Monday, October 15, 2018

One more time (Devo, Madonna, and Odesza)

On Monday I created a new playlist on Spotify, entitled 18103 (I'm using shorter playlist titles for better compatibility with Google Assistant). This playlist only has three songs on it. I'll list the three songs first, and then explain why they're together.

Devo, "Going Under." Devo had just entered the mass consciousness with the song "Whip It," not realizing that from a commercial standpoint, the band had already passed its peak. So they assembled for the post-Freedom of Choice album, entitled New Traditionalists. They came up with a new uniform, and some songs that sounded somewhat similar to their previous work - however, in retrospect, it was clear that the band was moving more and more toward electronic dance, and eventually toward their "I'm a disco boy" period on "Total Devo." Irony and sarcasm were sometimes lost on the newer fans, though. Anyway, one of the songs on the album was a little electronic squawky ditty called "Going Under." This song, that would fit right in between Duty Now's "S.I.B." and Total Devo's "Blow Up," was not one of the (not so) big hits from the album (see "Beautiful World," "Love Without Anger," and "Through Being Cool"). However, it's a nice little ditty that's fun to listen to at times.

Madonna, "Frozen." Madonna did not suffer from either lack of notoriety or questions about her song's meanings. And of course, she started in the dance world that Devo eventually joined. But beginning in the late 1980s, she began to "branch out" and do "some very interesting things musically." And of course Madonna changed philosophies more than Devo changed uniforms. As a result, 13 years after her poppy "Material Girl," Madonna had adopted spiritual attire and techno beats as part of her 1998 Ray of Light album. Indirectly condemning the material girl of the past, her "Frozen" hit dealt with the heart rather than the wallet (and rather than other body parts). Certainly not a "ditty," the song is still engaging, and wonderful to listen to at times.

Odesza, "A Moment Apart." I'll confess that I don't really know much about this band, and have really only listened to one of their songs, the title track from A Moment Apart. Closer to "Frozen" than "Going Under," the song is intriguing, with little voice samples which no one is truly able to decipher. (My vote: "I love you Nathan / I love you Pedro / I love you I love you / Nathan Pedro.") Despite this, or perhaps because of it, the song is engaging and...wonderful to listen to at times.

So why did I put these three songs in a Spotify playlist? Because, at times, I love to listen to them - again and again and again.

Which can cause substantial pain for those around me.

Take the time in the fall of 1981 in which I was in my off-campus house. Believing no one was at home, I went to the house stereo, inserted my cassette tape of New Traditionalists, and played "Going Under" over and over again. After blasting the song five times in a row - or was it six? - I discovered that two of my housemates WERE in the house. Whoops.

I thought that I was more careful in 2003-2004, one night when I wanted to listen to "Frozen." No big house stereo this time - just a small CD player. And I had the volume down low - really low, I thought. But in the next room, our German exchange student daughter was slowly going insane as I repeated the song. Whoops.

Well on Sunday night I was even more careful. No one was in the house when I played "A Moment Apart" over and over a few times (or more than a few times). And so far my neighbors haven't left nasty notes on my front door.

So now you can annoy your friends with all three songs on playlist 18103.