Intensities in Ten Suburbs

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Archive for July, 2010

Request Line: “No Ordinary Love,” “One Last Breath,” “The Wanton Song,” “America We Stand as One”

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on July 29, 2010

Reader Garret Writes:

Because there’s no sense in waiting to give you my four songs, I’m just gonna plop them in this post’s responses section and see what happens:

Sade – “No Ordinary Love”
Creed – “One Last Breath”
Led Zeppelin – “The Wanton Song”
Dennis Madalone – “America We Stand As One” (song + video combo)

Well Garret, now this is happening.

Growing up, I never gave Sade a second thought. As far as I was concerned, she (and I know it’s technically a “they” but who the fuck cares and I’m not spending the next however-many words fretting about pronouns) was more of a musical punchline than an artist of any particular merit. At best she was the singer that the girls in my high school listened to feel deep or soulful, at worst she was the musical equivalent of Skinemax, or at the very least some very very sleazy late-night infomercial. “Sexual Healing” is my least or second-least-favorite song of all-time, and from the clips of it I heard in cheesy compilation commercials, “Smooth Operator” seemed not all that dissimilar. Eventually I heard “Operator” in full and realized it wasn’t so bad, but I don’t think it was until I discovered “No Ordinary Love” that I realized what short shift I had been giving Ms. Adu all these years.

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Request Line: “Midnight Train to Georgia,” “Down at McDonnelzzz,” “Eenie Meenie,” “One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces”

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on July 20, 2010

Reader MBI Writes:

Fuck it, I’ve waited long enough. It’ll be certainly years before you get to this, but here are my next four requests:

Gladys Knight and the Pips – Midnight Train to Georgia
Electric Six – Down at McDonnelzzz
Sean Kingston & Justin Bieber – Eenie Meenie
Ben Folds Five – One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces

I really like three of these songs, and if you try to guess which one I don’t, you’ll probably be right.


Well, my man, all I can say is that for your sake, I certainly hope this isn’t the one song you don’t like. I remember back in my more-prominent webboarding days I took part in a thread where everyone mentioned songs they thought were unimpeachable, and saw if the song could go 24 hours in the thread without someone else mentioning that they either disliked or had never heard the song. I can’t remember what, if anything, ended up actually winning–I do remember Herb Alpert’s “Spanish Flea” having an incredibly long run at it, oddly–but I do wonder if anyone had the foresight to mention “Midnight Train to Georgia.” I’d be fairly surprised if someone I knew mentioned it as one of their all-time favorite songs (unless they experienced their formative years in the early-mid 70s, anyway), but if someone told me they didn’t know it or didn’t like it, it’d be a fairly Gas Face-worthy exchange. Everyone likes “Midnight Train to Georgia.” I’m not even sure what it would say about you as a person if you didn’t.

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Commercial Break: Like a Good Advertising Campaign, State Farm is There

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on July 14, 2010

Like no other advertising campaign in recent memory, I feel like State Farm’s latest series–referred to as “Magic Jingle” spots in the YouTube titles, so I guess that’s what were going with as a title–was created almost entirely to my specifications. It’s all there–the ridiculous central concept taken to an overly-literal extreme, the inexplicable gaps in general logic, the memorable quotes that work fantastically as out-of-context catch-phrases, even the little details in production that make the clips richer upon repeat viewings. As far as I can tell, the only things missing are the appearances of That Guy character actors in main or supporting roles and/or the use of classic pop songs badly in need of a 21st-century second life as either a plot fixture or a soundtrack. Those minor details aside, these spots are about as close as we’re likely to get to an Intensities in Ten Suburbs-approved platonic ideal for what the basic template of a classic ad campaign should be.

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Request Line: “Sacramento,” “Rasputin,” “What Do All the People Know,” “Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth With Money in My Hands”

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on July 11, 2010

Reader Erick writes:

I’ll add to your backlog as well…

Middle of the Road – Sacramento (ed. note: Originally “Hotel Indiscreet” by Sagittarius, but changed by the requestor when YouTubes were unavailable)
Boney M – Rasputin
The Monroes – What Do All the People Know
Primitive Radio Gods – Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth With Money In My Hand

Nice mix here, certainly. Hope to run through a couple of these this week.

Does this actually sound like ABBA, or is this just what all 70s European pop groups with blonde, chipper-yet-dispassionate female lead singers invariably end up sounding like? Chuck Klosterman wrote a long essay in Eating the Dinosaur about how ABBA were, against most odds, able to remain consistently beloved for decades primarily because they were always entirely peerless in sound, and thus could not be traced back to any specific point in time as being “dated.” Perhaps this was actually just an extremely North Americanized view to take of things, and in reality ABBA had dozens and dozens of soundalikes overseas that were simply unable to make the jump across the pound. In any event, Middle of the Road were from the very beginning of the decade (debut single “Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep,” a UK #1 hit, was from ’71, whereas ABBA’s debut single was in ’72 and true breakthrough was all the way in ’74), so perhaps Anni-Frid, Bjorn, Benny and Agetha were just ripping them off the entire time.

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Ten Things I’m Hoping to See in LeBron James’s FA Decision Special

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on July 8, 2010

It had to end this way. Yeah, you can hem and haw about the morality of the whole thing–lord knows that Adrian Wojnarowski took his crack at it from that angle, and he was certainly well within his right to do so–but really, what’s the point in complaining at this point? If you had woken up groggily at 7:30 A.M. to an headline: “LeBron to Cleveland: ‘I’m Comin’ Home!'” or “LeBron James: In a New York State of Mind!”…it wouldn’t have felt right, would it? After two-plus years of media hype leading up to two-plus weeks of utter media freakout, it would have seemed anti-climactic to just say to yourself “Oh, huh, looks like LeBron decided to go with the Cavs/Knicks/Bulls/Nets/Heat/Mavs/Bafana Bafana/Monstars, how about that” and then go about your day’s business. No, it had to be a media event unto itself, happening at a specific time that everyone knew to anticipate–primetime, no less. It had to happen the day after most of the other high-profile free agents announced their upcoming teams–possibly unwittingly–to whet the public’s appetite for the main event. It had to end like this.

So yes, I’ll be watching tomorrow at 9:00 when LeBron James goes live on ESPN to announce the team he will be signing with as a free agent (and possibly dictating the next ten years of the NBA in the process). I can’t wait, really. But in the interest of accepting this event in the spirit that it was given–that of straight-faced crassness and a severe distrust of moderation–I have a couple ideas of elements for the event itself, to allow it to best reach its maximum potential. (By the way, this max potential does not include LBJ buzz-killingly giving the game away in the first ten minutes, as he’s bone-headedly suggested he will do, so I’ve ignored that bit entirely.) After all, I’m gonna want to see this event marathoned endlessly on NBA Classic in the weeks leading up to July of 2015 or 2016, when we doubtless will be going through all this glorious nonsense once again.

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Posted in Clap Clap ClapClapClap, Listeria | 3 Comments »

Request Line: “That’s What Love Can Do,” “Murder Reigns,” “Elvira,” “Life is Life”

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on July 2, 2010

Reader Keith writes:

Hate to add to the backlog of requests, but I’d love to see what you do with an absurdly random song selection :)

Boy Krazy – That’s What Love Can Do
Ja Rule – Murder Reigns
Oak Ridge Boys – Elvira
Laibach – Life is Life

That is…impressively random. I’ll see what I can do.

It blows my mind a little bit that this was a hit in the year 1993. When listening to “That’s What Love Can Do” in preparation (I had it in my mp3 collection already so I must have heard it before, but had no particular memories) I assumed it was late-80s, or maybe from the very beginning of the pre-C&C Music Factory/EMF 90s. But 1993? I mean…this was the year of Ugly Kid Joe and Soul Asylum. Did we really still have room for these supernaturally chipper, synth-horn and cheesy piano-led dance pop tunes from the whitest of white chicks? Well, of course we did–Ace of Base was just around the corner, after all–but even still, Boy Krazy seems like they should have been one of the hundreds of acts whose faces were instantly melted, Raiders of the Lost Ark-style, by the opening chords of “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” If only pop music was truly like it was in Behind the Music, I suppose.

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