quest for the perfect popsong

Abbey_LegoI have only come across two perfect popsongs in my long career of enjoying music. There are many that almost make the grade, but only two so far that deserve to be called perfect.

What makes a popsong perfect? First of all it has to be short. Too short. Too DAMN short! When it ends, your heart and belly ache for it to keep going. Is that all there is? How dare they?! It can’t just end like that! It also has to be memorable and catchy, so that you are humming it for hours afterward. Addictive would be another good word to describe it. Immediate would be another. It’s like candy when you were 7 years old. You could describe it as deceptively simple but not simplistic.

What my two perfect two popsongs?

1. “Pack Yr Romantic Mind” by Stereolab. From the highly regarded album Transient Random-Noise Bursts With Announcements (one of the best titles of all time), the song comes sauntering in as relief from the first two noise-laden tracks, like some European 1960’s easy listening lounge music with French-accented smooth female vocals.  It’s booby-trapped though. Oh, is it ever! I’ll let you discover that.

2. “Outdoor Miner” by Wire. From the album Chairs Missing. There is a reason why something like a hundred different bands have covered this song. Colin Newman and company put their collective genius together just right and got away ever so briefly from the more inaccessible “post-punk” they’re famous for and crafted this sparkling gem. The album version is a short 2 minute number, while the hard-to-find EP version doubles that for a more satisfying experience. “No blind spots in the leopard’s eyes can only help to jeopardize the lives of lambs the shepherd cries.” How can you go wrong with lyrics like that? It only gets better.

Sure, I might be willing to add “Benway” by Tortoise, “Kite” by Kate Bush, some OMD track, something from the Stars on ESP album by His Name Is Alive, a Beatles track or a Beach Boys track at some point. But not yet. These two songs remain in a class by themselves.

5 Responses to “quest for the perfect popsong”

  1. 1 jacobull
    November 8, 2009 at 4:09 PM

    Any true kid that grew up in the 80’s, “Blinded Me With Science” might be that song…I loved Thomas Dolby and still hum that song, classic.

  2. 2 waterviola
    November 8, 2009 at 8:37 PM

    I was a total Dolby FREAK in high school. I taped The Golden Age Of Wireless off NH college radio at least a year before “Blinded” became popular and I played the hell out of it. There was a thunderstorm happening at the time, so occasionally there would be a burst of static in the middle of the music when lightning would happen. Great memories! That whole album is a pop masterpiece.

  3. 3 jacobull
    November 9, 2009 at 4:42 PM

    So you would agree that “Binded” would qualify as one of the “greatest” pop song, yes?

  4. 4 waterviola
    November 9, 2009 at 4:56 PM

    It would be a strong contender… 🙂

    “Holland Street” – The Field Mice
    “Senses Working Overtime” – XTC
    “Good Vibrations” – The Beach Boys
    “The Well Of Loneliness” – McCarthy
    “Martha My Dear” – The Beatles

    Sure some of these break my rule of being too short for their own good, but let’s just say it’s more of a guideline.

  5. 5 jacobull
    November 9, 2009 at 8:28 PM

    I’m curious to see what the polls reveal.

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