Finally, the conclusion to the long-procrastinated awaited top 10 list of mine. These 3 songs embody everything I've ever appreciated in music; strong yet simple instrumentals, smooth and electric drumming, great lyrics, and a story to tell. Also they make me want to punch someone.
Which is something we can all appreciate in our songs.
3. When the Sun Goes Down - Arctic Monkeys
This song is the quintessential Monkeys song, and the epitome of why I love the album "Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not". Every song on that album crafts a little story out of its particular message, set with amusing lyrics and great images. This one does the best at everything; it tells the story of a prostitute, for whom Alex's story takes a particular liking. He thinks she's not all quite so bad, and yet, she hangs out with, you guessed it, "a scummy man". All the twists and turns of a novella done in 3:12, and summarized in its incendiary chorus and a delightfully mellow intro/outro:
"And what a scummy man
Just give him half a chance
I'll bet he'll rob you if he can
Can he see it in his eyes yeah
That he's got a nasty plan
I hope you're not involved at all..."
If you want to hear a song that's catchy, engaging, and keeps your mind's imagination flashing like it were reading a book, there is no song better.
2. Fire Department - Be Your Own Pet
The energy these four conjured out of their little teenage assholes was insane. Songs like "Bog", "Becky", "Black Hole" and then some left you with your jaw agape as you realized they were 16-18 when they made this stuff. Sure, it's not hard to write about being pissed at a boy, but it sure is difficult to make the music and the vocals match your intense frustrations.
Now while this song isn't THE reference song to point to for that BYOP sound, for me, it builds and wields their intense energy and Jemina's powerful vocals better than any other BYOP song. When she and the guys wind up during the pre-chorus for an explosion of pissed, like no other song I've heard before, it actually makes you feel the anticipation revving, and properly fires it with no anti-climax. It's lyrics, especially when Jemina utters "Mannequin, mannequin, a mannequin" delightfully rape your ears. Yes. Delightfully:
"This time I'm held up by a safety pin
Safety pin oh a safety pin
Stuck and sewn up like a mannequin
A mannequin, mannequin, mannequin
You can call the god damn fire department
That's the last time I'll ever let you in
You can call the god damn fire department
That's the last time I'll ever let you in"
Her small but audible Tennesee-accent perfectly caresses the words "You can call the god damn fire department". Well, not caresses; more like cradles the shit out of it. All the while the chords and the drums in the background work in perfect synergy. This song is like the perfect roller coaster; carrying its intense energy perfectly to both build you up without disappointment, and drop you with excitement. I love me this song. And I love me some BYOP.
1. From the Ritz to the Rubble - Arctic Monkeys (The video is a great fit although not official)
First off, the intro has the best set of lyrics/vocals Alex Turner has ever written:
"Last night these two bouncers
And one of em's alright
The other one's the scary one
His way or no way, totalitarian
He's got no time for you
Looking or breathing
How he don't want you to
So step out the queue
He makes examples of you
And there's naught you can say
Behind they go through to the bit where you pay
And you realize then that it's finally the time
To walk back past ten thousand eyes in the line
And you can swap jumpers and make another move
Instilled in your brain you've got something to prove
To all the smirking faces and the boys in black
Why can't they be pleasant?
Why can't they have a laugh?
He's got his hand in your chest
He wants to give you a duff
Well secretly I think they want it all to kick off
They want, arms flying everywhere and
Bottles as well it's just
Something to talk about
A story to tell, yeah"
Personable, understandable, and catchy as shit; these lyrics are precisely what I love the most in music. It's not about weaving deep metaphors, it's not about being as fucking vague as possible, it's about grabbing the hearts of your audience and summarizing their experiences through song.
And goddamn does this one do it right; Alex Turner's gift is his ability to write and sing lyrics that are unique, and yet totally easy to relate to.
It has everything: Douchebags (Last night these 2 bouncers; one of 'ems alright the other one's scarier, his way or no way totalitarian) those hostile situations that you'd rather it have been peaceful (Why can't they plesant; why can't they have a laugh?), and the fact that people just love fucking drama (They want, arms flying everywhere...). With the perfect amount of energy for every mood of every line.
Not to mention the chorus and outro, both expressing sentiments that I think we've all felt after a night of heavy..."influencing", particularly the lyrics leading into the breakdown:
"Last night, what we talked about
It made so much sense
But now the haze has ascended
And it don't make no sense anymore"
And it's sung as though Alex were sitting there, recanting the story himself; the proper, casual attitude just for this little story. It's fucking fantastic.
Secondly, the bassline is an instant classic the moment you hear it. It melds perfectly with Alex's story, and plays out the song wonderfully smooth; no other bassline could have been written for this song. This bassline is the absolute perfect groove for it.
Lastly, the style. I mentioned it earlier, but I can't say enough about how much I love it's style. None of it is presumptuous, and none of it is demanding; it doesn't ask you to sit there and figure it out, it asks you to hear it and relate, almost like a conversation with a friend. And it's ending has the perfect feel to it; it actually feels like an unforgettable night coming to an end, with their chanting acting as the last friendly hoorah before the bass smoothly carries it home.
I love this song. And if we could all pick a song to play when we enter the room, I'd pick this song in a goddamn heartbeat. It's easily my favorite song of all-time.