(This is a series celebrating our favorite songs of 2008. No particular order. It is being cross-posted, for discussion and permalink purposes at rangeliferecords.com. If you’d like to contribute, email a song link and $100 to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Song: “Unattainable” by Little Joy
Song Link: Pasta Primavera
Live Video from the Jackpot in Lawrence: HERE
Take any cool guy between the ages of 12 and 45 and I guarantee you they like this song. I’m sure there’s lot’s of different reasons all those dudes would give but here, I’d imagine, are the most common: tenderness, mystery, sex appeal.
Tenderness, if I may, is there in the tone she takes, like a young mother singing plaintively to her child. Her voice is a wisp and when she raises it to sing, she does it gingerly, tenderly. And because it’s tender, it concentrates the thoughtfulness of what she says: her willingness to save you from loneliness, the assurance that she’ll “be waiting here with open arms.” Oh so tender…
The mystery is in who she is. What does she want? She’s so cat-and-mouse with her lover’s expectations. “You can have me but you’ll lose me because you’ll disappoint me – but I’m here now.” The “fatale” part of “femme fatale”. Can she be pleased? Can she be saved? Can she be loved or has she really already chosen “unloved instead”? Why the bites amidst the purrs, girl?
If there’s an erogenous zone getting worked in this song, it’s the ear. It’s sexy to be sung to like this – I don’t know what else to say. The way she says “deep secret” is like the dark chocolate of phrasings. Or “jealousy”… there’s the whole fucking ordeal between us, guys and girls – or guys and guys, girls and girls – whatever! – the way she says “jealousy” is so intimate, so caught up on her lips and her tongue that you could believe she’d never leave you and yet you’re jealous of what she might do just because of how she says it. The sex appeal of “Unattainable” isn’t unattainable – it’s bewitchingly present, like a warm breath in your ear.
Can’t say enough about Little Joy. They were in town and were some of the sweetest, most contagiously cool people you could meet. And it’s a really cool record. But without this song, sung by Binki Shapiro, they’d be moving air, not ether. So I’m with Fab: “Miss Binky Shapiro, everybody. God-damn!”