Sunday, December 20, 2009

REO Speedwagon -- "Can't Fight This Feeling"

Oh YouTube, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

1. This video is, I believe, the original video for this song. It's kind of nice ... straightforward shots of the band playing the song, bookended by a montage of Kevin Cronin trying to get the key right, and a part at the end where the entire band collapses into a giggling fit for no apparent reason and Cronin says "That warms the cockles of my cockles!" which is a funny thing to say. The band comes off as pretty likeable, even though the part at the beginning was clearly staged after the fact.

2. Here's the alternate version of the video, which is totally creepy and unintentionally hilarious! Lots of intriguing facial expressions and outdated haircuts to choose from. Also, I totally want the sweatshirt that the teenaged version of the fictional person who ages throughout the video is wearing at around the 1:38 mark.

3. And then there's this, which is also vaguely creepy (mostly because of the Brokeback Mountain images mixed in with all the Disney ones) and oddly hypnotizing.

And, if you really want to dig deep into this song's videography, there are some other funny karaoke-style videos with weird pictures. (What is the deal with the pictures that accompany karaoke songs? They are always just so bizarre. Is it an Asian cultural-divide thing? Who picks these images? I need to know these things.)

I can't fight this feeling any longer / And yet I'm still afraid to let it flow
/ What started out as friendship has grown stronger / I only wish I had the strength to let it show

So yeah, Kevin Cronin knows a girl, and I guess they are friends, and she wants to be more than friends. He was reluctant to embrace this concept but is now coming around.

I tell myself that I can't hold out forever / I say there is no reason for my fear

OK, we get the point. You're afraid, you have no strength, you have fear, etc. Are you playing for our sympathy? Mission not accomplished.

Wait a minute ... wait just a cotton-pickin' minute. Take these first three stanzas here and then think about Brokeback Mountain ... maybe that YouTube video had a point. Maybe those Disney images were just meant to throw us off the trail here. Could it be that Kevin Cronin posted that video himself, trying to send a message to the world as a desperate cry for help???

Wait, am I making Brokeback Mountain jokes?

'Cause I feel so secure when we're together / You give my life direction, you make everything so clear

That sounds really nice, Kevin. Why are you trying to fight this feeling? Seriously. Just let it flow, pal. Do what feels right. Take that "fishing trip."

And even as I wander I'm keeping you in sight

Kevin Cronin has somehow acquired a Predator drone.

You're a candle in the window on a cold dark winter's night / And I'm getting closer than I ever thought I might

This is boring.

And I can't fight this feeling anymore / I've forgotten what I started fighting for

Because you were afraid of being ostracized by a society that is still unwilling to accept a love between two men, no matter how secure you feel or how much your lover reminds you of a candle. Remember?

It's time to bring this ship in to the shore / And throw away the oars forever

I'm fine with bringing the ship in to the shore, but do you really need to throw away the oars? Forever? That just seems rash. Can't you just pretend to throw away the oars as a symbolic gesture, but then, in the dead of night, retrieve them and hide them away someplace safe? Just in case you need them sometime in the future? I mean, the ship is still going to be there. And then someday you will be like, "Hey, there's my old ship! Might be nice to take it for a spin. Now what did I do with those oars? Oh, fuck!"

Of course, the oars in this case are actually Kevin Cronin's testicles.

'Cause I can't fight this feeling anymore / I've forgotten what I've started fighting for

But I just ... told you ...

And if I have to crawl upon the floor / Or come crashing through your door / Baby I can't fight this feeling anymore

I like the two scenarios that Kevin comes up with for how to win this dude's heart. I'm imagining him supplicating himself, but that ends up being a turnoff. So he's all like, "Oh, wait a minute, I have to go get something out of my car," and walks out the door, then turns around and smashes right through it, leaving a Kool Aid guy-style cutout of himself, and bellows with rage and desire: "Baby, I can't fight this feeling anymore!" Then he's all, "Oh, sorry about that door. Sometimes I do things rashly without considering the consequences. Like, this one time, I had these oars and ..."

My life has been such a whirlwind since I saw you / I've been running round in circles in my mind

In the video (#2 in the list above), this second line is accompanied by a picture of a guy literally running around in circles within another guy's head. (Or, more accurately, within his hat.) Go back and watch that video. It's really very strange.

And it always seems that I'm following you girl / 'Cause you take me to the places that alone I'd never find

Yeah. Right. "Girl." Oh, Kevin. I thought you'd come so far. Back to square one. But, on the plus side, you still have your oars.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Justin Timberlake -- "Rock Your Body"

Come on now, you now I couldn't do Britney without doing Justin.

Wait a minute, that sounds like a ... oh, never mind.

You know, I think I've said this before, but I really like Justin Timberlake. I find his SNL appearances consistently hilarious, I really unironically enjoy a lot of his music, and I've already spoken of how I appreciated his performance as Pilot Abilene in the movie Southland Tales. So, I guess I was sort of pleased to discover that the lyrics to his songs are not that bad. I mean, certainly it's not Wordsworth or anything, but on the whole they seem simple, heartfelt and inoffensive.

This song, then, is the exception that proves the rule! (Can anyone explain this saying to me? I've always felt that an exception would disprove the rule, not prove it. Is there some basis for saying this, or it just a little bit of nonsense that found its way into the vernacular? Please discuss in the comments section.)

Also, please indulge yourself by viewing the video for this song, in which Justin dances inside the Large Hadron Collider and propounds the theory of parallel universes around the 4-minute mark. This video must've caused quite a stir in the quantum mechanics community.

Not sure if this is the official video because there's a little part in the middle that isn't in the radio version of the song, but if you don't like it, go fuck yourself.

Don't be so quick to walk away / Dance with me / I wanna rock your body / Please stay / Dance with me

This seems sort of desperate, doesn't it? Especially when he cries out "Please stay!" Come on, you're Justin Timberlake. You don't have to beg this girl to stay and dance with you.

You don't have to admit you wanna play / Dance with me / Just let me rock you / 'Til the break of day / Dance with me

I don't get the first line. She doesn't have to admit she wants to have sex with you, she can just dance with you? That doesn't make sense though, given that in the same breath you say you are going to "rock [her] 'til the break of day," which quite clearly means having sex all night.

Also, saying "'til the break of day" is a sweet pop music cliche to indicate the sexual prowess of the singer. Kudos for slipping this in there, Timberlake.

Got time, but I don't mind / Just wanna rock you girl / I'll have whatever you have / Come on, let's give it a whirl

"Got time, but I don't mind"? I have no idea what this is supposed to mean. Just making small talk before he gets back to talking about rocking her body, I suppose.

See I've been watching you / And I like the way you move / So go ahead, girl, just do / That ass shaking thing you do

If Lou Gramm sang this shit I'd probably crucify him and leave his putrefying corpse to be pecked at by woodland creatures, but Justin Timberlake is just so cute! You go, Justin! (Swoon)

So you grab your girls / And you grab a couple more / And you all come meet me / In the middle of the floor

If she already grabbed her girls, does she really need to grab a couple more random ones too? Come on. Let's not get greedy now. How many people do we need in this clusterfuck? Britney? Any thoughts?

Said the air is thick, it's smelling right / So you pass to the left and you sail to the right

First line is kind of gross. Second one is about dancing. Justin Timberlake likes dancing. And sex. But not Britney. Right? I haven't read any of the tabloids lately. How's Bennifer doing?

Don't be so quick to walk away / Dance with me / I wanna rock your body / Please stay / Dance with me / You don't have to admit you wanna play / Dance with me / Just let me rock you / Till the break of day / Dance with me

Seriously, though, you've probably seen his SNL skits, but if you haven't, please watch them, here and here. It's OK. I'll be right here.

I don't mean no harm / Just wanna rock you girl / You can move, but be calm / Let's go, let's give it a whirl

"You can move, but be calm"? This sounds like something a bank robber would say to one of his hostages.

See it appears to me / You like the way I move / I'll tell you what I'm gonna do / Pull you close and share my groove

The first two lines are funny if you imagine them being said by an elderly British gentleman, e.g. Ian McKellen or Patrick Stewart. Second two, not so funny. ... OK, I guess they're kind of funny too.

OK, now this song gets kind of complicated with different lyrics and vocalists overlapping and such. I think what I'll do is put any non-Timberlake lyrics in parentheses.

(Talk to me boy) / No disrespect, I don't mean no harm

I love the phrase "no disrespect." Check-plus. But, it should always be said in a New York and New Jersey accent. Check-minus.

(Talk to me boy) / I can't wait to have you in my arms / (Talk to me boy) / Hurry up cause you're takin' too long / (Talk to me boy) / Better have you naked by the end of this song

I've been led to believe that this whole rigamarole has been occurring in a public place, so I suppose that getting her naked by the end of the song would be grounds for arrest. Which mean, of course, that I can break out the "criminal activity" tag! I'm so excited, and I'm sure you are too.

So what did you come for / (I came to dance with you) / And you know that you don't want to hit the floor / (I came to romance with you)

Ah. I'm starting to rethink this song. Justin Timberlake's character may be a member of the mafia. The "no disrespect" line set off alarm bells, and now he appears to be coercing her into stating her affections through threats of physical violence.

You're searching for love forever more / (It's time to take a chance) / If love is here on the floor, girl

"Love is here on the floor?" Ewwwww.

Aaaand this goes on for some time, but without any really discernible alterations in the lyrics. Same words, different patterns. I think this song might actually be a sestina.

Eh, not really, but let's go out on a classy note since we were veering into vulgarity at times. Although, I guess I can't be blamed for being a little vulgar in a post about a guy who sang about sticking his dick in a box and banging his friend's mom.


Friday, December 4, 2009

Britney Spears -- "3"

If you don't mind, I'm going to get a little personal here. My last post on The Outfield sent me into a personal and professional tailspin. Who cares about The Outfield?, I thought to myself. What is the point of this blog? What is the point of anything? Why are strawberries red? Where do rainbows go when the rain stops? And so on. You know, life.

So I went into seclusion in the west wing, so to speak, and had a good think. I thought and thought until I could think no more. Then, just as I was about to give up hope -- an epiphany. If I really want to make a difference, I realized, I can't go around mocking songs from the '80s and thinking anything's going to change. That would be like shipping food back in time to Nigerians who have long since passed away or gone on to profitable careers in online scammery. If I want things to change, I have to mock songs in real time! Take on the chart-toppers of today instead of those from yesteryear.

That was all a lie!

Actually, last weekend I was watching the VH1 Top 20 with my friend Richie and not only had I never heard a single song on the list, but I'd never heard of most of the bands. "Owl City"? "Lady Gaga"? "Lifehouse"? "Bon Jovi"? wtf?? I was particularly captivated by Britney Spears' new video, in which she sings about having a threesome while dancing provocatively with people of both sexes. Then, I heard the song again on the radio while driving home (right after Led Zeppelin's "No Quarter," not sure what exactly that station's target audience was) and I figured it was fate.

So after many long years in the wilderness I present to you "3" by Britney Spears! Enjoy the video, which I find somewhat unsettling.

1, 2, 3 / not only you and me / Got one eighty degrees / And I'm caught in between / Countin'

I am really kind of charmed by how weird these lyrics are. They start out in a very straightforward way. "1, 2, 3" clearly means that there are three people. "Not only you and me" iterates that fact. Then, the third line makes no sense. I guess she looks at one person, then swivels around 180 degrees to see that there is another person? But she says she has "got" 180 degrees, like she is in possession of them. I do not know what it means. Then, she says she is "caught in between" the people. OK, I guess so.

Then the final line, my favorite -- "Countin'!" This song is about counting! Try singing it in Count von Count's voice. Amazing!

1, 2, 3 / Peter, Paul & Mary / Gettin' down with 3p / Everybody loves / Countin'

This part sounds even more like something from Sesame Street. Doesn't it? If instead of being about having sex with two people at the same time, and accompanied by images of nearly naked people bumping and grinding each other all over the place, it was instead about, well, learning how to count, and accompanied by images of playful puppets and clean multiracial children, it would be just like Sesame Street! I like Britney Spears.

Babe, pick a night / To come out and play / If it's alright / What do you say?

Haha, I was actually ready to ditch this whole Sesame Street thing, but .... seriously. Replace "babe" with "friend" or something and we're still right on track.

Merrier the more / Triple fun that way / Twister on the floor / What do you say?

I don't think a threesome would triple the fun. To an outside observer it would multiply the fun by 1.5, and for either participant it would only double the fun. Come on! This is just simple math. Don't these songwriters have copy editors? (I have no idea who actually wrote this song and refuse to look it up. But I do know that it was copy edited by Bill Sanderson of Grand Forks, N.D. For shame, Mr. Sanderson. Take more pride in your craft.)

Also, "merrier the more"? Was the "Twister on the floor" line so indispensable that we had to do these verbal gymnastics? Was it?! SANDERSON!!!!

Are you in? / Livin' like this is the new thing / Are you in? / I am countin'!

This sounds like a creepy hippie pickup line from the '60s. Hey, baby! Are you in for this threesome? Livin' like this is totally the new thing, man! Loosen up! Far out! MAN WALKS ON MOON

And, I remain charmed by how excited Britney is about being able to count. Baby steps.

Three is a charm / Two is not the same / I don't see the harm / So are you game?

At this point the songwriters probably realized there wasn't much to say about having a threesome that wasn't sort of gross and creepy, especially when paired with such a danceable and frivolous beat.

Lets' make a team / Make 'em say my name / Lovin' the extreme / Now are you game?

See? Case in point. "Let's make a team / Make 'em say my name" ... gross and creepy.

What we do is innocent / Just for fun and nothin' meant / If you don't like the company / Let's just do it you and me

I find this part disconcerting because of the change in tempo. I know every pop song in this vein has to have a part where they slow it down and get all emotional and romantic for a minute before going back to the loopy-loop dance-a-ganza with the hey-hey and the flip-flop. But this song is about a threesome, which is really by definition (in my opinion) not at all romantic. I mean, I am not anti-threesome, and I hope all of you go out and have 10 threesomes with 20 different people immediately after reading this post, but I think if you're going to write a song about having threesomes, just go for broke and make it a kind of in-your-face celebration of Bacchanalian pleasure, don't try to write cute sugarcoated lyrics and try to infuse some measure of tenderness and longing in here. Threesomes are not about tenderness and/or love. They are about fucking. Right? Um. Excuse me for a few minutes.


You and me / Or three / Or four / On the floor
Four! Four slutty people on the floor! Ah, ha, ha!
Five! Five venereal diseases! Ah, ha, ha!