Posts tagged Love Song


but yeah, ‘informer’ is indefensible and [‘everybody wants to be like you’] is slightly more comprehensible than Sky’s ‘Love Song’ but only barely

anyone who knows me even a little bit will realize i can’t let an insult like this stand.

look, sky’s ‘love song’ is a semiotic deconstruction of the classic pop love song, the kinds of signs and symbols we expect to encounter within our listening experience. in this song, sky includes scenes of the everyday: deciding whether or not to let the dogs out, performing menial household chores like raking leaves, watching a television program, oversleeping. these banal moments are not the material from which love songs are traditionally forged; there is no grandiosity, no appeals to “forever” — or at least not the ones we might expect. nor are these picturesque moments that one might expect to appear in a music video montage. there’s no imagery of a cute couple screaming together at the top of a rollercoaster or laughing as they push each other into a pile of leaves. no: the pile of leaves is never-ending, the ride will never stop. these are the labours of sisyphus.

this song asks us what we mean when we sing along to songs that make promises of forever. laid out here is the kind of paralyzing, disturbing, repetitious forever that forms the core of nietzsche’s philosophy of eternal recurrence. the eternal hourglass of existence is turned upside down again and again, and you with it, speck of dust! this song is a challenge to think more critically about the kinds of promises we make, about what eternity might really look like.

and fundamentally, the thesis of this song is that “kinda” is worth consideration. it’s a song about liminal spaces, about moments that approach categorization but ultimately defy it. it’s not a love song, but a trick of the light makes you think it might be, just for a second. the sly inclusion of the “real” love song as a point of comparison (“chester’s beside you and he’s singing you a love song”) points to the way we use popular media as a yardstick by which we measure our own lives.

the chester line is the one most frequently made fun of. on more than one occasion, i have heard people ask, “who the fuck is chester???” this question betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the song’s construction. you’re not supposed to know who chester is. the song begins in media res (“your brothers they all think i’m crazy”) and refuses over and over again to give you a contextual foothold. as a result, the listener feels unmoored, adrift. it’s disorienting. it’s unsettling. it unnerves us. but the destabilization is the point — we have been primed to expect a coherent narrative within our pop music, but why should we?

it’s crucial to note that almost every repetition of “it’s kinda like a love song” occurs when the narrator is on his own — he’s sleeping in, he’s “got me all to myself”, he’s watching tv alone. this is a song that allows space for love to include boredom and insanity and the everyday — and from another angle, this is a song about what it is to love oneself in the face of deep depression. there are many hints that the narrator is suffering from mental illness: “your brothers they all think i’m crazy/i think it’s nothing at all/today i’m feeling kinda lazy/so i’m sleeping it off/once again”. that is an incredible phenomenological account of depression. notably, the concept of nothingness recurs shortly in the line, “the party’s happening somewhere else babe/here there is nothing at all.”

when we find the narrator watching tv alone, he acknowledges the darkness inherent in the moment, but cautions that there’s more to it, that darkness is not all it is  — or, more crucially, all he is. but this is still not the darkest moment in the song. no, that arrives with the line: “we think he’s alive but the flies make me wonder why”. there is a suggestion of the imminence of death here: the body is still alive, but the flies can sense death upon it. they are gathering in preparation. perhaps the flesh is starting to rot. anyone who has battled depression or suicidal ideation can understand this metaphor, can understand the feeling of living within the spectre of death, both the fear and the fascination.

but death is an ending, and ultimately this is a song about the difficulties inherent in continuing, forever, with no end in sight. i would argue our take on this song depends significantly on whether we, as albert camus suggested, imagine sisyphus happy.

incomprehensible wasn’t an insult! ‘love song’ is one of my favourite CanCon pop songs! i said so right here!

but this is a wonderful reading of this and i thoroughly approve! yay!


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.
Do you?

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.

80 plays

Love Song - Nina Sky

…and on that note.