Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Shanies: Song of the Year

While tomorrow's breakdown of the album of the year is always the big one, there's a reason I save the song of the year for second last. Individual songs always have the ability to connect and hit me in a way that can be a difficult venture for full albums (particularly in the day and age of the single). Some perfect combination of melody, lyrics, rhythm, and harmony blend together to create a sonic euphoria that is irresistible.

2015 was a weird year on a lot of fronts, and these seemed to manifest in my song selection. Usually, one of the first things I do when deciding this award is to look at my most played songs off my various audio players. While I wasn't blown away by Mutemath's 2015 release, Vitals, one song off that album still seemed to creep up very high in my rotation.

Composed is a strange one. It's an exceptionally stripped down piece with none of the typical trademarks of what one would consider a "Shane song." The track starts, and maintains, with a droning, oscillating synth that bounced between two simple chords for the bulk of the song. The rhythm comes in with little more than some basic finger snaps that evolve to not much above a kick & snare. The bulk of frontman Paul Meany's vocals are in falsetto. The lyrics are stripped away, distant, and non-comital. The whole arrangement is little more than 2 verses and 2 choruses and clocks in just under three minutes. Nothing about things song makes any sense individually, which I think is why I love it so much.

This is an example of a perfect arrangement. Different swells of tracks fade in and out of the foreground in a way that forces the song to grow on you - both as you're listening to it, and with each successive listen. This is a musical expression of the value of blank space; the notes that aren't played. It's easy to find calmness in this track, or just as easily, allow your mind to wander and build your own version of complexity. It truly does give an old man hope. :-)

I'd also be remiss to not announce a runner up for this award to Kendrick Lamar's, frantic masterpiece, I. Anyone that can seamlessly blend spoken-word slam poetry, funk, hip hop,  R&B, and soul into one song that clocks in just over five minutes, has done something right.