(This is our second annual “Favorite Songs”series. It’s a chance for Range Life fans, friends and family to shout-out and share some of the songs that made 2009 better, dancier, more deeply felt, more memorable and enjoyable. Songs are presented in no particular order. Submissions are welcome! Send a song link and whatever you want to write to firstname.lastname@example.org. And please comment – if a song reminds you of something else or you dug it too – whatever!)
Song: “Ring, Ring” by Sleigh Bells
How is “Ring, Ring” not a Hit? Just the first 30 seconds are catchier and sexier than any other song in my iTunes. If it had dropped early-Summer, “Stillness Is the Move” would have been toast (and it would have been Alexis from Sleigh Bells singing back-up for Mos Def and Talib Kweli on Fallon the other night, instead of Dirty Projector’s Amber and Haley)! Who should Sleigh Bells be sleeping with that they’re not sleeping with?
On a base level I get “Ring, Ring” the way I get a good hip-hop song, the beat and melody filling in the cracks of the fragmented narrative, giving it the effect of making sense. But I’d have a hard time getting up in front of the class and explaining what girl’s talking about. Heart-pangs, cutting braces, the sign of the devil – where do you start?
To me, Sleigh Bells are on the cusp of a movement – call it “Frantic Fun”, “Melange Madness”, “Culture Crashers” – as long as it’s alliterated, right? – that’s under the authority of Generation Next and that hinges on a simple secret: the moorings which have held identity and reference in place for so long can be set free – easily. How? Just do it! Why? The fuck if I know. No one’s defending them any more, I guess.
If you need jarring proof of this phenomenon, check out the video artist Ryan Trecartin. He was the stand-out, by a mile, at the New Museum’s “The Generational: Younger Than Jesus” showcase of living artist’s under the age of 33. He’s having “frantic fun”. He’s practicing “melange madness”. He’s “culture-crashing”, like a wrecking-ball through a wall of Lego’s. The point is to get completely unshackled from the way you’re “supposed” to be doing it; to upend, to freak, to punk the possibilities.
Listen again to “Ring, Ring”. It’s Tropicalia. It’s horny R&B. It’s Teen-Beat. Teen-Bop. Sound Collage. Indie-Ironic. It’s the Total Request Live studio getting shaken by a subwoofer. Or the Pop Radio in Brazil blaring on the beach through a brushed-chrome boombox. It’s the catchiest, sexiest, boldest, freest song I heard this year, with dance party potential for everyone from Middle School girls at a clique sleep-over to stoned Art Students at a candlelit club. It’s Undeniable.
So it’s a Hit. Right?