Sunday, May 26, 2013

Regnant Couples (Ten at Fifty)

I've waited so long for school to be through
Paula, I can't wait no more for you

- "Hey Paula", by Paul and Paula

Number 7 in 1963 was sappy even by the era's standards, even including a sentimental, watery organ. In addition, "Hey Paula" had the fewest lyrics of its top ten, partly because of its relaxed pace, partly because it was on the short side with a longish intro. It explicitly promoted the post-high-school wedding and the glories and isolation of young love. And it was typical of the kind of song, like those of the Chordettes or Dickie Lee, or this:

which would not survive the transition to the Beatles/Beach Boys era.

Paul and Paula didn't have those first names, but were "packaged" as a couple in an era that saw great success for singing couples like April Stevens and Nino Tempo, who had a smash with a more pop cover of "Deep Purple" that year, and culminated with couples like Ian and Sylvia, Richard and Mimi Farina, and Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood.

(Former Go-Go Belinda Carlisle managed to score an eighties comeback with the upbeat "Heaven is a Place on Earth", which channeled the "Imagine" sensibility of abandoning the promise of the afterlife in the name of strengthening the couple's love.)

See the girls in the club
They looking at us

- "Scream and Shout", and Britney Spears

There is a rap element to this song, but its agenda and tempo are all dance, the lyrics insubstantial and vain. I have to align myself with some negative reviewers:

"... it lacks the extra "oomph" and originality that would make "Scream and Shout" a truly memorable single. It's the kind of club track that's serviceable enough in the moment, but it's not likely to stick in your head on the cab ride home at 2 a.m.".[37] Emily Exton of PopDust contributor wrote that Spears' contribution is an improvement from "will's monotonous requests to 'lose control', 'let it go' and 'hit the floor'..."

Perhaps they were contrasting with

or Swedish H.M. at #10. Could you say that this is kind of a "It's All Right" for the millenials? I sort of think not, but I can't, of course, inhabit the context, my tastes diverge too much from this. I think of the blues context of the earlier song, sounding in its context a bit pagan perhaps to a white audience, and some of the Black America context persists in this song, but it seems self-consciously self-indulgent, arrogant, "oh, yeah, we're bringing it." But maybe we'll have to defer judgment until we've seen a little more of what the dance realm offers in these most popular songs.

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