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Musings on music and the culture that is pop

 

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Welcome to Friendly Fire, a blog about the wonders of great pop music from the past (mainly), the present (sometimes) and the future (ha ha, not really).

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MIDNIGHT CITY / M83


2011

UK Chart Position: 34


French electronic pop is the best kind of pop (except when it’s British or Swedish) and so this already had a head start in the race to my affections. But then it inspired me to get a tattoo so it would definitely feature in my Desert Island Discs. I’m not sure why I love it so much, but then pop is a mysterious mistress. It’s really French electronica via California, as Anthony Gonzales describes the unfolding LA cityscape as dusk descends. The overall feeling of the song is less a love letter to the city, and more a total communion-like religious experience. The hook (which is his speeded up vocal) is the instantly recognizable draw here, but in its 4 minutes it makes me feel ecstatically happy and impossibly sad at the same time. Like all the best pop music should.


It’s also a very modern type of “pop hit” in that it’s not really a hit at all, but has filtered through into the consciousness via adverts, soundtracks and theme tunes to become the sort of song most people would recognize, but would struggle to tell you what it’s called. Of course, the charts long ceased to have any real cultural meaning, but this song for me represents that tipping point where other means of media infiltration combined to create a base awareness of a particular tune, without you really realising it at the time.


The video is also pretty cool, and features shots of some freaky little kids running at speed which (if I was a video director) I would always put in (see also “Hey Boy Hey Girl by The Chemical Brothers). Finally – and this is no mean feat – it also manages to make a saxophone solo sound good. I don’t know much else about M83 to be honest but let’s keep it that way. They’re like a cool French exchange friend I had once who didn’t like me very much - aloof, distant, enigmatic, amazing.


In a word: Liberte, fraternetie, egalitie!


Best Bit: The city is my church!







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