Posts tagged "music"

Carly Rae Jepsen, “Your Heart is a Muscle,” Kiss (2012)

"Your Heart is a Muscle" has an unreliable narrator, but not one in the smug sense that asks the audience to share in the author’s condescension of her. After all, CRJ makes a good argument. Your heart is a muscle. Why aren’t you working at this?

This might be my favorite song on Kiss, because it doesn’t comment on denial — it doesn’t really allow for the existence of denial — it just exemplifies it. “You’re a real good listener but you don’t have much to say.” It is trying to animate a relationship back to life, even while watching it ebb away as you think up excuses for why “you won’t pick up the phone, whatever.”

And yet, the song, text qua text, never loses hope, never fails to rebuke its hook: you say love’s a fragile thing, made of glass.

(Source: Spotify)

Apr 18


we’re distressed




You draw your own conclusions from the number of reviews.

The uncut version of my blurb was a post about the Paramore album I’d been planning for here, and it seemed suitable enough for an “Ain’t It Fun” blurb that I gave it to the Jukebox. Here’s the original:

It isn’t quite as sharply focused or finely drawn as Ashlee Simpson’s Autobiography, but like Carly Rae Jepsen’s Kiss, Paramore’s latest album finds inspiration in having newly arrived at the cusp of adulthood. “Been through the wringer a couple times/I came out callous and cruel” it begins, picking up from the point it first becomes clear that your world falling apart and your world ending aren’t the same thing. “Grow Up” finds strength in difficult decisions: “If I have to, I’m going to leave you behind.” And while “Ain’t It Fun” isn’t a title entirely bereft of irony, it does genuinely locate the joy in emerging from the turbulence, even if it can’t be done unscathed. The chorus’s not-quite-sure yet not-quite-sarcastic “Ain’t it good living on your own?” acknowledges the bravery as well as the necessity of self-reliance, and “What are you gonna do when the world don’t revolve around you” is comforting because telling yourself to find some maturity is nearly as satisfying as telling other people. The coda, “Don’t go crying to your mama,” demonstrates that more pep talks should include gospel choirs.


Five Years of the Singles Jukebox


We’re not usually big on self-aggrandisement or mythologising. More or less, we just do one thing — we rate pop songs out of ten — but we love it and we do it well. We don’t pay attention to the consensus around us; we build our own (sometimes, but we often disagree). And we’ve now been doing it for five years.

Of course the story of the Jukebox goes back further than that. We started as a pair of columns on Stylus, one for UK singles and one for US singles, which ran until the site closed in 2007. A chance meeting between two writers in a pub led to a few emails going across the globe, and all of a sudden the band was back together, just like we’d never split up. Sure, our friends at Pitchfork began to focus on individual tracks in earnest a month earlier, stealing our thunder somewhat, but we’ll always have the extra decimal place.

In the last five years, there have been nearly 3400 songs covered from over 60 countries, with about 30,000 individual paragraph-long reviews from us adding up to about 2,000,000 (two million) words. It’d take you a week solid to read the site from front to back. We don’t recommend you do that, so here are some highlights from our first five years. Feel free to share your own in the comments!

Here’s to another five just like these.

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Guys, it’s our birthday! Or, it was a few weeks ago, and now we’re having the party.

P.S. The chance meeting in question involved me and it was absurdly chance. Full story some other time, maybe.

Like, I do actually like High Fidelity…

andrewtsks replied to your post:1994
Seriously, that “music or misery” quote from Hornby’s the most insufferable thing he’s ever written, which says quite a lot. If it’s a question you must ask, you can take comfort in the fact that you have never truly been miserable.

…but this is true doe.

EDIT: These days, I mostly remember it as a Fall Out Boy song.


I don’t remember Kurt Cobain dying, which is strange, because I was 10 years old at the time.

I remember Cobain living, and I remember him having lived, though. I could tell a very illuminating story about being eight years old and watching “Smells Like Teen Spirit” on TV and being changed forever, being absolutely stunned by what I had seen. It would be a true story, too, except it would leave out the parts where the same thing happened with Pearl Jam’s “Alive” and Michael Jackson’s “Remember the Time” and Warrant’s “Cherry Pie.”

Back when video stores rented out CDs, I insisted upon one trip to Video-Ezy that we rent Nirvana’s Nevermind, and I dubbed it on to cassette. Then I listened to it over and over and wrote pre-teen proto-grunge songs of my own that were surely interminable, characterized by glum lyrics and descending chord progressions. It was the first time I’d heard that the world could be personally awful. (The music or the misery — gold help me if I start channelling Nick Hornby.) I don’t remember when the refrain from “Come as You Are” became quote-unquote ironic.

Later in 1994, or maybe 1995, we would visit my cousins Briony and Christian. Briony was my older cousin, in that she had a month on me, which she would never let me forget. On this vacation, my actual older cousin, Christian, Briony’s elder brother, had Become A Teenager and part of this would mean that he would stay in his room while Briony and my little brother and I did fun kid stuff. But sometimes Christian would invite me into his room — me, not my little brother or his little sister — and we’d listen to Nirvana and he would play for me his copy of Live! Tonight! Sold Out! and ask me to share in his awe of the now posthumous Kurt Cobain. Because I admired Christian’s maturity, I tried to do so, but I sort of didn’t actually like Nirvana that much, meaning I still liked some of their tracks a lot, but also that I didn’t want to spend all this time watching songs I didn’t know being played by a man in a dress.

In high school, my best friend belatedly discovered Nevermind, and I loved Nirvana through him. He and I and another friend would go to skate nights and debate which of the holy grunge boy triumvirate of Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, or Pearl Jam best expressed our teenage angst. I would waver on this question, but even then I think I preferred the back half of Nevermind; like The Joshua Tree, the side without the singles is the more interesting one. One time we asked the DJ to play “Territorial Pissings” and he did. I’m sure this was awful for nearly everyone except us.

Kurt Cobain taught me how to play guitar, and how I do is modelled after him. As well as Green Day, I guess. Blink-182. Punk riffs with some blues musicology added post-facto.

Today I think I like In Utero best of all, but Kurt Cobain made three very good albums with his band, and even the Nevermind singles, riven into my mind, can still astonish me. He could be marvellously gnomic and concise, and now I am an adopted Washington kid, I like the quite specific hints of Evergreen State trash you hear in the band. It’s probably the flotsam I most often return to: “Been a Son” or “Verse Chorus Verse” or whatever. But “Teenage angst has paid off well; now I’m bored and old” is a hell of a way to kick off an album. (Hayley Williams might have matched it on her most recent.)

That is, twenty years is a strange anniversary, because I remember the life and the afterlife, but not the death. Kurt Cobain has always been dead; long live Kurt Cobain, and etc.

Between the predictably tortured ages of 11 and 15, I was of the opinion that “Miss World” was one of the greatest songs of all time. And I know this for a fact because — ever the personal archivist — on my birthday each year I would make a mixtape of The Greatest Songs of All Time. I never shared these tapes with anybody else; they were my secret equivalent of the pencil mark on the kitchen wall, documenting the ways I’d changed (or, more often, hadn’t) over the course of a year. With those creaky-staircase chords cradling Courtney Love’s fractured croak of “somebody kill me,” “Miss World” made the cut every year, always to my slight disappointment. In your pre-teen and early-teen years everybody loves to tell you that It Gets Better, so it was a bummer to check in at the beginning of a new year and confirm that the raw and throbbing pain encased in this song still rang unbelievably true. Really? Twelve still feels like “Miss World”? And 13? And 14? And…fuck.
Apr 12

AKB48, “鈴懸の木の道で「君の微笑みを夢に見る」と言ってしまったら僕たちの関係はどう変わってしまうのか、僕なりに何日か考えた上でのやや気恥ずかしい結論のようなもの” (2013)

When the Pawn Hits the Conflicts He Thinks Like A King…

…”Sort of a little bit embarrassing conclusion I came up to after thinking for days about how our relationship would change if while walking along a road of plane trees I said to you, ‘I dream of your smile’” is the 34th single by the Japanese idol girl group AKB48…

(Title is the best thing about the song, sadly.)

For added context in the “Is Lorde Racist???" tiff, consider how Americans talk about New Zealand cultural practices.

So into people* who say things like “Taylor is new Springsteen” or “Taylor is new Dylan” with absolutely no regard for boring old types who would never be happy about a young pop-country woman being the new any-of-their-old-heroes.
(Also, like when I listened to Fearless for the first time I did think Springsteen; maybe it was the “Born to Run” in “Fifteen”/”White Horse” viz “That was a small town in my rearview disappearing now.”)
*esp people who submit to SwiftSecrets cause I kinda assume that everyone who does that is thirteen at most.

So into people* who say things like “Taylor is new Springsteen” or “Taylor is new Dylan” with absolutely no regard for boring old types who would never be happy about a young pop-country woman being the new any-of-their-old-heroes.

(Also, like when I listened to Fearless for the first time I did think Springsteen; maybe it was the “Born to Run” in “Fifteen”/”White Horse” viz “That was a small town in my rearview disappearing now.”)

*esp people who submit to SwiftSecrets cause I kinda assume that everyone who does that is thirteen at most.

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