21 February 2007

Repeat Steps One Through Three

Last night, as the gents of American Idol were trying to make us love them, Jared Cotter gave me an excuse to talk about an old pop song. Now this may not be enough to make me like him and his crazy eyebrows, but it at least makes me like him more than, oh, Sundance. (Seriously, dude. Your dad had a hit single. If you're going to pimp the fact that you were raised around music industry professionals, you should demonstrate some kind of savvy yourself, y'know? Otherwise, it makes you look like you don't have the sense to learn by example.)

The song that Jared sang last night was "Back at One" by Brian McKnight, a song a like because it has an impossible chorus. By that, I mean it creates a system that cannot be completed.

See, the chorus has B. Mick following five easy steps to loving his woman. They go like this:

One... you're like a dream come true
Two... just wanna be with you
Three... girl it's plain to see / that you're the only one for me
Four... repeat steps one through three
Five... make you fall in love with me
If ever I believe my work is done... then I start back at one


But wait! It's impossible for Brian to get to step five! She can never fall in love with him! Because every time he gets to step four, he has to repeat steps one through three. The pattern loops forever!

I know it's probably unintentional, but that lyrical twist makes the song a proclamation of hopelessness. It's like Sisyphus wrote a love song, and that's cool.

In other news, does any movie look worse than "Amazing Grace?" First, there's the overwrought, white-boy-soul at the beginning of the trailer. Then there's the suggestion--once again--that the only people who can save those mixed up black people are the noble whites who take pity on them. Other movies that recently made that point include "Blood Diamond," "Freedom Writers," and "The Last King of Scotland." And then there's "Amistad," which clearly inspired the folks at "Amazing Grace" with its waistcoats and slave talk.

And really, I can't stand that kind of patronizing bullshit. It belittles everyone.

Just to feel better about the world, I'm going to go watch the top 12 women on "Idol." Nothing patronizing or reductive there, by God!

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3 Comments:

At 2:16 PM, Blogger N said...

Ugh, what bothers me more than the circular nature of "Back at One"'s lyrics is the sheer fact that Steps One, Two, and Three are NOT REALLY STEPS.

I mean, how is "you're like a dream come true" a step? The singer is going to literally manifest his dream in human form? He's going to take a non-dreamy woman and make her into a dreamy one?

Same with Two and Three. He's just making statements about what he thinks and calling them steps. Real steps involve some sort of directed action.

So even though Step Four is the problematic one, it at least is an actual step. And um, isn't Step Five more accurately the goal of all the other steps?

Sigh, this is why my melody-focused friends get annoyed at lyrics-focused me: "Why can't you forget about the words and just listen to the music?"

Because I don't wanna be... a murderer. That's why.

 
At 6:32 PM, Anonymous L said...

You guys have been in the music industry for so long and now you're all fucking old and rusty. When has music turned lyrics which made real sense..? It's always been the soul of the music.. lyrics don't have to make sense that's why it's a song and not a bloody documentation or something. You oldies like criticizing thing by their literal sense go and read some news papers or something..

 
At 6:51 PM, Anonymous L said...

PS: If you have never followed steps before.. logically.. steps for this song are like this...

1 > 2 > 3 > 4(all you do here is repeat 1-3 then you move to 5) > 5

Who said you had to do 4 again? it didn't tell you that, you're just making shit up yourself... your stupid logical is just thinking that way..

You guys need to think outside the square you live in ^^

 

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