Posted by: Mark Nielsen | April 3, 2011

“Dynamite” -Out All Night with Modern Conversation [Pop Done Right]

Some songs are so infectious you just gotta love ’em …despite yourself.

We all love at least a few dumb summer anthems and dance-able, extremely thin lyrical wipeouts that seem written by and for 12-year-olds. Don’t we? Come on, just admit it!

I was thinking about this when I went out last Friday to hear my friend Jackie (my son Graham’s piano teacher) with her band Modern Conversation at a Rogers Park bar. Jackie is actually in a couple of local Chicago bands that do a combination of original material and cover songs, in a variety of genres (reggae, pure pop, cabaret, world music, jam-band, country-rock, progressive proto-folk about knights and queens [both kinds], new soul, Beatle covers, and Beatle-like originals about love and loss). You name it, Jackie can play it. Hop on over to her Youtube channel to see some of the material, or go to Modern Conversation’s Facebook page to see lead singer and primary songwriter David Courtenay’s more traditionally produced music videos for several of their songs.

But I’m not here to do Jackie, David and company a solid by telling my puny fifty-person a day readership about their music. Their original songs are very good, but their cover versions are what inspired this blog entry. So yeah, I’m here to talk about those annoyingly catchy, pre-tested, pre-teen screened, saccharine staples of summer — the throwaway modern Phil-Spector-ripoff pop songs we all hate to love.

Take the current love-hate stir over Whatsername Black’s silly but catchy song Friday… it’s a classic example. If that song doesn’t instantly cause a party, then it will definitely cause a riot, and a modern Disco-Demolition style bonfire. Or maybe I’ll reach back to my own youth, for the ever-resurgent wussy-rock of Journey’s megahit Don’t Stop Believin’ (which got last Friday’s 20-Somethings in the audience jumping and howling around closing time, at 2am) . Wedding bands HAVE TO use these songs to make a living, don’t they? They’re like milk for the musical soul. Chocolate milk. Or maybe Nestle Quik powdered strawberry-flavored musical milk.

And yes, every hipster also has the right to laugh behind her hand in public at the conventional lame-o’s who whoop it up upon hearing the first few chords of these songs, …even though that same hipster will accidentally find herself  “singin’ Sweet Home Alabama all summer long”, in the shower, all while vehemently denying that Kid Rock has any real talent whatsoever, saying he just rode on Lynerd Skynerd’s and Eminem’s coattails. (Which he did, but the guy knows his way around a “hook”.)

So despite my vehement claims to be SERIOUS about music, I’m probably no different than most casual music fans, …though maybe I am a little old to claim the title of “hipster”. I’m more of a “hipster doofus” — a tag that somebody once called Kramer on Seinfeld.

I like a “Silly Love Song” as much as the next guy, to cite McCartney, the most decidedly apolitical Beatle who — let’s face it — was never as smart as the other three. Though he is a great storyteller (Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da was the first 45rpm record I ever bought), and has a one-of-a-kind voice (check out Helter Skelter… it’s the blueprint for Nine Inch Nails, and all those lesser metal-punk-rap hybrid acts who rode Paul’s coattails, a full thirty years later).

So despite all my high standards for brilliantly inventive, brooding, blues-infused rock —  HELLO… Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, The Who, U2, Pearl Jam, Green Day and my current favorite singer-songwriter trio of James Taylor/Elton John/Muddy Waters/Bob Dylan/Bob Marley trainees Ben Folds, Ben Harper, and Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie , and let’s not forget Jack White of… well, Raconteurs, and everything else! — nevertheless, I really go nuts when the B52’s Love Shack,  Pink’s Get the Party Started or Kanye West’s Stronger come on the radio or out the wedding DJ’s speakers.

Tom Waits ... waits far too long past his eligibility before being voted into the R'n'R Hall of Fame last month.

Also, surprisingly, I’m finding that I’m not as pretentious as I thought I was — despite my penchant for strange, theatrical, Beatnik throwback jazzy showmen (HULLLLOOOO!, brilliant 2011 class of Rock n Roll Hall of Fame inductees, including Tom Waits [YOW!], Alice Cooper, Dr. John and Leon Russell… plus the slightly less strange and simply sweet-voiced HOF’ers Darlene “Phil Spector’s Girl Group Anchor” Love and Neil “Solitary Man” Diamond.) Also, though they’re not in the current Hall of Fame crop, let’s throw Frank Zappa, George “Funkadelic” Clinton, Sly Stone and Earth, Wind and Fire into that “theatrical weirdo” camp as well. And Prince. Oh, and Little Richard. (Okay, gotta stop now.)

Nevertheless, I will admit that despite being very un-strange, and probably with a brain the size of an acorn, Justin Bieber is a legitimate talent… just not my cup of tea (or, to be more contemporary, not my can of energy drink).

THEREFORE, I submit for your consideration the Taio Cruz song Dynamite, as this week’s nominee for the cheer-upp-iest lightweight pop song of the past 2+ years, as covered quite admirably by Modern Conversation last Friday. Even cooler: my son Graham just now heard it on my computer and reminded me he and his posse did a dance to it at his summer camp performance night last year.

Apparently, good taste in bad music must run in the family.  😉   Get ready to hum!  :

*@*@*@*@*@*@*@*@*@*@*

Dynamite

Songwriters: Benjamin Levin;Bonnie Leigh Mc Kee;Max Martin;Ere Adetayo Ayowale Onile;Lukasz Gottwald

I came to dance, dance, dance, dance
I hit the floor ’cause that’s my plans, plans, plans, plans
I’m wearing all my favorite brands, brands, brands, brands
Give me space for both my hands, hands, hands, hands

Ye, ye

‘Cause it goes on and on and on…….
And it goes on and on and on……

Yeah!

I throw my hands up in the air sometimes,
Saying AYO! gotta let go!
I wanna celebrate and live my life,
Saying AYO! baby, let’s go!

‘Cause we gon’ rock this club,
We gon’ go all night,
We gon’ light it up,
Like it’s dynamite!
‘Cause I told you once,
Now I told you twice,
We gon’ light it up,
Like it’s dynamite!

I came to move, move, move, move
Get out the way me and my crew, crew, crew, crew
I’m in the club so I’m gonna do, do, do, do
Just drop the phone, came here to do, do, do, do

Ye, ye

‘Cause it goes on and on and on…….
And it goes on and on and on……..

Yeah!

I throw my hands up in the air sometimes,
Saying AYO! gotta let go!
I wanna celebrate and live my life,
Saying AYO! baby, let’s go!

‘Cause we gon’ rock this club,
We gon’ go all night,
We gon’ light it up,
Like it’s dynamite!
‘Cause I told you once,
Now I told you twice,
We gon’ light it up,
Like it’s dynamite!

I’m gonna take it all out,
I’m gonna be the last one standing.
I’m over it all and I…
I’m gonna be the last one landing.
Cause I, I, I.. believe it,
And I, I, I .. I just want it all…..
I just want it all…..
I’m gonna put my hands in the air!
Hands, hands in the air!
Put your hands in the air!

I throw my hands up in the air sometimes,
Saying AYO! gotta let go!
I wanna celebrate and live my life,
Saying AYO! baby, let’s go!

‘Cause we gon’ rock this club,
We gon’ go all night,
We gon’ light it up,
Like it’s dynamite!
‘Cause I told you once,
Now I told you twice,
We gon’ light it up,
Like it’s dynamite!

It’s spring, Friend-o! Come on out and hit the dance floor with me. Because unlike another one of those Eighties-era theatrical, sneering weirdos, Billy Idol, I’m not that keen on “Dancin’ With Myself “.

Next performance date for Modern Conversation: Friday April 22, 10pm at Goose Island Brew Pub, Wrigleyville . So come for the home-made dance party. You can do this. You’re still young, right?


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