“I Wanna Be With You" by YYZ
There’s something effervescently catchy about "I Wanna Be With You," and that’s enough. More than enough. I love digging deep into songs - their significance and place in culture, their possible textual interpretations - but I also love a song that is entirely about dancing. And "I Wanna Be With You" is, on every level: its beat optimized to get you onto the floor, its lyric a precision instrument to get you moving. The synths hit like trumpets and bass, the vocal exhorts and invites sing-alongs; it’s simple and direct and perfect in its simple directness.
Arcade Fire companion and general all-around whiz kid Owen Pallet has taken up writing about pop music through the lens of music theory, lending his ear to Katy Perry and Lady Gaga, so far. Having the explicit, factual, reasoned explanation for why those songs are ear candy laid out before me was, to put it mildly, deflating. The magical chemistry of pop music will always be fraught territory and my preference is for bewitching mystery. No doubt, reading that there’s actual math, science and mastery behind these smash hits will change a few conservative minds, but part of the appeal of earworms, for me, is way they’re nearly universally irresistible. It feels like a massive, mutual hallucination. Learning that it’s just a key and a chord sequence twists it into a public experiment.
"I Wanna Be With You" is catchy, but after about half the song you know why. You can anticipate when the hook will drop back in and you might start playing it in your head over the verses — a compulsion driven both by the hook’s undeniablity and the rest of the song’s bland deniability. If "I Wanna Be With You" meets the mainstream I will burn this memo and love the bomb, but deep down it will always lack that satisfying polymorphism of a great pop hit.
When art meets engineering
The GIFs above show Metropolis II, a kinetic sculpture of the modern bustling city. The project — by artist Chris Burden — took nearly four years to create and features 1,100 cars zipping around 18 roadways, including one six-laner. ”The noise and level of activity are both mesmerizing and anxiety provoking,” he explains.
Burden has created a number of large-scale installations that walk the line between engineering and sculpture:
As an art-school graduate student at the University of California, Irvine, his friends were physics students who played around in the lab the way he experimented and daydreamed in his studio. “They’d say, ‘We follow our hunches, we freeze things to 300 degrees below zero and then we hit them with hammers,’ ” he recalled. “I thought, ‘Wow, that’s kind of what I do.’”
His retrospective show, Extreme Measures at The New Museum, is showing through January 12th, 2014.