Archive for January, 2011

the taylor momsen theory

January 10, 2011

‘Make Me Wanna Die’ is not necessarily, in & of itself, a terrible song – it is not a good song; I would not play it after ‘God Only Knows’, hoping to hear something more musically rewarding, to achieve a greater transcendental experience – but it is not as apocalyptic as, say, its official video attempts to be.

Indeed, it is for its video that the song has enjoyed mild, if totally amnesic, controversy (Oh! Stop me Stop me Stop me) amongst the Daily Wailers; it follows the Overripe Lolita lubricating down a Valhallic high-street, while she gradually undresses her state of undress, this all the while punctuated by intense close-ups of Taylor Momsen apparently playing Avril Lavigne dressed as Britney in ‘I’m a Slave 4 U’ — all set against a fire-ravaged digital landscape, that can only be the result of some horror channel exec’s wet-dream.

But enough, the video is not my concern … not now.

The main thing that lets Momsen down is her band – how often it’s the round other-way – they produce a sound not unlike that of the generic studio backing-track, the kind plucky pubescent guitarists fail to synchronise to. That isn’t to say the vocals are impressive, or important, but they are evocative. Evocative, that is, of other people. And this, & herein lies my theory (why am I even calling it that, this is dumb even by my contentious standards), is what I think is going to resonate with us (yes. admit that you will make a point to listen to it even though you definitely know it’s really, actually, definitely terrible – oh & incidentally, this only applies to this Momsen song). The song works because we think it’s other songs. I am sorry I am yet again going to have to emphasise the difference between my analysing the song & actually liking it – this is purely academic – duh – (doth protest too much?).

It is clear to anyone with even a basic knowledge of female-fronted punk, that Momsen adopts a Dalle/Love-esque gravel for her vocals – I draw your attention particularly to 2:40-.  This is what first struck me about the song. Then I was listening to Zola Jesus, & there was an ephemeral-short melody that I knew existed elsewhere; specifically, the two-notes vocalising ‘run’ on Run Me Out, which actually also has a somewhat comparable chord-progression with our test-subject. Of course, it isn’t a similar melody no matter which tone-deaf universe you exist in. The point is these run-in ‘run’ notes evoked the memory of ‘Make Me Wanna Die’. Once I’d worked out that I was pathetically humming Momsen, I listened to her song & was struck yet again! Oh, captain, my captain! Once heard & thrice beaten! The eleven-second introduction. It’s Eels, perhaps the end to ‘Tiger in My Tank’. I haven’t quite figured it out yet.

And this is why the song can so harmlessly slip onto any sort of playlist – because it is all sorts of songs, whilst also being so grey that you don’t know which songs, & that doesn’t really bother you.

[EDIT! Dust of Ages]

j.

post-script; what? someone needs to write the essays about the unessayable, or at least the essay that shouldn’t be.

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