Welcome again to AVQ&A, the place we throw out a query for dialogue among the many workers and readers. Take into account this a immediate to match notes in your interface with popular culture, to disclose your embarrassing tastes and experiences, and to ponder how our various lives all led us to convene right here collectively. Acquired a query you’d like us and the readers to reply? Electronic mail us at email@example.com.
This week’s query comes from reader Erik Helin:
“Whereas listening to the brand new Waxahatchee album, I repeatedly thought, ‘Man, it will suck to have a music like this written about me.’ My query for you is: What music are you most glad you’re not the topic of?”
Kelsey J. Waite
Mary J. Blige is well-known to put on her coronary heart on her sleeve as a author and performer, and there are in all probability a handful of her songs that fall into this class for me. However as a result of I’ve been listening to her new document, Energy Of A Lady, it’s the album’s third observe, “Set Me Free,” that almost all shortly involves thoughts. Energy Of A Lady arrives this yr amid Blige’s ugly, public divorce from her supervisor/husband Kendu Isaacs, and for essentially the most half, it balances Blige’s deep ache with positivity. However “Set Me Free” is downright nasty—in a wonderful, cathartic means, thoughts you—mincing no phrases in calling out the cheater: “And the way you repair your mouth to say I owe you / Whenever you had one other bitch and taking journeys and shit / With my cash for therefore lengthy.” Much more chilling is the soulful, barely candy supply of the music’s scathing refrain: “There’s a particular place in hell for you / You gon’ pay for what you probably did to me / I’ma let you know, ’trigger the reality will set me free.” I’d by no means, ever need a hex like that placed on me. (However actually: Who of their proper thoughts wrongs Mary J. Blige?)
On condition that I’m now coming into my mid-30s—with relationship, most of my well being, and one of the best job I’ve ever had, but in addition the identical previous head filled with fucked-up insecurities, anxieties, and howling fantods that’s been plaguing me all my grownup life—I sincerely hope that Ben Folds’ “Fred Jones Pt. 2” doesn’t find yourself being about me. A sequel of types to the Ben Fold Fives’ much more tragic “Cigarette,” “Fred Jones” is the largest bummer on Rocking The Suburbs, an album that doesn’t lack for musical downers. However none of them can beat the picture of Mr. Jones—summarily booted from his job after 25 years by a bunch of people that don’t even know his first title—sitting in his basement and desperately attempting to hint an image of higher days. “Activates the sunshine, and it doesn’t look proper”—sung in duet with Folds and Cake’s John McCrea—hurts, but it surely’s one of many remaining traces, “He’s forgotten, however not but gone” that units my deepest fears to howling as soon as once more.
I’ve at all times had a smooth spot for Allentown, Pennsylvania’s Pissed Denims, who veer from sludgy punk to thrash to straight noise alongside Speaking Heads-like lyrics that eviscerate American tradition. This yr’s wonderful Why Love Now is just about an idea album a couple of masculine piece of shit, veering between faux-feminist negging, needy come-ons, and hyper-aggressive soiled speak that appears like a porn video’s feedback part come to life. However means again on its 2007 debut Hope For Males, the band’s scope was a bit of broader, and on “The Jogger,” singer Matt Korvette howls snapshots of conspicuous consumption over an eerie oscillating chasm of suggestions. “Piece of cake, racquetball, climbing journey,” he intones, ending every checklist with the phrase, “The jogger!.” On the time, a good friend of mine and I’d textual content one another forwards and backwards with gadgets from our personal lives: “Submit-work beers with the crew, Xbox 360, summer season hours … THE JOGGER,” ribbing ourselves for enjoying together with the kind of hyper-capitalist upward mobility the music disembowels. A decade later, it’s a bit of nearer to house. Typically once I’m standing in West Elm pondering which media cupboard greatest displays my private aesthetic and life-style, I hear the observe’s growl behind my thoughts. “Fantasy soccer, soy milk, mid-century massive,” I hear, then Korvette’s dagger, “THE JOGGER.”
Think about being the girl in Shellac’s “Prayer To God.” You dated Steve Albini, so that you already know what he’s like, and won’t even have been that stunned to listen to a lyric about how he hopes that you just die from blunt pressure trauma to the bottom of your neck, “the place her necklaces shut.” However, provided that the premise of the music is that Steve noticed you out in public with one other man and is asking God to homicide you each—him particularly—there’s one other particular person concerned on this scenario, one with whom, at minimal, you’ll have to have an ungainly dialog about how your ex is sort of fixated on violent imagery as a technique to discover themes of poisonous masculinity in his music, and no, he’s not going to truly kill anybody. “God rattling it, Steve,” you mutter, because the man Steve Albini desires God to “make him cry like a girl / no explicit girl” comes barging by the entrance door of your residence angrily waving his iPod (that is the early ’00s, bear in mind). “What’s his fucking injury?!” your new kinda-boyfriend, who’s a very nice man you met at your good friend’s birthday celebration and isn’t a part of the music scene, which is strictly what you want about him, says. Exhaling with a sigh, you start: “Ever heard of Huge Black?”
First Assist Package is a Swedish folk-country duo that completely captures an Emmylou Harris model of ephemeral Americana. Their music is beautiful: ethereal and brilliant. And whereas their sharpest work explores the more durable, extra cynical angles of affection and relationships, they largely decide to melodic, light, and bittersweet material. Not so with “You Are The Downside Right here,” a brutally direct music the duo launched simply this yr on Worldwide Girls’s Day. Written particularly in response to information tales about convicted rapists receiving lenient sentences, it’s vicious and blunt, aimed straight on the unnamed assaulter with disgust. There isn’t any room for subtext or misinterpretation when the pair’s livid indictment culminates in “You’re the downside right here / I hope you fucking endure.” It’s an extremely highly effective music and bracing in its unequivocal message. And whereas I, like each different dope on this planet, has lived a lifetime of petty sins and self-centered infractions, figuring out that it’s attainable to trigger the sort of harm to advantage such an admonishment is a powerful reminder to not suck as a human being.
I’ll preface this by saying that the music is written with such narrative specificity, there’s no means I—or anybody else—may presumably misconstrue that it was directed at me. However holy hell, am I ever glad that I’m not the topic of Tupac Shakur’s “Hit Em Up.” A music that begins with “That’s why I fucked your bitch, you fats motherfucker” and someway will get extra vicious from there, “Hit Em Up” was written as a response to Biggie’s “Who Shot Ya,” a music that some—significantly Tupac—perceived as a semi-veiled boast that the East Coast rapper and his Dangerous Boy crew had been behind Tupac’s ’94 taking pictures in New York. Lyrically, “Hit Em Up” is the equal of getting reduce off in visitors, then tailing that man and burning his home down (whereas fucking his spouse): Tupac rages with terrifying, supernatural pressure at Biggie and each one of many “mark-ass bitches” in his orbit, dropping wickedly personalised insults in opposition to the likes of Lil Kim and Mobb Deep (“Don’t considered one of you n***** obtained sickle-cell or one thing?”), and vehemently, explicitly promising to kill them and their youngsters. Much more reducing, “Hit Em Up” is admittedly fucking catchy; to obtain this sort of menace within the type of such a bumping music will need to have harm Biggie a number of other ways. And I, for one, am very glad Tupac didn’t suppose I had one thing to do together with his taking pictures.
I cherished The Monkees’ “Nice Valley Sunday” even earlier than I knew what it meant, however as I obtained older, Carole King and Gerry Goffin’s lyrics appeared painfully, oddly acquainted as I appeared round my suburban hometown of Price The Pleasant Village, Illinois, land of strip malls and never a lot else. Rows of homes which are all the identical? Verify. With the tract housing on my road, you’d go to play at your good friend’s home and robotically know the place the lavatory was; solely the wallpaper was completely different. Charcoal burning all over the place? My dad welded his Weber grill onto a procuring cart to make it simpler to maneuver round. TV in each room? Properly, not us, however a few of my buddies even had one within the kitchen. I hated rising up there, and fled to the tantalizingly shut Chicago metropolis border as quickly as I used to be in a position. Even with a falling housing market and rising crime fee, I stay decided to maintain our household within the metropolis; my youngsters complain that their suburban cousins have a lot larger lawns, whereas I patiently clarify that we may by no means dwell out that far as a result of Mommy would begin ingesting within the daytime from absolute boredom. “Nice Valley Sunday” jogs my memory of what I escaped from, and makes me glad each time I hear it.
I’ve written about this music earlier than, however “Hotellounge (Be The Dying Of Me)” by the Belgian art-rock band Deus is among the most achingly despairing songs about failed inventive ambition I’ve ever heard. The unnamed protagonist of the fractured pop ballad is a singer with a dream of stardom, one who has spent their total life striving for widespread acclaim, solely to finish up a never-was, whiling their remaining years away in some nameless resort lounge. “It’s so laborious to maintain the dream alive,” they sing, in a quaveringly earnest method that means somebody desperately attempting to persuade themselves that there’s nonetheless an opportunity of fame and fortune, that they don’t secretly know the reality someplace deep inside. There’s a motive folks say, “I don’t need your pity,” and the narrator of this music is exhibit A. It’s so miserable to not solely think about your total life as an extended failure to dwell as much as some unimaginable imaginative and prescient, however to image everybody round that particular person simply trying upon them with embarrassed condolences.