Thursday, June 13, 2013

#4 - Unrequited (Ten at Fifty)

Rain please tell me now does that seem fair
For her to steal my heart away when she don't care

"Rhythm of the Rain" - The Cascades

Wikipedia says that this #4 hit from half a century ago is "the ninth most performed song on radio/TV in the 20th century", according to BMI. This is a list where Simon and Garfunkel and The Beatles predictably hold sway, and one where "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" reigns - so the question is, what is it about this song that engenders all these plays, performances, and covers, including more than one with a ukelele accompaniment:

Is the the glockenspiel? the sound effects at the beginning? the sense of the rain being a nag? the conviction that the precipitation is trying to tell you you're stupid when that's already been established? It's hard to say, but it's clear that the Beach Boys-influenced sailors from SoCal clicked with an international audience quickly. They were another group as smooth as The Fleetwoods, and it didn't hurt to have Glen Campbell playing guitar, but they are visibly anachronistic, yet without the camp that would make things like covers of Monkees songs appealing. If YouTuberie is any indication, this song is in no danger of being forgotten.

(Rick Astley scored big with his song "Never Gonna Give You Up", but maybe not the way he intended; courtesy Wikipedia: "In 2004, it was voted #28 in 50 Most Awesomely Bad Songs ... Ever by VH1. ")

When your saddest fear comes creeping in
That you never loved me or her or anyone or anything

"I Knew You Were Trouble", Taylor Swift

This is another one of those cookie cutter songs with heavy glottal emphasis, a pattern well established by Avril Lavigne, Alanis Morissette, and who even knows how many others. You imagine some of those fridge magnets that you can make poems out of, but with stock phrases like "you didn't care", "without me", "when she's next to me"... And that of course means they're perfect targets for lampooning:

Swift's philanthropy, from disaster relief to children's literacy, makes her a significant influence particularly for other 20-somethings. And becoming a country crossover at her level of success is quite rare, particularly when acting is thrown in to that success. But don't hold your breath waiting for me to be much of a fan; I have to roughly echo The Guardian: "[Swift] 'cranks melodies out with the pitiless efficiency of a Scandinavian pop factory.'"

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