tremble clef

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Magic Numbers, "Take A Chance (Radio Edit)" (2006)

"Ah ah ah aah. Ah ah ah aah." It's hard for me to listen to The Magic Numbers' infectious new single without totally giving in to the desire to have my life be soundtracked by those "ah"s. If Angela (Michelle? No, I think Angela's the backing vocalist) would be so kind as to follow me around for the rest of my days, choosing opportune moments to add some "ah"s to the things I say, that would be just dandy.

But that would be going against the logic of the song, because in it, those "ah"s may be exactly what Romeo seeks, and we're supposed to want, to escape. Like many of their tracks, "Take A Chance" is loaded with hooks, and melodious all the way through. Technically, the chorus proper seems to be the section that goes, "It's a crying shame, that the love you've made/Is a cross, that you bear"; there, the drums pound more insistently, and the section is noticeably more agitated than the rest of the song. But the chorus is also, to my ears, the least catchy bit, mostly because it lacks those "ah"s. Those backing vocals serve largely to transition us in and out of sections: they kick start the song, lead us into the verses, and then reappear after the chorus on a kind of sub-chorus ("take a chance, with a woman who lets you"). The chorus almost seem to be want to, even at the cost of "catchiness," beat back the "ah"s. But, thus banished from the chorus, these "ah"s nevertheless pop up everywhere else, infecting these other sections so that they end up being just as chorus-like.

The "ah"s therefore function, by proxy, as something like the singer's nemesis. The narrative of the song, after all, has to do with a lost love which Romeo is haunted by. He wants to, but can't quite forget, and it's driving him crazy. A point that the video makes more literal:

Poor Romeo: restrained in a strait-jacket while Nurse Ratched forces pills down his throat, having everything around him fall apart or be revealed as mere props, eventually escaping...but only to then come face-to-face with his bandmates who stare at him, mouth the words of the song, and basically hum him back to the nuthouse. Where the nightmare all begins afresh. Absurd(ist). And yet, a perfectly logical narrative, if the song itself (and those "ah"s in particular) represents all that Romeo wants to, but can't get out of his head. Namely: the love that, like a lingering "ah ah ah ah" siren song, just "won't leave me alone."


  • I will now constantly use "I'm going to hum you back to the nuthouse" as a threat.

    BTW, is it just me, or is this song a slightly sped-up version of "Dakota"?

    By Anonymous esque, at 9:22 PM  

  • Not to be immodest, but I think that line of mine improves on Shake-fuckin-speare. "Hum thee back to a nunnery!"

    I can sort of see the "Dakota" comparison, although I was also vaguely thinking that "Take A Chance" is basically the middle eight from a bunch of Magic Numbers songs, sped up.

    By Blogger Brittle, at 9:31 PM  

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