Sent from J’s iPhone, somewhere in LA
In typical traveling style, the music collection that left Sydney with me did not even make it two days into my holiday. When I was robbed mid-flight last time I went abroad I had nothing to listen to for over a week and it nearly killed me. This time, an unfortunate phone malfunction meant I had to wipe the thing and restore it to make a foreign SIM card work. This means that I have been listening to LA pop radio over the last weekend, which obviously is a sign that I am completely and utterly cursed.
Los Angeles radio not only seems to sync it’s advertising, which is particularly offensive when switching stations, but also its playlists. God knows how that’s even possible, but given how many channels there are on TV here, I’m not surprised. What this translates to for those of you playing along at home is endless Kelly Clarkson (Americans really know how to big up their reality TV stars), fun. and Taylor Swift. I have never been hanging out for hip-hop so hard in my life, but obviously it’s not on any of the stations my host or the rest of white LA listen to, because you don’t even hear it in Urban Outfitters where they have printed Biggie sweaters for kicks.
And then Sara Barielles happened. The lovely girl whom for all I know has only ever written this one great, well, love song, this placing her in a category reserved for other piano-babe greats like is somehow a secret staple on the enemy stereo and when it comes on after all that whiny crap and people who sound like Ryan Seacrest offering the chance to win a Honda at some arbitrary time like 7:07pm, I could kiss the motherfucking dashboard. The chords are earnest, the production is sound but not Liberace – I’ve come to the conclusion that everything here sounds like pop music at a 24 hour gym, convenient since they’re everywhere – and it really seems like Barielles is going for it like this isn’t one of the ten hits her producers wrote for her but that one big shot at prime time. She’s working that progression, a real heart-tugger, for all its worth, plonking those keys like she’s playing Chopsticks and completely not giving away the fact that there’s a modern rock band on the wings who are going to blow the shit out of that chorus and we will all be like ‘Whoa’ like we were in 2007. And I am air-drumming and my host tells me that she is his client and she has sold over a million records and that’s pretty good right but I don’t even care. That other, earnest, Elliot Smith part of LA has just crept in out of nowhere and as Barielles steps down those measured falsetto semitones when verse twenty-seven million starts, I roll down the window and slip on my sunglasses and for just one moment I am really free.
Sara Barielles – ‘Love Song’