Quintessential Songs of the ’00s: #5 “Use Somebody”

Truth be told, there are about 45 other Kings of Leon songs that I’d like to plug in here — I’ve been a huge fan since Youth and Young Manhood in 2003 — but there’s no doubt that “Use Somebody” is KoL’s signature tune. It hit #4 on the Billboard Hot 100, won three Grammys and is by far the band’s biggest hit.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great track. It has the kind of soaring, arena-filling chorus that the Followills weren’t even trying to write until about four years ago.

It always puzzled me why the band didn’t hit it big earlier in their career, especially with the way the UK adores them. But hey, better late than never.

From the song’s wiki page:

On U.S. radio, the song was a multi-format smash, becoming just the fourth song in history to top the Mainstream Top 40, Adult Top 40, Alternative Songs, and Triple A charts.[9] The three prior being “Slide” by the Goo Goo Dolls, “Every Morning” by Sugar Ray, and “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” by Green Day.

From SongFacts:

Caleb told Uncut magazine October 2008 the story of the song: “The meat of song was written on tour. When I came up with ‘I could use somebody,’ I didn’t know if I was talking about a person or home or God. I felt immediately that it was a big song, and it scared me away. Then, when we were writing the record, Matthew kept sayin’, ‘What’s that song, man?’, and I acted like I didn’t know what he was talking about. Then, finally, I went, ‘All right, we’ll do it,’ and as soon as we started playin’ it, the producers looked up and said, ‘Whoa, that’s a good song.’ I was like, ‘OK.'”

More Quintessential Songs of the ’00s.


Quintessential Songs of the ’00s: #4 “Are You Gonna Be My Girl?”

With arguably the most memorable opening bass line of the decade, Jet burst onto the scene in 2003 (with a little boost from Apple, who used it in its first iPod commercial) by asking, “Are You Gonna Be My Girl?”

Of course, they were accused of ripping off another song (Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life”) though lead singer Chris Chester recounts a meeting he had with Iggy Pop:

“It’s funny because I asked him point blank about that. He said I was crazy. He said that when he and David Bowie were writing “Lust for Life”, they were ripping off Motown’s beat. It’s funny that he said that to me because we also thought we were ripping off Motown more than “Lust for Life”. To be honest with you that kind of annoyed me a lot, because I always thought it was really lazy. People just go well Lust for Life is more well-known so that’s what they go for, but if you listen to a song like “You Can’t Hurry Love” (The Supremes) I think you’ll find its closer to “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” than “Lust for Life” ever was. And that’s what Iggy said as well.”

Criticism aside, no one can argue that this track isn’t wickedly catchy.

More Quintessential Songs of the ’00s.


Quintessential Songs of the ’00s: #3 “Float On”

It wasn’t until Modest Mouse’s fourth album (Good News for People Who Love Bad News) that lead singer Isaac Brock figured out how to fully combine his pensive lyrics, warbled vocals and catchy hooks into one beautiful mess of positivity. “Float On” is the album’s signature song and it was a big departure from the band’s previous work. From the song’s wiki page, Brock had this to say:

“It was a completely conscious thing. I was just kind of fed up with how bad shit had been going, and how dark everything was, with bad news coming from everywhere. Our president is just a fucking daily dose of bad news! Then you’ve got the well-intentioned scientists telling us that everything is fucked. I just want to feel good for a day.”

And we’re lucky he did.

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Quintessential Songs of the ’00s: #2 “Take Me Out”

Franz Ferdinand burst on the scene in 2004 with the second single from their self-titled debut.

The meaning of the song has long been debated. Some believe it to be about a sniper that’s about to kill his target while others believe it’s about romantic love.

Whatever it’s about — it’s a great, rocking tune. I love the guitar throughout and the shifts in tempo. The latter is tough to pull off, but the band does it well.

More Quintessential Songs of the ’00s.


Quintessential Songs of the ’00s: #1 “Seven Nation Army”

Is it too early to be nostalgic about music from the ’00s?

I heard this song in the car today and I thought it might be the start of a new feature — the quintessential songs of the noughts. Maybe in ten years, some twelve-year-old kid will stumble across this blog and get exposed to some good tunes. Who knows, maybe it will be my boy (who just turned two).

Here are a few fun facts from the song’s wiki page:

The song is known for its underlying riff, which plays throughout most of the song. Although it sounds like a bass guitar (an instrument the group had famously never previously used), the sound is actually created by running Jack White’s semi-acoustic guitar (a 1950s style Kay Hollowbody) through a Digitech Whammy pedal set down an octave. The riff was composed at a sound check before a show at the Corner Hotel in Melbourne, Australia.

According to White, “Seven Nation Army” is what he used to call the Salvation Army as a child.

Italian football fans and ultras picked the song up when Roma played in and against Club Brugge for the UEFA Cup. [8] They often chant the song’s signature guitar riff ever since, most notably during Italy’s campaign in the 2006 FIFA World Cup. About 10 million Italians, all across the nation, were supposedly singing the song during celebrations following the final victory.

A few more tidbits from SongFacts:

This, along with the rest of [Elephant], was recorded on analogue equipment that was over 50 years old at Toe Rag Studios. Toe Rag Studios were set up in Hackney, east London in 1991 as a strictly analogue enterprise using only pre-1960 studio equipment. The success of Elephant established Toe Rag as a trendy antidote to digital music-making.

According to White neither the labels in America or in the UK wanted to put this out as the first single. They eventually relented and it became the White Stripes’ first Hot 100 hit in the US and Top 10 entry in Britain.

More Quintessential Songs of the ’00s.


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