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Wednesday, June 29, 2005
42 REASONS WHY "1 THING" IS BETTER THAN "CRAZY IN LOVE"
1) Chorus backing is basically a looped drum fill.
2) I.e., breaking the beat and therefore hard to dance to.
3) And yet it is dancable.
4) Due mainly to the vocals, which dart in between the falling beats like a needle sewing up an avalanche.
5) Whereas "Crazy in Love" features one beat (chorus) with a steady stomp and another (verse) with fairly traditional snare-on-two, kick picking up the pickup.
6) All of which you don't even think about when you're listening to it, because it is so awesome.
7) Neither do you listen to it and think about "Independent Woman Part 2."
8) Does not have a guest verse with a shout-out to a record label by a record label executive.
9) Because now when I hear Jay-Z doing things like this, I envision the record label excutive I know, an older gentleman who resembles Danny DiVito but far less jolly, and that's not really a compelling image.
10) Especially when one is supposed to be "crazily" in love with him.
11) [Omitted for reasons of possible libel.]
12) Resembles that part in Terminator 2 when the liquid terminator is broken into pieces and they think they've won, but then he reforms and comes to kill them.
13) I.e., "Holy shit, we took away half of 'Crazy in Love''s beats and all its horns and yet it has somehow reformed into something even stronger and is now coming to make us dance until blood running from our eyes, we expire in a mushy heap, but our muscles keep twitching in time with the beat."
15) Producer realized that while it's apparently very effective to just wedge two samples back-to-back, he could also overdub something to smooth the transition.
16) That thing is this wonderful you're-going-over-the-Bronx-river-in-a-brown-Oldsmobile combo of bells and cymbals and the aforementioned strings.
17) Makes whatever comes after it sound better, even "Crazy In Love," which I will from now on refer to as "CIL" because I got shit to do, damnit.
18) Less about being very in love, even though CIL sounds more like it's about being very excited about jumping up and down, and more about an ineffable rapture, which is exactly what "1 Thing" sounds like.
19) So much so that if you threw in a joke about booty and a reference to Jesus, it'd pretty much be a Prince song.
20) Actually, it sorta already is a Prince song. Forget that last one.
21) Although what song couldn't use a joke about booty? Even your basic Christmas carols. "O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see your butt / Above thy deep and dreamless sleep, you probably should've worn some boxers."
22) Wait, what was I talking about again? Oh right.
23) It's 10 seconds shorter!
24) Bongos! (Everything's better with bongos.)
25) Those goddamn guitar hits! Which are doubled by bass hits! Argh!
26) Backing vocals sound weirdly alien, like she is being watched over by interstellar beings, and this has some effect on the whole situation of her being outside a door, with the car keys in her hand.
27) Maybe the aliens are the one thing! Well, probably not.
28) Maybe it's a rewrite of Radiohead's "Interstellar Homesick Alien!" Again, probably not, but still.
29) The way the backup vocals almost overwhelm her at the end of the second verse.
30) Followed by a cut-out.
31) Followed by her hitting this perfect, beautiful note on "what you di-III-IIID!"
32) Which makes me just apologize spontaneously.
33) Oh wait, "hear voices I just don't understand!" I totally missed that! She totally means the backup vocals. Because they're wordless! Her backup vocals are the voices in her head, cooing her along to a threshold, which contains some sort of Schrodinger's cat situation! This is the best thing ever!
34) But now I've let out the secret! Oh no!
35) But it's OK because I've already apologized! Wshew.
36) Can it be a secret if the song containing it is the #1 summer jam of 2005? It can, because it does not really give the secret away; in fact, it never really tells you what the 1 thing is. Which is really, really, really spectacular. It's a fucking koan!
37) The syncopated "oh"s near the end, tumbling over themselves, instead of fighting that drum fill or pulling them together, singing along, in perfect harmony.
38) Doesn't go back into the hook after already going into the verse music, as CIL does. (Remember that?)
39) Sounds like she's saying "gabba gabba hey" but she is actually saying "knock knock knock, oh."
40) Which positions the singer very specifically in time, and frames the narrative: she is standing in front of a door, trying to decide if she wants to go in. The voices in her head push her forward and she pulls back, and she is trying to remember the one thing that made her go there in the first place, which thing would also push her finally forward, but we are left at the end with a fadeout, the singer locked in heroic stasis.
41) Another benefit of no Jay-Z: he doesn't get to run his bulldozer flow over the hook.
42) It is the song of right now, not the used-to-be. Sure, there's something vaguely distressing about the way it seemed preordained to be the #1 summer jam of 2005--it's from the same producer as the summer jam of 2003, samples basically the same thing, etc., etc. But it had stiff competition, and it's thrown them off. It just works. And it is here, now, everywhere, for us to hear and move our hips to secretly as we are walking down the street or sitting in our chairs, and to put our hands up to and shout when we are out drinking, the endlessly renewed gift of pop come to fruition once again, waiting only for the slightest encouragement to come barrelling into your life with a kiss and a drink and an invitation.