Friday, July 13, 2007

Nathan Rabin over at the AV Club takes a break from his endlessly entertaining My Year of Flops project to wonder about this year's Song of Summer. The comments section -- typically raucous, typically mixed between insightful and tossed-off annoying -- then questions the last-Summer supremacy of Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy," which makes me a bit sad. As I may or may not have mentioned here previously, "Crazy" marks the only time in recent memory that my musical tastes lined up with the Zeitgeist, the only time I've been riding down Rhode Island Ave with a song in my head, only to hear it from the windows of passing cars.

Up until then my Songs of Summer, if I had them at all, were much more personal and esoteric. One Summer ('94? '95?) it was Mark Robinson's Olympic Death Squad's "This is Riot Gear," which was on heavy rotation on WNUR so I'd hear it on my drive home from the summer job at the Waukegan switch factory. The following(?) year my song was something by His Name is Alive, the name of which escapes me (it was on the "Scraping the Pavement" 4AD promotional tape, back in the days before record companies were willing to admit that CDs were cheap enough to serve as free-giveaway media, which I got (gratis, natch) at a Lush concert-- this will come back unexpectedly, btw).

In any case, there seems to be a three-way race between Amy Winehouse's "Rehab," which may get my vote if only because it gets played at work enough to make it seem ubiquitous to me; Rihanna's "Umbrella," which gets points because I was walking to the mailbox last week and heard a neighborhood teenager threatening his fragile performative masculinity by absentmindedly singing "ellah-ellah-ellah-ey-ey-ey-oh-oh-oh," as well as for having a 2-step remix; and Avril Lavigne's universally panned even by kneejerk contrarian AV Club commenters "Girlfriend."

The last of the three is the only one I haven't heard, although it is where things get really (for which read "actually"?) interesting...

I've been avoiding the whole "Girlfriend" plagiarism controversy, largely because having an opinion on it would require listening to the song. But all the talk of "Hey (Hey) You (You)" piqued my interest, because it sounded very familiar, especially in the context of girlfriends, especially in the context of wanting to be. And yet I'd never heard of the Rubinoos, nor heard their allegedly plagiarized song. At least I'm pretty sure I hadn't...

And then there it was. I fired up my iTunes and found the song I had in mind: "I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend," performed by Lush (toldja!). This is an MP3 I got back in the wild west days of musical filesharing, when you could type up a band name and find all kinds of obscurities (bootlegs and b-sides, like Art Brut's little brother listens to) and never really looked too far into. I had assumed it was just one of Lush's gloriously poppy handclappy late-period gems, after they decided to go easy on the fx pedals and let the songs stand on their own (see also "500" and "Ladykillers").

I'd never even imagined the possibility that the song was a transgendered cover.

But now I can't stop listening to it. This would be a good one for a clever DJ to pull out and blow a few minds-- peppy, topical and subversively anti-poptimist.
Apparently this was a b-side on the "Ladykillers" single, so get digging! And just a moment of geek/rhapsody: the way the SINGLE GUITAR NOTE introduces the bridge! It gets me every time.

Could it be I've discovered my personal Song of Summer, 2007, and that it's a ten-year-old cover of a thirty-year-old song? Maybe, or maybe it's something of the new Art Brut or Spoon albums...

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