Daily Song Study

Two Songs, One Style

In songs on October 26, 2011 at 9:07 am

Music is not the sort of thing that gets most people upset, but little else will cause me to fly into a rage. This happened to me in 2004, when I was watching some late night TV show and saw a band called The Killers performing. The thing that aroused my ire was that they looked and sounded exactly like a band that I had spent the last couple of years getting really excited about, namely Interpol, who to my knowledge had not been on any late night TV shows. It was typical, I figured, for the copy bands to get the glory after some indie band came up with a really good sound. The sound in question is on display here:

It’s a reworking of early-80s Joy Division and assorted new wave rock, but with some nice arrangement twists and less reliance on synths. I knew at the time that the lyrics were nonsensical and could be tightened up, but I figured all of that would come with time.

Later, though, I realized what I was missing. You see, the year that The Killers released their debut album was also the year that Interpol put out their sophomore record. The elements that I had hoped would improve (lyrics, song structure tightening) had not done so, and in fact they had slipped further into the muddle. Interpol is a band predisposed to hipster aesthetics (NYC brats that they are), meaning that if the average person can sing along and get something from the tune, then the act has sold out, and is therefore worthless.

The Killers, on the other hand, are not afraid in the slightest to have large numbers of people sing along, and are quite good at fashioning songs that are accessible, while retaining the musical aesthetic:

So rather than being angry at the newer band, I have at last come to the conclusion that they did a service by bringing that sound to a wider audience rather than burying it under the weight of self-imposed obscurity.

My own journey with music has, overall, been one of learning where and how best to use my passion. If I get worked up about something, it better damn well be worth getting worked up over. This has resulted in a general shifting of vantage point away from the mosh pit and out onto the lawn. Some things look quite a bit clearer with distance and perspective. Many live for the heat of artistic argument, but I’ve done my time in those trenches, and I find that energy is often best spent on identifying what is or isn’t worth arguing about, then getting those important things hashed out. Maybe that makes me old, but there it is.

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