14 November 2006

Welcome to My Random Thoughts

Welcome to the clearing house of my recent thoughts. Won't you have a look around? Everything with a blue tag is 60% off.

Thought #1: I knew it. Gwen Stefani is just a rehash of herself.

Imagine my sense of vindication when I saw this Billboard review of "Wind It Up," a song that I have already pegged as a hot, burning mess. And Chuck Taylor even informs us that Stefani's new album is just "leftovers" from her last! The record company isn't even calling it a "B-sides" collection. They're just tossing out table scraps like they're Thanksgiving dinner.

That makes the cookie-cutter uselessnes of "Wind It Up" so much more crass and offensive. It's not like Stefani went into the studio, tried to be creative, and failed. Instead, she dug around in her garbage can, dusted off a reject precisely because it sounded like "Hollaback Bridge" or "Promiscuous London Girl" and blithely hurled it in our direction.

Yes, I've seen enough "Behind the Music" to know her record label was behind it, too. Maybe she's contractually obligated to let the material out there. After all, she's a businesswoman, and this is the product that she has to sell. But she must realize that she's not growing at all with this flotsam. She must realize she's turning herself into the embrassing joke that current high schoolers will tell themselves during their sophomore years of college. "My God! That's so lame!," they'll say, "What were we thinking when we liked that novelty crap? Oh shit, here comes the RA! Hide the beer!"

And don't think you're immune, Mrs. Rossdale, just because you're famous right now. Spice Girls were popular in my senior year of high school, and we mocked them in my freshman poetry class.

Thought #2: Rhett Miller's album "The Believer" is really, really great

A few months ago, I downloaded this ablum on a lark, mostly because iTunes said people who like Josh Rouse like Miller, too. I gave it a few listens, made a mental note that is was good, and then put the new Dixie Chicks back on.

In the last few weeks, though, I've gotten a full appreciation for "The Believer." Only one song from that album--the gorgeous country-rock heartbreaker "Fireflies," featuring Rachael Yamagata--is on Miller's MySpace page, but it gives a decent sense of what you get. Smart, striking power pop with barroom influences. That makes sense, since Miller's in the alt-country band Old 97's. (I'll admit, I don't really know their music. Meghann... didn't you tell me a few months ago that I should?)

My favorite thing about "The Believer" is how effortless it sounds. It rocks and swings as easily as your favorite hammock. It makes your head bop. Or it makes you close your eyes and nod in appreciation. You know, like, "Mmm... that's a great chorus. Let me nod so that people on the subway will know I approve."

Thought #3: Damn, I like Beyoncé's new song, "Irreplaceable"

I have a tortured relationship with Beyoncé. Sometimes she delights me, but sometimes she drives me mad. Like an ex-lover whose picture I still keep in my wallet, her career keeps me in its thrall.

And "Irreplaceable" proves why I keep coming back. It's great. It's a sassy kiss-off song, but unlike "Ring The Alarm," it features something like a melody. It also allows Ms. Knowles to prove that she can sing. She sounds lovely. especially in the chorus when she hits those high notes on the phrase "another you in a minute."

After months of having artists force their tuneless beats on me, it's a relief to hear a current pop hit that's--dare I say it?--pretty. But it's not pretty in the service of heartbreak. It's pretty in the service of declaring one's awesomeness. "You must not know 'bout me," Beyoncé croons, "I can have another you in a minute." Damn right! Everybody sing!

Maybe I'm feeling charitable, but I can even excuse the fact that the chorus rhymes the words "minute" and "minute." We'll call it repetition for emphasis. And then get back to singing along.

And as a final point in the song's favor, the video rocks. She's just so attractive! And she doesn't need to overplay her dismissal of this loser. Her disinterest says it all. Then she goes inside to rock with her all-female band, which is totally empowering.

I leave you with the video. Even if you don't like the visuals, see if you agree about the song. Are you singing along by the end?



At 12:45 PM, Blogger Kerri said...

This song has overtaken my existence. Brilliant. Beautiful. I saw the video at the gym this morning and it's already my ringtone. Beyonce, Beyonce. Beautiful, talented. Sure, she's made some fashion faux pas in the past (blame her momma), but my word. I don't know if I want to be her glamorous self in that video or her garage-band self. Maybe I'll just look up that guy she's dumping. Damn. I haven't seen a man that fine since Janet Jackson's "Again" video in '93.


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