Monday, January 7, 2008

something to do with my hands.

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

When you've flown thirty hours over the course of two days and drive around Honolulu all day running errands, you listen to a lot of music...well, at least if you're me. And, I'm starting to notice little things that I never really heard before in songs that stuck out. These aren't just good songs--they're songs that struck me as problematic and worthy of discussion.

First things first, though--if you ever find yourself in Honolulu doing a lot of driving, plug in
the Sea and Cake. I mean, them and Pavement are the two best summer bands, and it's permasummer here anyway (though it's sort of like Asian summer monsoon season during the winter) and there's nothing better than the breezy Sea and Cake.


First up is Common's "I Used to Love H.E.R."
I posted this video as a song that I got hooked on last year.

However, there is a huge irony, of course...and it parallels Common's own career. He speaks about how "the girl" (hip hop) changes who she is and sells out and spreads herself too thin.
And, uh...this is exactly what Common is doing.

He raps:

"Now I see her in commercials, shes universal

She used to only swing it with the inner-city circle

Now she be in the burbs lickin rock and dressin hip

Tellin me sad stories, now she only fucks with the funk
Stressin how hardcore and real she is
She was really the realest, before she got into showbiz"

And BEFORE you say Common doesn't "pop glocks, serve rocks and hit switches", in Kanye's "Get 'Em High", Common raps " You'se a b*tch I got ones that are thicker than you". I know Jay-Z raps the same line in "Takeover" (substituting "money stacks" for "ones"), but get real, Common. You pulled exactly what you preached against in what is arguably your biggest hit ever.


While I'm preaching about Common, let's talk about his boy, Kanye West. On
"All Falls Down" 'Ye raps "I can't even pronounce nothing, pass that Versace!" (intentionally mispronouncing "Versace"). There isn't really irony coming up, but I think I'm focusing on his evolution and ascension to the "upper class"

And, finally, on the track "Champion" off of the magnificent "Graduation", he raps "I shop so much I can speak Italian"

He went from not being able to pronounce the name of an esteemed Italian fashion house to becoming a Louis Vuitton Don to being fluent in the language. I mean, other than his lines like "She got a light skinned friend looks like Michael Jackson/Got a dark skinned friend looks like Michael Jackson", this is what makes Kanye great--constant revisiting and reinterpretation of themes.


Robin Thicke "Wanna Love U Girl"
I really disliked this guy when he first came out. This was the first single off of his latest album "The Evolution of Robin Thicke", but it bombed so badly that people thought that "Lost Without U" was the first single. "Lost Without U" was the first song off the album that I heard, and it was absolute trash. "Wanna Love U Girl" is great for many reasons--the Neptunes are the most on they've been production-wise for years, Pharrell's rap is short and sweet, and the song sounds lovey-dovey and swoons to women. The fact of the matter, though? It's really misogynistic. Not totally, of course, but the thought is there.

He does sing:

She's the kinda girl you wanna marry
The kinda girl you walk the whole earth for
Put her on your back and just carry
Her attitude is hotter than the earth's core
When she's around nothing else matters
Untouchable she's got her own forcefield"

but then, he goes on to say

Sooner or later someone will get at her
If I don't someone else will"

So, basically, Thicke wants to date her because someone else "will get at her". So, she's all those things--a girl you wanna marry--but the only reason to really go after her is because someone else may get her? Women aren't objects--but Thicke thinks they are and women buy it coming from his mouth.

Then, there's this gem:
And now my life is sweeter than berries
I guess if we have sex our love will turn to wine"

First off, I've never heard anyone describe their life as "sweeter than berries". Did he come up with this just to finish the "sex turning our love into wine" symbol? Because, seriously--most berries are notorious for their sour nature.

And, this:
If I turn my back then someone will get at her
If I don't someone else will"

So, uh, pay attention to your girl because if you don't, someone else will.

I love how Pharrell finishes off his rap, with the line "
How this sound: Mr. & Mrs. Skateboard P". Dude, you're 34. Enough said.


Lastly, for those of you not really fond of rap (I get sick of it myself), here's Don Henley's "Boys of Summer"

This is one of those songs I grew up with. My parents don't really like The Eagles, but for some reason, hearing this song reminds me of driving around Maryland (where I lived until I was four) during the summer. And, when you're four, you don't really think about song lyrics--you think about sounds that the singer makes that you love. For me, it was when Henley sang "you got your hair combed back/and your sunglasses on baby", just because he contorted his voice so strangely to my toddler ears.

And when the Ataris made it a minor alternapoppunkrock hit a few years back, I didn't really think about it either.
But really, this song is massively messed up. The song's protagonist loves this girl even though she fools around with the "boys of summer" (I wish there was a term for these like there was for "snowbirds"), and he says he'll wait as long as it'll take. I mean, that's romantic, and maybe he really does love her...but, come on, man. She's fooling around on you, and you're just the safe, fall-back guy that's nothing more than a friend. You really want a girl who puts you away for the newer toys? I dunno, maybe it's just me, but I don't want to play second-fiddle to any other boys. And do you really want to love someone who does that to you? Even if she says she loves you? Her actions aren't really showing it, are they?

Well, then, there you have it. The overanalysis of songs.


Also, be sure to check the link on the sidebar for Patrick Mishina's "Never Destroyed Sometimes". His site also features musical musings as well as insight on sports and politics (he's a Yankees fan...but take it easy on him).

Alright, and there's your Monday update.