Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Worth Another Listen: The B-52's - "Planet Claire"

Well, I have returned from my Easter-induced hiatus, and it’s a Tuesday, so you, YE-LID reader, deserve a funny joke.

Q: What do you get when you play a Nickelback song backwards?

A: Abetter Nickelback song.

Zing!!! We can trash Nickelback until we’re all very old people, but one thing about them is that you can usually tell that you’re listening to a Nickelback song. They may all sound the same, but as you are wiping up the blood gently trickling from your ears, reflect on Chad’s unmistakable nasal/raspy delivery of astonishingly trashy lyrics over those indicative distorted guitars. Creative they ain’t, but strangely distinctive, they are.

Creativity is an asset, especially in the arts, but to be distinctive, especially long after your career is finished, is a feat. One act that combined pioneering musical innovations and long-term sonic distinction is the B-52’s, one of the most criminally underrated acts in rock music ever. A bold claim to be sure, but listening to a song like “Planet Claire” while considering the fact that it was recorded in 1979 makes my auditory complex do somersaults. Blossoming in the shadow of punk, the B-52’s made electronic music that should have sucked but was actually awesome because they were able to use their wittiness and charming campiness to make the repetition inherent in early electronic music a non-issue.

The B-52’s made music that was not only engaging and quirky, but genuinely fun to listen to. Punk was immersed in full-blown rage and rebellion, but The B-52’s approached the same world with such a refreshing attitude that they created the musical equivalent to Dadaism that remains apart from all others to this day. Take a few minutes, turn up the speakers, put on a bouffant wig and start shaking your ass, preferably with some gal name Claire. You’ll be singing along by the second verse.

Q: What do you get when you play a B-52’s song?

A: A smile.

Happy listening!

Planet Claire (download)

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