‘BANG BANG BANG’: A Sure-Shot Global Dance Anthem
Progressive global grooves in “Bang Bang Bang” – the first single from the forthcoming CD The Record Collection by Mark Ronson and The Business Intl – hooked me on the first listen with addictive shots more potent than any espresso from my favorite overpriced coffeehouse. The hot track already reached the top 10 in the U.K.; it took a recent episode of HBO’s “Entourage” to bring the tune to the attention of many here in the U.S.
“Bang Bang Bang” shoots out the gate in a parallel galaxy where the decade of the 1980s is once again hip and where The Man gets the bird flipped via finger snaps. Metaphoric lyrics combine with funky, clear vocals from featured artists Amanda Warner and legendary rapper Q-Tip on intoxicating rhythms intended to boost dancers’ serotonin levels. By midsong, clubbers won’t need a dance floor because they’ll be floating on endorphins.
Q-Tip punctuates the electronic beats with razor-sharp precision, while the techno-fluid momentum keeps everybody bouncing throughout the roller rink. Layered grooves emit lasers sure to ricochet from club to club around the world while managing to hit their targets – the mind, booty and feet – in every destination. Amanda Warner and Peter Wade Keusch comprise the synthpop duo MNDR (pronounced “mandar”).
Sometimes vacuous lyrics hide behind catchy beats and slick keyboard melodies. Not here. The clever play of the lyrics and rhyming in “Bang Bang Bang” offer scathing commentary of big business and, in this music listener’s opinion, specifically of the lucrative “record” business. Listen as Q-Tip shows why he’s an iconic hip hop artist and MNDR’s Warner reveals why she’s about to be technopop best known vocal secret.
Both of the featured artists in “Bang Bang Bang” turn the French Canadian children’s song “Alouette” on its head, if you’d pardon the pun. Like many centuries-old nursery rhymes and other songs from different cultures, “Alouette” has gruesome origins. It’s a melodious song about killing a lark, a bird that used to be hunted for human consumption. The lyric Je te plumerai la tête basically is a lovely sounding way of saying “off with your [the lark’s] head.” The literal translation is: “I shall pluck your head.”
Alors, in the empowering anthem “Bang Bang Bang,” a lark becomes a hunted executive – albeit very rhythmically hunted. Whoa! What a way to ruffle some pretty lofty feathers! Oui, the best tripped-out dance tune of 2010 is symbolism for corporate greed on a global scale. And not only greedy “record” company execs come to mind in the lyric about the “bald head.” Those of us, now numbering in the millions, who have been downsized while execs line their already downy nests with more currency can get our cathartic pleasure through the song’s incisive lyrics and kinetic energy. In this quicksand economy, “Bang Bang Bang” perversely turns the term headhunter upside down. But thanks to Ronson and company, we can dance the pain away in the realization that our personal power can lead us to spiritual elevation.
I must admit, though, when I first heard “Bang Bang Bang” I wasn’t listening to the lyrics for any social and/or political context. The tune first had a serious effect on my gluteus maximus while my mind mellowed out on the sweet female vocals and suave male vocals interacting with the shifting rhythms. I write “shifting” because the second set of musical dynamics are so refreshingly swift that I envision skateboarders synchronizing deft maneuvers in urban environments from New York to Tokyo.
With every new dance song that attracts me kinetically, I reach a point where I want to know what a song is about, so after slowing down my glutes, I sought the English lyrics of “Bang Bang Bang” before the French ones. That was a big mistake, however, because I found myself bopping my head at the beginning while singing: “Fellas, I’m fucking fellas.” Then I wondered: Wait, wait, this woman can’t be saying that! Then I thought of the anti-feminist attitude of some neo-punk songs, such as “I Know What Boys Like” by The Waitresses, and then I justified my original guess with: Sure, she can be boasting about fucking fellas.
To my dismay, however, I later found out – thanks to Google – that MNDR’s Warner is singing: Feathers, I’m plucking feathers. I guess I’d better brush up on those French lessons I abandoned last year because if I had gathered that the chorus goes Je te plumerai la tête, then I would’ve realized the reference to plucking the head of a bird. But hey, I didn’t grow up in Quebec province, so I never cared about the meaning behind the song “Alouette” … until now with this bangin’ song. I do wish I could be in some haute Montreal club dancing to it, though. I know: Get job first, save money, and then warp speed to Montreal!
I’m a good kidder, but make no mistake. The language lesson took my listening and dance experience of “Bang Bang Bang” to the outer zones of pleasure. Read that any way you want. It’s no secret, among my friends and readers of my music reviews, that I tend to dig songs that incorporate other languages and/or musical textures in a way that synchronizes vocal rhythms with instrumental percussion.
Not all musical hybrids work well, but those in “Bang Bang Bang” do. It’s as if Mark Ronson and The Business Intl are channeling the best of ’80s New Wave synthpop dance sounds through the lenses of hip hop culture with the precision of an audio engineer. I haven’t been this stratospherically transported by a song since the innovative world music recorded in the ’80s by David Byrne and his Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club, Malcolm McLaren, Prince and The B-52s. And I can’t wait to hear the entire CD by Ronson and The Business Intl. Again, it’s titled The Record Collection, and it will be released next month. It’s Ronson’s third CD and it features a vivid list of collaborators. Stay tuned.
For now, I’ve put the lid on the double-shot espressos. Instead, as Q-Tip persuades the listener in the beginning of “Bang Bang Bang,” I turn the volume “up a little bit more” each time I wait for Warner and Q-Tip’s punky, plucky “Un, deux, trois.” On “three,” I open my mind for the aural shots that remind me I’m not only alive but also ecstatically embodied in the moment. Beam me up to la bonne, bonne vie!
© 2010 Chantale Rêve