February Playlist

Foux de Fafa – Flight of the Conchords

If you don’t know about Flight of the Conchords…you really should. They’re a comedy duo from New Zealand comprised of Jemaine Clement and Bret Mckenzie. More than that though, they’re are kind of at the nexus of half of everything that’s good in the entertainment industry right now. It’s been more than a decade since they had their show on HBO, but many of the people involved in that and in other things they’ve done have gone on to do amazing things. Jemaine Clement in particular has been in a lot of good things from the “shiny” crab in Moana to the trippy astral traveller in the FX series Legion. He and Bret worked together on What We do in the Shadows a funny movie about vampires that got turned into a series of the same name on FX. They worked with Taika Waititi on that and that guy just made a movie (JoJo Rabbit) that got nominated for a Golden Globe. Waititi also directed the last episode of the first season of The Mandalorian. Not to mention Thor:Ragnorak. The credits are already getting tedious at this point, but suffice to say that many of the people involved in Conchords show up in other good things.

This particular song is great because it combines the normal awkwardness of trying to impress a girl with the somewhat more specific awkwardness of speaking a foreign language. I’ve taken a lot of classes in Spanish and Japanese. I can almost speak Spanish. And I can understand a bit of Japanese, but always, inevitably, without fail there is a moment where my knowledge of the language just runs out. That situation is captured beautifully in this song. I also like how the Spanish I know means I can kind of understand a lot of the French. All the terms are your basic first year French terms and so it makes you feel like you’ve maybe learned something after all.

The video I’ve linked to is the segment as it appeared on the HBO series with added subtitles (I didn’t post it, I’m just describing it) They did a great job with the video too. All the colorful Frenchisms and the music video tropes. The style they’re parodying, the internet informs me, is “scopitone,” and even while I recognize it as silly, I kind of enjoy the bright cheerfulness of the style on an un-ironic level too. 

Love Song 311

I first heard this cover of The Cure’s Lovesong in the movie 50 First Dates. This is a movie starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore where Barrymore’s character has a peculiar form of amnesia that causes her to forget whatever happened the previous day. It’s an Adam Sandler movie, which means that for any particular scene there’s an even chance someone is going to get hit in the balls… or someone is going to be going through some dramatic realization that makes them a better person. Depending on the particular movie, I sometimes wish for more of the other thing, but Sandler has a success rate for me of about 70%, which is better than a lot of actor comedians. 

50 First Dates is mostly silly, but it still addresses a little of the horror that the condition of Barrymore’s character has. There are actual people with anterograde amnesia, and although their situations are usually more like the character in Memento than like the 50 First Dates scenario, the problems do get some play in the movie. Another thing the movie has going for it is that it doesn’t rely completely on the amnesia part of the story. Sandler’s character has an interesting job and lifestyle and they could have just had a simple love story with his character and it would have been fun to watch. Having such an interesting premise just pushes it over the top. The final thing 50 First Dates has is the soundtrack, which is excellent. You really get a nice beach vibe from the whole thing, which helps set the scene, but more than that, the music is all high quality. 

311 does a great job with this cover. You do get the beach life feel that goes with the soundtrack, and that goes against the February feel a bit, but it is, of course, a love song and it’s done well. 311 manages to do their take without removing the Cure’s melancholy tone from their version. 

The subtle sadness conveyed in the music matches the movie’s theme as well. Sandler’s character has to lose his love every night, but he meets her again every morning. It’s terrible, but beautiful.

Koop Island Blues Koop

“The truth is

We were much too young

Now I’m looking for you

Or anyone like you”

I first heard this song in a brothel in Paris. It was the 1940s.  I was a race car driver and demolitions expert working with revolutionaries to fight the German occupation. Times were tough then, and listening to this song was a welcome respite from a day spent killing Nazis and blowing up military installations…

The videogame called “The Sabateur.” that I’m referencing  has its problems, but it’s still a fun game. It plays similarly to Assassin’s Creed with a lot of climbing and finding things and clearing out areas. It also borrows a bit from Grand Theft Auto, with a lot of driving and a minimap that lets you know where enemies are and how alert they are. And it takes place in Nazi occupied France so the buildings you have to climb are famous and the people you are killing are evil. The brothel singer’s songs aren’t the only ones. There are other playing on the radio and on record players throughout the game.  Really it’s strange that the game wasn’t more popular than it was. It has its fans, but when it came out in 09 it wasn’t really on anyone’s radar. The critics gave it middling reviews and it seemed to be largely ignored afterward. And back when I was playing it, I would have probably agreed with the sentiment. But while I’ve mostly forgotten other, arguably better games, The Sabateur has stuck in my mind. I keep thinking of it at odd moments. 

One thing that comes up for me often when I think of WWII or the name Jules or even failing at something in a particularly bathetic way is how the main character Sean would say “Sorry, Jules” sometimes when he died, which was usually either by falling off a building or getting riddled with bullets. His brother is named Jules in the game and Sean spends most of the game trying to get revenge on the Nazi that tortured and killed him. But the back story for that happens early on in the game and I played it off and on for the span of a few years so I forgot about Jules. It seemed like Sean was saying “Sorry, Jews,” which seemed delightfully irreverent without quite .

Aside from that, though the game had some striking visuals that just worked really well even with the lower resolution of the time. Having everything under Nazi control be in black and white until you liberate it…it’s something that had been done before in movies, but it seemed particularly effective in a video game where you weren’t just seeing it once or twice, but actually seeming to move around in it. 

As for the song itself, (oh yeah, that’s what this is supposed to be about!) it’s kind of perfect. The singer lays out each note like a collection of postcards from somewhere sad and beautiful. Time goes by, people change, and they yearn for what they once were, and the feelings they once had. The ever widening gyre of life continues to confound the compass of desire. The video…is not what I picture at all when I listen to it, although it has some things going for it. The band that created the song is actually two dudes from Sweden. But whatever. The song is pretty. I like the song. Maybe they made other pretty songs? I haven’t found out yet.

Other good February songs:

A Girl Like You – Edwyn Collins

A Girl Named Go! – Cory Branan

Aquarius – The Fifth Dimension

Let’s Never Stop Falling in Love – Pink Martini

Uninvited – Alanis Morrisette

Michelle – Beatles

Got to Get You into My Life – Cliff Bennet & the Rebel Rauser

All I Have to do is Dream – The Everly Brothers

Carol Brown – Flight of the Concords

Melody Dean – Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra

Concept – Cranberries

Cupid – Sam Cooke

Never Far Away – Jack White

Like a Stone – Chris Cornell

Madonna No. 18 – Fantasys Core (couldn’t find a video for this song. They’re an obscure Japanese rock band that I saw in Memphis here’s another song of theirs though)

Head Over Feet – Alanis Morrisette

Ain’t Misbehaving – Tommy Bruce & The Bruisers