(It's Day Two of our look at some quality songs that couldn't crack the Top 100. The full list of my 100 Songs for 2010 will be available December 6.)
One of my favorite Belle & Sebastian lyrics comes from "If She Wants Me," when Stuart Murdoch sings, "If I could do just one near-perfect thing I'd be happy." It's almost heartbreaking in its realistic honesty. I think most of us have given up on striving for perfection, and we'd be happy with a finished product where the good comfortably outweighs the bad.
Albums are like that, of course. Most of my all-time favorites have that one song I could do without. Really, though, even individual songs are collections of diverse elements, some better than others. And, like Kevin Love on the Timberwolves, every so often the observer is confronted with that one awesome thing in otherwise forgettable surroundings. Here are a few examples. I don't necessarily recommend these songs in their entirety, but there's certainly something about each of them.
Sleigh Bells - "Infinity Guitars"
There has never been a video that more accurately depicts what is happening, musically. Just walking around with a baseball bat, lighting stuff on fire. And there are dogs and cheerleaders. Also, the girl in Sleigh Bells kinda looks like Heather, and acts roughly as I imagine Heather would act if she was fronting a noise-rock band.
Darwin Deez - "Bad Day"
I don't think I'm exaggerating at all when I say that 100 percent of the lyrics to this song are terrible. Possibly MORE than 100 percent. But, musically … it’s just so likeable. It’s all drum machines and jangly guitars and handclaps, and the chorus is so triumphant, and the secondary chorus-thing ("But I'm sorry if it is!") really does feel like the culmination of something.
Kid Cudi, Best Coast & Rostram Batmanglij – "All Summer"
Kid Cudi ruins this song by himself, but there are other reasons to be cautious. For one, it was basically written to be a Converse jingle. It tries to go in about ten different directions, most of which are boring. I'm not really sure what Rostram even does. On the other hand … that chorus. Holy lord that chorus. It hits for the first time right at the 1:00 mark. All summer. Drinking water. And it really validates Bethany Cosentino's entire career. Whoever decided to put exactly these effects on her vocals should be given some kind of medal.
Los Campesinos! – "In Medias Res"
This is a band that knows something about build-ups, as their breakout single "You! Me! Dancing!" is now the soundtrack to Budweiser ad devoted to anticipation, to the moment right before. "In Medias Res" is another great exercise in tension and release, opening LC's third album with forty-seven second of slow burn before spilling into a near-perfect first lyric ("So let's talk about you for a minute"). The song kind of slips into tunelessness after that, and of course the rest of the album is Gareth talking about himself, but for one split second there, they absolutely deliver on everything.
Marina and the Diamonds – "Hollywood"
On the one hand: 1:02 ("Lady, I know why your thoughts turn gray …")
On the other hand: 1:45 ("Oh! My! God!")
I challenge you to find a song with comparable highs and lows spaced less than a minute apart.