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hateful songs: “hey there delilah” (plain white t’s)
Jul 1st, 2013 by wrekehavoc

hello, and welcome to someone’s got a wild hair up her butt.

for a few years, i spent months at a time bemoaning songs i couldn’t stand from particularly decades. i shared my share of bad (and good!) ’70s music. i went through my egregious ’80s phase. and before you go on thinking i am statler and waldorf’s meaner younger sister, you should know that i have spent years sharing my guilty pleasure mondays, with songs you might find incredibly awful but songs which i just love lots.

anyway, in short, i am obsessed with music. i heart a great hook. i admire strong lyrics. and if you have a moving melody, i am yer gal.  a subscription to sirius/xm radio has magnified all of this for me. (it came with my car.) while i have developed some serious addictions to certain stations (little steven’s underground garage, i’m looking at YOU), i do try to wander around to most stations at some point. when BC gets hold of the dial, i end up listening to some stupid top 40 station that plays music that literally makes me want to scream hey you kids, get off my lawn! but she is a teen now, and it is her music, just as my music occasionally drove my parents to distraction. and like my parents, i try to listen to her music occasionally with open ears.

but every now and again, i stumble onto something that makes me want to close my ears for good behavior.  i thought i’d highlight (low light?) some of them over the coming weeks.

because i can.

you are welcome to take issue with my selections in the comments. (some people are still taking issue with what i wrote over 5 years ago about the song wildfire… on my old blog. and wow, who knew those fans would be so nasty!) also, if you have nominees for songs you loathe (and which i’ve not written about already), feel free to share.

i take requests.

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first up: a little ditty from 2005. hey there delilah was a grammy-nominated song for the plain white t’s, a band out of chicago which apparently had two other singles which i have forgotten at this point.  would that i could forget this one.

the whole premise is an old one in rock and roll: the singer singing to the girl (or guy? it’s almost always the ladies who are left behind. so. not. fair.) waiting back home while he’s on the road. there are better examples out there, stemming from the whole i’m a rock star on the road trope;  faithfully (journey) , 2000 miles (the pretenders) and  postcard (the who) come to my mind, though there are others. and so here, frontman tom higgenson pines away for real-life delilah decrescenzo.  he tells her that new york doesn’t shine as brightly as she does, and that the distance is nothing — love will keep them together. oh, and one day, the guitar is going to pay all the bills. (i sincerely hope he didn’t quit his day job.)

hence, he is out on the road, shaking his moneymaker and singing.

now, anyone who knows anything about the history of rock knows that touring is a tough place for the faithful. so whenever i hear these sorts of songs, i shake my head and think, oh, one bored night. that’s what happened to this guy. one bored night + no available women +/- no booze or drugs = song fodder. i’m sure the next night was a luckier evening, if you catch my drift.

something about higgenson’s voice reminds me of the whiney guy you couldn’t shake in college, try as you might. he probably wrote you bad poetry. oh, and he always asked you to pay for the date. something about being short that week.

amusingly, the relationship he describes in the song was all in his head. there was no relationship. it all happened because when he met her, he was trying to be suave. his pickup line had to do with something about a song he had written for her, according to the interview.

thus, hey there delilah is essentially an orchestrated pickup line.

yeah, i know:  i’m supposed to bow before the idea that this work received some grammy nominations. (and no, i haven’t yet received any grammy nominations. i am aware of that.) honestly, though — the grammys tend to honor artists for efforts which are not their best or, for reasons i have never understood, bands that come and go quickly. (evanescence, anyone?) but honestly, it sounds more like the soundtrack to a morning at starbucks, a song people drink coffee to while they achieve consciousness, but by bit.  once you wake up, you forget it other than the mere buzzing in your head that makes you wonder about your meds.

anywho, i think my favorite part of the song involves the part where he tells his imaginary girlfriend delilah not to worry; after all, two years from now, she’ll be done with school. and he’ll be making history like he does. maybe you call this confidence. me? i call this obnoxious, cocky entitlement.

history? i don’t think he made history.

i think he is history.


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