Thursday, August 20, 2009

#133. 'Your hands are shaking cold'

All-American Rejects
"Move Along"

I have a feeling that the songs I'm gonna have the hardest time writing about for this are the simplest ones. If I can't delve into the subtle intricacies of the arrangement or production, offer interpretation of the lyrics or analyze the merits of its effect on pop culture as a whole, there's nothing much left other than my personal trajectory with it, and in the case of "Move Along" my trajectory is as simple as the song itself: I heard it and I liked it. It doesn't tie into any major personal events or friendships, it wasn't one of those songs that I think of as shaping my appreciation of music, it was just a song I got exposed to in a fairly mundane locale, enjoyed and remembered for whatever reason and got slightly excited to hear it again.

There's even less to (over-)analyze with the song itself, no veil of metaphor to strip away on the lyrics, no interesting arrangement choices and nothing above a pedestrian performance. And yet it remains a song that I get excited for every time I hear it. I don't shout along to it, but it puts a bit of a spring in my step. It's one of the entries on the list that always kinda jumps out at me and makes me wonder what the hell I was thinking putting it there, then I listen to it and I remember exactly why.

Let this sink in: The All-American Rejects are probably one of the most successful guitar-based bands of the later half of the decade in terms of singles. They've managed to rack up 4 top 20 pop singles since 2005, not a huge number when compared to any number of more urban or strict pop-leaning artists in this time frame (Lady Gaga racked that up in about 6 months or something) but compared to bands who are ostensibly based in rock of some stripe there's not many that have done better. Yet I have no doubt that when it comes down to it they'll be little more than a footnote in the musical history of the decade. For the most part they're one of those bands whose songs occupy your brain for exactly as long as they play on the radio and then pretty much leave right away, at their best they're instantly catchy but in the long run there's always something better in their little box to force them out.

All that said, "Move Along" is wholly under-rated in the grand scheme of things. It hit me when this went into a bit more heavy rotation on the piped in radio station at work last year that as far as the anthemic end of pop-punk goes there were very few singles that matched it's unbridled...happiness I guess. Most of the other big singles that this type of music were upbeat but tempered with regret of some kind, and while the spectre of defeat does hang over the song it does exactly what the lyrics are advocating: pushes past it and refuses to get bogged down by it.

Side note: Does the lead singer always look like he's about 5 seconds from breaking into tears? It's seriously distracting to watch the video for such an upbeat song being sung by a guy about to start bawling uncontrollably.

As I said, there's not much to discuss in the music itself, although I do like the syncopated guitar riff that starts it out as played out as the pattern it makes is. There's something about the song though that makes it stand out against the very, very vanilla backdrop of Rejects singles. It's got a weird sense of purpose that the others don't. It doesn't strive to be anthemic the way "Dirty Little Secret" did but hits the right notes to make itself perfectly anthemic none the less. It's not as emotional as "It Ends Tonight" but resonates a hell of a lot more than that maudlin pile of shite. I guess it represents the one time AAR got everything in perfect balance and didn't overdo anything. All I can say is at least they did it once.

Coming up tomorrow: An exception to my male country ballads suck unmentionable amounts of ass rule or yee-frickin'-haw

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