Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Last 30 Seconds

I was sick as a dog yesterday -- fever, aches, no energy to change the channel when Adam Sandler movies came on cable -- the whole bit.

Today's a lot better, but I'm not 100%.

Click here
to listen.

So instead of a story and complete write-up, I'll just offer the top ten reasons why the last 30 seconds of "Radio Bar" by Fountains of Wayne capture everything that's good and smart and hopeful about pop music:

10. "One night there was a girl there."
Probably there were girls there before that night. Maybe that girl was there on some previous night. But all good pop songs begin with a girl (and in the logic of the pop song, time begins anew when a girl appears).

9. "For some reason, she..."
Girls are strange and wondrous creatures. Men and boys will never understand them... We know that they have reasons for what they do, even if we'll never know or fully comprehend those reasons.

8. The way the horn parts echo and complement the vocals in the last verse.
Yeah, this technically starts before the last 30 seconds, but it continues and intensifies as the song draws to a close.

7. Stretching out the first syllable of "somewhere" in the line "She said 'why don't we go somewhere?'"
It would scan better not to stretch the syllable. It would match what went before. But when your entire life changes, everything suddenly seems different and when you look back, the moment of change elongates in your memory.

6. The internal rhyme of "So I passed her her coat, that was all that she wrote."
Again, when your entire life changes, the rhymes can quicken. And once your life changes completely, what's the harm of adding an extra line or two to the verse?

5. "That was it for the radio bar."
Because when your life suddenly changes and you have purpose, you no longer need to waste time childishly like you did before.

4. The false ending.
Is there anything sweeter than a fake ending in a power pop song? (Please reference "No Matter What" in your answer.) The only thing that would have made this better would be a split-second of complete silence before the drums kick back in.

3. The joyful continuation of the song.
Because even though the days of the Radio Bar are over, that doesn't mean you can't slam into the chorus one more time with all the gusto that encompassed every second you'd spent there over the years.

2. The percussion in the last chorus.
Similar, but much more pronounced than what went before. Listen carefully and you can hear a prominent triangle.

1. A slight stretching of the last word.
Not as big a stretch as "somewhere," but still enough to add another half- or three-quarters of a syllable to the word "bar." Because clearly, this is a place that was important -- not as important as the girl, of course, but important nonetheless.


Holly A Hughes said...

Lovely post. These guys are so good, they deserve this kind of minute inspection. This song in particular really tugs at my emotions (something FoW do with amazing facility...)

Who Am Us Anyway? said...

Is there anything sweeter than a fake ending in a power pop song?

Frankly, no! But right up there are the unexpected time & melody changes that, like fake endings perfectly done, somehow manage to surprise & delight even on the 1,000th listen. The Kinks & Beatles were masters at this but most every really good power pop band gives that a go every once in a while.

And hey Alex, like Holly, said, thanks for the beautiful post. Fountains of Wayne are a treasure.