Welcome again to AVQ&A, the place we throw out a query for dialogue among the many employees 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 numerous lives all led us to convene right here collectively. Received a query you’d like us and the readers to reply? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week’s query comes from reader Erik Helin:
“Whereas listening to the brand new Waxahatchee album, I repeatedly thought, ‘Man, it could suck to have a track like this written about me.’ My query for you is: What track 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, Power Of A Girl, it’s the album’s third observe, “Set Me Free,” that the majority rapidly involves thoughts. Power Of A Girl arrives this 12 months amid Blige’s ugly, public divorce from her supervisor/husband Kendu Isaacs, and for probably the most half, it balances Blige’s deep ache with positivity. However “Set Me Free” is downright nasty—in a good looking, cathartic manner, thoughts you—mincing no phrases in calling out the cheater: “And the way you repair your mouth to say I owe you / While you had one other bitch and taking journeys and shit / With my cash for thus lengthy.” Much more chilling is the soulful, barely candy supply of the track’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?)
Provided that I’m now coming into my mid-30s—with a superb relationship, most of my well being, and the perfect job I’ve ever had, but additionally the identical outdated head stuffed with fucked-up insecurities, anxieties, and howling fantods that’s been plaguing me all my grownup life—I sincerely hope that Ben Folds’ “Fred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 making an attempt 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, however it’s one of many last strains, “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 comfortable 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 12 months’s glorious 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 discuss that feels like a porn video’s feedback part come to life. However manner 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, mountaineering journey,” he intones, ending every record with the phrase, “The jogger!.” On the time, a pal of mine and I’d textual content one another backwards and forwards with objects from our personal lives: “Submit-work beers with the crew, Xbox 360, summer time hours … THE JOGGER,” ribbing ourselves for enjoying together with the form of hyper-capitalist upward mobility the track disembowels. A decade later, it’s a bit of nearer to residence. Generally after I’m standing in West Elm pondering which media cupboard greatest displays my private aesthetic and life-style, I hear the observe’s growl at the back of 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 simply die from blunt power trauma to the bottom of your neck, “the place her necklaces shut.” However, on condition that the premise of the track 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 individual concerned on this scenario, one with whom, at minimal, you’ll have to have an ungainly dialog about how your ex is type 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 needs God to “make him cry like a lady / no explicit girl” comes barging by the entrance door of your condominium angrily waving his iPod (that is the early ’00s, keep in mind). “What’s his fucking injury?!” your new kinda-boyfriend, who’s a very nice man you met at your pal’s party and isn’t a part of the music scene, which is precisely what you want about him, says. Exhaling with a sigh, you start: “Ever heard of Massive Black?”
First Help Package is a Swedish folk-country duo that completely captures an Emmylou Harris type of ephemeral Americana. Their music is beautiful: ethereal and brilliant. And whereas their sharpest work explores the tougher, 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 track the duo launched simply this 12 months on Worldwide Girls’s Day. Written particularly in response to information tales about convicted rapists receiving lenient sentences, it’s vicious and blunt, aimed instantly on the unnamed assaulter with disgust. There isn’t a 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 track 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, realizing that it’s attainable to trigger the type of damage to benefit such an admonishment is a robust reminder to not suck as a human being.
I’ll preface this by saying that the track is written with such narrative specificity, there’s no manner 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 track 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 track that some—notably Tupac—perceived as a semi-veiled boast that the East Coast rapper and his Dangerous Boy crew had been behind Tupac’s ’94 capturing in New York. Lyrically, “Hit Em Up” is the equal of getting minimize off in site visitors, then tailing that man and burning his home down (whereas fucking his spouse): Tupac rages with terrifying, supernatural power at Biggie and each one of many “mark-ass bitches” in his orbit, dropping wickedly personalised insults towards the likes of Lil Kim and Mobb Deep (“Don’t one in every of you n***** obtained sickle-cell or one thing?”), and vehemently, explicitly promising to kill them and their children. Much more reducing, “Hit Em Up” is absolutely fucking catchy; to obtain this sort of risk within the type of such a bumping track should have damage Biggie a number of other ways. And I, for one, am very glad Tupac didn’t assume I had one thing to do together with his capturing.
I beloved 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 Value The Pleasant Village, Illinois, land of strip malls and never a lot else. Rows of homes which might be all the identical? Examine. With the tract housing on my road, you’d go to play at your pal’s home and routinely know the place the toilet was; solely the wallpaper was completely different. Charcoal burning in every single place? My dad welded his Weber grill onto a purchasing cart to make it simpler to maneuver round. TV in each room? Nicely, not us, however a few of my pals 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 charge, I stay decided to maintain our household within the metropolis; my children complain that their suburban cousins have a lot greater lawns, whereas I patiently clarify that we may by no means dwell out that far as a result of Mommy would begin consuming 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 track earlier than, however “Hotellounge (Be The Loss of life Of Me)” by the Belgian art-rock band Deus is likely one of 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 complete 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 making an attempt 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 cause folks say, “I don’t need your pity,” and the narrator of this track is exhibit A. It’s so miserable to not solely think about your complete life as a protracted failure to dwell as much as some unattainable imaginative and prescient, however to image everybody round that individual simply wanting upon them with embarrassed condolences.