As huge a presence as he is, Prince is not a musician who has ever loomed particularly large in my world. We’re only a product of our influences after all, and for whatever reason mine have not led me to explore Prince’s purple path in much detail. Prince worked his way into my attentions recently, however, when on July 10th, he released his latest album 20Ten as a free gift with a number of European newspapers, including the British Daily Mirror. The copy of the paper which brought the CD to me was one of 334,000 copies by which the publication’s sales soared that day. It’s not the first time Prince has used this method to distribute his music—he gave his 2007 record Planet Earth away with the papers, too—but am I the only one that feels that such a strategy cheapens the music and even Prince himself?
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If Best Coast’s Crazy for You was a concept album, the premise would be blissfully simple: a young woman, struggling with the aimlessness of work and home, searches for love in California. The idea is not unlike a younger, humbler, West Coast version of Sex and the City. And, like that renowned television series, Best Coast’s debut clicks with a diverse audience, one beyond what may initially appear to be its distinct appeal. I know at least a handful of people whose affinity for Crazy for You is unmitigated by disagreements of gender, lifestyle, or romantic disposition. I am myself among them.
Bethany Cosentino sings about passion and need. She is always the forsaken, never the forsaker, and she is confused but never apathetic. She is your typically carefree girl, hemmed in by the realities of commitment, involvement, and closure. Her favorite rhyme, fittingly, seems to be ‘crazy’ and ‘lazy’—it appears twice on the album, conspicuous in each instance. She sings on “When I’m with You”: “The world is lazy / But you and me / We’re just crazy”. Craziness is essential to her condition. It also comes upon her as a result of love: “You drive me crazy but I love you / You make me lazy but I love you”.
Like so many residents of Washington, DC, I am originally from elsewhere—Boston, specifically. Earlier this summer, I took the opportunity to ship up to Boston to attend the wedding of one my closest friends. The date that he chose for the ceremony, June 12th, was a significant one because it fell during the twelfth meeting of the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals. At the time of the ceremony, the series was tied 2-2.
I suppose that I should make it clear early on in this posting that I am neither a sports analyst nor a sports historian—and I am probably not much of a sports writer, either. Nevertheless, as I look back on the glorious wedding reception that followed my friend’s ceremony, I’m startled by how relevant the “storied” Boston-LA rivalry was to one particular song that the DJ played that evening.
About halfway through the reception, just as the party was moving from stately to unruly, the entire room was propelled onto the dance floor care of the opening one-two stomp of “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” by the Dropkick Murphys. I mean that, too. The. Entire. Room. Fathers and daughters, mothers and sons, grandmothers and grandfathers all jumping, dancing, and shouting the lyrics (or at least the “wah, oh-oh’s” backing each chorus). It was probably the most intense three minutes of the night, and the dance floor will never be quite the same as a result.
In discussions about the worst pop song of all time, Starship’s “We Built This City” is the go-to turkey. The song’s wrong-headed indignation over ‘80s corporate culture coupled with laughably sub-par musical stylings create a spicy jambalaya of awful for the ages. The video—in which former members of Jefferson Airplane stare creepily into the camera for inordinate lengths of time—doesn’t exactly help matters either.
However, another ‘80s-era gem has been sorely overlooked in such considerations. The Hooters’ video for “And We Danced” is a remarkable gestalt of auditory assault and can’t-look-away-it’s-so-bad imagery, a perfect storm of suck.
“Teddy Boy” is the simple acoustic tale of a boy named Ted with serious mother issues. Ted’s mother cries when talking about his soldier father, but later remarries, incensing Ted so much that he runs away. There is also a double meaning in the fact that “teddy boy” was common British slang in the 1950s. It was used to describe teenagers who wore “Edwardian”-inspired clothes and acted in a similar fashion to the “punks” of the 1980s or the “greasers” of the American 1950s.
Because former bandmate John Lennon had a similar childhood experience and was thought to be a part of the teddy boy subculture, it is believed that the song was a dig at him. However, the Beatles themselves originally recorded “Teddy Boy” during sessions for what eventually became their Let It Be album. There are several different bootleg versions floating around, but in one particular version Lennon is heard in the background laughing and making up extra lyrics, so I doubt that it was intended to offend. While it was never completely finished by the group, the two most notable takes of the song were edited together and put on 1996’s Anthology 3 album.