Wednesday, August 29, 2012

My Anti-Playlist

There are some songs I just can't listen to. In some cases, they're songs I hated from the moment they first tarnished my inner ear. Others are songs I used to like until they got overplayed. And overplayed. And overplayed. Some songs I just feel silly listening to. And still others I can't listen to because of the thoughts they stir up. Here's a playlist of six you'll never catch me listening to, with some context as to why:

"Hey There Delilah" by the Plain White T's

I really liked this song the first time I heard it. Though it was a simple song, its simplicity and emotional honesty set it apart from a lot of pop music at the time. Here's the problem: I was in college going for my Associate's degree at the time. I was logging about 100 miles per day. My tape deck did not work. I listened to the radio constantly. This song was played--constantly--sometimes multiple times on the same station within a few hours. It lost its charm VERY quickly, within about two weeks. I don't "hate" it in the strictest sense, but I can't listen to it anymore. Plus, my neighbor at the time, with whom a share a long and legendary rivalry, used to sing it--badly--all the freaking time. Nooooo thank you.
Besides, Delilah is a pretty name, but it has all kinds'a negative Biblical connotations.

"Duuuude! He finally passed out! Hand me the clippers--
he's going to be sooo ticked when he wakes up!"

"Fool in the Rain" by Led Zeppelin

I really hate this one. Like, hate-hate. It's dull, it's repetitive, it gets stuck in your head, and then, just when it can't go any worse, it turns into a very strange, fast-paced samba number with an excruciating traffic whistle sound that just. Won't. Stop. When I bought my mom a Led Zeppelin compilation CD for Christmas, I specifically sought one out that didn't have "Fool in the Rain" but retained all their good songs. Oddly, I found exactly what I was looking for (although it didn't have the wonderful "Houses of the Holy").

Because clinging to a metal pole during a thunderstorm 
seemed like a great idea at the time.

"Jump" by Van Halen

I'm starting to detect a pattern here. I'm not overly fond of upbeat music with a positive vibe. "Jump" is a synth-heavy disaster to my ears, which is perhaps the closest Van Halen has ever come to "bubblegum" aside from their cover of "California Girls." I'm not a huge fan of Van Halen to begin with, but this is just bad. As soon as I hear those opening electronic notes, I'm reaching for the tuner.

Kriss Kross'll make you jump . . . even though they 
have their heads screwed on backward.

"Fred Bear" by Ted Nugent

Have you ever really given this song a listen? The first time you hear it, it sounds pretty effing epic. The music is topnotch power rock, with some great guitar work. In instrumental form, I could listen to it all day. The lyrics, unfortunately, are what kills it.

I initially thought it was literally about a bear, which really killed its credibility when I first heard it. Years later, upon further research, I see that apparently Fred Bear was an outdoorsman, outfitter and media personality, which is very cool. The song, alas, is not cool at all. It is also vaguely homoerotic.

"Was I alone or in a hunter's dream? 

'Cause the moment of truth was here and now 
I felt his touch, I felt his guiding hand 
The buck was mine, forevermore"

Ermm . . . I don't want to know about Fred's guiding hand or what it is touching. Funnier still is the spoken monologue at the end:

"I hear ya Fred, 
Talk to me, 
It's all right 
Lets go hunting baby 
Say Fred, you go up that ridge 
And I'll go down in the swamp 
We'll get that buck."

Truly, it's a song of undiluted masculinity for the ages. Truly. And Kristin Stewart will win the Academy Award for Best Actress this year. 

Not even picturing this can make the song bad@$$.

"Moves Like Jagger" by Maroon 5

Okay . . . here's where we get into the ones I really can't stand. First off, Adam Levine has always struck me as a specific kind of @$$hat. The kind of smarmy, fiery showbiz liberal who acts big, talks trash and has an ego the size of a small continent. Second, listen to his voice. No man should be able to make that sound, and even if he can, he should keep it to himself (this coming from a guy who likes the Bee Gees . . . but it was the '70s, after all). Third, watch this video.

Aguilera is simultaneously hotter and more masculine. 
Odd how that works.

Now, what makes this song particularly upsetting is the fact that it is extremely catchy. But listen to it. Watch Levine's body language. All shirtless and smirking, he thinks he's evolution's gift to women (see what I did there?) and he's going to let EVERYONE know it. And he's going to get what he wants by invoking the holy name of Mick Jagger.

You know who has moves like Jagger? Mick Jagger. He's 70 years old, but he's untouchable. And this video looks less like a tribute and more like a parody. This song makes me think of all the creepy guys the impressionable young girls all want to be with, the controlling jerks who drain them of all the happiness and fun and dreams and ambitions they might have had otherwise. Now that you've listened to this garbage, pop in "Forty Licks" and hear how a real rock legend does it.
(DISCLAIMER: I will admit to, at times, singing along to "This Love" and occasionally inquiring if anyone is out there, because it really is getting harder and harder to breathe. But that was before the disco-influenced monstrosity that is "Makes Me Wonder.")

"Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" by Beyonce

This one dates back to 2010, when I attended my very first actual dance. There was one person and only one that I wanted to dance with, someone I had grown very close to although circumstances had kept me from actually expressing my feelings. She was involved in an on again-off again relationship with a guy, and it seemed like every time I got up the nerve to ask her out she'd be back with him again. At this point they were "off again," and I somehow talked her into attending the dance. When I saw her that night . . . she looked incredible. But, like me, she wasn't really sure why she was there or what she was supposed to be doing. We just kind of stood awkwardly by the drink cooler, and although I jokingly suggested that I'd dance if she would, nothing happened. That song--that abominable song by Beyonce--came on, and all her friends got up to dance. I thought that would prompt her to join in. I thought it was my chance. I thought that moment of closeness would give me the courage I needed to tell her how I really felt. And then, as I turned toward her to ask her once more to dance, seriously this time, she said, "Well, Chris, why don't you get out there with all those single ladies and dance?"
I stopped abruptly, stunned, and immediately smiled and said, "Nahhh," or something to that effect. She left. I stayed, in a daze. The moment was gone. 
I eventually decided to just go ahead and dance by myself, since I was there already. I threw caution and dignity to the wind and just made a complete fool of myself. It was caught on camera and posted on Facebook, and I ultimately turned it into a pretty stupid YouTube video. I wouldn't say I had a blast . . . if anything, I was venting my awkward romantic frustration into some pretty terrible gyrations. But it got me through the night. 
The thing is, I didn't want to dance with "all the single ladies"; I wanted to dance with her, and sometimes I think she wanted to dance with me, too. But neither of us knew how to ask, so all I have is speculation. And she's not single anymore.

So, that's why I can't listen to "Single Ladies."

EDIT: As of May 2013, there is a new addition to my Anti-Playlist: "Mirrors" by Justin Timberlake. It's actually a very nice song, but the emotional context surrounding it is still a bit raw. In a year or so, I'll probably come back and add a funny anecdote about it, but for the time being, suffice it to say that I'll be changing the radio station whenever I hear it. 

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