in the day time.

10. Chicago "25 Or 6 To 4 '86"

I've written about this song before, Chicago's forgotten cover of their own early '70's hit. Where the original was all about speed - speedy bass line, Peter Cetera's high whine, horns darting in and out while Terry Kath burns the hell out of his guitar, the remake was slow and clunky. The bass line moves at a crawl while an endlessly repeating drum pattern that sounds like it was done on trash cans churns on. Add a ridiculous 1984 inspired music clip that tries to disguise the band (because Peter Cetera had just been replaced by Jason Scheff) and you have a monumental piece of trash...that I love. Tonight I could only find the live version, it does not reduce it's greatness.

9. T' Pau "Heart And Soul"

The pon farr, it boils the blood! And so does this, the half spoken half sung 80's tech rocker performed by British band T'Pau (named after the Vulcan leader in Star Trek) fittingly led by Carol Decker (fascinating...not Decker unit?). Beavis and Butthead nailed this one commenting something like "Dial 1-800-sex me. Huh Huh" over this vid clip. Yet at random I find this going through my head, the rhythm pattern is irresistible for me. Agh!

8. Starland Vocal Band "Afternoon Delight"

Rock and roll rebellion couched in soft rock fluffiness? Going to a Catholic High School in the 80's, it was funny to listen to the Principal (a Catholic Brother) go on and on about the evils of the song "Afternoon Delight". Most of the class had no clue what this song even was at that point. Thankfully, the song got a revival a few years back due to a Will Farrell movie called Anchorman. The pure empty headed bliss that goes into the singing of lyrics like "Rubbin sticks and stones together makes the sparks ignite / And the thought of rubbin you is getting so exciting" is like the ultimate key party soundtrack from the 70's. Sky rockets in flight indeed.

7. Nelly "Hot In Herre"

It's getting hot in herre, so take off all your clothes!

6. Spandau Ballet "True"

I absolutely hated this song when it came out, it was as extremely wimpy as music got in that moment. Spandau Ballet, dressed up in suits like a bad 1920's nightclub act, singing how they know this much is...wait for it...TRUE! For decades I made fun of this song and would sing it with Shattnereque emphasis. Then the song went and snuck up on me, all that time singing it made me appreciate it. That "True" was barely remixed and made into the P.M. Dawn hit "Set Adrift On Memory Bliss" helped me like it even more, now I have to say I like the song as a whole. This much is true.

5. Rihanna "Umbrella"

Before being famous for her unfortunate private life, Rihanna hit it big serving up this slice of sleek James Bondish pop. A nice sense of mystery and of course that nagging hook "-ella-ella-ella-ella" that you can apply to the end of any sentence -tence -tence -tence makes it fun.

4. The Cardigans "Lovefool"

It seems like the theme to many of the songs I'm ashamed to like it that they're, well, wussy. Multiply the wuss factor times ten now, because this disco grooving girly whisper of a tune from a Leonardo Dicaprio movie is number 4 on this countdown. My wife made fun of me the other day for singing along with this, a sure sign of shame! I guess I could do a Dicaprio double play and include the Growing Pains theme in here. Or worse mash them up. Love me, Love me, show me that smile again. Speaking of mash up, here's ex-American Idol contestant Chris Daughtry and comedian Dane Cook jamming on Growing Pains together. Who'da thought of that?

Growing up in the Northern California Bay Area, I heard tons of hip hop and rap in the 80's and early 90's just hanging out with friends (it's the most popular style of music out here). So whether I liked it or not (I generally am not a rap fan), I would often hear hip hop / rap acts before they became national hits and NWA was one of them. There are many reasons for me not to like this, from the reprehensible name of the group (everyone knows the "N" in the name is not politically correct) to the fact that it gave birth to Gangsta rap changing the character of the entire genre from fun and lightness to misogyny and lethal violence. Plus more uses of the N word than anyone would have thought possible. And really, as a middle class kid who gained most of his street gang knowledge from an episode of Quincy M.E. (because no one is more down than Jack Klugman. No one!) there wasn't a lot I could directly relate to. But it's got a good beat and the energy of the trade offs between the different rappers comes across with palpable fury. No wonder the gang mentality seems so attractive to people. I don't own this song, but if I did I probably would look like Michael Bolton in the movie Office Space.

2. Britney Spears "Toxic"

With songs often better suited for comic punchlines than actual listening pleasure, teen queen Britney Spears had one truly great jam before plunging into an abyss of over indulgent madness. Spear's "Toxic" with its wacky wavy fake strings synth lines and breathless vocals was a pop atom bomb obliterating the competition. Yet what guy could admit to anyone their love for this dance floor ditty? A co-worker once noticed this song on my IPOD and called me on it which left me mortified, as Gomer Pyle would say surprise, surprise,surprise!

1. William Shatner "Mr Tambourine Man" or "Rocket Man" (tie)

The greatest singer / actor of any generation, Bill Shatner has brought his Shakespeare stylings to many a great tune over the years. Two stand out in particular, the first being his take on the Bob Dylan classic "Mr Tambourine Man" containing the famous sudden ending of Shatner screaming ""MR TAMBOURINE MAANNNNN!!!". Loved this song so much I played it for a college audio lab class I was TA for to demonstrate excellence in sound recording. Later I would find out about his version of Elton John's famous 70's hit, arguably the definitive version (at least I'll argue it). Because I'm a Rock-Et-Ma-N. You can throw in "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" and those Priceline commercials while you're at it, any chance to hear the great one sing.

So if I'm around and one of these songs come on be afraid, be very afraid. Because I will enjoy them. Oh yes I will. Because as Shatner says in the above clip, everything I do I do it...for you.


Arsenette said...

LOL hey.. I loved Heart and Soul.. and I have no idea why.. ahahhahahahahha

But yes I have to agree with your list :D

Shatner.. yeah.. ANYTHING he tries to .. ehm.. sing..

Mr. Mike said...

Shatner is great in everything! Just kidding, glad you enjoyed the list :)