Song Spotlight 5

When I Needed You” by Carly Rae Jepsen.

Carly Rae Jepsen is a singer-songwriter from British Columbia, Canada. Her more famous tracks include, “Call Me Maybe,” and, “I Really Like You.” “When I Needed You” is a track off her third album, Emotion.

This song. This song, dude. This freaking song, home slice. This, for me, is one of the best 80s pop revival songs in the last few years. Obviously, I haven’t listened to every song released in the last few years. I wasn’t born long enough ago to be able to accurately determine what actually was the definitive 80s pop sound. I have to base my opinion on things I’ve read and heard from secondary, tertiary, quaternary, etc, sources. I don’t think  I’d be totally wrong to say that this song is pretty 80s pop though.

ANYWAY. Regardless of what it’s categorized or described as, it’s such a fun song. It takes a less-than-ecstatic topic (unrequited support) and makes a jubilant anthem out of it. It’s my ideal approach to writing a fun song meant to be a sort of “fuck you” to someone. The bass line that kicks in at the beginning of the first hook is fantastic. I wish it were deeper and more pronounced.

“You come to me / In dreams at night” is sung so very old school. It’s not particularly melodic, wispy and wide. “Where were you for me / When I needed someone” has a pretty anthemic rhythm. And then it goes into the howling, “When I needed you.” I’ve seen videos of this song performed live, and it looks (and sounds) like it really fills the room. It’s easy to sing along to and makes reliving a painful memory way more enjoyable than it has to be.

Go listen to Emotion Side B if you like this song. If not, listen to it anyway. At least once.

Thanks for the tune, Carly Rae Jepsen.

Song Spotlight 4

“Giving Up” by Ingrid Michaelson.

Ingrid Michaelson is a singer and songwriter from New York. This song was released on her third album, Be OK, which was released in 2008. Her bigger hits include, “The Way I Am,” and, “You and I.”

I chose this song because since the first day I heard it, I knew it would never stop being a good song. It is very spare. It’s just her and a guitar and, on occasion, a backup vocal of herself (which I guess makes it just her and a guitar). The pace is steady and the melodic and chord progressions are simple.

The melody is so, so sweet. She doesn’t do a lot in terms of making the music dynamic, which makes it feel a lot more like a confession or a small monologue rather than a song.

The writing is absolutely phenomenal. Absolutely. Phenomenal. I want to incorporate all the great lines into this post, but at some point I’d just be posting all the lyrics to the song. Instead, I’ll use the lines that made me realize I loved this song when I heard them.

“I am giving up on greener grasses.” Michaelson says this song is the good kind of giving up, which really doesn’t get enough credit for all the insanity its prevented since the beginning of cognitive awareness. This line is such a succinct way of saying, among other things, that sometimes the grass is greener, but we don’t always (or ever) need greener grass. Sometimes we just need grass. Or sometimes we need rocks or gravel or tanbark or concrete. It says that sometimes maybe you actually do want greener grass, but, more often than not, you can miss out on your own good lawn while yearning for someone else’s. It says that comparison won’t keep her from realizing what she has. It says you have to be realistic, which may sound negative, but a good, real thing is much, much better than a better, imagined thing.

“What if your eyes close before mine?” Talking about the death of your partner to your partner is, I imagine, a bit surreal for a younger person. It opens up a lot of little used avenues of thinking. But I like it. Thinking about how I’d feel if / when my partner dies makes me more aware of how I feel about them now. Obviously, things can change over time, but that’s beside the point. I imagine that if / when I choose to marry a woman, I’d like not to feel more than just (all forms of) sad after her death. I’d love to feel love and warmth because I had her, even if it wasn’t always. And I’d love to feel faith in the idea that people are more than just humans on a planet, that they can create a sort of magic.

Thanks for the tune, Ingrid Michaelson.