Beck Has A New Song, But I Won’t Stay ‘Up All Night’ To Listen To It
Writing on the new Beck is like writing on your lost first love, you have this cheerful memory of joy and discovery, this stunning ‘wow’ moment printed in your consciousness since the first time you heard ‘Odelay’, ‘Mellow Gold’, and Midnight Vultures… Ha! the horns of ‘Sexx Laws’ and all that funkiness suddenly interrupted by an unexpected banjo, the weirdness of the vocals, the chaotic inventiveness of the lyrics, the madness of songs like ‘Minus’ and ‘Mutherfucker’ that made you scratch your head for days looking for a genre to define them. Beck was bending all the genres into a unique one: it was the Beck species, the ultimate untamable hybrid that you would recognize at the first note and syllable. There was the soul-manure alt-countryness of ‘Loser’ and the circus menagerie strangeness of ‘Jack-Ass’,… there was a real donkey screaming at the end of this song for god’s sake! Beck was covering all at once, from tropical to western on the same album, while sounding original, unique, awesome. And then you would discover that his best Prince falsetto is really singing about JC Penney, Glendale, and this Zankou chicken place on Sunset boulevard during ‘Debra’… but this is when you would be able to make sense of the lyrics, which were most of the time a surrealist impressive jumble of words giving you nightmarish visions: ‘Temperature’s dropping at the rotten oasis/Stealing kisses from the leprous faces/Heads are hanging from the garbageman trees’ (‘Devil’s Haircut’). Om other occasions, Beck would give you a good line to look smart during a conversation ‘In the time of chimpanzees I was a monkey’ (‘Loser’)… or even the perfect description for your dream flower child: ‘She’s got tofu the size of Texas/She’s a witness to her own glory/She’s a never-ending story /She’s a frolicking depression/She’s a self-inflicted obsession/She’s got a thousand lonely husbands/She’s playin’ footsie in another dimension’ (‘”Nitemare Hippy Girl’).
So how did we get from ‘She’s got cigarette on each arm / She’s got the lily-white cavity crazes / She’s got a carburetor tied to the moon / Pink eyes looking to the food of the ages’ (‘The New Pollution’) to ‘There’s nothing that I wouldn’t rather do/Just wanna stay up all night with you’?
Beck has posted a new video for his song ‘Up All Night’ on Wednesday, and, after listening to this pop tune a few times, I can say that very little of the old Beck is left. This thing begs for a radio airplay and the chorus is more predictable than a Taylor Swift song. Yep, it sounds exactly like any dance pop song everyone is making right now, barely better or worst, it’s not even that catchy, and the trite lyrics can’t save anything. I know artists can’t repeat themselves but this is not a good evolution, Beck used to innovate, he is now just following the trend of this EDM-contaminated pop everyone is singing, and this almost made me cry.
It looks like ‘Colors’, his next album will be the full commercialization of Beck, I know he is not ‘Going back to Houston’ to ‘Do the hot dog dance’, these lyrics-from-a-drug-trip days are long gone, but this new work sounds and looks like a soda commercial. The only absurdity in the song is actually in the video, why this strong, out-of-blue, feminist statement when none of the lyrics suggest such a thing? May be because this is another trend.