Not the best songs ever written, and not our favorite songs, but these are catchy songs we can listen to over and over again without ever getting tired of them:
“Vagabond’s Wagon” by Bulletproof Stockings: A beautiful and enigmatic, and most of all subtly catchy, tune, by a bluesy Orthodox girl-band. (Their religiosity is there, I am sure, but it is symbolic, not obnoxious – if you didn’t know, you would never guess.) They had a shocking level of success with the EP that includes this song, they went on tour (playing to women-only audiences), recorded their first full length album, and then broke up. That album remains unreleased, and we can only imagine it. At least we have this great song. It still gives us goose bumps. Your chariot is waiting right outside: it’s right outside.
“In Walked Mo” by Chaise Lounge: A lounge music band, with real respect for the genre and the era, not really tongue and cheek. This band really loves lounge music and everything associated with this particular form of nostalgia (including the romance and danger of smoking a lot). I guess this is a scat song, and I challenge you to listen to it once and not want to listen to it again.
“Bright Whites” by Kishi Bashi: A homemade song by Regina Spector’s violinist, a mix of art, poetry and science, so unlike anything you’ve ever heard before, and so perfect. (You may recognize it; you’ve heard it on commercials.)
“Everyone Says Hi” by David Bowie: This is not David Bowie’s greatest song, of course! But as his other music recedes into the past, this is one that we keep turning back to. It is so tremendously catchy, of course; it was later-stage Bowie trying for a hit. But it’s also haunting. Who is the subject of the song? Why did she leave without notice (without even taking her big fat dog)? Is she in a sad place; is it too hot? Can she really come home again, as Bowie insists, or is she gone forever, sailing on her big ship? A yearning memorial, full of sadness and denial, in the guise of a cheerful pop tune. (On the other hand, maybe it’s just about an old friend who moved to Florida for a better job – but we don’t think so.) For extra credit (and maybe a few more tears), see also Claudia Brücken’s cover version.
“Fadeaway” by Loz Netto: a great lost 1980s masterpiece, dark and polished, with a cinematic video that had nothing to do with the song but established the singer as a potential movie star. It seems to predict and sum up the whole decade beautifully, from its perch in 1982. Why wasn’t this one of the biggest hits of the ‘80s? The video that you can catch on line is so old and grainy it’s barely watchable today, but try to imagine.
Roee Gour and Efrat Gosh
“Amour Fou” by Roee Gour and Efrat Gosh: a raucous and irresistibly jazzy tune, from Israel, so stylish and loose, with a great noirish video. Efrat Gosh is one of the greatest pop performers in the world, and you have never heard of her.
Johnny Cash and Fiona Apple
“Father and Song” by Johnny Cash and Fiona Apple: Cash as the clueless father, Apple as the rebellious son. Released after Cash’s death, this might make you cry, but you will still listen to it again; it is sheer perfection. “Look at me,” Cash sings, in his wobbly, late-years voice; “I am old, but I’m happy.” Not for long.
To be continued.
Oblivioni is a blog about “Obscure or Overlooked Books, Movies, People, Television, Artwork and Whatever.” Read more here.