Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Should Be Top 40 of 2007 (Part Six)

Will's Top 40 Songs of 2007
Part Six: 5-1

5. "Let's Call It Off" - Peter Bjorn and John

That song with the whistling got all the attention, radio play, ad space and television appearances - but those who felt compelled to actually buy the album would find a number of brilliant tracks. "Let's Call It Off" is the peak of those, and a bit more exemplary of the band's sound than "Young Folks." Musically, it's understated, giving it a bit of a dinner party vibe, and the harmonies on "let's call the whole thing off" are next too impossible to top. And, to think, someone wanted to protest their SXSW performance.

4. "You Don't Know What Love Is" - The White Stripes

Whereas "Icky Thump" was all about fucking with structure and creating a radio single that was most certainly not a radio single, "You Don't Know What Love Is" was all about getting back-to-basics. This is what the White Stripes do best - Jack White kicking solos from outerspace, and dropping rap-worthy sassy, while Meg White hits the drums with utter confidence. Lyrically, the track borders on feminist, with Jack telling his female friend to have a little more confidence in herself and not let her man just boss her around. It's a rally cry for men frustrated with seeing women accept their mistreatment - but maybe it's a tad condescending as well. Regardless, I like it.

3. "Good Life" - Kanye West

"Good Life" is pure positivity. It's a song that is supposed to make you feel good about yourself. It is not a particularly deep or complex song - either lyrically or musically - but it never purports to be so. Whereas the similar "Touch the Sky" was about righting your wrongs and struggling to achieve your dreams, "Good Life" is all about seeing your dreams realize. In fact, struggle and tension are absent for the three minutes or so that this song plays. It's about the joy of popping "champagne on a plane." But then you realize that "Good Life" is not about the spoils of wealth or the luxuries of first class - it is about celebrating, regardless of "whether you broke or rich." The "Good Life" lies not in how much money you have, but how you feel about yourself. If you don't have all that you want, just "close your eyes and imagine."

2. "All My Friends" - LCD Soundsystem

The brilliance of "All My Friends" lies in its ability to do so much for so little. I am not even talking about the minimalism of the music, though it is pretty amazing that the entire song (chorus included) can make it through simply that driving piano with zero variations. No, the brilliance lies in the lyrics and how they are delivered by James Murphy. At times he waivers into the not-so-literal ("we set controls for the heart of the sun") which only makes the song that much easier to relate to. What's perplexing (but ultimately fascinating) is the point of view of our storyteller. He could be 20, 35, even 65 - enjoying one magical night out and reflecting back on his entire life. Regardless, the emotions are the same and Murphy comes across as a songwriter with infinite wisdom. "All My Friends" manages to be just the perfect level of sentimental, and who wouldn't shed a tear when they hear, "I wouldn't trade one stupid decision/ for another five years of life." For it is our decisions that make us who we are and get us to where they are, and for that they cannot be stupid.

1. "Paper Planes" - M.I.A.

I listen to M.I.A.'s Kala a lot, but almost always I skip straight to "Paper Planes" for a couple spins. This song haunted me for days after I first heard it, not to mention that everyone whom I've asked "Do you like M.I.A.?" has responded with "I love 'Paper Planes.'" This song sticks with you and it's hard to understand the reason why. Is it the Clash sample? Probably not - seeing as how she just took an intro. Maybe that Wrex-N-Effect chorus? I think that would be more likely, the way she takes a 90's booty anthem and turns it into something about violence and riches in the third world. I will write more about what the album means to me at a later point, but I feel as though "Paper Planes" ties the whole intellectual journey of Kala together. Two year's ago on this blog, we called M.I.A. a leader, and "Paper Planes" brilliantly outlines her platform.

No comments: