---------------------------------------------------------------------------I find it funny when friends or acquaintances read this blog and get impressed by "how much I know about music".
Last night, my friend SoTru and I went out to a bar to prepare for her stand-up show tonight. We prepared by playing Erotic Photo Pop, attempting to beat the high score of a dastardly dame known simply as "SARAH". We failed, but I was able to achieve victory elsewhere. Well, sort of.
There was this digital jukebox right next to the touch-screen machine. I'd noticed it the last time we were at the bar (and contemplated interrupting the bartender's playlist with a round of Natalie Imbruglia's 1997 hit "Torn"*). What I didn't notice last time was that there's free music trivia on this god-given digital jukebox. They had a few preview questions floating across the screen, including "Which Gwen Stefani song was written by Akon & Giorgio Tuinfort?" and "What David Bowie song opens with the line 'ground control to major tom'"? Piece of cake! So I decided to take a chance. Because it's not technically taking a chance when you have nothing to lose, eh?
Here's where the problems came in---I know very little about music made by white people prior to 1996, possibly in general. Sure, I have a lot of respect for Bob Dylan, but I have never actually wanted to sit down and listen to his entire discography. I know obvious things about Bob Dylan, but I don't know the sort of things people developing music trivia expect you to know about Bob Dylan. This isn't just about Bob Dylan. This is about white people. And how little I know about them. I love me some Cobain (apparently I look like him?), but I'm not a Nirvana genius. And I certainly don't know shit about obscure non-single songs from Blink-182's 2003 self-titled/untitled album.**
Lucky for me, nobody seemed to have played this music trivia before, so I automatically got the high score. But then I became obsessed with beating that high score, and sequentially continuing to beat my new high scores. My highest scores were the result of a lot of guessing. I didn't know that question about Loretta Lynn, but I was able to trick the machine into thinking that I did. I'm not ashamed to admit this.
I remember when I used to lie about knowing things. I've lied that I knew songs, saw certain movies, had certain experiences...and then there were the lies about knowing some sort of sexual expression. Take "snowballing" or "tea-bagging" or "scaffolding"*** as an example. Your Regina-George friend name-drops one of these activities when you're 13. They sense that you don't know it and look you straight in the eyes to say, "Do you even know what that means?" You don't want to seem uncool, so you say that you do. They're like, "Oh, well, since you know, why don't you tell me what it means?" And damnit. Now you're on the spot. Do you admit that you're a loser or do you keep up the facade?
I'm tired of the facade. Yes, I am a music blogger. But, no, I do not know everything about music. I don't know why I felt the need to write this long rant. But I wouldn't have realized that Santogold's "Guns Of Brooklyn" is basically a cover of The Clash's "Guns of Brixton" if the internet hadn't told me. Same goes for her Bad Brains "Right Brigade" cover. Look, I know I'm late talking about the Santogold and Diplo mixtape Top Ranking. Blah blah blah, I downloaded that off of discobelle like last week, UGH. Get over it. I just got a hard copy of Top Ranking mailed to me on Monday. Why? I wanted to be excited about a physical CD again. The packaging. The feel of that disc in your hands. Salivating over the tracklist while fiddling with the plastic packaging, trying to decipher which song will be your favorite based on the titles alone...
As soon as I saw the tracklist for Top Ranking, I decided that I would love "Icarus". I've always been fond of the Greek myth, and it was one of the few non-remix Santi songs on the disc. My suspicions that "Icarus" would be my favorite tune were confirmed within the first second of the song. I'm schmetarded when it comes to instruments, but that opening line (strings?) is absolutely stunning. The song pulls of this ethereal Kate Bush or Joanna Newsom vibe, unlike anything appearing on her self-titled debut album. The lyrics are often indistinguishable thanks to the style of singing she employs, almost as if her voice is just another instrumental layer. I'm not going to lie. This isn't just my favorite song on Top Ranking. This is my favorite Santogold song.
EDIT: Thanks to a lovely anonymous commenter for tipping me that the sample used in "Icarus" is from Arthur Russell's "This Is How We Walk On The Moon". You can listen to the song here. Also, thank you to another very lovely commenter for reminding me that we actually DID beat "SARAH" at Erotic Photo Pop. I bet she wasn't so cocky about her nipple-locating skills when we were done with her.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------* This is a good example of me not actually knowing things about music. Were you aware that "Torn" is a cover of a song recorded by Ednaswap in 1995? Why didn't you tell me? Finding this out so late in my life makes me feel like I'M the one who's cold, shamed, and lying naked on the floor.
** That has less to do with white people and more to do with the fact that it was Blink-182.
*** Scaffolding is not actually a sexual activity. Unless you want it to be. ;P