Do You Feel Lucky?

(and feel free to comment! My older posts are certainly no less relevant to the burning concerns of the day.)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Bring it to me on a PLATE!: and the Dilemma of the Non-Album Track

Non-album tracks, man. I don't know.

I'm not too big on posting videos that are just photoslideshows, but there's never going to be a video for this as far as I can tell. And I don't think she plays it live much (if ever). Because it "didn't make the album."

Sometimes I think people shortchange some of their best tunes because they don't fit the given album that was being worked on when the tune came up. I understand the desire to put out an album that really works together as one coherent artistic statement, but were the Smiths really sitting around going, "I don't know about this 'How Soon Is Now?' song. It doesn't really sound like anything else on the album, maybe we better leave it off." My guess is no, they weren't. My guess is that they realized that if you come up with something amazing that sounds like nothing you've ever done before, and possibly like nothing anyone else has done before, then it might be a bit too much to expect for it to fit in on the album.

It's going to stick out.

Some of these non-album tracks just get cast aside and never really see the full light of day. Some of the best things you ever do could probably never fit any possible album you could come up with! They'd just plain stick out. But others might showcase a side good enough to make you think, hey, these outcast tracks should be saved, and then build the whole next album around them, because this is a great and promising direction!

But it never happens. People want to move on, and generally if a song didn't "make the cut" of the previous album it's sort of stamped as a reject. When there was nothing wrong with the song, except for the company it came up in!

Hell, the big hit off Some People Have Real Problems ("Buttons") was only shoehorned onto the album at the last minute - as a bonus track! - because the crazy video she made for the song as a complete goof for her website went nuts on the internet. Her biggest hit to date - a great song, love that song - wouldn't have been on the album otherwise!

Like I said, though: I understand the thinking. Some People Have Real Problems is a fantastic album, and it does succeed in bringing a wide breadth of songs and moods together creating a gorgeous whole. The ol' unified artistic statement - that's what people of that mindset strive for, and what a success on that score! And any other score: great album. And so maybe "Buttons" is a bit of a spiky intruder into that otherwise impeccable best-dressed guest list. But despite it sticks out a bit, I think it demonstrates that a party can benefit from a spiky intruder or two! Jumping in at the end, a bonus track to kick it back in gear after everything quiets down. Personally any time I go to a party, I consider myself to be the "bonus track."

Well anyway. Enough about "Buttons," here's "Bring It to Me." I like this track a lot, the energy, the character. She comes on like a sexy but imperious pacifist aristocrat from outer space, set down to lounge on the sweeping veranda of a spaghetti-western palazzo and demanding of all concerned: "bring it to me, on a plate." I'm not saying I class it with "How Soon Is Now?", but the main same principle applies: maybe this wouldn't have fit in on any albums, but is that really a reason to leave it out?

As a non-album track, some of the lyrics smack of possibly work-in-progress (although I think they're cute and wouldn't change a thing! Even with my high standards). But that chorus is a KILLER OF KITTENS. That's how mean and ferocious it is. A killer of KITTENS.

Not literally, of course. Sia would never kill kittens!


dogimo said...

Of course, "How Soon Is Now?" wasn't originally an album track, either. I think that just better illustrates the perils of my point.

limom said...

In the old days, the odd tracks were called "B" sides.
I never chased 45s, but I'm sure some did just to get the songs that weren't released on the LP.
Wait, why am I telling you?
You're old.

dogimo said...

Yeah, I had me my share of "cassingles."

Mel said...

Speaking of tracks that were at risk of never seeing the light of day and not making the cut, I found this to be quite a fascinating read.

Sia's Reject Opus: Songwriter on Reclaiming Adele, Rihanna's Unwanted Hits

dogimo said...

That was a great read, Mel. Thank you!

She is so honest and unaffected. The way she describes everything just makes you feel like a regular person got slipped into the industry somehow, and also happens to be a total fucking genius thank you very much, but somehow, she's never been institutionalized.

dogimo said...

I think she is a better songwriter than I am.