Monday, August 20, 2012

Music Mondays

  Top Five 10-Minute Songs

It's no secret that our ears are accustomed to the 4-minute pop song. Its verse-verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus structure is catchy and danceable, with a repetitive nature that lends itself to getting stuck in our heads for better or worse. But there's a lot the 4-minute song is incapable of achieving. That's where the epic seven-minute + song comes in. They're capable of complexity, building atmosphere, and they have a tendency to make your brain to switch into cinematic-mode, inducing movie scene imagery or a feeling that you're in a movie yourself.

Here are my top five super long songs:

(For the record, Prince's "Purple Rain" is definitely among them, but it's not on YouTube). :(

1. "Sun God" - Cut Copy
I love this song. It begins as a pulsating indie pop jam, has a break with vocals resembling Prince or David Bowie (3:02), then morphs into an epic trance outro (6:10) that lasts for the better part of the song and continues to layer and grow with complexity.

2. "Love Like a Sunset" - Phoenix
You may remember part two of this song from the Somewhere trailer. There are moments that have a tender, rebirth quality which lends itself to the gentle caress of a sunset. But I especially enjoy the climbing beat that begins with a faded effect, dies out, and returns with clarity at 3:46.

3. "Pyramids" - Frank Ocean
Part one of this song is poppy, complete with a clubby synth, but its interesting lyrics and tone set this pop song apart from the rest. Still, I prefer part two as it quiets down and morphs into an R&B slow jam. Beginning at 4:30, it's the sexiest song I've heard in a while. Ocean's voice really benefits from the light intermittent synthesization. Funny how some of the sexiest songs are about strippers. No coincidence there, I suppose.

4. "Dance Yrself Clean" - LCD Soundsystem
If you're a DJ and you're playing the full version of this song, you're a confident man/woman, for it requires patience and trust that it's building into something epic. The first part is a quiet ditty with some idiosyncratic lyrics from James Murphy ("Talking like a jerk except you are an actual jerk"). You need only wait until 2:57 though, until it explodes into the kind of dance jam that provokes full-on, hair-flipping letting loose on the dancefloor. A good sound system is needed for this one, no pun intended.  

"Big City Bright Lights" - Spaceman 3
The most atmospheric of the bunch, this song evokes for me an image of a time-lapsed cityscape you might see in an vintage music video. It's glamorous, 80s-tastic, hypnotizing, and has a living-the-life type feel. Play this in the car at night while driving to a party in the city, any city. The lyrics are sparse but perfect against the backdrop: "Big city, bright lights, cool, cool people. Everybody I know can be found here." If that's the case, it doesn't get much better than that.

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