It’s rare that illness can be credited for anything even vaguely positive or constructive, but on Monday my ordeal at the hands of “that cold that everyone’s had” led to an important discovery. As I lay in bed, the adverts between Bond films (my god the Sky Movies 007 channel is amazing) were all for the sort of ambulance-chasing lawyers and injury specialists that you expect at a time of day when the core audience are all unemployed or injured. Then on came the Direct Line advert; more generic “we’re here to help” guff, but this time backed by a neat little bit of pizzicato music. I quickly grabbed Shazam and ascertained the name of this song. It may well be the best pop song of the year.
“Disparate Youth” from American singer Santigold’s latest album is one of those songs that seem to prove that less is more. The main body of the song is a simple three chord progression that is built on layer-by-layer from the advert-endorsed intro to the sweeping chorus. Absolutely nothing about it couldn’t have been recorded by a 12 year old. Bass and offbeat drums are dispersed by line-end snaps of electric guitar (very Yeah Yeah Yeahs, so no surprise that their guitarist Nick Zinner co-wrote it), before being backed by flowing synth and reggae piano. As Santi’s disengaged vocals waft over it, everything’s so simple and yet utterly mesmerising. Indeed it sounds like what Rihanna could be like if she stopped titillating teenage boys and decided to actually write a good song.
I can strongly advise listening to it (below), even if you won’t be able to shake it from your head for weeks. It is an astonishingly good track.
Also, while looking for it on YouTube, I found this extraordinary mashup a cappella version (bottom video) involving one man called Mike Tompkins, his voicebox, some Apple equipment and (I’d imagine) an awful lot of time. It’s pretty impressive.
by Harry Harland