Posts Tagged Entertainment

Wordsmith Wednesday – Duran Duran’s “What Happens Tomorrow”

What Happens Tomorrow

Image via Wikipedia

Welcome to Wordsmith Wednesday, Duran Duran week edition! I chose What Happens Tomorrow off their 2004 album, Astronaut for our discussion pleasure today because, honestly,  I thought we could use a little dose of hope after all the world events that have been unfolding of late. So, without further ado, the lyrics:

What Happens Tomorrow by Duran Duran

Child, don’t you worry

It’s enough you’re growin’ up in such a hurry

Brings you down, the news they sell ya

To put in your mind that all mankind is a failure

But nobody knows

What’s gonna happen tomorrow

We’ll try not to show how frightened we are

If you’ll let me, I’ll protect you however I can

You’ve got to believe it’ll be alright in the end

You’ve got to believe it’ll be alright again

Fighting because we’re so close

There are times we punish those who we need the most

No we can’t wait for a saviour

Only got ourselves to blame for this behavior

But nobody knows

What’s gonna happen tomorrow

We’ll try not to show how frightened we are

It would seem lonely

If you were the only

Star in the night

You’ve got to believe it’ll be alright in the end

You’ve got to believe it’ll be alright again

And nobody knows

What’s gonna happen tomorrow

So don’t let go

Now we’ve come this far

Hold my hand please

Understand we’re never alone

We’ve got to believe it’ll be alright in the end

(Nobody knows)

We’ve got to believe it’ll be alright my friend

(So don’t let go)

And yes we believe it’ll be alright again

(So don’t let it go)

Ooooh ooooh ooh oooooh

Ooooh ooooh ooh oooooh

 

So, we can see that the song starts out reassuring someone else. As it progresses, we can tell by the switch from “you” to “we” that the lyricist is reassuring himself as well as his audience. The fear has spread, but by reaching out to one another, we can make it through. It’s also, I think, a commentary on the band’s history itself. It was a big leap of faith for John, Simon, Nick, and Roger to work with Andy again. After he had left the first time he, for several years, was nicknamed Mr. Lawsuit Of The Week because he literally kept throwing lawsuits at them over and over. They even mentioned it in the song Notorious, “who really gives a damn for a flaky bandit.” Oh! And look! He flakes out on them AGAIN and they have to scrap almost an entire album to keep him from pulling the same shenanigans.

For me, this song represents hope in the face of fear, despair, and mistrust. Whether that hope is misplaced or not isn’t the point. We need hope more than just about anything, especially when things are at their most bleak. The first time I heard this song I cried, because it filled me with a hope I desperately needed. I felt safe, protected, for the first time in years. The point is that hope and solidarity makes us stronger, more able to face the unknown of tomorrow.

It shocked me, although it shouldn’t have, how relevant this song still feels after seven years. The simplicity of the lyrics belie the depth and breadth of their scope. “We’ve got to believe it’ll be alright in the end.”

What do these lyrics say to you?

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Music Review Monday – Duran Duran’s Red Carpet Massacre (album)

No, your eyes do not deceive, I am posting Music Review Monday on a Tuesday. Fact is, my internet was down yesterday. Sorry about that, you guys!

Welcome to Duran Duran week on the blog! Why? Well, I’ll be going to see them perform live at the Pepsi Super Bowl Fan Jam on Thursday. You know how it goes, you get so excited about who you’re gonna see that you can’t think of anything else, so I thought, why fight it?

Now, having thirteen studio albums, not to mention all the various side projects and whatnot, there’s a plethora of material from which to choose. In the end, because I’m also a gamer, I asked a friend to roll a twelve-sided die. I attributed a number to each of the first twelve studio albums since we’ll have a review of lucky number thirteen when it comes out on CD.

Left with a roll of twelve, we get to discuss Red Carpet Massacre. Duran Duran’s twelfth studio album was released in November of 2007. If asked to describe it in one word, I’d have to go with lush. The sound is just full and sensuous, beckoning you to enter their magical, musical world. A large number of Duranies would disagree with me. They didn’t like it, thought it contrived and/or lackluster.

It was the album I’d been waiting for my whole life.

 I’ll admit, I was as  leery as everyone else of them working with Justin Timberlake, Timbaland, and Danja. Personally, I thought they should have worked with Timberlake’s former band mate, JC Chasez. I was never so happy to be wrong, let me tell you! The overall style of the album is tight, consistent, well-balanced among vocals and instruments, really a testament to what brilliant producers can do working with brilliant artists.

We start off with The Valley. Already I’m swaying in my seat to the beat, before Simon starts singing. The lyrics take me on a journey “through the cities and the towers, turning minutes into hours” as I sink into the instrumentation. When John’s bass solo comes up, it’s like being lifted into the storm clouds where the gods thunder. Sometimes my heart starts to beat in time to Roger’s beat, even as my veins sing along with Nick’s keyboards. Side note: everyone in the world should hear Simon Le Bon sing the word “mischievous” because it gets under your skin in all the best ways. Normally I don’t dig heavy breathing in a song, but the I’m-running-from-something feel really fits in here.

 Red Carpet Massacre opens with a dream-like interlude from Nick that alters to a pounding synth and drums tempo that wakes your senses with its brightness. Simon comes in with fast-paced lyrics that create a complementary rhythm all its own.  The chorus slams in with vocals and all instruments like a  wave of sound, carrying you away and giving the whole thing a sort of stylishly embattled feel. In interviews, Simon has said he was inspired by seeing the worst-dressed lists after an awards show, that the stars in question were being massacred by the reporter. “Enter the battle of the lenses” indeed! There’s even a warning to those who would brave the red carpet: “Ain’t the place to mess around when someone wants to take you down!” It’s fast, unrelenting, and an energizing shock to the system.

Nite Runner, one of the two songs in which Timberlake was involved, is a throbbing, pulsing club song about, as near as I can tell, falling for a  vampire. “You’re nocturnal, only come out at night,” the opening lines, definitely draw you into the concept, especially with Simon’s voice luring you on and Timbaland’s providing a deep counterpoint. From the liner notes I can see that Timberlake has also contributed backing vocals, but his voice blends so well that it’s indistinguishable unless you really hunker down and search for it. “Love is haunting,” and that’s just what this song does, deliciously haunts us into dancing.

Falling Down, the only other song on the album to which Timberlake contributes, and the only single is a danceable ballad. Inspired by Simon’s motorcycle accident, both vocals and keyboards undulate in a constant rise and fall, the rhythm section holding steady and strong. The effect is that of a body tumbling through space, the solid ground the only constant as you hit, bounce up, and fall again continuously. “Why do the cruel barbs fly? Now when disgrace can no longer hurt me?” reminds us that, even in their less popular times the press seemed to have taken joy in mocking Duran for the crime of refusing to fade into obscurity back in the eighties. Dom Brown provides a beautifully haunting guitar piece that melts into the piano outro.

Box Full o’ Honey starts out simply, just Simons voice and acoustic guitar. The other instruments come in one by one, building into a round, full sound that fills you up. The pipe sounds dimly echo, or at least recall Save A Prayer in some ways, a welcome familiarity. The centerpiece of this song is definitely Simon’s voice, the instruments lifting, supporting, highlighting him as we flow along.

Skin Divers, probably the first song they should have released, thumps in, demanding you be caught up in the beat. Simon croons in the lower regions of his range, beckoning you to move with him as the disco ball comes down, getting caught up, up against the wall… Ahem.  The song, for all it’s driving beat, flows through your veins, Timbaland’s voice a perfect, heartbeat-like counterpoint. It also contains my very favorite lyric of all time: “A blushing rose is torn from these sugar walls, I misplaced my future, could I please borrow yours?”

Tempted slides in, more airy and floaty than the rest of the album, but no less compelling. It’s poppy and peppy from top to bottom, carefree, tempting you once more out onto the dance floor. “Like you know it’s meant to, oh yeah.” It feathers along our nerves, through our veins, until we’re flying along, lost in the beat.

Tricked Out is an instrumental piece, a bit helter-skelter for my tastes. Even so, I like the way it sounds as though it’s what the aliens have playing on their spaceship as they check out the strange humans.

Zoom In is about Second Life, a virtual world where users can interact with one another through infinitely customizable avatars. In 2005, before Andy Taylor left Duran for the second time, there were plans in the works for the band to create their own islands and have an in-world concert. We’re still waiting. The song itself is just as surreal as SL itself can be, neatly capturing the spirit of the Linden Labs creation. It’s definitely a fun, danceable song that’s letting you in on a secret joke. “Now she arrives in a flaming crash like a falling star!”

She’s Too Much is a beautiful ballad that Simon has said was inspired by his middle daughter, Saffron. It’s reassuring, sweet, and full of love, letting her know that Daddy’s watching and will be there to catch her when she falls, be fighting in her corner.  All too often we hear of absentee fathers and deadbeat dads, that part of the beauty of the song is that it reminds us that there are fathers out there who love their children, want the best for them.

Dirty Great Monster is a great source of debate among certain Duranie factions. The band firmly states that it’s about an abusive home, the monster being the abuser. However, at first superficial blush, much to the glee of the fandom slashers, it sounds almost like the band are admitting something about their inter-relationships with one another. “Do you ever wonder about the days when we were straight?” The music is haunting and would be right at home in the soundtrack of a horror film about parental abuse. “We’re all afraid of each other, we’re the victims in this show.” It captures that hunted mistrust rife in such an atmosphere. So well in fact that, brilliant or no, it makes me uncomfortable listening to it sometimes, recalling my own episode of abuse at the hands of a roommate from years ago.

Last Man Standing is the final song on the album. It ties everything up together, just as a good finale should, pulling in the dance-ability, musicality, and themes of previous songs into a neat little package. Rather than having dessert at the end of the musical repast, it’s a cup of rich, dark coffee over which we gather and reflect about the meal just finished.

So what do you think? Is there an album that makes a full meal for you?

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Fangirl Friday – Stalking vs. Strategic Loitering: What Is Appropriate And When

 We all want to meet our favorite musician, right? Wanting them to acknowledge us, recognize us, is part and parcel of the whole fandom gig. When someone goes too far, we call that stalking. What is stalking? What exactly is going too far? Maybe we should start with what is acceptable and work our way up.

Here’s the thing some people don’t understand. They owe us nothing. Sure, we give them money, in exchange for their albums, merchandise, or concerts. It’s a straightforward transaction. No, seriously. We may mention the time we’ve put in as fans, but they put in the time as well in the studio, rehearsing, whatever. Of course we like it better if they’re nice to us, it makes us more inclined to continue purchasing their product. What may trip us up is the feelings we get from those products.

So, because they give us joy, fill our souls, we want that connection to go both ways. To that end, we want to meet our idols.

A good way to do that is strategic loitering. This is best accomplished in groups of two or more, but probably should not exceed eight depending on the venue one chooses. Remember, if we know where to go, odds are others will as well.

Basically what we do is very simple. We go somewhere our idol is likely to be and hang out. For example, the radio station adventure I talked about last week. Other acceptable places are, in no particular order: concert/show venues, signings, hotel bars, and other public places. One location one should NEVER go uninvited is a private residence. This lands you firmly in stalking territory, and should be avoided at all costs.

Now, okay, we have the places, but what should we do when we get there? First, and most important, be polite…to the person you wish to meet, fellow loiterers, and most especially to any staff who might be working your chosen venue.

Let’s say we’ve chosen the hotel bar as our hang-out spot. Order a drink. It doesn’t have to be alcoholic, we just have to keep in mind that the bartender and servers are there to make a living. If we’re taking up their tables and bar space without ordering, we are impeding their ability to do so. That’s rude. What’s more, they’ll be less inclined to pass on any potentially helpful information, such as when Mr. or Ms. Rock Star tends to come down for a drink!

So, the bartender has given us the skinny that our idol will be down within the hour. What do we do when they appear? No! We don’t mob them or hover in the doorway! Bad fan, no autograph! We wait for them to come in, get comfy, and gauge their mood. If they look like they want to be left alone, we LEAVE THEM ALONE. Regroup, come back at another time or try a different venue.

If, however, they’re being approachable, do so. We don’t mob them, we send one or two of our group over to politely ask for autographs. If the water’s fine, they discreetly beckon the others to join. If, on the other hand, what we took for a welcoming smile was just gas, we back off post-haste.

“But Gigi!” I hear your dulcet tones clamor, “That means we don’t get to meet them!”

True enough, but it also ensures we don’t piss them off and make a bad impression. It gives us a chance to try again later at a more opportune moment. And maybe, just maybe naughty girls need love too they’ll remember how polite we were at the hotel and be extra nice at the backstage door!

Okay, so let’s say our venue is at the back of the House of Blues or another small setting. There’s maybe ten people total, and two of them are with us. Where do we stand? Near the big black car/SUV/limo idling at the curb! Now we wait. We see the first band member exit. He’s the one our two friends are there to see so we take the camera, ready to play a combination of shutter-bug and wing-man(woman). Oh no! The crazy stalker fan has launched herself onto him like a monkey, arms around his neck, legs around his waist! For shame!

Here’s where playing to Mr. Rock Star’s tastes really comes in. God (yes, I mean Nick Rhodes) really likes the unique. Happily, one of our friends is in boots that make her over six feet tall, sporting fire-engine-red hair, and wearing a bindi. Though shaken by the scary limpet fan, he sees her and his face lights up like a kid on Christmas morning. When politely asked for a picture, he readily agrees, puts his arm around her, and the picture gets snapped. We thank him, he slips into his limo, and drives off. Now we have a memory that will last forever and our idol is reassured that not all his fans are insane.

There have been a few examples peppered throughout of inappropriate behavior. Other things no good fan should ever do: dig through their garbage, abduct their pets for ransom, steal their clothes to sell on eBay, follow them into the bathroom, interrupt conversations, grope them without express permission/invitation or do anything we wouldn’t want a stranger to do to us.

What examples of strategic loitering have I missed? What about stalking? Share your tales of band encounters here!

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Wordsmith Wednesday – Morrissey’s “The Ordinary Boys”

Welcome to the second Wordsmith Wednesday. Today we’re going to look at the lyrics of Morrissey‘s The Ordinary Boys. I was having trouble deciding on something from my own collection. Spoiled for choice, you could say. So I jumped on Twitter and put out a call for help. Semibold responded almost immediately, asking if I liked Morrissey and The Smiths. I told her like wasn’t an issue so much as interesting was. She then pointed me to the song we will be discussing today. Here are the lyrics:

The Ordinary Boys by Morrissey and Stephen Street

Ordinary boys, happy knowing nothing

Happy being no-one but themselves

Ordinary girls, supermarket clothes

Who think it’s very clever to be cruel to you

For you were so different

You stood all alone

And you knew

That it had to be so

Avoiding ordinary boys

Happy going nowhere, just around here

In their rattling cars

Ordinary girls

Never seeing further

Than the old, small streets

That trap them

But you were so different

You had to say no

When those empty fools

Tried to change you, and claim you

For the lair of their ordinary world

Where they feel so lucky

So lucky, so lucky

With their lives laid out before them

They are lucky

So lucky, so lucky

 

True confessions time. That is a lot of how I felt in high school…the isolation of being unique, feeling like the “normal” kids had it easy, that they were out to get me. When I read those words, I was instantly transported back to that time in my life.

By turns, the lyrics are hurt (“think it’s very clever to be cruel to you”), condescending (“those empty fools”), and jealous (“they are lucky”). It sounds as though a bitter teenager is venting his spleen. I looked up the dates and found out that Morrissey was nearly thirty in 1988 when Viva Hate, the album on which the song appears, was released. Seriously? You get to almost thirty and still can’t get over the mean kids in high school? Still, the lyrics made me think.

When I was in high school, everything felt so difficult, bewildering, and hurtful. There were kids that I thought were “so lucky”. The rich kids, the popular kids, the pretty kids, all of them had to have had it easier than me! Gradually, I learned how wrong I was. Nobody has it easy in high school. Nobody has it easy EVER.

Life is difficult. Some days it goes well, others go horribly wrong. Money, popularity, and looks only change the types of problems one has. I didn’t like these lyrics, they brought me back to a time of petty meanness and sadness. However, they got my brain whirling, and for that I kinda love them too. What about you? What do these lyrics say to you?

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Music Review Monday – Duran Duran’s “All You Need Is Now” (the single)

We’re going to do a little something different for this, the second edition of Music Review Monday. I’m going to review a single, rather than the whole album. That single is called All You Need Is Now. Why? Several reasons. It’s off a brand-new iTunes album that’s only nine songs long, and the full fourteen song CD won’t be available until late March. I want to wait for the additional five songs to do a full album review.  Also? I’ve been dreading this review so much that I broke out into a flop sweat every time I sat down at my computer this past week.

You see, I am what is referred to as a Duranie. I’ve been one since the spring of 1985. I was ten years old. It’s fair to say that listening to Duran Duran is one of the major reasons I am who I am today, why I think the way I think. I’m freaking terrified of this review. You can imagine my excitement at the announcement of their thirteenth studio album. I’ve always been able to count on them to create something I at least like (Pop Trash), if not something I adore (Arena).

I guess, by the law of averages, it couldn’t last. Okay, enough stalling. On to the review.

It starts off with a highly annoying techno keyboard sequence from Nick Rhodes. You remember me talking about him in last Friday’s post? Where I called him God? Yeah. There’s a steady if uninspired rhythm provided by Roger Taylor, our heroic drummer. Then Simon Le Bon begins to sing, sounding more bored than I’ve ever heard him and muffled and distorted by some “nifty” effect. John Taylor (also known to Duranies as the Almighty Bass God) then fills things out a teensy bit with his bass guitar. They all sound pretty much like they’re phoning in their performances. The song drifts out of techno-land into a semi-lovely chorus that almost gives me hope. It’s soft and sweet, tasting of reminiscences and longing. Everyone’s at least bringing their B game. Rinse and repeat. I’ll admit the extended dream sequence after the second time around that segued into and out of the chorus again was beautiful and ethereal, but then it dragged back into that incessant techno-twaddle to fade out on… crowd noise?

Admittedly, I don’t like techno music as a general rule, although some people can do it brilliantly. This was not done brilliantly. It sounded hollow and dry, devoid of emotion, boring. When I played this song for my mother (whose favorite Duran song is Taste The Summer) she wrinkled up her nose and asked, “What happened to them? They used to be so full of life.” Guys, you are doing something wrong when a 67-year-old thinks your song is a big yawn.

In the interest of full disclosure, all my Duranie friends LOVE this song. Some even find it uplifting. Desperately worried that I’d lost the plot somewhere, I played it for friends outside that circle. All of them asked me to turn it off, like yesterday. I even played it for one of my sisters. She and I don’t usually agree on much of anything. After listening to the single she looked at me, eyes filled with confusion, and asked why they didn’t just do mash-ups of their old songs instead of re-hashing and re-packaging them in new and uninteresting ways.

I was so worried about this review. I didn’t want to do it. Then someone said a brilliant thing to me. “Someone needs to put the mirror up so they can see the egg on their faces,” they said. “Who better than you, someone who loves and respects them?” I stammered something about owing it to them to give them a glowing review since they had given me so much joy in the past, so that they go on selling and making music. They countered with, “Gigi, do you want them to continue making songs like this?”

No, I don’t.

 What do you think?

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Wordsmith Wednesday – Cole Porter’s “Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall In Love)”

Welcome to the very first Wordsmith Wednesday! I thought we’d take the way-back machine to 1928 and look at Cole Porter‘s Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall In Love). Now, there are several versions of this song, first played in the musical Paris. However, for the purposes of this blog, we’ll be looking at the version from the 2004 soundtrack of De-Lovely, a film about Cole Porter’s life, as sung by Alanis Morissette. Why? Because that is the version I own and have transcribed.Yes, I sat down and listened to the song over and over again to write down the lyrics. Here they are:

Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall in Love) by Cole Porter

But that’s why birds do it, bees do it

Even educated fleas do it

Let’s do it, let’s fall in love

In Spain the best upper sets do it

Lithuanians and Letts do it

Let’s do it, let’s fall in love

The Dutch in old Amsterdam do it, Not to mention the Finns

Folks in Siam do it, think of Siamese twins

Some Argentines without means do it

People say in Boston even beans do it

Let’s do it, let’s fall in love

Romantic sponges they say do it

Oysters down in Oyster Bay do it

Let’s do it, let’s fall in love

Cold Cape Cod clams ‘gainst their wish do it

Even lazy jellyfish do it

Let’s do it, let’s fall in love

Electric eels I might add do it, though it shocks ’em I know

Why ask if shad do it, waiter bring me shad roe

In shallow shoals English soles do it

Goldfish in the privacy of bowls do it

Let’s do it, let’s fall in love

The dragonflies in the reeds do it

Sentimental centipedes do it

Let’s do it, let’s fall in love

Mosquitos heaven forbid do it

So does every katydid do it

Let’s do it, let’s fall in love

The most refined ladybugs do it, when a gentleman calls

Moths in your rugs do it, what’s the use of moth balls

The gusts in trees do it

Bees do it

Even over-educated fleas do it

Let’s do it, let’s fall in love

Let’s do it, let’s fall in love

Let’s do it, let’s fall in love

 

Now, this song is quite obviously about mating, sex. However, since it was considered vulgar to talk about that sort of thing too blatantly when the song was originally written, you can see Porter ameliorated the bluntness by inserting the bit about falling in love for what “it” is. This also neatly equates sex with love which, in my humble opinion and experience, should be true, but often is not. Oh, and for those of you wondering, click this link for another set of lyrics I found on the internet.

There are quite a few clever turns of phrase, like the mention of electric eels being shocked and the moth balls. It’s light and frothy, winking at you and seeming to say that, as George Michael put it, “sex is natural, sex is good” and it’s nothing to be ashamed about. After all, what about those randy beans from Boston?

It occurs to me, so many people snipe and grumble about how vulgar today’s music is, how it focuses on sex and candy violence and all that jazz. Thing is, music has always been about those things, the composers were just more sneaky about how they expressed it. Or more…what’s the word I’m looking for? Classier? Euphemistic? ARTISTIC! Yes, that’s the answer!

No one listening to Wagner’s Flight of the Valkyries can say it’s about happy bunnies frolicking. Likewise The Star-Spangled Banner. They are both definitely about battle. Bombs are bursting in the air! Jerry Lee LewisGreat Balls of Fire and, of course, today’s selection are prime examples of songs about sex from so-called innocent times.

I think my favorite line in Let’s Do It is the opening one about the birds and the bees, a classic euphemism for what the song is all about. It simply and elegantly sets the stage, letting you know what the real score is. It doesn’t need to be excessive or slap you in the face to get the message across.

What do you think? What do these lyrics say to you? Can centipedes really be sentimental?

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Music Review Monday – Michael Jackson’s Thriller album

I thought I’d kick off the music reviews with the very first album I ever bought, Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Music has always been a part of my life, from the scores in the movies I watched to the songs we sang in school to the music my family played at home. But the first record I ever bought (with my hard-earned chore allowance) was Thriller. Yes, I said record, and I meant it. Back in the dark ages, there was no such thing as digital media. Computers took up whole rooms, far too large to have a personal version. We used record players, cassette decks, and radio to get music. However, thanks to technology, I’ve linked each song to their Amazon.com page where you can listen to them, just in case you haven’t heard them or just want to listen along with me.

I listened to this particular album until the needle on our player went smooth…several times over. Play just about any song on it, and I can happily sing along. I have pulled out my own vinyl copy to check the track listing. We’ll start with side one.

Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin‘ is, perhaps inevitably, the first song. When I hear it, my shoulders automatically begin moving left and right to the beat and if I’m standing, so do my hips. So what if it’s one of the most repetitive songs on the planet? It’s too high to get over, too low to get under. It infects you with the beat, the Almighty Beat, until you just can’t be still. Go ahead, try it, I double-dog dare you! Even if you do nothing more than nod in time, you’ll see. Interesting side note? There’s mention of that naughty Billie Jean and how she’s always tellin’ lies. Who says foreshadowing is just for novels?

 Second, we come to Baby Be Mine. The beat’s still there, still strong, and yet it’s unmistakably a ballad. You’ll come to see that the beat is the underlying commonality throughout the album, in fact. At any rate, this song has everything a ballad should have – expressions of devotion, confessions of desire, promises of fidelity and eternity. Yet it doesn’t feel insincere or facile. To me, it sounds honest, sweet.

Third is The Girl Is Mine, a duet with Sir Paul McCartney. Their voices don’t just provide a beautiful counterpoint when they’re going back and forth. They harmonize. Near the end, there’s a “conversation” that feels natural rather than contrived. Two of my friends and I lip-synced a little skit for this song for our school’s talent show when I was ten. I played Michael’s part, Julie was Paul, and Whitney was the girl we “fought” over. Good times, man.

Fourth, finishing off side one, is the reason I bought the album in the first place, the reason I can watch zombie movies even though my “ick” tolerance is way low. Thriller, the title track of the album, is definitely one of my top ten songs/videos of all time. The alien keyboard starts us off, nice and spooky, escalating as the beat asserts itself. Maybe because the video is so deeply entrenched in my psyche, the tension builds as Michael starts to sing, infusing the song with a more concrete story-telling feel. I don’t just see the video behind my eyelids every time I hear the song, my body fills with the tension and excitement I felt when I first encountered it. Somewhere, deep inside, music was forever changed for me. There’s something about his voice, at times trembling, at others pleading, warning, even mocking, that draws me in, makes me feel like an audience of one. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. And then, Vincent Price, the master of creeptasticness, begins to speak. **shivers** This isn’t just a song, it’s an event. Lift the needle, carefully reposition it, listen again.

Thus ends side one. Flip the record to side two.

We open with Beat It. Bright, funky, and with mind-blowing (at least for me) guitar riffs all blended into an anthemic dance tune. “You have to show them that you’re really not scared. You’re playin’ with your life, this ain’t no Truth Or Dare. They’ll kick you then they’ll beat you then they’ll tell you it’s fair, so beat it. But you wanna be BAD.” And no, I haven’t stopped dancing around, why do you ask?

Now we come to Billie Jean, that girl doing all the lying from earlier. Only, this story seems to be leading us to believe that maybe she isn’t lying, at least not wholly. “She’s just a girl who claims that I am the one” falls flat next to “the lie becomes the truth” and “so take my strong advice: remember to always think twice.” Of course I didn’t think any of this when I first got the album as a very sheltered nine-year-old. I didn’t even know what a “lover” was.

Ah, Human Nature, the most ethereal cut on the album. Breathy and almost haunting, I fall in love each time I hear it. Even for all that, the beat is very present, an undercurrent that pulls you along so that you sway to the rhythm.

I always wanted to be someone’s P.Y.T., their tenderoni, in need of T.L.C. Now was the perfect time. It just sounded like so much fun! Sometimes though, I couldn’t wait for it to finish to get to the next and final song.

The Lady In My Life, the culmination of it all, the soothing balm after all the dancing, monsters, being bad, lying girls, and did I mention dancing?  I don’t know what I’d do if a man sang this to me. It makes all my cynicism and bitterness just melt away. Adult me knows he’s singing about sex… slow songs get you laid, after all. But kid me just wanted to snuggle in his (and later, others’) arms and make with the smoochies… go nowhere and stay with him, whatever that meant.

Each piece of this album has something to pull you in, keep you listening. Puzzle pieces that interlock, complementing each other and completing the whole. I’ll admit, I have NO objectivity where this album is concerned. Who does in regards to their first love, really? I’ll also confess that it took several hours to write this review. I had to stop after each song and take a break to keep from all-out weeping. The world is a poorer place without Michael Jackson in it making music.

So, what was your first love, musically speaking, and why? Let me know in the comments what record, album, CD, whatever, spins you right ’round.

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