Favorite Song: Tears for Fears ‘Head over Heels’

In my personal opinion, nearly every Tears for Fears single is the perfect amalgation of why 80s pop was and is incredible. They truly are the sound of the 80s and their music ages so well, like every truly great pop song.

 

The trope of annoying the librarian because you have a crush on her, dumping your keyboard on her desk and having  achimpanse in the reading room. How rude.

Also, if I may be so bold: 80s Ian Stanley might have been the only living keyboard player ever who was the most attractive band member. If you wonder what happened, since he is the only original member who did not return for the bands reunion: he became a pretty prolific music producer, so there’s that.

Now, “Head over Heels” has hit me right in the guts in 2001 when I was 17 and saw “Donnie Darko”. This song is the introduction to the typical 80s high school life. The scene was specifically written and edited for the song and it shows. I haven’t watched that movie in years but this song is basically the whole mood of the entire movie, this hightened sense of surreal wonder.

 

What starts out as a love song, gets a little political (?) at the end. Even though the beginning is about trying to ask someone out, by the end, we have to ponder heavy lines like “It’s hard to be a man when there’s a gun in your hand” – I guess, Tears for Fears were never meant to be the band that writes “just” a love song.

Especially, since the song is supposed to be a twin with “Broken” which is just a super sad song of having given up all hope. The lines “one little boy one little man” as well as “funny how time flies” are repeated in “Broken” and in that way, this could be read as two songs about innocence (which always is hopeful) and the loss of it. The little boy (Head over heels) and the little man (broken). In “Head over Heels”, the demands that society puts on young men already weigh on the protagonist/narrator, so by the end, he already is turning jaded. But that’s just my two cents. I know that not every song is supposed to have a clear cut interpretation.

The amazing thing about the entire song is that the big musical promise the intro makes (a keyboard extravaganza leading up to greatness and really showing those butterflies of first crushes) is completely delivered by the song’s dramaturgy with the chorus as well as those heartfelt interludes. When Roland Orzabal sings “I feel so” in his high-pitched voice and then immediately drops into the chorus, it’s like my heart stops, it’s absolutely beautiful.

This song changes constantly. Again, this is like the ups and downs of being in love, this confusion and its perfectly delivered by Roland Orzabal who puts so much emotion in his vocals, it’s unashamedly 80s because it’s all so extreme and so much but it’s perfect that way. I love big emotions in pop music, give me all the pathos!!!

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Horror movie list: Dumb tourists are going to die

One of my favorite horror movie genres is ignorant tourists doing stupid shit and then getting absolutely annihilated. I know, loving this genre is not my finest hour but it can be so gratifying. It used to be seen as “Dear Americans, don’t travel, because outside of the most awesome U.S. of A. everything is mayhem” which was a.) kinda racist and b.) really not true. But in the last couple of years, it has turned more and more into: “If tourists can’t respect different cultures or LISTEN to people then I guess they had it coming.” Which is a pretty good end-of-the-He-Man-episode-moral, don’t you think? So, here’s a list of some hopefully entertaining movies about dumb tourists getting into trouble.

PS: To not overdo this list, I will not include: reporters, documentary-teams, investigators, tourists that are not dumb and still get in trouble (as seen in “Rogue”, “Wrong Turn”, “Texas Chain Saw Massacre”) and tourists that traveled for other than “fun” reasons (finding a missing relative, overcoming trauma, etc.). Look, I enjoy watching dumb tourists get cursed but not people looking for their missing spouses or siblings.

PPS: Minor spoilers ahead (I try to avoid them but when talking about the main plot or even with the subject of this list, spoilers will happen)

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Wake up, Sleepyhead: Songs about sleep and dreams

I used to be very tired in Winter but in the last couple of years, Summer has sucked me dry and left out to rot every single time. I blame Berlin. I used to live at the coast, where the rainy days are longer and everything is somewhat cooled off by the sea. Here in Berlin, the heat reflects from the concrete and hits you like a brick. I am so tired in Summer and I can’t sleep. Which is the perfect topic, I realized in a fever dream, for a weirdo playlist. Hurray!

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Vagabon ‘Flood Hands’ – love, don’t let me sleep

Laetitia Tamko, better known by Vagabon is preparing for her sophomore this year. Her first gift to us is the gorgeous pop single “Flood Hands”. This love song goes big on the production, a massive, synthie hymn, lead through the dark with Tamko’s breathy vocals. As a pop song it’s amazing because a.) it’s easy to dance to due to a sure-footed beat and b.) it packs so many small little details, like a blink-and-you-miss-it guitar-part that stays in the background until it doesn’t. It is a song you can obsess over, something to look at, turn it around, listen to it in the morning, find other details during the night. All the while, this feeling of restlessness that love can elicit. There is something lurking, and if you only wait long enough, it will pour out.

Daniel Norgren ‘Wooh Dang’ – Horton hears a Wooh

When we got our cat Lisa, she was so shy that she spent the first months under our couch. Since I work from home quite often, I sat in a bean bag next to her across the floor and worked. I also played endless loops of bird- and forest-noises because I thought it would relax her to hear “nature”.

“Wooh Dang” starts with birds, the sounds you hear early in the mornings, when your window is open and you’re half awake and doze into the morning. And then the birds turn to noise and then into music and it’s sweet music, a far away song that is gone as soon as you hear it, like the sounds from a car that drives by and that’s the first song, the sounds you hear in bed when you’re not yet awake and your dreams mingle with the noises in the kitchen or the birds outside the window.

Norgren’s musical evolution is this kind of magic. The first songs I’ve heard from him were beautiful, progressive blues songs or gorgeous little ditties. All performed with a sense of obliviousness to the surroundings, which is so fitting because with Norgren it is always a journey somewhere else, a hidden door in a tree that leads into a quiet, wholesome isolation. And since then, he has turned all those beautiful songs that he can and does write into stories, full of noises he takes from his studios that always seem to be old, rickety sheds in the middle of nowhere. “Wooh Dang” sounds like the middle of nowhere, but the kind of nowhere you go to to wash your head and your soul and feel calm for once.

And there’s still a fun little ditty around the corner which is also delightful because it shows that this is not one of those moody old men who take themselves to seriously, there’s a little shimmy and a little shake if you stay long enough, I mean, how adorable is “Dandelion Time”?

Jesca Hoop ft.Lucius ‘Shoulder Charge’ – a secret of sadness

There’s duets (tercets?) that are too good to be true. It doesn’t seem such a far stretch because both Jesca and Lucius are amazing at beautiful melodies and haunting harmonies. This is a match made in heaven. But it still comes as a surprise because it’s one of those things I didn’t even think I could get.

“Shoulder Charge” is a gorgeous, slow flowing sad song that sees the loneliness of someone who can’t seem to connect. It’s not even about complete isolation but about things that are sometimes too intimate, the feeling that there’s something so deep and so raw that it can’t be shared with others. Sometimes because there’s no one who would understand and sometimes because one couldn’t imagine a person who would understand. And these things are different, I think.

It has a happy ending, though, when Jesca sings:

“and what a fucking relief that nothing one can go through has not been shared by two”

It’s a beautiful song that feels very intimate but is at the same time obtuse enough for everyone to make up their own secret they’d rather not share, their own sadness and insecurities. And it’s yet again a gorgeous first glimpse into a Jesca Hoop-album.

By the way, I might be completely off but something about this song really reminds me of Sondheim’s “Company“. Maybe it’s the harmonies or the softness of the vocals but the musical is (mostly) equally soft and sad but also not hopeless.

Cover me: “Hazy Shade of Winter” by Simon and Garfunkel, the Bangles and more

Back in the day, when Paul Simon wrote “Hazy Shade of Winter, the song revolved around a melancholic poet wondering about his life and achievements, an ode to midlife crisis even though Simon was in his twenties back then.

Even though the song itself was more energetic and aggressive then what the duo usually wrote and performed, it still had a certain young debonnaire-charm about it.

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