69 Love Songs #15

by
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Friday 6th January 2016

So here we are! Episode 15 of 69 Love-Songs! As we parade boldly into 2017 with another 27 tracks to go, I proudly present three more of my favourite ‘songs about love’. This week’s selection really epitomises the dynamic mood of the format, which collects songs concerning love, both in a direct and merely referential sense. To really understand what I’m getting at though, have a read… 

1. Falling For You – Weezer

weezer

Pile-driving through several ugly chord progressions and two key changes never sounded so beautiful. Falling For You, a late treat on the ephemeral sophomore record Pinkerton, is, in my opinion, Rivers Cuomo’s music theory masterwork; the magnum-opus of emo grunge-pop. Lyrically, it’s both obtuse (a “cello in the basement”) and ironically self-aware (“what could she possibly see in little old three-chord me?”) Better still, for all its bloody-minded adolescent complexities, the song’s sentiment is remarkably well-trodden; guy who likes girl uses song to explain his feelings to girl. It’s this pleasant mixture of the comfortably traditional and the grossly experimental that works so well, preserving the fairly young Weezer of 1996 in three minutes and 48 seconds of solid post-punk. Much of Pinkerton sprang from Cuomo’s plans for a sci-fi rock-opera entitled Songs From The Black Hole, devised as he lay propped up in a hospital bed recovering from leg-lengthening surgery. Whilst demos from this first phase never include a rendition of Falling For You, it’s safe to assume from the protracted ‘will-they-won’t-they’ romance narrative permeating Cuomo’s tale, that the track was written around the same time. Musically, it’s about the most gorgeous head-fuckery going. The solos are crunchy, the chords are crunchy and the drums, well, they’re super fuckin’ crunchy. For obvious reasons, I couldn’t pencil in all twelve tracks, but if you have a moment, for God’s sake listen to Pinkerton – it’s an absolute masterstroke in emo, and one of the most mature, least patronising considerations of adolescent confusion ever recorded. Like the rest of the album, Falling for You is a thick wall of noise, sounding the whole time as though the tape it’s committed to is decomposing under the sheer weight of its amplifier stacks. And yet somehow – somehow – Weezer made this catchy… 

2. Swing, Swing – The All-American Rejects
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Whatever your feelings on All-American Rejects; where they went, who they copied – let’s just take a moment to remember that this is their debut single. Yes sir, back in 2003, when the charts were bounteous and kind, in romped Swing, Swing, the quintessential anthem of our unrequited teenage disdains. Utilising Pixies-patented loud-quiet-loud dynamics and the fierce glam-rock tones of My Chemical Romance (and subsequently, Britpop) before it, Swing-Swing is a buoyant, mid-tempo rocker that just gallops forward, with brilliantly infectious vocal intonation that manages to always land on the right side of obnoxious (take note, Tom DeLonge). Lyrically, it’s all about the catharsis of meeting a new special person and them helping you get over your former love, with the title refrain bottling mood-swings in the best use of metaphor since R-Kelly had us frowning at our suddenly vulgar car-keys (same year, in case you’re wondering). I don’t know what it is about this song; I don’t know enough about the genre to call this ‘the best song ever’, or make bold, sweeping statements about the Rejects as a truly eminent force in emo. I think, like a lot of minor Green Day recordings, it’s purely a case of the song maintaining a tonal energy that, despite any visible shortcomings of structure, helps the song to remain enjoyable. And whilst I don’t know that much about emo, I can tell you for a fact that no other pop-punk record this good got chart exposure in 2003 – so maybe, just maybe, the people of 14 years ago, so far removed from our own chart-makers, actually got something right. (Yeah. 14 years. Feel old yet?)

3. Trapped In The Closet (Parts 1-33) – R-Kelly
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I couldn’t resist a teasing mention in the previous entry – something about the sight of our beloved Robert Sylvester on the horizon just got me excited. That’s nothing, however, compared with the gut-wrenching, nail-biting sensations you’ll experience consistently throughout his magnificent 33 part rap-opera, Trapped In The Closet. If you don’t believe me, go watch it now. If you do believe me, but you don’t like R-Kelly, ignore yourself and watch this thing anyway. Words are almost not enough to describe this work of total genius, whose poor rhymes, mundane musicality and outrageous plot are so dreadful that they can only be intentional. (How else does a contemporary project of music and film teeter so obviously on the racist, misogynistic and classist, if not ironically?) Trapped In The Closet begins with that all-too familiar circumstance; waking up in another woman’s bed and thinking it’s your own, before needing to hide in the closet from her pastor husband, who is himself harbouring a secret of unnecessarily massive proportions… I won’t ruin this for you – needless to say, the situation becomes farcical, straying very quickly from the semi-serious tone present at its opening. In fact, by part three, you wonder if R-Kelly only made the decision to introduce comedy element as an afterthought, since it must’ve become clear that any sincere handling of his ultimately dumb premise would only offend the viewer. The convicted opening ends up being brilliant; a red-herring context-setter for the rap culture faux pas that rapidly unfolds. As the rhymes and comedy of errors become more and more ludicrous, you will, regardless of taste or better judgement, find yourself consumed by this bizarre love dodecahedron. If you do nothing else today, jump into this bubbling hot tub of sin – it’s surprising, to say the very least…