Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Shape of Things to Come? Form-fitting, of course..

I was all excited to post about "Shape of Things to Come" from the movie "Wild in the Streets" until I read this on the song's wikipedia page:

"As of June 2006, the Max Frost & The Troopers version of the song is being used in an advertising campaign by Target Stores."

Apparently the shape of things to come will be "comfortable," affordable, and designed by Isaac Mizrahi.

But having the song used in a commercial is actually not blasphemous (you know, not like something crazy, like using "The Times They Are A-Changin" in a commercial for a billion dollar HMO) because the song isn't an actual rebellious statement, just a dramatized version of one. I think this is why I actually like it more than a real song by a real band about how "things need to change, man..."

If you're not familiar with "Wild in the Streets," it's about a pop star named Max Frost who starts using his influence with teens to get the voting age changed to fifteen. Once this is accomplished, he gets himself voted President (on the Republican ticket--don't ask) and sends everyone over 35 to LSD-fueled "rehabilitation camps."

The scene featuring "The Shape of Things to Come" comes right after crowds of teens engaging in a sit in at the Capitol have been fired upon by police. Max (on TV presumably) appears from behind two columns looking solemn and defiant and that great muted guitar begins to build the tension up, allowing the organ to sweep in, ringing and triumphant.

Within the context of the movie, the song's got this great feeling of inevitability to it, as if it's already far too late to stop the youth from rising up and taking total control of the world. But without watching the movie, the song has a epic feel to it that most garage rock songs from the 60s lack, though that might be because the couple who wrote the song, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weill, were Brill Building songwriters responsible for hits like "On Broadway" by the Drifters, "We Got to Get Outta This Place" by the Animals, and "Kicks" by Paul Revere and the Raiders.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Initials BB

Look at Serge Gainsbourg. What a typical Frenchman. Smoking a cigarette and acting too cool to stand up. Who does he think he is?

"Initials BB," Gainsbourg's tribute to Brigitte Bardot, is easily my favorite song of his. The chorus is hypnotic, like some sort of brainwashing tool: "Repeat after me--B initials B initials B initials BB." It's easy to imagine a giant neon sign flashing B in time with the beat.

Most Gainsbourg songs irritate me. Either he talks through most of a song (probably because he was too hungover in the studio that day) or Jane Birkin (Gainsbourg's longtime girlfriend and "musical" partner) does her famous "I don't need to sing, I can just exhale" act, causing the song to expire in a fog of Gitanes smoke and Gallic superiority. But "Initials BB" is perfect.

As a public service, here is what happens when you're too cool to stand up in your own music videos.