I was writing elsewhere and said something like, "why don't we just move to California?" I think about California a lot. I was born there but have very little memory of it. Generally, I find California to be a kind of idea: both returning to where I came from and going to a place made primarily of dreams; though California is the place of Raymond Chandler and O.J. Simpson, a place where dreams sometimes go terribly bad.
Anyway, I found myself humming a tune by some pop group about California. I had seen the video three or four times last summer while on vacation, and the line "California, California…" stuck in my head.
So I was humming this tune, and I thought I should find it and listen to it. I googled around and found it quickly enough. It's called "California", and it's by a group called "Phantom Planet."
What a sucky song! The melody of the verses is a direct rip-off of Oasis's "Wonderwall" (if you're not a musician, you may not hear it; if you are, you can't miss it. "Wonderwall", by the way, was an absolutely superb pop song.) The chorus is pure ear-candy, and once you hear it you are practically forced to sing along. But that doesn't make it good. Also, the chorus was obviously written by some kid playing an E chord on the guitar and sliding the fingering up to the third fret and then the sixth, all the while singing "Califooorniaaaaaa…Califoooorniaaaaaa!" I wrote songs like that when I was thirteen. No kidding.
But they can be forgiven for a musically weak song. This is the 2000's, after all, not the sixties. But the lyrics are absolutely unforgivable. Lines like,
"We've been on the run/driving in the sun/looking out for number one"
"Pedal to the floor/thinking of the roar/gotta get us to the show"
Hell, that last line doesn't even rhyme!
And of course the chorus:
"California, here we come!"
I was very disappointed. If this was a hit, perhaps I should sell some of the songs I wrote when I was thirteen and make a few million.
Talentless, silly boys.
BUT: as I wrote this I was listening to Chris Thile's Stealing Second. So today's music doesn't really suck: just the stuff that passes for mainstream popular music.
If you want to listen to music played by an immensely talented young man who didn't go the pop route, go buy a Chris Thile CD. You shouldn't be sorry. If you are, you have no taste anyway, so you might as well go buy the next Phantom Planet CD. For that matter, you might as well just forget about buying music and just listen to the radio. And you can also leave a comment telling me that all these things are subjective anyway. GRRRRRRR!