You can listen to “Fascination” by Alphabeat here.
“Fascination” is another one of my absolute favourite songs. It’s one of the songs that we used to play when my first band just played covers. When we eventually wrote songs we wanted to be Deftones or Smashing Pumpkins, but the songs we covered were always pop songs in the beginning. That was because they’re great fun to play. I think the fact that “Fascination” is fun to play as a band really comes across in the track itself. Alphabeat are just such a bunch of happy bastards that it’s hard not to love them.
The lead singers have a great combination of voices. I feel like the marketing of the band was that she was the front woman and she did most of the singing and he was like a secondary singer. He almost enters into the territory of Baz from The Happy Mondays, just dancing around as a decoration. The truth is his voice was class and the real strength of Alphabeat songs was that the two of them sounded great together.
“Fascination” is a real kids party song. It’s got that safe Danish good time vibe but it’s also based on a real understanding of building pop tunes. The drums are that upbeat soul sound that features in so many of my favourite songs like Amy Winehouse and Mark Ronson’s version of Valerie for example. It drives the song and gives it a real groove that makes it a great dance song. The piano and bass create a solid foundation for the the song and the guitar licks add flair to the whole thing. It’s a belter of a tune.
Have a listen to “You Get What You Give” by The New Radicals here.
“You Get What You Give” is one of the best one hit wonders of all time, to such an extent that it might be one of the best songs of all time. It’s a wonderful blend of nonsense and contradictions. It’s a perfect pop song pretending to be a commentary of culture and society. The New Radicals are only known for this song, but the writing team of Gregg Alexander (the band’s lead singer/ frontman/ only real member) and Rick Nowels, have written loads of massive pop songs for people like Santana and Lana Del Rey
As with lots of songs on my list, I like that “You Get What You Give” is a traditional band setup style pop song. I like the pop soul piano sound. I like the one note guitar solo. Gregg Alexander has a great voice, he manages to hit some good high bits but also has a bit of gravel to him. I like that the lyrics are at times so anti corporate America, but in the most gimmicky way possible in an aggressively catchy pop tune. There’s the intentionally controversial digs at big artists of the time straight after some political criticism. All to prove that the media is focused on the superficial stuff. At the same time this is a song featuring Paul McCartney’s guitar player, cowritten by a guy who was also writing for Madonna. It’s the most music business song of all time. It’s hard to know if it’s cynical or oblivious, but I enjoy that ridiculousness.
But when the night is falling You cannot find the light (Light) You feel your dreams are dying, hold tight
You’ve got the music in you Don’t let go, you’ve got the music in you One dance left, this world is gonna pull through
I love that pre chorus and then the chorus. That pre chorus is so hopeful and then the chorus is just nonsense.
This week I watched Total Recall (2012) and Total Recall (1990). I had spotted the newer one on Netflix and it was stuck in my head for a few days so I gave it a go. It’s not good. Afterwards, I had to go back and rewatch the original to see what had made them think it was a good idea. I can definitely see the appeal of the old one but they didn’t seem to capture any of that in the remake.
Total Recall (1990) is mad goofy. Arnold Schwarzenegger is a maniac and a terrible actor. His screams in this film are a work of art. That’s kinda the charm of the film though. It’s fun, it doesn’t take itself too seriously and it’s got a hectic energy. I think everybody in it is good at what they’re doing. Arnie has some top notch nonsense one liners. Michael Ironside is great as Richter. I saw Arnie talking about how good Sharon Stone was and I think she does a solid job of facilitating Arnie as a phenomenon. Also, I liked the world creation on Mars. The planet is cartoonish. There always seems to be drilling machinery appearing out of nowhere. The mutants remind me of the sewer people in Futurama.
I’m not sure how a person could have watched the first version and then wanted to make the 2012 remake. The whole thing is confused. The Wikipedia entry for the film makes the production look like a mess. Apparently, Jessica Biel told people it wasn’t a remake of the film but an adaptation of the short story by Philip K. Dick that Total Recall (1990) was based on. That doesn’t really make sense though because her character doesn’t exist in the short story. I’m also not that sure why they would keep the name Total Recall if it’s not supposed to be a remake.
The fun goofiness is gone. It’s all very serious. Colin Farrell is phoning it in. His accent’s all over the place. He seems to have moved away from doing this type of thing. He doesn’t seem to want to be a leading man in big blockbusters. He seems like a likeable guy but he has a lot of shitty films under his belt. Jessica Biel is pretty forgettable. Pretty much the only person who comes out of this looking ok is John Cho as the Rekall rep. The dialogue is pretty weak and clunky. For a film that’s supposed to be all action, it’s pretty boring. I started to fall asleep so I had to watch it over 2 nights. In his review of the remake for Time, Richard Corliss wrote about the idea of subtraction. It only varies from the original by taking away from it. The charm is gone, the fun is gone, Mars is gone, the mad drilling is gone. The only addition is a stupid tunnel through the centre of the earth.
I feel like remaking a film should be an ambitious undertaking. You should be looking at an existing film and hoping to improve, modernise or translate it in a new time or setting. The minimum requirement needs to be to be at least as good a film as the original, because you’ve already lost any hint of originality. Total Recall (1990) was silly and entertaining. Total Recall (2012) seemed to have no ambition to do anything interesting and, ultimately, it’s zero craic.
“Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac is a controversial choice to wrap up my week of Vine songs. Firstly, it’s more than 40 years old and was a massive hit before anyone was dreaming of memes. Secondly, it’s not associated with Vine. “Dreams” is one of the most bizarre viral trends that have cropped up on Tik Tok. I like the idea that my final song choice in this series would be from Tik Tok because Tik Tok viral songs are a whole new world that grew from viral songs on Vine. There’s a wonderful randomness to meme virality and a Tik Tok of a man on a skateboard singing along to this song while drinking cranberry juice is a great example of that.
In some ways, it was a perfect combination and the guy deserves props for a good song choice for a moment. “Dreams” is a real cruising song. The drum track drives it along. The bass grooves away. There’s a great combination of voices. The guitars have a real dreamy effect (excuse the pun). I think the mix of the driving drumming and the dreamy guitars creates a feeling of peaceful forward momentum that really suits the vibe of skating to work and drinking cranberry juice. And I think that’s pretty fucking cool.
“Wrecking Ball” is a great song but its legacy has been ruined by vines, memes and people who were too lame for memes reusing memes on tv. The video was intense and odd but it escalated into some much worse. By the end of it’s mainstream lifespan, the only thing worse than seeing the video was seeing someone trying to make fun of it.
As a song, “Wrecking Ball” probably deserves to be up there with the pop ballad classics. Miley Cyrus is a great singer and she manages to make the vocals feel very raw. The build up for the chorus is massive. It’ll be interesting to see how kind time is to “Wrecking Ball” because it could end up as a classic or “Ice Ice Baby”, but I think it’s a very solid tune.
I’m on a bit of a roll with Vine tunes. “Trap Queen” is kinda the opposite to the other two songs. The other two songs were good songs that were in Vines that I liked. “Trap Queen” had billions of Vines and they were all trash. What’s interesting about “Trap Queen” is that that’s just the way viral songs work now. Of course it’s all Tik Tok now, but viral songs are parts of trends, challenges and dances.
I think the success “Trap Queen” on Vine is probably based on Fetty Wap’s use of language. As a song gets to a certain level, it crosses over into a mainstream audience and people who wouldn’t listen to hip hop begin to hear things they’ve never heard before. The end result is a lot of white people making some racially dicey jokes about things they don’t know about.
The track itself is pretty lo-fi with big synth chords. Fetty Wap’s use of adlibs and auto tune are what I really like about “Trap Queen”. The chorus is simple, lots of repetition of Fetty Wap’s classic baby and yah ha adlibs. It’s just a good time.
Continuing with the theme of my favourite songs that are also iconic Vine songs, today’s song of the day is Usher’s “I Don’t Mind” featuring Juicy J. You can listen to it here and listen to the playlist of all the songs of the day here.
I love “I Don’t Mind” because it’s a demented song. I love that Juicy J missed the memo about this being a song about respecting strippers. I love that Usher seems confused in his wokeness. He calls this woman his bitch and assures her that being a stripper doesn’t make her a ho. The whole thing sounds like Usher is trying to convince himself that he doesn’t mind.
Usher is a bit of a wizard. He’s got a great voice for these slow jams. The song is super simple for the most part, it’s just some chords on top of beats that get more intense for the chorus. And then there’s some great nonsense ad libs from Juicy J.
And Kermit’s version is quite possibly the greatest Vines of all.
Carly Rae Jepsen is a legend. “Emotion” is an incredible album. “Run Away with Me” is an incredible opening track to that album and the soundtrack to two of my favourite Vines.
“Run Away with Me” is just a belter and I think it’s very underrated. The saxophone intro is iconic. The drums in the chorus are massive. If I was a teenager this would be my YA fiction romantic montage song but since I’m a grown man it’s the montage in my dreams for when I win the lottery and quit my job without working my notice.
Listen to “Run Away with Me” here. Also, a reminder that you can listen to all the songs of the day together in one playlist here.
It’s been a crazy week so I haven’t had time for a film project for this weekend. I’m on annual leave this week so I’ll have more time to plan, watch and write about films.
So this weekend’s blog post is a quick round up on the song of the day posts I’ve done since restarting the blog this year. I’ve posted about 58 songs so far from 58 different artists plus featured artists. As expected, the majority of the songs were from 2009 onwards. There’ve been no songs from 2021 because I don’t think there’s been long enough for any song from this year to categorize anything as a favourite. Looking back over the list, there are artists who I’ll include again soon for other songs. I’d been trying to put this off for as long as possible but it’s probably going to come to an end in the next few weeks.
I’ve made a Spotify playlist with all the songs of the day. You can check that out here. I’m going to update it as I go along from now on.
You can listen to “Cake By The Ocean” by DNCE here.
I once had a conversation with my brother about a college course he was doing on the history of sport. He told me about the reasons for success and popularity of certain sports and games. I guess strict rules require particular skills and creative solutions.
The idea of strict rules or constraints is something that always appeals to me in challenges. In my days of FIFA manager career modes, I liked to have self imposed constraints to make things more realistic, a French football team would be more likely to buy French speaking players, English players don’t often move abroad, etc. These little constraints are challenges to make things more realistic and more interesting.
That idea has lead me to a fascination with pop bands. I can, and always will, appreciate any good song made by a person on a computer, but the constraints of using the standard pop bands instruments of the last 70 or so years make things more interesting to me. “Cake By The Ocean” is very close to achieving that. It’s got a great funky bass line leading the whole song. There’s handclaps and a drum kit involved. There’s vocals. There’s a guitar and some backing vocals. Then there’s some extra sounds that are added on top that throw things off, but it’s very close to following the rules.
Aside from my nerdy musical snobbery, I also appreciate the lyric, “I’ll be Diddy, you be Naomi. I thoroughly enjoy that somebody felt it was necessary to write that the song is about sexual intercourse on the wikipedia entry for the song. And of course, I like that the title is based on confusing the phrases “cake by the ocean” and “sex on the beach”