by Ryan Wasoba
Sometimes we just need to take a break from a song. One can only hear the same words and melody so many times until it loses all meaning, like saying "sandals" or "popcorn" a few dozen times. Unfortunately, some great songs are never revisited -- maybe because of overkill, maybe because of the stigma of the artist. Since 2012 is still new, let us release our baggage of the past and give some tracks a second chance. Here are the six best songs worth reevaluating.
6. Black Eyed Peas "Let's Get It Started" Black Eyed Peas is terrible, but it didn't have to be. When the group released "Let's Get It Started," it seemed possible that the group might have a spot as a decent post-Outkast quirky mainstream hip-hop group. There's a lot to love about the track, from its walking bass line and self referential "Bass keeps runnin' runnin'" chant to the questionable original lyric/title "Let's Get Retarded." Its worst attribute is its effectiveness. It's too catchy, making it an oversaturated radio song and a sports stadium staple. Time has not treated the Black Eyed Peas well. We've had "My Humps" and the Super Bowl performance with Slash. Oh, and Fergie peed herself. But if you can look past that, "Let's Get It Started" is better than you remember.
5. Meat Loaf "Bat Out Of Hell" If you like Dragonforce or the Decemberists or Ronnie James Dio or Trans-Siberian Orchestra's non-Christmas albums or "Bohemian Rhapsody" or Tenacious D, then you absolutely love Meat Loaf's "Bat Out Of Hell" whether you are aware or not. You're welcome.
4. Sugar Ray "When It's Over" I am not advocating for Sugar Ray. "Fly" sucks, and by hosting Don't Forget The Lyrics, Mark McGrath figured out a way to make Wayne Brady look hip. But the band put out one record, 14:59, that was moderately listenable if only because it sounded like Weezer with a DJ. That's where "Every Morning" and "Someday" came from, two songs that you might sit through if you're tired of listening to the oldies station and NPR is airing Prairie Home Companion. "When It's Over" was not a massive hit -- if Sugar Ray was Third Eye Blind, "When It's Over" would have been "Losing A Whole Year" -- but it was fun. It's one of those thematic songs that's hard to mess up once you start writing, with some playfulness in the hook. Sometimes bad bands make good songs. 3. The Wallflowers "One Headlight" You hate the Wallflowers because Jakob Dylan is the fortunate son of Bob Dylan. The family tie is not an exact free pass into stardom, but it certainly cleared some hurdles that may have kept some of the band's just okay songs like "Sixth Avenue Heartache" and "Three Marlenas" off the average human's radar. "One Headlight," though, is a worthy track that's better than half of papa Bob's songbook. Its verses are masked in fog, a distant organ lending intrigue to vague phrases like "It's cold, it feels like Independence Day." And it all leads to a chorus that is bursting with more hope than Obama watching Rudy. Sean Lennon and Harper Simon haven't written a song that can touch "One Headlight," and neither will Thom Yorke's kid. Get over it.
2. Reel Big Fish "Sell Out" Listen to this song. Yeah, it's textbook third wave ska, and it's tied with "The Impression That I Get" by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones for the most popular song of the genre. You expect certain things, like horns and wacky vocals. Reel Big Fish delivers, but there's more to "Sell Out." Under the elementary how-the-music-industry-works pre chorus and the ironic "Sell out with me tonight" hook is a jittery self-consciousness. Remember that Reel Big Fish was not famous before this song. There's a real nervousness in Aaron Barrett singing about signing a contract in hopes of a better life, blindly putting his trust into a business that is obviously more complicated than he can realize and betraying an independent community. He lays it all out there, and the band matches with an urgency as if "Sell Out" was the last song it would ever get to record. It wasn't, which is why people have forgotten how singular and effective this song truly is.
1. The Cardigans "Lovefool" Justin Bieber borrowed the hook of "Lovefool" for his song "Love Me." Jim Halpert sang it on The Office to annoy his co-workers. Henry Rollins ranted about its marketing genius in one of his spoken word performances. None of this is The Cardigans' fault. Taken at face value, "Lovefool" is a gorgeously produced slice of vulnerable throwback disco. It's "I Will Survive" for the unempowered. The whole song depends on a simple harmonic trick -- shifting from A minor in the verse to A major on the hook. But after the tense walk-up of "So I cry, I pray and I beg," a key change has never sounded so joyful. Yet, Nina Perrson's voice aches when she sings "I can't care about anything but you," and the group transitions back into the minor. It reads as academic on paper, but it sounds perfect in reality.