tremble clef

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

(We Are) Performance, "(In Your Own Words) Chernobyl" (2007)

Once, when I was just starting an academic program, I was asked to provide two favorite "literary quotations" to accompany my personal details for a mini-phonebook that would tell my classmates who I was. I opted for something from J.D. Salinger. No, it wasn't from Catcher In The Rye -- I may have been a snotty moron, but at least I wasn't too clichéd -- but plucked from Seymour: An Introduction:

Please accept from me this unpretentious bouquet of very early-blooming parentheses: ( ( ( ( ) ) ) ).

Sort of funny, no? No? At least appropriate for a document that was meant to be introductory? No? Eh. Tough crowd.

Ah, the parenthesis. In my early years, when I labo(u)red under the remnants of British colonialism, I only knew you by the much less attractive name of "brackets," like you were some cheap workshop implement, no more than a vice. But in fact, you're such a classy, pretty punctuation mark -- and yet so brainy (you just missed out on being philosophical)! So coquettish! So curvaceous!

And yet, you are so often abused in pop music. Step forward, Jamiroquai: explain why you released a song with the idiotic title of "(Don't) Give Hate A Chance." Does it EVER make sense to place ONE word of a song title in the loving embrace of a pair of parenthesis? Like, what, Jay, you're really giving listeners the option of being able to shorten a title by a syllable? And how does it make sense to have the two alternate titles mean exactly the opposite of each other? "Folks, here's Jamiroquai with his new single, 'Give Hate A Chance'! No,'s 'Don't Give Hate A Chance'! Or is it?! Oh, I'm so confused. Should I hate or should I not hate? I was considering some genocide before lunch, but now I'm not sure. This is too much. Let's go to traffic and weather instead."*

If you're going to use the parethesis, fucking use it. Witness: "Where The Streets Have No Name (I Can't Take My Eyes Off You)." That's more like it. Let it contain multitudes.

Two years ago, I heard a track called "Love Life," by a group called Performance. Perhaps realizing what an ungoogleable name that is, the Mancurian electrorock band returned this year with a full-length album and a new name. Well, a new name that offers you choices, at least. They are now called (We Are) Performance.

Genius! I added the group and their album to my iTunes when the program was still on Version 7.2. In that incarnation, iTunes showed you your artists beginning not with the "A"s, but with the numerically-named groups (in order: 1 Giant Leap, 2 Banks Of 4, 2Pac, 2Raumwohnung, 4 Strings, 4Hero, 10 cc...) -- but even before those, the punctuated bands. Like !!!. But then !!! totally got pwned: (We Are) Performance shot right to the top of my iTunes window. They've got their eye on the technological generation, I tell you. Of course, their album didn't stay intact on my iTunes for very long. (Live by technology, die by technology.) It's pretty good, but I already have Fischerspooner on my iPod. Still, I quite enjoy "(In Your Own Words) Chernobyl," and if the song is additionally awesome because it too uses parenthesis, hey, that's just a bonus. (Very) well-played, (We Are) Performance, (very) well-played indeed.

*Yes. I understand that Jamiroquai wanted their song title to look like "Give Peace A Chance." Still stupid.


  • Attention prospective pop stars! The "parenthesis"/"bonus" rhyme is right here for the taking! Cleverness can be yours!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:30 PM  

  • Another example of parenthesis embracing the multitude (altho your example was tops) was Eurythmics' 1984 (For The Love Of Big Brother). Bet Annie and Dave were hating on Van Halen for a long time over that! :)

    Now that I think of it, the awesome "Sex Crime" also parenthesized itself with a (1984), so it would correctly read "Sex Crime (1984)" ..

    (i'm going to shut up now)...

    By Blogger Yuяi, at 12:29 AM  

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