* [Disclaimer] ‘Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue’ is a desperate attempt to show that my musical palette isn’t as bland as a chino-wearing yacht owner from Norfolk called Keith eating a plate of couscous with a biodegradable knife and fork that he bought in a 2 for 1 special at ASDA while watching a highlight reel of ‘The 80s Greatest Quiz Show Moments’ in his fully carpeted, decadent bungalow in Slough. Please enjoy this week’s selection of (hopefully) great music. *
Something Old: The Temptations – ‘Papa Was a Rolling Stone’
This is quite possibility the greatest film intro song of all time. Go ahead- imagine your favourite film opening with the absolute statement that is the 5-note bassline, the slick wahhed guitar, and the shimmering strings that open this song. Imagine Dumbledore magically dimming lights on privet drive while the sounds of Motown echo along the quintessentially English suburban streets. Imagine Batman drop kicking a pair of goons in time to the toe-tapping tune. Imagine Rafiki holding a baby Simba aloft over Pride Rock while the Temptations sing about “the day my daddy died” (sorry Simba). Imagine any film ever… chances are, that film just got instantly better. The Temptations knew this, and that’s why this nearly seven-minute-long epic sounds as fresh and groovy today as it did in 1972.
Something New: Nick Mulvey – ‘In Your Hands’
There is a beauty of expression to Nick Mulvey’s song-writing that is impossible not to love; an infusion of poppy melodies with less well-known worldly elements that just works like a charm. And ‘In Your Hands’ – the penultimate song to his second album, Wake Up Now – is like everything good and wholesome about the world just stripped back and laid bare for your listening pleasure. After the long, meandering intro ropes you in with its (exhibition) of Mulvey’s intricate guitar plucking style, the first line of “See them come together / Oh they would not be apart” is good enough to make you crumble. Every. Note. Is. Perfect. As a song, it just makes you want to increase the volume all the way up to 100, and as the backing vocals enter during the final chorus with their African inspired vocables, you’re up and moving to destinations you didn’t think were possible. This is honesty in a crystal bottle.
Something Borrowed: Mos Def – ‘Ms. Fat Booty’
One of the easiest ways to produce a killer rap song is to start off with a sample of anything ever released by Aretha Franklin. The evidence? ‘Ms. Fat Booty’ by Mos Def. His sample of Franklin’s ‘One Step Ahead’ makes the soul goddess sing with a completely new voice, as her love song takes on an eerie character under Mos Def and producer Ayatollah’s influence. Distorting the vocals and adding a chill-inducing beat underneath, Mos Def makes what was smooth, jagged; what was serene, surreal. But it still flows with an almost electric energy that sounds so fresh, it doesn’t seem right when you realise that this song was released in 1999.
Something Blue: Bon Iver – ‘Beach Baby’
Hawaiian slide guitar is supposed to be one of the most pleasing sounds known to man- right alongside a baby’s laughter and the sound of the person in the cubicle next to you having a really difficult poo. But, somehow, Justin Vernon manages to transform it into a sound that pretty much brings your whole world to an end. With his trademark, rusty sounding guitar rattling its way through the song from the start, the short, gasping falsettos hint at something gained, but at an incomprehensibly terrible cost. The staccato sliding guitar solo that sees out the song absorbs you with its every interchange, pulling you to the heights of ecstasy; plummeting you to the lows of sorrow. In a way, you never stop falling, and it’s hard to tell what weeps more during the song- the guitar, or your now-shattered sense of self. But that’s a pain I don’t think I will ever get tired of.