tremble clef

Monday, September 05, 2005

Bananarama, "Look On The Floor (Hypnotic Tango)" (2005)

Bananarama are back! Back !! BACK!!! As Smash Hits would have said in the 80s. Well, they wouldn't have said it about Bananarama in the 80s, since the girls wouldn't have been gone then. But you know what I mean.

Where was I again? I'm just so dizzy with delight that I can't follow what I'm saying, because THIS SONG IS SO AWESOME. But, oh yes, being back! Back!! BACK!!! The girls -- just Keren and Sara now, of course, or as a friend unkindly but, frankly speaking, quite accurately calls them, "Keren and Horseface" -- galloped back into public consciousness last month with their Top 14 single "Move In My Direction." That's about the right position, give or take 3 spots, because for all its loveliness, "Move In My Direction" is not as brilliant as it could have been. (The more spacious Bobby Blanco and Miki Moto mix offers one hint of how that track could have been better: if Basement Jaxx had been let loose to throw in flamenco guitars and turn it into a samba house stomper.)

But this, this is utterly fantastic. One of four tracks on the album sampler, "Look On The Floor" is a slinky disco number with just a hint of melancholia. As the parenthethical bit suggests, it uses the chorus of an 80s Italo disco song by My Mine called "Hypnotic Tango," although the 'Narns seem to have come to it via Master Blaster's 2003 cover version. More generally, the lyric does traverse ground that's well-trodden: the narrator has met someone at a club, and, after giving him her number, now leaves with a sense of anticipation of where things could now go. It's a theme we've seen in everything from Shannon's "Let The Music Play" to to countless Pet Shop Boys songs to Kylie's "Love At First Sight."

Here (and unlike on the demo, on which the verses have a different melody), the first voice we hear is a robotic one: "It's close to midnight and I'm leaving now/I'm getting in the car and heading out." But then the vocal gets unprocessed: "And I can't slow down/Cause I don't know how." The pattern is repeated on the other verses; the vocoderized lines always seem to be expressing the tough, weary, seen-it-all-before viewpoint ("You've got my number/So we'll be fine/So go and use it/Just don't waste my time"; and "Devil's in your eyes/And he's looking at me/I know what you want/And you know what I need"). But in the moments after, the narrator allows herself to get over her cynicism about how this might just be another inconsequential moment in the club, and instead to dream that it might lead to something more. "Look on the floor/And all is spinning around/Someone told me this was just a dance/Then take a chance and I'll give you more/Do you really think we have a chance?" What makes an encounter on the dancefloor so exciting are also the things that make the aftermath rueful: its fleeting nature, the rush of the moment. "You take me over/Stay with me/And we'll fade away..." The dream on the dancefloor is the dream that you will need no more such moments.

And when you think the song couldn't get better, you get a fabulous breakdown (kicked off by an echoing, eluding "Chance! Chance! Chance!..."). The beat goes on, but this wondrous "woooh-ooh-ooh!" sound moves from the back- to the foreground, and all you can do is try to wordlessly imitate it because it's pure. Disco. Delirium.


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