Saturday, February 20, 2010

Lightning Owls

I am now going to complain about the state of modern music. This act is normally taken as a sign that one has grown old, and should immediately crawl into the nearest nursing home. But I can't help myself. The problem is that I like music that is . . . um . . . musical. And not much popular music right now is musical. Melody, harmony, instrumental proficiency, and basic literacy are mostly dead. Pretty much every song on Top 40 radio is a hip-hop/dance track that goes something like this:

We in the club

Yo, we in the club

We drink Cristal

We in the club

I prefer songs that are made by people who are really good at writing music and playing instruments, who then get together and write music and play instruments, and explore lyrical themes that do not involve being in a club.

A top 40 radio station is willing to have at most one track in its rotation at any given time that isn't hip-hop/dance music. For the last few months the lucky track has been Fireflies by Owl City. (Check it out, if you're not familiar with it.) And it is indeed music that is actually musical, in that it involves actual music. And the fireflies aren't even in a club, although they do have a disco ball, but I can forgive them for that. (If people are still capable of appreciating good music, why do they waste their time listening to bad music?)

When I hear Fireflies, I am irresistibly reminded of the Lightning Seeds song Pure. (Check it out too.) Part of the similarity is, of course, linguistic (fireflies-->lightning bugs-->lightning seeds). And another part is that the earliest version of the Lightning Seeds was a one-man operation, just as Owl City is today. But more than that I think that the two songs are alike musically and thematically. (And now I notice that one of the commenters at the YouTube video thinks so too.)

In researching this post, I was surprised to learn that Pure was released in 1989. I don't recall ever hearing the song before 1993 or so, at which time it seemed to be at the height of its popularity. An Eighties release date does make sense, as Pure's synthpop style stood out as vastly anomalous in the grunge landscape of the Nineties. In any event, once upon a time Pure was all over the radio, and now it has disappeared entirely into the haze of time.

Pure and simple just for you . . .

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