Saturday, November 15, 2008

Like a puppet on a string

(As predicted, here I am a few weeks after initially writing up this post, still not satisfied with it but posting it anyway. The key here is just that the song is good, with a great catchy chorus, great middle 8, and great half-epicness-creating backing vocals near the end. I actually am glad it's sung by a boy band--and not just Darin--now, too.)

I do love boy bands, it has to be said, but, contrary to what you might guess from some of the songs I've liked over the years, just any boy band won't automatically win me over. The music is the most important thing, of course, but there's also been some awful try-hard styling over the last few years.

I can't vouch for this American boy band's styling, but I have to say I think I've been won over by their debut single, "Love Struck." I've mentioned it before because it was written/co-written by Darin (and David Jassy), who I'm still positive you can hear on the track. At the very least, it's pretty easy to imagine him singing it, with those elongated "oo"s in words like "you" and "fool" and some of the high bits. Like most semi-urban-pop boy band-esque songs, it would quite possibly be better sung (fully) by him, but he's chosen to give it to these boys and I'm more than willing to accept that fact.

As mentioned, "Love Struck" does come from the school of urban-influenced pop, but either it doesn't delve so deeply into the urban side to seem ridiculous coming from these boys or the song is just flat-out great enough that you buy the whole thing. It's a bit dramatic, up tempo, catchy, and full-sounding. I think, for me, that last point is actually really important. I can almost imagine 'N Sync singing that middle 8, but I think there's a chance "Love Struck" is more appealingly pop than the music that group might still be making today if they were around. That's not to say that "Love Struck" is some pure-pop throwback to late '90's boy band sounds; it isn't. It does, though, eschew the skittery, more minimalist sound with odd rhythms that I think might have been played up more and more if 'N Sync had survived to today. I guess, since that didn't happen, the best we can do is look at Justin's solo material. At times, he does make songs where a strong melody is key and there are times where his more...almost experimental or avant-garde tendencies (or rather, his tendency to want to give his songs the sound of being more experimental) work really well. Other times, though, I can't help feeling like he's being deliberately distancing and deliberately...restrained in some way. This is getting hopelessly dense and I'm not communicating anything clearly--let me just leave it at the fact that many of his songs, in addition to have a few other elements I find off-putting, often feel more like a collection of elements than a song to me.

In contrast, "Love Struck," to me, feels more filled out and less concerned with sounding experimental (there is a difference between experimentation that brings life and excitement to the pop scene and experimentation that's meant to sound experimental, though the two sometimes overlap) is a full-on pop attack which, yes, is something you could say about the songs of late '90's, but with a sound, an electronic-sounding backing (somewhere between an updated second album Darin sound and "Breathing Your Love"), that also acknowledges changes since then, though not in a try-hard sort of way.

Being in a boy band still isn't cool enough that I can imagine American radio picking up on this song, but I really think it's genuinely great, and not just "for a boy band song" or compared to some of the other boy band songs we've had to deal with over the years.

This song isn't, as far as I know, available for purchase yet, but you can buy an EP of their music on iTunes here if you live in the U.S.

Next up: maybe a British pop-rock song.


Anonymous said...

If you want an amazing boyband song you should check out Menudo's new single "Lost". Amazing stuff.

Paul said...

Menudo's Lost is rather good! Interesting fact - simon curtis was asked to be in V Factory! True story. This is jolly good stuff - i wasn't aware that it was written by Darin, i half hoped (before hearing it) that it would be a cover version of the Will young song, but alas no. Still this is proper bonza. Anyway, i am saving "over listening" to this and menudo until the new year... It is a better than the Darin album cover btw

John said...

I like it...definitely not recreating any wheels, but catchy. Very Timbalandish, which isn't a bad thing.

Poster Girl said...

Anonymous, I know it and have heard some really positive reviews about it--I should really try it again! I wonder if the fact that this was just so up-tempo is what drew me to it. I'll go listen to "Lost" again on your recommendation.

You're kidding--really, Paul? There is a lot of music coming out at this time of year; you always savor songs--they stick around in your chart so long compared to how long songs stay in my "frequently played" list--so I can understand your waiting decision.

John, it is, but in a poppy sort of way, which is welcome for me.