Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Childhood Movies Revisited: Matilda

Back in October last year, I decided to re-watch a couple of movies from my childhood to see what they would be like to me at my current age. From an older perspective, where I would be more knowledgeable about things, have more wisdom and general maturity of things I wouldn't think about or comprehend as a child. I watched them to observe them with an adult mind, essentially, and to compare them as well.

I also touched on the movie Paulie in June.

This time, after remembering certain scenes I either found funny or memorable, I decided to watch Matilda, another classic childhood movie from 1996.

The story of Matilda originally came from Roald Dahl, published in 1988, a couple of years before his death. He was a fascinating children's author, and I've read a few of his books. The films are the best though, with Matilda likely being my most favorite. I also have James and the Giant Peach (both movie and book) and the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (called Charlie and the Chocolate Factory originally) is timeless.

I probably, like all the works mentioned above, saw the movie first (unfortunately, I find, as I like the idea of reading the novel first) but I've heard the story before as well (it was read by one of my teachers in elementary school).

Essentially, it focuses on a young girl, Matilda Wormwood, who is remarkably smart and loves to read, but her parents are not interested in her in the least and otherwise ignores her. She eventually begins attending school, which is terrorized by its principal, Ms. Trunchbull. Befriending her wonderful, kind, caring teacher Ms. Honey, and developing a telekinetic power fueled by all the past verbal abuse she'd received from her father (and recently from Trunchbull) she helps free Ms. Honey from her dark past (as it is revealed that Trunchbull is her step-aunt and the likely cause for her loving father's death) and scares Trunchbull away with her powers. In the end she is adopted by Honey as her parents and older brother escape the country from the FBI (her father is a crooked used-car salesman).

When I was much younger and watching this movie, of course it was extremely different. As a kid you're attracted more to the visual aspect of it, the wonders of each scene and the action involved. You're not really focused on the dialogue or plotline. At least I wasn't. I was probably all set with the surrealistic scenes involving Matilda and her use of her telekinesis. Or the funny bits in which a newt ends up on Trunchbull and she jumps and dances about in fright, trying to get it off.

Now that I've seen it again, it's mostly the opposite. It took me several tries as a kid and younger adolescent to figure out the plotline of a movie because I wasn't paying enough attention to the dialogue, or digesting it. People would speak and then the scene would change, and that's what I'd get out of it. Nowadays people speak, meaning and context blossoms into focus, and it all makes sense. A story is told.
Think of it as when you're a kid you look in a children's book and only pay attention to all the fancy illustrations or pictures instead of reading it.

What I find interesting with this movie is the amount of dialogue I did not understand as a kid that I do now. Trunchbull uses a lot of moderate to even slightly large words in her phrasing and speech. For instance, she has an obese child named Bruce get up on stage during an assembly to accuse him of stealing a piece of her cake. Leaning into his face, she says "Do you deny it? ...Confess!"
I remember not knowing what those words meant at all.
Furthermore, with her British accent (Trunchbull is played by English actress Pam Ferris) and her usual shouting and rapid-fire ranting, I can see how I wouldn't have understood her at all. It's almost like a rediscovery. For the first time, as an enormous chocolate cake is set in front of the Bruce child on the stage as a sort of punishment for his eating her piece, I heard her say "Her blood and sweat went into the making of this cake and you will not leave this platform until you have devoured every single morsel of this confectionery!"
Other than Trunchbull's newly-understood phrasing (which sounds sophisticated, mildly intelligent and full of scathing insults) other contexts came into play to me. Like the federal detectives that watch the Wormwood house throughout the movie. I knew what Matilda was saying when she says "they're cops" to her disbelieving parents, and I had a vague idea that it had to do with Harry Wormwood and his used-car business dealings, but I never thought about it. Crooked, illegal business transactions are explored in this movie through Harry's illicit business, his illegal purchasing of car parts and his price fixing. He takes Matilda and her older brother to his used car lot and garage in the film and explains how he works: He purchases useless cars that are broken down for a low price, 'fixes' them up by using illegal, time- and money-saving, substandard methods (instead of welding a bumper back on, he glues it, he fills the transition with sawdust to quiet it down, runs the speedometer back to falsely show the lack of miles it's ran, etc.) and then sells it for almost triple the amount he paid for it.
Seeing her now, standing in the middle of the garage in that scene, loudly stating "this is illegal" to her father while pointing at the floor righteously to emphasize the business, almost cracks me up. You just don't see a little girl doing that these days, whether in a movie or not. It's amazing and different. You'd expect a full-grown, wise, smartly-dressed lawyer to say that, not very small child. It's just unusual, cute, and heroic all at once. It's a scene heavy with emphasis and right vs. wrong. A grand statement.

Matilda diverts the detectives to allow her father some time before they catch him by telekinetically releasing the handbrake from their parked car while she explains the consequences of them lacking a search warrant when she catches them in her garage.

Danny DeVito did a great job of interpreting and directing this film. He also plays Harry, and his real wife and actress Rhea Perlman plays his wife Zinnia. Plus he narrates it as well. Interestingly, I had absolutely no idea the same guy who played Harry Wormwood was also the voice that provided the easy, warm narration when I was young. The narrator and Harry sound virtually the same, except the vocal tones are very different (Harry tends to sneer and speak forcefully while the narrator is softer, slower, and kinder). I get the idea from how the film plays out, how certain scenes transition or come long, that it came from a Roald Dahl story. The style reflects what I'd see reading those books. Like the flashback scenes when Ms. Honey is telling her story, which feature right away and look almost dreamlike. Or when, as Ms. Honey is off to meet with Trunchbull in her office, the camera zooms up to her door very quickly as the sounds of Trunchbull's loud cackling and witch-like commentary are easily heard. You can tell that came out of a story, an eerie one with an evil, witch-like character.

I have to think that the character of Trunchbull came from a childhood experience of Roald Dahl's. I'd read some of his autobiographical book on his childhood, and in it he talks about a horrible old lady who ran a candy shop in his village who seemed to hate the children. Dahl and his friends decided to put a dead mouse in one of the jars as a prank because of her lack of hygiene, and in result their headmaster had caned them in front of her (as she laughed and encouraged the headmaster to go harder and longer).

It's still a pretty good movie, except that I now watch it with a much better awareness of how it plays out, and an educated, sophisticated, adult opinion. The Trunchbull character is pretty physically present. At one point she lifts the rear end of the faulty car she'd bought off of Harry Wormwood, a huge vehicle with shots (heavy metal balls for shot put) in the trunk, and turns the vehicle around. She then both pushes and steers the car all the way back to her house. Later she vaults over the banister of the second floor ("Tallyho!") and falls to the main floor, landing so hard things like china cabinets and light fixtures fall. It is mentioned in the movie she performed in the Olympics for shot put and javelin. And they always give the villains in stories horrible names - "Trunchbull?" Have you ever heard of a villain or negative character that doesn't have a theme for a name or an obvious name (like Dr. Evil) have a nice-sounding name? 'Wormwood" is another example - it's not "Warmwood" (as I thought as a child) but "Wormwood." Not very appealing isn't it?
She might as well be the female Arnold Schwarzenegger - he also lifts the rear end of a car in the movie Twins (1988).

From this point of view, it's still a great movie. The characters are interesting, certainly Agatha Trunchbull for her words and actions, and Matilda is sweet and heroic. I didn't expect Paul Reubens (Pee-Wee's Playhouse) to have been playing one of the detectives (I didn't know that then, and since then I never expected to have seen him before I did elsewhere). They used to say (and still probably do) that it's great for the kids and also fun for the adults.
It certainly is for this movie. I still want to see it again and a again...

I give it an A.

One more thing. The film also really put into me a childhood song I remember very well - "Send me on my Way" by Rusted Root. You know, that song with the acoustic guitar and whistling, and the deep voice that goes "on the way..." over and over. It's always, since then, been green to me, synesthetically, and it's a childhood classic. Not in the idea in that it's a childrens' song (it's not) but in the idea that that's where I originally heard it - when I was young.

I wonder when I'll watch it again?

Justin C.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Hot Love Around the Bend

I stated that I would be writing a review on one of the songs I briefly mentioned in passing in a previous post, and that had been a song called 'Around the Bend.' Well, here it is. I've gotten into listening to it a few times now, properly, so here I write.

In terms of discovery, it was through a commercial. I'm sure that's how everyone discovered it, because otherwise, the band itself isn't a hugely mainstream, widely-known outfit. If it weren't for that commercial, I'm sure I wouldn't be the only person who hadn't heard it or the band before.

It was an iPod commercial. Those are usually colorful ads, and on this occasion they used pretty good music. Usually all I hear though is "If you had an iPod" (or iPhone, etc) or "does your iPhone/Pod do..."

Instantly, it was the horns that got me. A trumpet and sax. That, and the basic sound of the music surrounding it, the guitar and bass.

I'd only hear it on the commercial. Though I would also hear a small portion of it on an episode of Chuck (I don't know what episode, I wasn't really watching the TV but the scene was a convention setting).

In 2009, while with my cousins and camping on Grand Lake in Algonquin Park, one of them brought their iPod and speakers on the beach and put music on. This song was part of their playlist.

I was filming little clips on my digital camera, and made sure to get bits of the song floating in and out of the audio so I'd have some of it to hear when watching the clips later. I didn't bother asking my cousin who had the iPod what the song was until later through e-mail, because the high-pitched female voice kind of got me a bit. I liked the music but I wasn't that into the voice, or the fact that I admittedly found a song on my cousins' iPod that I actually liked - I felt weird always having a negative approach to what they listened to, and then suddenly I'm all enthusiastic about one recent song. What would they think of that? I was probably a little self-conscious.

My cousin Olesia would tell me the name of the song and the band, Asteroid Galaxy Tour, but I wouldn't go looking for it on YouTube for the reasons stated above. Eventually my maternal grandpa inadvertently deleted every one of my e-mails when I forgot to log out on his computer, so I would not have any way of figuring it out again.

A few days ago, I finally decided to look it up on YouTube by simply searching the title. I quickly found it and, with the volume really low (I still had a bit of difficultly expecting high-pitched voices and things, I know, it's weird) I properly listened to it.

Hearing it normally, I found more elements of the song that worked. There's a guitar that's kind of quiet, like it's in the background, and it works perfectly. The horns sound as good as ever. The bass has a good tune to it. I used to think it was kind of similar to 'Summer Breeze' by Seals and Croft, during the verses, but while it is kind of similar it isn't identical. It's also very similar to the bass during the chorus of 'Alive' by Pearl Jam - except in this song it starts on F# instead E, and ends on B instead of A. It's one tone higher than 'Alive.' And it ends on a high B while 'Alive' ends on a low E (during the chorus).

The big musical players in this song to me are the horns, bass and guitar. The drums have an easy, though mildly interesting, beat to them. Sometimes the snare is struck a few times in quick succession at the end of a measure. There's also a keyboard but it isn't that easy to hear and I think it only plays bit parts.

The band, I have read, only really consists of a female vocalist and a producer, and they come from Denmark. However, they must employ a few session musicians for the other instruments (their music is definitely not computer/keyboards-only based) and they use all these other musicians, a trumpeter and sax player, bassist, drummer, etc. in their live shows.

This song is one of those few in which I really like the guitar. It doesn't sound aggressively loud and leading - it's actually kind of just a piece of the song that fills up the sound but is essential. It makes it complete without having to be the most prominent instrument.
It gives me the image of me standing in the background of some sort of event I am at first cynical of, but everything pulls off nicely and I am appreciative and pleasantly surprised, which is the sound of the guitar in the song to me - being happy and appreciative and liking something you might have thought wouldn't have worked at first. From the background. This guitar riff continues throughout the entire song, including verses (often you'll hear something like that just in the choruses). It's a rough yellow to me (and produces that pleasant image/feeling/setting).

I very quickly got used to the vocals. At first they were a bit cringing to listen to, as they got very high-pitched near the end ("I'll stay fooorreeeeever!") but generally they actually sound inviting and amiable, even kind of loving. Granted, at first you get the idea that an eight-year-old girl is singing it, and with a trace of lust in her voice (certain words sound that way) but you end up getting what sounds like a teen who really wants the best time of her life in a positive and memorable way.
I think that original image is what made me keep my distance from the song at first.

What I like the most about the voices is that other voices come and go in the song, and while they might sound a bit silly or unnecessary, they actually provide this feeling or atmosphere for who or what the song is directed at, perhaps what kind of listener it's directed towards. I get the feeling the voices are like the ones of the singer's friends or posse - and they're eager to be curious and playful. It's kind of cute in a way, particularly how they sound sometimes. I even see a bit of childhood innocence in the way they sound at some points. To me, with the vocalist and her replying murmurs and voices, it's like the song is about wanting a good time, particularly with friends, and 'around the bend.' Good times, friendly love, endless days of childlike discovery of the world, and ultimate warm-heartedness to the ones you know. The words "I'll stay forever with you" seem to imply that this state of loving friendship and good times should never end and won't.

If I were a guy (well, I am) and she were singing to me, I would probably wonder if she had romantic intentions after hearing the full song, like every other guy would no doubt wonder. It does imply that as well - 'hot hot love around the bend' - but I like to think that it's all in the name of friendly love, which I think sounds better because it then involves everyone else in this 'group' the other voices in the song depict. And for some reason it sounds sweeter to me. I'm saying this without consciously trying to avoid being selfish.

In the end I actually really do like the voice, though I hope it's not because it sounds young. Largely it's because of the way she sings and pronounces, inflects her words. A lot of feeling and implication is embedded in her tone, which really sounds nice.

I won't go into the music video because the one I found is not one I am sure of. I do not really believe there is an actual music video to the song. The one I found might be it, but I am not sure because the song sounds like it's being played live and stuff.

The voice and song in general make me think of a several people, all girls, particularly one I knew in high school. Largely for the similarities in what the song is about or what and how the singer sings about it.

It's a really good song if you can get over the voice at first (it's not that bad). The bass uses a great sound that's not unfamiliar and fun/optimistic, the guitar is perfect, the horns are a nice touch, and the singer really carries the message and want that it has. It's almost profound.

Music: A-
Lyrics: B +

By the way, the voice fits the exact illustration of the girl in the screenshot. I hear it and I see a blonde girl with long hair and soft features and the girl there appears to have them perfectly (she has blonde hair in the other video I saw just to prove it).

Justin C.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

75 Songs

Today, I watched and typed down every song, its artist, album and release date, from that videotape of them I've mentioned on here a few times before. I knew it was a big task since I've always decided it was around eight hours long and there were over a hundred music videos on it.

My estimations were grossly inaccurate.

To give a brief explanation of what I'm talking about in case no one has read any of my prior mentions, I'm referring to an old videotape my mother used to record music videos as well as interviews and concerts off of the TV. Back in the day it was something that was done often.

I remember watching it with my mother as a younger child. Around that time, 1997-98, she'd recorded a few songs I'd liked myself on there, including 'Where's the Love' by Hanson and a fun music video by Backstreet Boys called 'Everybody (Backstreet's Back).' I think some of the music on the tape had a small hand in influencing my musical tastes because it was played often when I was younger, exposing me to pop music, sometimes obscure but mostly mainstream, from the late 80s and early 90s.

Today I spent about four hours fast-forwarding every music video on there, only pausing it at the beginning to take down the name of the song, artist, album and year. Sometimes I wouldn't fast-forward and just watch the ones I liked. Originally I thought it would take absolutely forever, all day. In a way, it did, but to my big surprise as I got to the end, I finished it at seventy-five songs. Or music videos.

Had I not fast-forwarded it, but also not paused it, and had there not been any interview segments between videos or repeats of one video (sometimes a song repeats twice or even more), the tape would actually probably only be about three hours long. There are some parts of the tape that are devoted to a part of an episode of Spotlight, an old series MuchMusic used to air, so several songs by one artist or band, plus interview segments, would go by. Spotlight episodes of Mariah Carey, Crowded House, Barenaked Ladies, Genesis, and Whitney Houston feature.

  • Love Takes Time - Mariah Carey, Mariah Carey (1990) [Part of MuchMusic Spotlight episode on Mariah Carey] 

  • I Don't Wanna Cry - Mariah Carey, Mariah Carey (1990) [Part of MuchMusic Spotlight episode on Mariah Carey]

  • Emotions - Mariah Carey, Emotions (1991) [Part of MuchMusic Spotlight episode on Mariah Carey]

  • Dreamlover - Mariah Carey, Music Box (1993) [Part of MuchMusic Spotlight episode on Mariah Carey]

  • Possession - Sarah McLachlan, Fumbling Towards Ecstasy (1993)

  • Trust Yourself - Blue Rodeo, Casino (1990)

  • The Color of My Love Concert, Celine Dion, Quebec City, Recorded 1993, Released 1995. 'Mislead' and other unnamed songs.

  • Don't Dream it's Over - Crowded House, Crowded House (1986) [Part of a MuchMusic Spotlightepisode on Crowded House]

  • Something So Strong - Crowded House, Crowded House (1986) [Part of a MuchMusic Spotlight episode on Crowded House]

  • Into Temptation - Crowded House, Temple of Low Men (1988) [Part of a MuchMusic Spotlight episode on Crowded House]

  • It's only Natural - Crowded House, Woodface (1991) [Part of a MuchMusic Spotlight episode on Crowded House]

  • Distant Sun - Crowded House, Together Alone (1993) [Part of a MuchMusic Spotlight episode on Crowded House]

  • It's Alright (Baby's Coming Back) - Eurythmics, Be Yourself Tonight (1985)

  • Why - Annie Lennox, Diva (1992)

  • Whatta Man - Salt-N-Peppa & En Vogue, Very Necessary (1993) [Repeats x3, once more later on the tape]

  • (If There Was) Any Other Way - Celine Dion, Unison (1990)

  • Where Does My Heart Beat Now - Celine Dion, Unison (1990)

  • All We Are - Kim Mitchell, Akimbo Alogo (1984)

  • Rocklandwonderland - Kim Mitchell, Rockland (1989)

  • Higher Love - Steve Winwood, Back in the Highlife (1986)

  • Here Comes A Man - TRAFFIC, Far From Home (1994)

  • Make You A Believer - Sass Jordan, Racine (1992)

  • You Don't Have to Remind Me - Sass Jordan, Racine (1992)

  • Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover - Sophie B. Hawkins, Tongues and Tails (1992)

  • Don't Mean Nothing - Richard Marx, Richard Marx (1987)

  • Into the Great Wide Open - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Into the Great Wide Open(1991)

  • Under the Bridge - Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Blood Sugar Sex Magik (1992)

  • Soul to Squeeze - Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Coneheads soundtrack (1993)

  • Here I am - Lyle Lovett, Lyle Lovett and his Very Large Band (1988)

  • She's No Lady - Lyle Lovett, Pontiac (1987)

  • Love Shack - The B-52s, Cosmic Thing (1989)

  • Blues Before and After - The Smithereens, Smithereens 11 (1989)

  • Blood and Roses - The Smithereens, Especially For You (1986)

  • Only a Memory - The Smithereens, Green Thoughts (1988)

  • People Everyday - Arrested Development, 3 Years, 5 Months, & 2 Days in the Life of... (1992) (Repeats x2)

  • Moonlight Desires - Gowan, Great Dirty World (1987)

  • All the Lovers in the World - Gowan, Lost Brotherhood (1990)

  • When There's Time (For Love) - Gowan, But You Can Call Me Larry (1993)

  • Here Comes a Man TRAFFIC repeat x2

  • Enid - Barenaked Ladies, Gordon (1992) [Part of a MuchMusic Spotlight episode on Barenaked Ladies]

  • Lovers in a Dangerous Time - Barenaked Ladies, Kick at the Darkness (Bruce Cockburn tribute album) (1991) [Part of a MuchMusic Spotlight episode on Barenaked Ladies]

  • If I had 1,000,000 - Barenaked Ladies, Gordon (1992) [live performance] [Part of a MuchMusic Spotlight episode on Barenaked Ladies]

  • Brian Wilson - Barenaked Ladies, Gordon (1992) [Part of a MuchMusic Spotlight episode on Barenaked Ladies]

  • No One Else on Earth - Wynnona, Wynnona (1992)

  • Mama - Genesis, Genesis (1983) [Part of a MuchMusic Spotlight episode on Genesis]

  • In Too Deep - Genesis, Invisible Touch (1986) [Part of a MuchMusic Spotlight episode on Genesis]

  • I Can't Dance - Genesis, We Can't Dance (1991) [Part of a MuchMusic Spotlight episode on Genesis]

  • Man on the Corner - Genesis, Abacab (1981) [Part of a MuchMusic Spotlight episode on Genesis]

  • Illegal Alien - Genesis, Genesis (1983) [Part of a MuchMusic Spotlight episode on Genesis]

  • Land of Confusion - Genesis, Invisible Touch (1986) [Part of a MuchMusic Spotlight episode on Genesis]

  • No Son of Mine - Genesis, We Can't Dance (1991) [Part of a MuchMusic Spotlight episode on Genesis]

  • 7 Seconds - Youssou N'Dour & Neneh Cherry, The Guide (Wommat) & Man (1994)

  • You Give Good Love - Whitney Houston, Whitney Houston (1985) [Part of a MuchMusicSpotlight episode on Whitney Houston]

  • I'm Your Baby Tonight - Whitney Houston, I'm Your Baby Tonight (1990) [Part of a MuchMusic Spotlight episode on Whitney Houston]

  • I Will Always Love You - Whitney Houstin, The Bodyguard soundtrack (1992) [Part of a MuchMusic Spotlight episode on Whitney Houston]

  • Into the Fire - Sarah McLachlan, Solace (1991)

  • Possession [Different Version] - Sarah McLachlan, Fumbling Towards Ecstasy (1993)

  • I Got You - Split Enz, True Colors (1980)

  • One Step Ahead - Split Enz, Waiata (1981)

  • Message to My Girl - Split Enz, Conflicting Emotions (1984) [Repeats x2]

  • Somewhere Down the Crazy River - Robbie Robertson, Robbie Robertson (1987)

  • Baby, Baby, Baby - TLC, Ooooooohhh on the TLC Tip (1992)

  • Creep - TLC, Crazy Sexy Cool (1994)

  • I Wanna Be Down - Brandy, Brandy (1994)

  • Baby - Brandy, Brandy (1995)

  • Red Light Special - TLC, Crazy Sexy Cool (1995)

  • Charms - Philosopher Kings, The Philosopher Kings (1996)

  • Living in a Dream - Arc Angels, Arc Angels (1992)

  • Do you Know (What it Takes) - Robyn, Robyn is Here (1997)

  • Where's the Love - Hanson, Middle of Nowhere (1997)

  • D'You Know What I Mean? - Oasis, Be Here Now (1997)

  • Everybody (Backstreet's Back) - Backstreet Boys, Backstreet's Back (1997)

  • Building a Mystery - Sarah McLachlan, Surfacing (1997)

  • Bad Girl - Madonna, Erotica (1992)

  • Secret - Madonna, Bedtime Stories (1994)

  • Since I have now gotten everything listed, I can now break it down into interesting bits of information.

    1980 - 1 song
    1981 - 2 songs
    1983 - 3 songs
    1984 - 2 songs
    1985 - 2 songs
    1986 - 6 songs
    1987 - 3 songs
    1988 - 3 songs
    1989 - 3 songs
    1990 - 7 songs
    1991 - 6 songs
    1992 - 14 songs
    1993 - 7 songs
    1994 - 5 songs
    1995 - 2 songs
    1996 - 1 song
    1997 - 5 songs

    It's interesting to sort of find the average year the videos were from. 1992 wins in this regard. In terms of artist, it appears Genesis has the most videos.

    I probably over-estimated the time of the tape due to the fact that one music video seems hours away from another music video only three or four videos later. When I look at that and see 'Message to My Girl' and then look at 'Creep' only two videos away, I could not see how close that is when I think of the time it felt like for me to get from one to the other. What probably makes it seem so long like that is due to the change in atmosphere; one musical video has an extremely different taste, atmosphere, setting, and sound from another one, and when you've changed these different factors a few times, factors that often have a huge contrast with one another between videos, it seems like you've come a long way.

    It's a good tape. It's like a playlist. In this day and age it might as well be a playlist on your iPod that you listen to on your way to work or school. It probably wouldn't seem nearly as long for one thing. But back in the old days, with videotapes and well-done, creative, illustrative music videos recorded on them, there's a real atmosphere and aesthetic to it. I like it; I probably like it more than what you hear on mp3s and iPods today (in terms of sound quality and how it's interpreted). I'd probably go for the old tapes over the 'official, original' versions of the music videos offered on VEVO on YouTube - those sound too clear and perfect and new, refined and remastered.
    Plus the ads are quite annoying.

    If you find any song in the list that you remember or like, I'm pretty sure they're on YouTube, 'perfect' and 'remastered.' But you can't beat the aesthetic of atmosphere and the old sound quality of that tape. On there, they sound original.
    That's always the best in my opinion.

    Justin C.

    Sunday, August 14, 2011

    Foster the Kicks

    It is very rare for me to find a good interest and liking of a song that came out only a year ago. Mostly my interest in songs tend to focus on ones decades prior to a year ago. Other than The Raconteurs' 'Steady as She Goes,' and a song called 'Around the Bend' by Danish group 'Asteroid Galaxy Tour' (I'll be writing a separate piece on that later) as well as this song, there are no others.

    The reasons I like those two others, in a nutshell, is largely because they sound similar to other songs from the many years ago category, or borrow styles or instrumentation. 'Steady As She Goes' is 'Is She Really Going Out With Him' with different lyrics and in a slightly lower key.

    This one was released in 2010 and is titled 'Pumped up Kicks' by Foster the People.

    I discovered it when overhearing it on the TV in my mother's room, which I have already explained is a source for a lot of older music that my mother listens too and thus I end up listening to (without complaint, it's good music). I heard this prominent, nice, colorful and positive-sounding bass line, and the chorus sounded interesting as well. At that time, however, I had misheard them as I usually do the first time and thought they'd gone 'I'll be with the kids.'

    It made me think of myself looking after my half-siblings last summer, or my friend Elliot's busy parenting lifestyle with his young children.

    The contrast between what I thought the song was about and what it's about is pretty big. Instead of being with kids, rather, it's about shooting them up.

    Also, and I'm just putting it out there before I dive into the content of the song, the bass line of the entire song (which never changes) made me think during my ignorance of large families of children, namely the Royal Tenenbaums, a movie I saw once and like. In a positive way.

    I ended up having to read the lyrics online. It simply tells the story of a teenager who has the desire to shoot and kill as much of his peers as he can. It is implied that he was bullied or teased by them.

    When a review of the song I read brought up the Columbine Massacre twelve years ago, I decided to do some research and read up on it. Yeah, the main character in this song might as well be a reincarnation of one of those two boys.

    The music is pretty contrasted to the lyrics. I read that it was written first, then the lyrics. It's interesting when bands or artists decide to contrast their music and lyrics. Usually it's with upbeat, happy music and sad lyrics. I don't think I've heard sad music and happy lyrics before. Good examples of sad songs with bright music are Madness's 'Crying Shame' and (to get away from Madness) Steely Dan's 'Reelin' In the Years.'
    Maybe I should try and write happy lyrics to sad music? See how it sounds?

    The music video to the song, to me, makes no sense at all. It's rather just a large amount of random scenes spliced together of members of Foster the People doing leisurely activities, being silly, and playing on stage what looks like a rather loud rock song. I get that idea from the body language and the way the lead singer seems to be screaming sometimes.

    Ironically, before I looked it up and listened properly, I'd thought the song came from the 1970s because it sounded so cheerful and bass-driven. It had this indie sound to it. Instead, when I mentioned liking this song on Facebook, a friend of mine was able to ask the DJ at the bar on my birthday to play a song they actually had because it was very recent. He'd originally asked, to my surprise and awkwardness, to have the bar play 'Our House.' I really am tired of people thinking that's my song or my only real favorite song, or the only one I am known to like. Its lost it's shocking, heavenly appeal to me seven years ago. I like Madness for their entire sound, their every B-side, album track, history, image, and effort. Not entirely and just for 'Our House.'

    'Pumped up Kicks' is a pretty good song for its sound, and it has a message to it. That gives the single from the band its appeal to me, and I have something my friends can ask to have played on my birthday at the bar. That and those other two songs.
    The bass begins in F by the way. I've comprised an entire organ part to it as well.
    Lyrics: B+
    Music: A-
    Music video: C

    "He's coming for you, he's coming for you..."

    Justin C.