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Arts and Culture

Lightning Bolt's Demented, Sonic Torture

You'd be amazed how good it sounds after a month of Rebecca Black.

By Thom Wong 7 Apr 2011 | TheTyee.ca

Thom Wong writes regularly about music for The Tyee. He can also be found ruminating about the state of menswear at The Sunday Best.

Let's get this out of the way -- Rebecca Black's "Friday," that ubiquitous, poorly shot, amazingly auto-tuned Wikipedia description of the days of the week, is not a good song. This is obvious. The people who've watched it 85 million times on YouTube don't think so; the thousands of people who've spent real money buying it don't think so. I'm willing to bet that her parents, who paid for the video, and even young Rebecca herself don't think it's a particularly noteworthy tune. (And really, ABC? You had to clown a teenager on national television? This is news?)

So getting the acerbic wit that is Stephen Colbert, and backing him with a band as tight and accomplished as The Roots, just to do a straightforward rendition in mockery of "Friday" is overkill on par with having Noam Chomsky edit YouTube comments. It's not as if "Friday" is even the worst song out there -- there are 60 million views of "Like a G6," and a huge chunk of that song is about a guy wearing Beats by Dr. Dre headphones. (Another Far East Movement song features the stunning revelation, "You ain't a doll. You's a silver dollar.")

Still, I don't think we should have spent the equivalent of over 246,000 days (that’s 85 million views x four minutes) listening to this song on YouTube. And I offer this alternative -- instead of listening even one more day to it, put on Lightning Bolt instead, in particular the duo's stellar 2003 offering, Wonderful Rainbow. Turn to the fifth track, "On Fire," and remember that this is only two people; that one man on a bass guitar and another on the drums is making all this amazing, brain-altering noise. Nothing rhymes, nothing has a consistent rhythm. It's just 4:42 of sheer, pulsating aural assault. Ignore that occasionally drummer Brian Chippendale will do a bad Zack de la Rocha impersonation through a tin can megaphone -- you can't understand a word he's singing anyway -- and eventually the vocals become simply another part of the glorious, auto-tune free soundscape. 

And cut Rebecca Black some slack. When you were her age, I doubt 85 million people knew who you were.  [Tyee]

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