Battle of the Songs IX

Full blog with links to music videos can be found in its original posting, here:

1. Breakfast in America (Supertramp) vs. Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Deep Blue Something) – The most important meal of the day never tasted so bad. To be fair (or at least be transparent in my unfairness) I do not like either of these songs. Breakfast in America spawned in 1979, just before the world went all new wave and electro-pop. So tell me, just what exactly is a clarinet doing here? I learned playing clarinet wasn’t cool in the 8th grade, and I thought that was bad. Musically the song slogs through several abstract verses while launching into the pivotal “Ba ba da dum” chorus. Lyrical brilliance. On the other spectrum…*sigh* A perfect microcosm of 90’s alternative rock. Please just watch the video. Breakfast in America limps past Deep Blue Tools due to its merciful 2 and a half minute length. And I feel bad for Gymclass Heroes’ bastardization.

2. Lost (Coldplay) vs. You Found Me (The Fray) – “Lost” starts out heavy, baby, with strong thumping drums and powerful lyrics: “Just because I’m losing / Doesn’t mean I’m lost”. An organ contrasts very nicely with the percussion, and the addition of the guitar near the end of the chorus renders this song extremely effective melodically. Overall, the album Viva La Vida features an above-average effort by Chris Martin on vocals, but this song is one of the mediocre examples; it seems a bit like he phones this one in. “You Found Me” comes from a band that has at one point or another fallen into the pit of bands Matt frowns upon because all of their songs sound the same. Well, they slap me in the face with this one, and with their new album in general. Branching outside the tried-and-true conflicted piano jams, they evolve into a bonafide musical force around this songs 1:00 minute mark, incorporating more crunch than ever before. The lyrics are gloomy, the message disheartening, but there’s a greater feeling of meaning in here than in any of the Fray’s previous notables. Bonus points for being the driving force behind LOST’s Season Five teasers. Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, and in that department Coldplay wins. It’s clear that The Fray are trying to brand themselves as the poor man’s Coldplay. In this instance, the edge goes to the new guys. “Lost” puts up a good fight, but succumbs to You Found Me over the long run.

3. Just Like Heaven (The Cure) vs. Gives You Hell (The All-American Rejects) – Another showdown between the decades, as Robert Smith’s hosstacular 80’s band enters the ring against Tyson Ritter’s powerpunkpop All-American Rejects. Even though “Heaven” came out 22 years ago, it almost seems more relevant today. The lyrics, distinctly about loving, and loving, and loving, and losing, hide behind a predominantly happy guitar riff and chord progression. There lie the similarities to “Hell”, which ticks off the prerequisite 3:30 seconds most radio-ready hits (and nearly all of AAR’s songs) seem to last. “Gives You Hell”, while very well-polished and glossy, easily carries the same force that “Heaven” does. The distinction lies in the intent. “Hell” force feeds you crunching riffs with no other meaning. Just Like Heaven has a power that comes almost like osmosis.

4. Heartbreaker (Pat Benatar) vs. Heartbreaker (Led Zeppelin) – Two rock anthems enter, one rock anthem leaves. It’s important to note that these aren’t the same song. Pat’s tune chronicles Pat being Pat, in a way that is exactly the same in all of her hits: a scorching lyric giving voice to tough feminism standing tall in front of simple, frill-free guitar grooves. Zep’s song features one of the most popular guitar riffs in classic rock history, both for its melody and for the relative ease it takes beginner guitarists to learn. The song, at about two minutes, is one of Zep’s shorter songs, and for that reason is usually coupled with “Livin’ Lovin’ Maid” on the radio. Robert Plant’s lyrics reflect a pathetic woefulness not usually seen: “One thing I do have on my mind, if you can clarify please do / It’s the way you call me by another guy’s name when I try to make love to you.” The start-stop rhythm Led Zeppelin employs works for a while, but kind of wears itself out. A quintessential Jimmy Page solo doesn’t make up for an otherwise middle-of-the-road jam, and Pat wins this one for the girls. Heartbreaker wins either way, but it’s Pat’s straightforward song that doesn’t try for the homerun, just the solid base hit, that takes it.

5. That’s Not My Name (The Ting Tings) vs. You Know My Name (Chris Cornell) – The opening notes of the upstart Ting Tings’ boppin’ jam let you know that two thing: First, you need to know who this band is, because they’re not going anywhere. And second, damn, what an unorthodoxly upbeat and awesome song! The British duo has more than a few things going for them. Lead singer/guitarist Katie White has totally got me crushing. She hits everything on my checklist: Sexy accent, and… well…. That’s about my checklist. Nevertheless, the song hits a wall about three minutes into its five minute span. It almost makes you just want to scream, “Well, what the hell is your name, then?!” A man can only take so much repetitive indie folkrock. On the other hand one can never get enough Daniel Craig, who definitely top 5’s my list of mancrushes. Because Chris Cornell’s song was the title song of Casino Royale, it carries a distinct inherent advantage. Easily the best Bond song since “Live and Let Die”, “Name” barrels through gritty, Ian Fleming-esque verses, to soar on an epic chorus. The brass section put punctuation marks on the song as a whole, and unfortunately The Ting Tings never had a fair shot at things. You Know My Name gets 00 status.




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2 responses to “Battle of the Songs IX

  1. velinath

    “A man can only take so much repetitive indie folkrock.”

    Indeed. I get stuck listening to this song, like, 4 or 5 times a day at work. It’s driving me insane.

    (Guess what! I’m rereading all your old blogs!)

  2. I read that he that he wanted do a Coronation Street appearence! :O. Sounds a bit dodgy to me. There’s a bit of me that kind of wishes this is not true lol.

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