21.12.09

Song of the decade

Choosing one song to embody a decade should be more difficult than this, surely? I didn't even have to think about it for more than a minute, it was so obvious. Drumroll...

'Idioteque' - Radiohead

The structure of Kid A is built around two giant perfectly carved black obsidian pillars at the beginning and at the end. The opener, 'Everything In Its Right Place', with its soothing melody and quietly insisting vocal, suggests an appeal for order, calm, simplicity. There are two colours in my head. Black and white. Everything has boundaries. It's defined. And it's in the RIGHT PLACE. But then there are these weird glitches and spasms and gibbers and howls that invade and fuck up this ordered picture. There is tension here. I woke up sucking a lemon. What was that you tried to say? Wait. FUCK!

By the fading swirls of 'In Limbo', Radiohead have thrown every kind of madness at us. Except those crashing, metallic beatz. NOTHING is in its right place. Everything is ALL THE TIME.

pmp-TSS pmTSS pmpm-TSSm pm-TSS. The beatz are laser-cut to provoke body movement. To my undying shame I am unable to dance. My feet cannot keep a rhythm no matter how hard I concentrate. And yet whenever I hear 'Idioteque', I HAVE to move. It's imperative. The song commands. I can't have it playing as I write this. My torso rocks too much. My arms leave the keyboard and jab the air.

I laugh until my head comes off. I swallow until I burst. We can't stop. Neither can we sate our endless appetite for food, clothes, entertainment. I haven't seen enough. I need to see more. Oh, what's that? Ice age coming. Don't worry. Keep dancing. Let me hear both sides! Who are they? Throw them in the fire. Take the money and run. Oh God, this is really happening. Oh God...

Just keep dancing. Dance as the world burns.

I love this. When I was a little younger, one of my major gripes with the house music that was taking over Bulgaria was this blindness to exactly what Radiohead are talking about. The DJs were focused on building this communal sense of love, freedom and euphoria in the club. And yet alongside this utopianism there is a heavy stress on conspicuous consumption: looking good, making money, having fun. I thought the two things were totally paradoxical. Why I prefer dancing to 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' and other crummy indie night favourites is that, yes you move and have fun with your friends, but through it all you are singing bleak lyrics about the endtimes. There is no illusion or false promises. We dance the crushing pain of existence away.

And Radiohead have made the ultimate anti-dance dance track. But it's bigger than that. Around the 3:10 mark the beatz stop, the song lurches, and this weird echoy wailing starts up. The beatz quickly return and ride over this background clamour: the pistons of human progress -- unfeeling, unaware -- trampling over the earth's screams. But they cut out at the end, quickly splutter and die, and only the screams remain.

Is there any other song that embodies the 21st century so well? The seven tracks that came on top in Pitchfork's poll can't touch what Radiohead have put together. Have a listen and see what you think.

No comments:

Post a Comment