I loathe Adam Levine of Maroon 5. There is something about his existence that causes me to seethe with rage. Maybe it’s the fact that he’s a smug, tattooed hipster goober who pretends he’s captain badass even though he’s essentially in a boy band. Nickelback doesn’t bring forth the same rage, but their songs have not enriched my life in any way. Same goes for Drake, most modern rap, Gotye, and all the other singers and bands I cannot name. I must also include defunct whiners Oasis and Counting Crows in the of-no-merit-and-I-do-not-want-to-hear-ever-again category.
But when the vocalist is a girl, I change my tune. The sopranos, mezzo-sopranos, and contraltos are my sirens and the source of a guilty pleasure–pop music.
Say it loud — I jam Ellie Goulding and I’m proud!
If you are unfamiliar or have only been exposed to her hip-shaking SNL performance, listen to the song below. If there were a futures market for Billboard success, this would be a track in which to buy shares.
Perhaps my background colors my opinion. Having spent time in studios, not for money but for college credit, I am very cognizant of the fact that production and mastering of the quality displayed in “Figure 8″ do not just happen. The layers upon layers of piano, synths, pads, harp, drums, and vocals seek to compete in a sonic space. Just as energy moves toward entropy, sound moves toward cacophony.
Instead of cacophony, though, we are treated to a dense and loin-jostling soundscape, a place of raspy soprano goodness and almost imperceptible musical flourishes. In the final chorus, the bass adds a step up before heading back down. Goulding becomes a one-woman chorus of swirling vocals. Tension builds and releases as waves against the shore.
Perhaps the Skrillex-do is too much for your tastes. Perhaps the intimations of dubstep grate on you like a Skrillex track. These things matter not; “Figure 8″ is an example of mastery and too few people are interested in mastery these days.
Life should be a varied and rhythmic landscape filled with passion and pleasing tensions. Learn to master it.