Shit That I Love – Sara Bareilles

And now here’s the part where I apologise profusely to Sara, wherever she is, for referring to her in the same sentence as ‘shit’…

Authors Note: An inauspicious start…

Let’s move on.

Sara Bareilles is a new passion of mine, a fantastic Californian musician that I stumbled upon thanks to the wonders of YouTube and network television. For those of you who have never heard of Sara (which is most of Australia, it seems), her biggest claim to mainstream fame at this point in her career is the song ‘Love Song’, which released a shit-ton of radio airplay in 2008.

Ahh, 2008… what with your Pussycat Dolls, your Kings of Leon and Gabriella Cilmi… t’was a simpler time.

Now, once again, there’s every chance 82% of you just experienced an eye-glazing, brain-numbing feeling of “Meh. What do I care? I don’t like that song. I don’t even like this kinda music. Hell, I don’t like YOU, you simian freak! Stop wasting my time!”.

To which I shall respond by metaphorically jingling my keys in front of you momentarily to try to distract you.

This is literally the first Google image result for 'Distract with keys'

Sadly, I am not musically gifted in any way. It’s a source of deep, personal shame, being that I come from a family literally FULL of musicians. And my Dad’s also a drummer (Zing!). Other than the 6 months of saxophone lessons I quickly realised weren’t for me when I was 13, my musical output has been almost solely confined to Car-Singing™. Yes, Car-Singing is now officially a hyphenated, trademarked term. Deal with it.

What has fascinated me over the years (and bear with me while I sound like Stoney McBluntington for a moment) is why two seemingly extremely similar people can have such radically different taste in music. I grew up in the exact same environment as my younger sister. We have the same genes. And yet why does she enjoy the musical stylings of the Hanson brothers, whilst I can’t seem to tolerate them?

Uhh... YOU ask 'em to sing Mmmbop...

I have an uncle that plays every now and again in a Beatles tribute band. His daughter, my cousin, is a gifted musical theatre performer who can belt out ‘Cabaret’ with the best of them. And his eldest son is the drummer in a Melbourne metal band called ‘Blood Line’.

????

Is one’s taste in music born entirely of environment? Is it genetic? Is it some combination of both, plus external influences like your friends, the cliques you join, or the way in which you choose to self-identify? Why do I hear a melody and react positively, when the person next to me hears only blasted loud noises, dagnabit! Why does dance and trance music make some people just —

-- psst... the reason's ecstasy...

Oh… I guess I’m just circling my point now anyway. I’m sure there exists a scientific study of sorts that would provide me with some explanation (that admittedly I probably wouldn’t understand). Perhaps I’m not even interested in what the answer truly is. Why should I so suddenly be enraptured with Sara Bareilles, and yet still have no time for a million other female pop singers?

First and foremost, one of the hooks that caught me – she’s a singer-songwriter who plays the piano. Very important. I’m a sucker for a woman tinkling the keys of a piano. I’m not sure why. I blame an old school buddy, Dave. Dave was a hard-drinking, party-throwing jester, charismatic and lots of fun. And, strangely enough, he was also an earlier adopter of the ‘Pieces of You’ album by Jewel, back in 1997. I listened to enough of Jewel at Dave’s house to realise that while she wasn’t for me, there were some of her peers that I DID enjoy. Jewel led me to other great female singer-songwriters like Fiona Apple, Tori Amos, Sarah McLachlan, Ben Folds…

So talented, PLUS she's so pretty...

Over the years I’ll admit to dabbling in some Norah Jones, maybe even sampling some Alicia Keys. But it was extremely rare that something new crested my musical horizon. I reached 30, and worried if what I’d read somewhere really was true… that the music and musicians you listened to at 16 inevitably formed the bedrock of your entire musical appreciation. Would I be doomed to listen to the diminishing returns of every Foo Fighters and Red Hot Chilli Peppers album until my retirement years, when they would inevitably begin annually promoting one ‘farewell tour’ after another?

Take a good look, Grohl - you're Glenn Frey in this analogy

Sure, as far as things worth worrying about, it ranks pretty low. But immature fan-boys need something to keep them awake at night when they’re not fretting over whether Greedo shot first.

Until one day, when I’m watching one of my favourite TV shows, ‘Community’, and the music gods delivered me a gift, by the way of Dan Harmon’s writing team. Here’s a scene containing perhaps my favourite musical montage sequence from television of all time, effectively parodying romance as depicted in an entire genre of shows aimed at teens, like ‘The Vampire Diaries’, or ‘One Tree Hill’:

WOULD YOU GET ON WITH IT!

Oh. Sorry, Inner-Monologue.

Well, the song from that montage, is ‘Gravity’, an early composition by *gasp* a singer-songwriter who plays the piano *squeal* named Sara Bareilles.

WELCOME BACK FROM YOUR TANGENT, DICKHEAD! WAS IT A NICE TRIP?!

Lordy, I wish the voices would just shut up sometimes…

Anyhoo, I loved the song, and immediately found the music video on YouTube. And thanks to the Suggested Video’s, I was soon adrift in a vast online ocean of official music videos, live concert clips, and 4 minute photo montages.

I quickly discover I can watch Sara Bareilles clips all day. She has a beautiful voice, is an extremely talented lyricist, and as well as great stage presence seems to not take herself too seriously. By that, I mean that she can poke fun at herself without resorting to tired, completely OTT, Katy Perry-style wackiness (“I’m so pretty, but sometimes I dress like a nerd, because I’m not obsessed with my looks, but look at my cleavage, and aren’t I pretty!!).

Plus it doesn’t hurt that she’s kind of gorgeous, in an intelligent, spunky, geek-chick kind of way. If only she would throw on a pair of librarian glasses, and rock that ‘adork-able’ style Zooey Deschanel seems to have the market cornered on, it would only be a matter of time before she ruled the world…

I don't care if her vision's perfect, that's not the point! LIBRARIAN GLASSES FOR ALL!!!

Original songs. Covers by artists as diverse as U2, Amy Winehouse and The Beatles. Slow ballads. Up-tempo catchy pop tunes. I was enjoying YouTube’s rather random playlist. And then I find the latest single from her most recent album, ‘Kaleidoscope Heart’.

The song’s called ‘Gonna Get Over You’. It’s an insanely catchy, can’t-get-it-outta-my-head, doo-wop pop song. It’s a breakup song, with a truly optimistic heart and a real sense of playfulness. Plus it’s also one of my favourite, simple music vids of all time. Check it out:

One location. One outfit. No Beyonce-esque focus on just-how-pretty-I-am. It’s a fantastic 4 minute storyline, with some nice performances, especially from Bareilles who will be the first to admit that she’s NOT a professionally trained dancer, which makes her moves and the choreography that much more impressive. It’s also extremely well-directed by a young man with practically zero directing experience, a guy you may recognise…

Yes, that IS Academy Award nominated actor Jonah Hill

All that, and a nice little button at the end of the clip from Bareilles, making the leap from fantasy back to reality as she’s escorted out of the supermarket by a tired, Latino security guard.

It was THIS clip that cemented my affection for Bareille’s music, and basically guaranteed allll of my moneys for her future albums, forever and ever, ad infinitum.

But why? Sure, it’s a good clip. But how did it manage to press my buttons on such a profound level?

I’m not entirely sure. But I think it’s a combination of the song itself with a little bit of what my American friends like to call ‘inside-baseball’.

See, anybody who’s been on set of a film, a television show, or in this case, a music video, knows that filming is a real drag. Seriously. People imagine filming to be this dynamic, exciting process. It’s movie magic, right? Well, not exactly. Visit the set of any television show, and you’ll quickly discover that production is surprisingly boring. So boring. It really is just actors saying and doing the same shit, over and over again.

That extends to music videos. For example, this particular video for ‘Gonna Get Over You’, shot almost entirely at one location with minimal cast – I’m going to say it would have taken at least 3 or 4 shooting days to get all this footage. And we’re talking 12-14 hour days. Every shot is pre-determined, every sequence containing multiple angles, multiple camera set-ups. It’s exhausting, oftentimes tedious work.

And despite this… despite the fact that Bareilles isn’t someone who’s had dancing lessons her entire life, despite the fact that in a day 3 behind the scenes clip she admits to being physically as sore as she’s ever been, despite all the 6am crew-call times, and the multiple take’s, in every frame of this music video Sara Bareilles genuinely looks like she’s having an absolute blast. In this video, as in practically ALL of the clips I watched, she exudes a love of where she is and what she’s doing.

You'd be pretty stoked too if you got to spend a prolonged amount of time dancing with these guys. Am I right?

I’ve admitted here before that I’m someone who often has to force himself to find the bright side of life. And to my detriment, I’ve only grown increasingly cynical over the years, as the world around me becomes seemingly more and more manufactured. Much of the time I’m not exactly sure what is it in life I’m searching for, especially on a professional or material level. What I DO know is that the purest encapsulation of what I’m trying to find is joy. Joy in the moment that I’m in, joy in the people around me, and joy in the things that I love.

This video, to me, seems a distillation of joy. It makes me feel like everything’s going to be alright. It’s a soundtrack to the world as I want it to be.

And for that, I deeply appreciate the song, and truly appreciate the artist.

That’s hard to explain or justify to people who don’t have as emotional a connection with pop entertainment and culture as I do. And there’s every chance that as I grow older, that connection will be replaced by other things, and other people. But for now, it sustains me in a way that not much else does.

That connection, for better or worse, is what this blog is really about.

So thank you, Miss Bareilles.

Once again, if you made it this far, then a winner is you. Thanks for stopping by, and until next time…

May your hot rods be lowered, your greasers in leather jackets entirely non-threatening, and your Latino supermarkets prone to spontaneous well choreographed dance routines.

BPM

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