Intensities in Ten Suburbs

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10 Years, 100 Songs: #31. “I’ve Been Waiting for This Moment All My Life…”

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on October 8, 2009

Over the final months of our fine decade, Intensities in Ten Suburbs will be sending the Naughty Oughties out in style with a series of essays devoted to the top 100 songs of the decade–the ones we will most remember as we look back fondly on this period of pop music years down the road. The archives can be found here. If you want to argue about the order, you can’t, because we’re not totally sure what the qualifications are either. Otherwise, sit back and enjoy.

There weren’t many popular rock songs this decade that I would necessarily describe as being magical. Nothing against Naughty Oughties rock or anything, but you could probably count on one hand the number of songs that really felt transportive, heartbreaking, special on some indeterminable level. I wouldn’t even have included “Lazy Eye” among their ranks for a little while–the first few times I heard it I wasn’t too impressed, though dumb prejudice stemming from their band name (which made them sound like a third-rate White Stripes neo-garage rip) probably still had a lot to do with that. But man, the more time I spent with that song–seeing its video on MTVU, hearing it in endless amounts of commercials and TV shows, playing it in Rock Band 2–the more it crept under my skin, sucking me into its world, making me feel a way few other songs this decade really managed.

I feel like this wasn’t a unique reaction, because the popularity of “Lazy Eye” was that of the slow-burn variety–the kind where the song never realizes complete omnipresence, but sticks around in the background for so long, popping up in the most unexpected places. It’s the sign of a song that people like, but aren’t really sure why, and probably don’t even remember where they heard it in the first place. But with every ad for the MLB All-Star Game, every appearance in a FOX primetime drama, the song cast a couple more listeners under its spell, and it ended up sticking in the public consciousness consistently from about mid 2007 to late 2008. It kind of reminded me of a less ridiculous 00s equivalent to Primitive Radio Gods’ “Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth With Money in My Hands”–the kind of undefinable song that ten years from now, most people won’t remember the name of or artist by, but when you play it for them, they go “Oh, yeah, that song? Yeah, that song was kinda cool.”

Or maybe it’s pointless to bring up any 90s comparison for these guys besides the super-obvious one. For likely the entirety of their careers, Silversun Pickups have been dogged by comparisons to Smashing Pumpkins, and not undeservedly so. They have a similarly gauzy, almost shoegaze-y guitar sound, with the same loose, jammy sort of drive to them. They have the same nasally, shy-boy-sounding sort of lead singer, at least one of which caused my old roommate to remark “That’s a guy singing? Uh, I think maybe he should be ashamed of that” (I think it was the Pickups’ Brian Aubert). They both have a cute chick bassist. Hell, they even have the same fucking initials–and the same lack of a “The” before their band name where it seems like there should be one. It’s a very, very fair parallel to draw, and if you don’t like the Smashing Pumpkins, chances are greater than excellent that “Lazy Eye” isn’t really gonna do much for you either.

All that said, though it’s not really an unflattering comparison. It’s almost hard to remember these days, as the lingering memories of Smashing Pumpkins are the horrors of late-period, prog-goth Pumpkins, as well as all the mediocre Corgan side-projects that followed, but they were responsible for about as many transcendental moments in 90s rock as anyone, gorgeous dream-fests like “Drown,” “Cherub Rock,” their “Landslide” cover, and of course, “1979,” one of the best songs of the entire decade. The Pickups tend to avoid what was worst about the Pumpkins, too–the bad teenage poetry, the musical self-indulgences, the often disturbing sense of arrested development–in favor of more gloriously swoony jamming (Their second album was even called Swoon, a title that already should’ve happened in some dreampop-derived musical format decades ago). Really, it’s kind of a shame that more bands this decade didn’t take at least a couple cues from the Pumpkins–or at least their prettier, non-scowl-rock stuff (I saw Evanescence cover “Zero” when I saw them live a half-decade ago. Don’t ask).

“Lazy Eye” could go ten rounds with any of the Pumpkins’ best, though. The entire thing sounds like the musical approximation of a first crush–from the bendy, woozy-sounding guitar riff, to the sighing, emotion-struck vocals and the stunningly intense guitar swelling towards the end. “I’ve been waiting for this moment….all my life,” Aubert rhapsodizes in the song’s opening and closing lines, once again sounding none too masculine, but instantly reverting every single one of its listeners to a thirteen-year-old staring longingly across a middle school dance floor (or, as the video would have you believe, a 23-year-old staring longingly across a concert venue dance floor). The whole song is imbued with that kind of bleary-eyed romantic want, the sense that right now is the most pivotal moment in your life and that if you don’t act right now right now RIGHT NOW then the moment will be forever passed, and you will regret it the rest of your days. (Interestingly, about a year later, The Airborne Toxic Event tried to capture this feeling with a much more literal narrative in their semi-hit “Sometime Around Midnight,” and it mostly sounded kind of cheap and cheesy).

The version linked to above is the single version, just because that’s the one with the video, but the longer version–about six minutes long–is much, much better. That’s largely because the single version lacks what is likely the best part of the song–the previously mentioned guitar swell. The song hits an early climax when Aubert raises his sigh to a scream about three-minutes through, but it turns out to be just a primer for this guitar wash, where the band splits the diffference between their beloved Pumpkins and less-obvious influence Sonic Youth, copying the latter’s ability to eschew traditional guitar solos in favor of waves of beautiful, ceaseless noise.  Despite the occasional heart-tugging of the song’s lyrics, it’s this instrumental section that’s actually the most emotionally compelling part of the song, positively overwhelming in its depth of feeling.  After that part of the song, Aubert seems too exhausted to do anything more but repeat the song’s opening line. Understandable.

Much to my (pleasant) surprise, “Lazy Eye” was not the last we heard of Silversun Pickups. Indeed, it was not even their biggest hit, really, as the next album’s “Panic Switch,” with its fuzz-bass intro and paranoia-stricken lyrics, became an unlikely MTV favorite and Modern Rock #1 hit. But while that song was certainly excellent, it wasn’t nearly on the level of “Lazy Eye,” and I was exceedingly pleased when I saw them live and not only was “Lazy Eye” the closer, but it was the only song that got a noticeably enthused reaction from the crowd. Meanwhile, the band’s music keeps popping up in odd places (I heard “There’s No Secrets This Year” during a Pitch-Tracker segment of the Cardinals/Dodgers game today) and it gives me hopes that the Pickups can stay around almost as long as the Pumpkins did. They’ll never match “Lazy Eye”–the Pumpkins couldn’t reach the heights of “1979” again either–but just giving us a taste of that magic will be more than enough.

(Have any thoughts or remembrances of this song? Want to correct our lyrics or call us out for relying too much on Wikipedia? Please feel free to leave a comment here, or (gulp) Tweet us about it at twitter.com/intensities. Your input is lusted after and appreciated.)

The List So Far (Now With Links!):

100. Green Day – “Jesus of Suburbia
99. The Ying Yang Twins – “Wait (The Whisper Song)
98. Crazytown – “Butterfly
97. Taylor Swift – “Teardrops on My Guitar
96. The Fray – “Over My Head (Cable Car)
95. Fergie – “Fergalicious
94. Lidstrom – “I Feel Space
93. Chevelle – “Send the Pain Below
92. T-Pain f/ Yung Joc – “Buy U a Drank (Shawty Snappin’)
91. The Arctic Monkeys – “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor
90. Cassie – “Me & U
89. Nelly Furtado – “Maneater
88. Mike Jones f/ Slim Thug & Paul Wall – “Still Tippin’
87. Bat for Lashes – “Daniel
86. The Darkness – “I Believe in a Thing Called Love
85. Dynamite Hack – “Boyz n the Hood
84. DJ Khaled f/ T.I., Rick Ross, Fat Joe, Birdman, Lil’ Wayne & Akon – “We Takin’ Over
83. Matchbox20 – “Bent
82. The Game f/ 50 Cent – “Hate It or Love It
81. 311 – “Amber
80. 3 Doors Down – “Krptonite
79. Nas – “Made You Look
78. Royksopp – “Eple
77. The Pussycat Dolls – “Don’t Cha
76. DMX – “Party Up (Up in Here)
75. Junior Senior – “Move Your Feet
74. Twista f/ Kanye West & Jamie Foxx – “Slow Jamz
73. The Streets – “Weak Become Heroes
72. Jimmy Eat World – “The Middle
71. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Maps
70. Snoop Dogg f/ Pharrell – “Drop It Like It’s Hot
69. Alice DeeJay – “Better Off Alone
68. Xiu Xiu – “I Luv the Valley OH!
67. Incubus – “Stellar
66. Mariah Carey – “We Belong Together
65. Andrew W.K. – “Party Hard
64. Jurgen Paape – “So Weit Wie Noch Nie
63. Taking Back Sunday – “MakeDamnSure
62. Kid Cudi – “Day n Nite
61. Paramore – “That’s What You Get
60. System of a Down – “Toxicity
59. dNTEL f/ Ben Gibbard – “(This Is) The Dream of Evan and Chan
58. Three 6 Mafia f/ 8Ball & MJG – “Stay Fly
57. Good Charlotte – “The Anthem
56. The Lonely Island – “Lazy Sunday
55. Darude – “Sandstorm
54. Yellowcard – “Ocean Avenue
53. The Killers – “Mr. Brightside
52. Luomo – “Tessio
51. Blink-182 – “Stay Together For the Kids
50. My Chemical Romance – “I’m Not Okay (I Promise)
49. Freelance Hellraiser – “A Stroke of Genius
48. Daft Punk – “Digital Love
47. Snow Patrol – “Chasing Cars
46. Sean Paul – “Like Glue
45. Ludacris – “Stand Up
44. Britney Spears – “Toxic
43. Kings of Leon – “Sex on Fire
42. Jennifer Lopez f/ Ja Rule – “I’m Real (Remix)
41. Lifehouse – “Hanging By a Moment
40. Plain White T’s – “Hey There Delilah
39. MGMT – “Kids
38. Gym Class Heroes f/ Patrick Stump – “Cupid’s Chokehold
37. Franz Ferdinand – “Do You Want To
36. Kylie Minogue – “Can’t Get You Out of My Head
35. Vertical Horizon – “Everything You Want
34. The White Stripes – “Fell in Love With a Girl
33. Jay-Z – “Takeover
32. Maroon 5 – “This Love
31. Silversun Pickups – “Lazy Eye”

3 Responses to “10 Years, 100 Songs: #31. “I’ve Been Waiting for This Moment All My Life…””

  1. Justin said

    Good song, but the video is a contender for worst of all time.

  2. Joe said

    Enjoyed this song a lot the dozen or so times I’ve heard it, perhaps never quite enough to truly seek it out, maybe out of a fear that “getting in to” this band would inevitably lead them down the same creative path that befell Snow Patrol — yet another “SP” band — after I started following them.

    I think most of my fondness for “Panic Switch” is simply due to my surprise that a song like this could be a real hit at all in 2009.

  3. Garret said

    Just listened to whatever this is for the first time.

    I like the part where it sounds like Lindsey Buckingham getting his throat torn out.

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