Friday, May 22, 2009

A Pleasure Somewhere Between Innocent and Guilty

As you should well know by now, I’m not above getting deeply involved with power pop, and there are few better places to fall in love with it than on the highway. The highway -- like the bodega, and various other places where public sentiment applies -- allows you to let down your guard and welcome in bad radio. And once you welcome it in, you realize that not all of it is bad. Sometime last year, I heard Paramore’s “That’s What You Get,” a song I initially found difficult to categorize. (I still do, kind of.)

There are thousands of pop songs released every year, and since the vast majority of them fall somewhere on the spectrum between “Man, This is Terrible” and “Please Make It Stop, My Brain is Bleeding,” it’s easy to consider the whole enterprise a waste of time. But this very overstock of horrendousness is what proves that the handful of ostensibly disposable songs that leave a lasting impression must be doing something fairly significant right. Kelly Clarkson won over the hipsters a few years ago with “Since U Been Gone,” at least in part, I think, because the song’s lyrics weren’t about cheesy love or regret but freedom (“since you been gone / I can breathe for the first time / I’m so movin’ on,” etc.) Like that song (and I don’t mean to turn my subjects here into Keats or even Mike Skinner, believe), Paramore’s is about the downside of love over logic. (“I drown out all my sense / with the sound of its beating . . . If I ever start to think straight / this heart will start a riot in me,” etc.)

The line that contains its title -- “That’s what you get when you let your heart win” -- makes clear that the “that” is not something shiny and happy. Set against a propulsive beat, I think it’s a pretty great example of making a simple hook stand out from the crowd. You might disagree. (The song’s official video, which can be found on the band’s site, is teentastic -- and that’s an insult; don’t be fooled by the “tastic.” The band’s been featured on the Twilight soundtrack. The official iTunes review references Avril Lavigne and Fall Out Boy. What I’m saying is, I’m not recommending this band. Everything else I’ve heard is not very impressive, though I do think the singer, Hayley Williams, has a stronger voice than Avril and her ilk.)

OK, so this post may have been inspired by the song and by the fact that Williams is pretty cute. And OK, I admit that I did some very quick research about her. It turns out she was born in . . . 1988. December 1988. That’s right, readers. She’s 20. She considers Miley Cyrus, like, a peer. Just a few more years and I can start to say with some credibility that I could be a 20-year-old’s father.

Paramore’s last album has been reviewed 2,656 times on iTunes, which means that I could be the father of most of the band’s audience, too. (Not literally; there are only so many hours in the day.) Old people simply don’t get reviewed on the new technologies. For instance: Strange Magic: The Best of Electric Light Orchestra? 18 reviews.


Blogger Miles Doyle said...

hers could be a killers' song.

12:46 PM  
Blogger Kraig Smith said...

Coming from the guy who has posted four Rick Springfield blogs in the last month alone, it should come as no surprise to you that I think Paramore is kind of great. I hadn't heard of them until I started playing Guitar Hero World Tour several months ago---on which Misery Business is one of the songs. Hell, if it's fun to "play" it, it's fun to listen to it. Good stuff.

12:46 PM  
Blogger Dezmond said...

Kraig kinda beat me to it, but I am familiar with "That's What You Get" since it is a song on Rock Band. In fact, I have probably played guitar, drummed, played bass and sung the song at one time or another.

6:35 PM  

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