366 Songs 132: Beautiful

And talking about Carole King (I was, last entry, really), here’s what’s probably my favorite King song, and it’s all about the sound of the chorus, really; the lyrics are pretty trite, but the way it all sounds – the build of the melody, the thudding momentum pushing forward, the way that the chorus pretty much falls apart at the end… I love it so much, and wish that it belonged to a better song, if that makes sense. Same with the fade out, starting at 2:33. Why couldn’t the rest of the song be that good…?

366 Songs 131: As We Go Along

One of those beautiful, mellow pop songs that makes you think of long summer nights and lazy smiles with the people you love. Whenever someone complains about the prefabricated nature of the Monkees, I always want to play them this song and say “If this is what comes out of the whole deal, then you can build a million boy bands.” Not that all of them have Carole King songs to sing and such wonderful production to back them up, of course…

366 Songs 130: I’m Down

For years now, one of my favorite Beatles songs has been “I’m Down,” which was the b-side to “Help!” and, I thought, something that was just structured so unusually and so un-Beatley that I wondered where it came from.

And then, last night, I realized that it’s just a rip-off of (another of my favorite songs) Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say?”:

It’s all in the drumfills, really (No, seriously; somehow, the drums made the connection for me before I even got to the call-and-response-ish vocals or the electric piano similarities). I’ve always loved the Beatles’ shameless folding in of whatever they were into at any given moment, and I can’t work out if the connection between these two songs make me love “I’m Down” less, or even more…

366 Songs 129: How Deep Is Your Love

More proof, I think, that I have no taste, and also that – even if you don’t like the Bee Gees as vocalists (They overused the falsetto, I think; sorry), they were amazing songwriters: The Take That version of “How Deep Is Your Love,” which I unashamedly adore, and prefer to the original. It’s more 1990s easy listen-y in its arrangement, sure, but nonetheless, there’s a relaxation and calmness to it that I find weirdly appealing here… Plus a video that features the death of the band’s lead singer and songwriter, in what was – at the time – their farewell single. More boybands should have such a sense of humor.

And here’s the original, for those who’d rather have the classic version:

366 Songs 128: Pure and Simple

Continuing, for a second, my recent trend of pop-related reminiscence, this was the band that won Popstars for the first year it ran in the UK (called “Hear’Say,” with a misplaced apostrophe that was once seriously suggested as the straw that broke the camel’s back when it came to punctuation and its downfall), and their first single, rush-released to tie-in with the end of the series. When you listen to it now, it’s stunningly dull and as generic as you’d expect from five strangers thrown together by a TV contest covering a song written for anyone to perform, but at the time the excitement about this took it to the top of the hit parade, as the kids used to say.

There’s something to be said for the collective desire of the record-buying public to want something to be a success, purely because they’d had the smallest of parts in making it happen, isn’t there?

366 Songs 127: Thank You Hater!

Last week ended surprisingly roughly; it wasn’t just work burn-out – That happens every Friday, now – but some behind-the-scenes Internet drama that was at once funny and ironic while also being really frustrating, depressing and difficult. In one of those unrelated-but-weird-coincidence moments, late on Friday, I found this song and felt that it applied quite well to my situation with a couple of minor exceptions. It’s not necessarily big nor clever, but “Thank you, beautiful stranger” may now be my default to dealing with certain trollsome Internet companions.

Thank you for this, Isabel Fay.

My Unfulfilled Dream, Starring Chris Claremont

If there’s one thing that I wish I could do as a “comics journalist” (although, now that I’m on io9, I wonder if I still earn that title or if I’m “journalist who occasionally writes about comics”) it’s write the definitive Chris Claremont BDSM story. Everyone has heard the rumors and innuendo – and if you haven’t, I’ll point you to Google and wish you good luck – but there’s no denying that there are some interesting and unusual recurring themes throughout Claremont’s writing and especially his original 16-year run on the X-Men that suggest some familiarity with S&M and control and submission and all of that kind of thing. It’s something that he’d doubtless never agree to, but I’ve often wished that someone was able to sit down and just talk to him about it without any sensationalism (Claremont is Fetish Pervert Corrupting All Of Us When We Were Children!) or judgment or whatever, just to… well, get to the bottom of it. No pun intended.

Of course, maybe I’m just saying that because I’m convinced that he did terrible things to my libido when he turned Madelyne into the Goblin Queen during Inferno and I want some kind of payback.

(A side note: One of the reasons Morrison’s NewXMen run felt so faithful to Claremont’s was that it, too, seemed to acknowledge a certain transgressive nature in its treatment of the Scott/Emma relationship, and the idea that, by being “naughty” outside of his marriage to Jean, Scott could be “himself” in a way he couldn’t be with Jean. But it was an interesting – and very Morrisonian – take on Claremont’s “I am evil and it’s so freeing!” idea, because it ended up (a) sticking, and (b) not being part of an evil mind control plan, but a genuine emotional need that ended happily – or, at least, as happily as these things end in superhero comics.)

(Originally published July 16, 2009 at iamgraememcmillan.com before it got retrofitted as a work site. I’d still love to do this, one day. Also amusing: Despite the writing I do for Newsarama and Comics Alliance and Robot 6, I’m now firmly in the “journalist who occasionally writes about comics” mindset; I’m pretty sure that happened at io9.)