When it comes right down to it, I will probably rue the day we sat at Steve and Eunie’s house and they were like, “Oh, Isaac asked us to compare the music of the 1970s with the music of the 2010s,” and instead of participating in a conversation like normal people, we began drawing brackets. People must ALWAYS be careful when saying any words to me because they can always end up in some sort of social experiment.
Meanwhile, just yesterday, Carrie narrowed down her list of 244 songs to 32 songs just from the 1970s and is now beginning on the 2010s. (I roll my eyes because this is going to postpone our 80s versus 90s bracket not to mention our 60s versus 00s and my “Which song do I hate the most” bracket. In the shower earlier today, I thought, “I could bracket my favorite words,” so essentially, I have lost all rationality when it comes to this project.)
In any case, we’ve reached the Sweet Sixteen of my bracket. I am writing this introduction because I am just prolonging the inevitable. [Editor’s note: She is being a big freaking baby about having to decide between Adele songs. Just ignore her.]
Here we go…
(9) Superstition versus (12) Lonely Boy: Carrie and I had a long discussion about songs having “punch” at the beginning of it being helpful in loving a song. She needs the punch. I’m okay with a slow or “layered” build. “Superstition” has the layers. Hook plus horns plus chorus then back to hook. (I ignore lyrics here because I genuinely never listen to them.) (I know. I’m dumb.) It really is quintessential 70s for me and, again, I had no idea I felt that way until this bracket. Then “Lonely Boy” shows up and punches you in the face. The chorus on this one is SO catchy and that damn bass line just drives right through you as you listen. They are, obviously, not remotely similar in structure. Funk versus straightforward rock and roll. This region is so screwy. I really feel like we’ve reached the point where my distaste for 70s music is going to shine through. WINNER: Lonely Boy
(6) S&M versus (15) Dream On: “The Drop” versus “The Build” is one I’ve been nervous about. The synth that leads into the drop of the bass and the kick forward in “S&M” is basically my favorite thing in music, to be perfectly honest. Like, if I had just gone off “Songs I Really Love” then I would have had to have an EDM Region and most of you would think I’m crazy. “S&M” is the closest I got to that. And yes, “Dream On” makes me want to take over the world and has one of the best builds of all time (in my opinion). And maybe I’m weighing the evolution of music too heavily here, but again, it’s my bracket. (I only say that when I’m not sure I’m right.) WINNER: S&M
(1) Stayin’ Alive versus (13) Pumped Up Kicks: Part of me wants “Stayin’ Alive” to win this just to irritate basically everyone. It is catchy and fun. It means nothing. If aliens landed and asked what music is and someone said, “Oh! I’ll play you some Bee Gees!” I would support that person’s abduction without hesitation. I’m sure there is an online Bee Gees fan club that would scare the bejeezus out of me just from its sheer existence. When it comes to “Pumped Up Kicks,” I have such a strong, positive memory associated with this song that feels almost impossible to eliminate. I was getting my power button tattoo in 2011 and this song came on in the tattoo shop and my artist started bopping along and told her business partner to “Turn it up. Real loud.” And we agreed the song was brilliant. I remember that as though it happened two hours ago. It has a rim shot that I cannot resist air drumming. Air drumming is the deciding factor. WINNER: Pumped Up Kicks
(3) Call Me Maybe versus (2) Dancing Queen: …punches self in face…
WINNER: Call Me Maybe
(8) We’ve Got Tonight versus (13) Take Me to Church: In what has easily become the darkest horse of this entire bracket, “We’ve Got Tonight” is just amazingly good. Even the little tambourine makes sense and it is REALLY freaking hard to get a tambourine to make sense in a ballad. I would actually like to hear Hozier do a cover of it. I have a very clear picture of people wearing terrible bridesmaids dresses slow dancing with people in terrible tuxes (because apparently my pictures are very heteronormative) to this song at a small town dance place. One interesting thing to note is that these two songs have an incredible number of things in common. Piano base. Gravelly voice. Builds well. Little decorations on runs. This match-up is crazy. It is basically the same song. It is the only one thus far that has gotten a replay (as though something is magically going to jump out at us). Are the “Amen”s really going to take this simply by being my favorite part of either song? (Literally discussing it for five full minutes…) WINNER: Take Me to Church
(11) Imagine versus (2) The Cave: I love that both of these songs are incredibly positive. They are both meaningful to me as a person. I basically cannot say anything negative about either of them from any standpoint that wouldn’t make me sound like a stuffy elitist music critic who ruins everything. (And, given that I willfully picked “Call Me Maybe” let’s just agree that’s not in my future.) John Lennon is a better musician. John Lennon is a better artist. John Lennon was infinitely more important to music. And without hesitation, I think “The Cave” is a better song. WINNER: The Cave
(14) Bohemian Rhapsody versus (15) Despacito: We went from the Region of Death to what is probably the easiest decision on the bracket. I have sung the praises of “Despacito” for as long as I possibly can. I adore it. But come on. (Everyone ignore that I made “Bohemian Rhapsody” a 14-seed please. I have no idea what I was thinking.) Even if they were close (they’re not), the fact that blogging about “Bohemian Rhapsody” won us a trivia tournament on Thursday was always going to prevail. I am loyal to those who help me win a crowler of craft beer. Welcome to the Elite Eight, Queen! WINNER: Bohemian Rhapsody
(1) Rolling in the Deep versus (4) Hello: All I had to do was make “Hello” a 2 or 3 seed to at least create the possibility that they wouldn’t meet up. When this entire idea was launched, I knew immediately that “Rolling in the Deep” was going to be my #1 overall seed. It was the very first song I thought of when we said “2010s.” It is a song that has a build (pay attention to when the piano enters in… my goodness) and the chorus has a bit of “punch you” feel to it (drums and bass added and then don’t stop). Chester Bennington did an amazing cover of it. Also: The offbeat drumming at the 2:30 mark? Musical genius. I would never shut it off or skip it… unless I was in a sad mood. And, well, if I was in a sad mood or, like, felt heartbroken for some silly reason and wanted to feel all the feels with what I actually think is one of the greatest “drops” ever put into a slow song, then I would put on “Hello.” That bass drum addition to the chorus, both acoustically and rhythmically, is completely fucking perfect. The addition of the chimes near the end? Who thinks of that? And what she does with her voice as the song continues is the reason that Adele is Adele and that no one else is. The thing, for me, that makes her so amazing is that I always wish all of her songs were longer, but then I don’t because she has a tendency to be dead on with her production. And in the 2010s, production matters a whole bunch. So here we sit. There is no criteria for this at all so I’m going to go off of exactly one thing: I could NOT stop playing “Rolling in the Deep” for months. I played it in every jukebox in every small town bar during softball. I played it so much at the cabin that one time, it ended, and my father-in-law (who knows nothing about music other than he hates Johnny Cash) began singing “Rumor Has It” because that was the next song. The #1 overall seed is #1 for a reason. WINNER: Rolling in the Deep
The Elite Eight is set.