Five Random Songs (Episode Two)

Boy, am I glad I created a new segment yesterday – because now when I’m fresh out of ideas, I can totally cop out.  And guess what?  It’s cop-out time!  Here we go with Episode Two of “Five Random Songs” – as selected, this time around, by the “shuffle” function on my iTunes.

(Side note: I downloaded a new version of iTunes recently and ignored the tutorials.  Because of this, it took me about 42 seconds to figure out where the “shuffle” function was.  For those concerned, it doesn’t pop up until you start playing a song.  This has been your Kevin Reviews Things Public Service Announcement of the day.)

1. My Chemical Romance – “To The End”

Hello, blast from the past!  If yesterday’s inclusion of a Taking Back Sunday tune wasn’t enough to satisfy your angst-ridden 15-year-old self, how about a My Chemical Romance tune from 2004’s Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge?  Once again, I won’t apologize for my preteen musical taste – because Three Cheers, despite its ultimately-emo lyrics and occasionally overbearing sound, is a good album.  It may be odd defending this when I’m 64, but I’ll do it.

“To The End” showcases the best and worst of My Chemical Romance.  It’s instantly catchy, it’s unquestionably loud and it features Gerard Way screaming out his heart.  Smartly, like most of the songs on Three Cheers, “To The End” gets in and out.  At 3:01, it lasts precisely the amount of time it needs before having to assault your ears any further.  Big guitars and overdriven vocals lead to a fun tune here.  Just don’t try and listen to it while you’re studying.

Grade: B+

2. Weezer – “Heart Songs”

This next song comes off of Weezer’s third self-titled album, more commonly known as The Red Album.  The band released Weezer (The Blue Album) in 1994, Weezer (The Green Album) in 2001, and The Red Album in 2008.  Oddsmakers are placing good money down for The Magenta Album in 2015.  Stay tuned.

“Heart Songs” is the fourth song off of The Red Album, and it comes after three that I rather enjoy: “Troublemaker”, “The Greatest Man That Ever Lived” and “Pork and Beans”.  All three are undeniable blasts of fun, which is more than you can say for “Heart Songs”.  It’s a clunky listing of artists that inspired Rivers Cuomo, with lyrics that are basically just one name after another.  Consider the opening block of verses:

Gordon Lightfoot sang a song about a boat that sank
In the lake at the break of the morning
A cat named Stevens found a faith he could believe in
And Joan Baez, I never listened to too much jazz
But hippie songs could be heard in our pad

Ew.  We then get lyrical gems such as It takes two to make a thing go right, if the Fresh Prince starts a fight.  What.

I know that the whole “awkwardly endearing” thing is a big part of Weezer’s shtick, and as a fan of the band, I’m fine with that.  But “Heart Songs” is all of the awkward and none of the endearing.

Grade: D

3. Bruce Springsteen – “What Love Can Do”

Hey, a second straight day of Bruce!  Unfortunately, there’s not a second straight day of “The Rising”, as iTunes has selected a random song off of 2009’s Working on a Dream that…well, to be honest, I don’t remember ever hearing before.  And I probably won’t remember much from “What Love Can Do” after one listen, either.  It’s a little “Wrecking Ball”-esque in structure, though it’s much quicker and cluttered than the title track of The Boss’ most recent album.  The lyrics are just OK, and that’s after searching for them, because Springsteen’s almost impossible to understand here.  The whole production of the song just sounds muddled and generally wrong.  There’s not much to recommend here.

Grade: C-

4. The Beatles – “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”

The third track off of what’s widely considered the Beatles’ magnum opus, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” is largely famous for, well, those initials.  It was written by John Lennon and it features references to “plasticine porters” and “marmalade skies” – of course it’s about acid!  But I’m here to disprove this.

The inspiration for “Lucy” actually came from Lennon’s son, Julian, who came from nursery school one day with a drawing of a classmate titled “Lucy – in the sky with diamonds.”  Lennon himself has stated this fact, and let’s be honest – he would have admitted if the initials meant anything.  Since everything about the Beatles is analyzed to a T, it’s a little surprising that more people don’t realize this.

Oh, and by the way – the song is terrific.  Lennon’s lyrical imagery is vivid and surreal, and the structure of the song and post-chorus wails make it one of the most memorable tunes on Sgt. Pepper’s.

Grade: A-

5. Franz Ferdinand – “Cheating on You”

Franz Ferdinand’s released three studio albums, and they’ve been successively worse – but this isn’t necessarily a takedown of the band.  Rather, the group’s self-titled 2004 debut is thoroughly enjoyable and one of the better rock records of the past decade.  From track to track, the whole album’s full of blissful energy, and “Cheating on You” is no exception.

In fact, “Cheating on You” is as upbeat and enjoyable as anything else on the album, even considering the subject matter – a guy, um, cheating on his girlfriend.  But the song’s so damn entertaining that it might get stuck in your head for days upon days.  In fact, you might find yourself singing “Cheating on You” around your significant other, even if you’re not actually having some sort of an affair.  And if they’re offended?  Dump them.

Grade: A-

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