I am the worst. I am the absolute worst. I couldn’t even get my act together and post a song on Canada Day, even though I totally thought about it. To be fair, in Québec, Canada Day = Moving Day, but nonetheless. Anyway, I’m making it up for you by tackling one of my favourite turn-of-the millennium pieces of CanCon that I’ve been saving for a rainy day.
Sky - Love Song [Piece of Paradise] (1999), CAN#1
So. Sky were a pop duo from Montreal. They put out three albums, and had a different lead singer for each one. The first album is the only one that was well-received/worth a damn. The final vocalist, Karl Wolf, actually developed a surprisingly successful (but not particularly great) solo career recently, but we’ll ignore him as long as we’re able to.
‘Love Song’ is their third single, and their second to chart, but it’s easily their best, and its reign at the top of the Canadian charts in 1999 was well-deserved. It’s pop-rock in the vein of Vertical Horizon, Third Eye Blind, etc. but it’s elegantly crafted and catchy, from the opening drum bit, to the wah-wah-ing electric guitar and the quiet strummy bits under the verses.
The best thing about ‘Love Song’, though, is the dichotomy of the verses and the chorus. The verses are a fairly normal bit of lovelorn post-breakup wistfulness. Don’t get me wrong - they’re effectively written and approach the situation sideways, but they’re not totally bonkers. Her brothers think he’s crazy. He’s lazy and sleeping it off again. The heartbreak doesn’t wholly reveal itself until the second verse:
The party’s happening somewhere else, babe
Here there is nothing at all
But someday I’ll be somebody’s love slave
For now I’ve got me all to myself
But then the chorus! The chorus! The chorus is so insane. It’s one of those choruses that knows in its heart it is so damn catchy it does not require the making of sense. It does not require clarity of language or an attachment to the rest of the song or a vague sense of meaning. There are two parts to it, the second of which only appears after the second verse, but both are equally WTF. I’m not entirely sure about “pile I’m raking” but that seems to be the Internet consensus.
Then she decides that the dogs they belong inside
It’s a never-ending ride you’re taking
I can decide for you - hey!
It’s kinda like a love song.
We think he’s alive but the flies make me wonder why
It’s a never-ending pile I’m raking
Chester’s beside you and he’s
singing you a love song.
At best, we can discern that Chester has stolen the singer’s girlfriend and is singing love songs to her, but the rest is confusing at best and macabre at worst. That line about flies was bewildering and kind of nauseating for much of my childhood. I was convinced I misheard it for ages, but it’s pretty clear that’s what they’re saying.
As if the chorus wasn’t catchy enough, the harmonies and improvised bits in its final iteration are pretty much killer. Better even than those of matchbox twenty’s first album? Possibly. And that falsetto “Crazy old-fashioned love song” that leads into the chorus each time it comes around? Pure awesome.
Nonetheless, the best part of ‘Love Song’ - and the most ridiculous - is, as is often the case, the bridge. After comparatively restrained verses and nonsensical choruses, James breaks out into plaintive emotion to cry out:
And while you’re finding your way home
Me, I’ll be watching me a TV show
That last line is the most Anglo-Montréalais sentence construction possible. (No, seriously. There was a five part series in the Montreal Gazette a few years ago about the language patterns of Montreal English-speakers - specifically three main strains of dialect of British, Italian and Jewish descent, but all of which were influenced by the grammar and idioms of Québec French. The emphatic use of “Me” at the beginning of sentences - i.e. “Me, I’ll be watching,” is particular to Saint-Léonard.)
At which point the backing vocals wistfully whine: “A TV shoooooo-ooooow”
And if the darkness is all you see
Well then you don’t know what you’re missing.
Enough from me, though. If you haven’t pressed play on that YouTube yet, do so now. You don’t know what you’re missing. It’s kind of like a love song. (There are also a bunch of people reverse-crying and/or reverse-spitting.)
I haven’t reblogged one of my own CanCon posts in a while, and it’s probably bad form or netiquette or whatever to do so, but I love this song so damn much, so deal with it.