Monday, February 24, 2014

Mood Music

From the few bars of the song "Happy," I was in love because it made me feel joyous. Swinging my shoulders in the car as I drove, glancing at my 12-year-old daughter with a grin, bouncing in my seat to the beat. The second time I heard it in my office at home I burst into dance and she recorded it on her phone, sending it to her older sisters with the note that "Mom's crazy."

The third time I was ready with my own hand movements. I'm sure the song will lose its power to charm over time as its airplay hits the roof over the coming months but I'll get a bump of good juju even then because how can you not? The video is perfect at showing what happens. I haven't heard a song that pulls unconsciously for body movement since "YMCA." Or maybe "ABC" by the Jackson Five.

Before my husband heard the "Happy" song and I was trying and failing to remember all the words, I said "How many times does the name of a song describe the mood it will invoke?

"A Touch of Gray" by the Grateful Dead? Sorry, it doesn't make me melancholy, and the words aren't even sad. It's upbeat and positive. A song that comes close to capturing emo with its title is "Here Comes The Sun" and The Moody Blues used their band name to accurately describe the feel of their songs but most bands don't bother. Nirvana went with an antonym.

"Paint It Black" by the Rolling Stones? Not depressing, makes you feel fired up. Possibly channels some rage, if you have a strong need to vent at the time but I've seen plenty of people smile as they sing it. Same with "Anxiety" by the Black Eyed Peas. "Back to Black" by Amy Winehouse is sadder, bluesy, but still not depressing like "The River" by Bruce Springsteen, which promises no particular feeling with its title.

Patsy Cline's "Crazy" doesn't make me feel crazy (unless it's on repeat on a jukebox in a restaurant, but that rarely happens anymore) but I believe she feels that way when she's singing. I'll give Lonestar a similar partial credit for "Amazed" because they sound earnestly surprised but I'm not feeling astonishment; the song itself makes you feel loved, or in the mood for romance. It's a Top 10 first dance song for weddings.

Rod Stewart sings "Passion" but it doesn't make me feel amorous. "I Need Love" by LL Cool J or covered by Luka Bloom does, and the title's a close enough description of the feeling to count.  Lots of songs with "love" in their title make you sad, and others like the B-52's "Love Shack" make you feel happy but few make you feel the emotion and use it in the title.  "She Will Be Loved" by Maroon 5 comes close. They also do a good job with "This Love" but not "Misery"--that's a catchy and mood-lifting pop tune. 

Not that there's anything wrong with that. Pharrell is my new best friend for providing such a reliable (and now that the song's caught on--daily) dose.

Happy Monday.

Love, Lisa

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