Thursday, July 9, 2009

Single Review: Zero

Requester: CS

Every year, I like to release a list of my Top 10 Singles of the year.  In the past, it's generally been the ten pop songs that I like the most.  The list shrugs off objectivity to serve as an expression of my personal favorites.  Admittedly, it's self-indulgent and I think very few people actually care which singles I choose for my list.  This year, I'm hoping to expand my horizons and create a list that I'm proud of because of its range and attempt at objectivity.  That's part of the purpose of this blog.  I review what other people tell me to, so I can find albums and songs I wouldn't normally discover by myself.  Well, this quest has led me to a glorious song:  Zero, by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

I'll be the first to admit that most of the lyrics are deeper than I care to think about.  "Shake it, like a ladder to the sun."  What does that even mean?  I don't think it really matters, because the song's layering and overall message make it for a very entertaining four minutes.  Although parts of the verses are cryptic, the song's point becomes abundantly clear during the chorus: "You're a zero/What's your name/No one's gonna ask you/Better find out where they want you to go."  Lead singer Karen O is clearly fed up with someone, and she's not holding back. 

I think the song's message and tone are very effectively matched by the instrumentation and build of the track.  The song opens with a minimalistic, pulsating beat that pushes the track forward without overriding the vocals.  Then, new instruments are added.  The intensity increases.  Karen O pushes the vocals harder and rougher.  The volume increases.  Karen O begins to wail.  At no point does she push to hard, but she matches the crescendo her band is creating.  Throughout this the lyrics repeat, with more and more anguish and frustration.  If I were this "zero," I'd back off.  Karen O is pissed.

To that end, I think Zero really succeeds as a single.  I can see people singing it in a car, dancing to it in a club, or just listening to it as they vent their frustration along with Karen O.  I know that there have been a few boys that deserve some of my rage.  Thankfully Zero is my release.  Instead of screaming at them, I scream with Karen O.  They're all zeros. 

Rating: 4/5 stars

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