Monday, October 29, 2012

8th Grade Playlist: #2. 50 Ways To Say Goodbye by Train

I asked my 8th graders to share me songs by their music heroes.  Here are my reactions to these songs.

Sometimes we forget that pop music can be funny. Growing up in the maelstrom of gangster rap and grundge music, I remember music getting really dark and serious. Even now, sometime it seems like pop musicians feel that the only way to be taken seriously is well to have music that is not all really all that much fun.

This is one of the reasons I love PSY's “Gangnum Style.”

People laugh at the ridiculousness of this music video and revel in it. It’s a breath of fresh air, but the thing is, most music videos of the 1980s were just as silly as this one and just as fun. Also “Gangnum Style,” is a great song.

When one of my 8th graders sent me “50 Ways To Say Goodbye” by Train, I was dreading having to listen to this song. Look, I acknowledge the catchiness of Train’s music but the nonsensical lyrics of “Hey, Soul Sister” drive me crazy (here is my post about that song). Well, my student made the effort to e-mail me about this song and it deserves my attention so here we go.

Wait a second, David Hasselhoff!! I LOVED this guy on Knight Rider. There’s a mariachi band and there’s lead singer Pat Monahan dropping any level of pretention and hamming it up for the camera! This is awesome AND the lyrics totally make sense.

Okay, the story is that a guy gets dumped and because of the shame and hurt, he can’t bear to tell his friends the truth so he makes up ridiculous explanations for his ex-girlfriend’s absence including being eaten by a lion and getting hit by a purple Scion.


Look, this is exactly what great pop music is all about. Train is incorporating some cool sounds like a Mariachi band ala Johnny Cash’s “Ring Of Fire.” Then they took a very sad and difficult feeling of being rejected and turned in it into a hilarious anthem.

Sometimes the only way to deal with difficult emotions is to make a joke out of it and Train effectively does this helping us work through these emotions by reflecting the ridiculousness of this reaction. At the same time Train makes us feel better about the impulse of hiding the truth by letting us know that we are not crazy for feeling a need to hide being dumped from our friends.

Train, you totally redeemed the nonsense of “Hey soul sister, ain’t that mister mister” with “She'll think I'm Superman, Not super minivan.”

Nicely Done.

. . . but we still got some work to do to get passed "Meet Virginia."

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