tremble clef

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Dragonette, "Marvellous" (2007)

There are definitely more commercial, chart-ready cuts on Dragonette's Galore, but "Marvellous" takes the cake for sheer inventiveness. The song features some tabla-drive beats -- suggesting that Martina Bangs/Sorbara learned a trick or two from her gig with Basement Jaxx, though the group's best Bollywood pastiche remains buried on a b-side and a bonus disc -- that give way to a thumping electrorock rhythm, making this, even right off the sonic bat, an arrestingly hybrid closer for the album.

And then there's the matter of the song's structure. Although the track has all the constituent parts of a pop song -- verse, pre-chorus, chorus, middle eight -- it messes around just enough with their order to create a song that will seem, upon the first few listens, to be weirder and more unconventional than it really is. Like Sugababes's "Ace Reject," "Marvellous" teases us with, but withholds, its very first chorus. Thus, we get two verses, after which we cut to Martina going, "Um uh uh uh uh, um uh ah-ah!" But any expectation that the song will burst forth into a technicolor chorus here is defeated, as we go back to another verse. This time, though, the wait more than pays off -- even if we are foiled as to the exact moment when the chorus comes in. The third verse, after all, concludes with a verb that also doubles as the explosive first command of the chorus: "They say you're bad news, I don't care/I just can't...STOP! You're dangerous!" (This chorus then ends with the "um uh uh"s, meaning that we were earlier fooled if we had imagined that the line was about to introduce the hook.)

The second go-round for the song is nothing like the first. Rather than verse-verse-verse-chorus, we now get a verse ("damn, here I go again...") that leads right into an amazing pre-chorus...which turns out to be a duet. The male vocals -- perhaps taken from Dan Kurtz and treated -- now tell us, with a hilariously Bollywood affect, "I'm not cruel, I know a lot of girls like you..." Martina coquettishly interrupts to protest using a string of...double? triple negatives? "Not true not girls not just like me!" And back and forth they go -- "They're just like you!" "Not just like me!" "They're just like you, they're trouble too!" -- in a funny game of "I know I am, but what are you?" Next: a second chorus, followed by a middle eight that's more electronic than any other part of the song (and one that brilliantly uses the word "druthers" to boot). Then the all-too-brief Bollywood snippet returns, and we get one final chorus to take us out.

All of this within 2:48! It's taken me longer to describe the song (as if that's not always the case)! The succinct nature means that, even when the first chorus gets postponed on our asses, the track never drags by staying in the verses too long. I haven't even mentioned the old but still crowd-pleasing "can't stop my heart from thumping [BOOM BOOM!]" trick, or the extra points we simply must award for the very, very sly sexual joke in the first verse ("My eyes are bigger than my mouth, but maybe/I could learn to be your lady").

With their love of hip gyrations, Beyoncébeyoncé and Shakirashakira really should have picked this to duet on. Imagine the video! I get weak doing so. It would have made Showgirls and the one for "Beautiful Liar" (same thing, really) seem like Bergman. Wait -- what am I thinking? They would indeed have eschewed all subtlety, and hammered the Bollywood hook to death, so forget I said anything.


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