Mixtapes for Hookers

In Spaceships, They Won’t Understand Song #4
July 12, 2009, 7:02 pm
Filed under: design of a decade, music | Tags: , ,


[My year-long recap of my favorite songs of the decade continues, very very slowly.]

4. The Strokes, Last Nite

When The Strokes’ debut album was released in the fall of 2001, it was as if music critics collectively decided to play a game wherein they would each talk about how amazing the album was, both on the grounds that it was revolutionary and also because it sounded a lot like some other completely unrelated band from history.

Rolling Stone said the album sounded like British mods covering James Brown and Buddy Holly; the late Nude As The News heard the Stones and a feisty Lou Reed as influences.  Entertainment Weekly also mentioned Reed’s band The Velvet Underground, particularly Moe Tucker’s drumming.  Television was also thrown around as an influence by critics, as were Oasis and the Dave Clark Five and pretty much every other band ever beloved by rockists.  And I haven’t even gotten to the reeeeeally enthusiastic British press.  (NME’s review, though comparison-free, is pretty comically overwrought today.)  But at the time nobody–absolutely nobody–picked up on the group’s biggest influence of all.


And now listen to this:

The drums, the guitars, the desperation in the vocals.  It’s all there.  Tom Petty noticed, although I can’t find any mention of the similarity online anywhere, aside from one passing mention in a 2006 Rolling Stone interview about the Red Hot Chili Peppers stealing Petty’s ho-hum Mary Jane’s Last Dance for the wretched Dani California.

Anyway, it’s strange, is all I’m saying.  Not bad at all.  I thought Last Nite was a great song then and I still think it’s a great song today.  Also, I wish more people would borrow their ideas from American Girl, because that’s a great, great song.

I think the thing that elevates Last Nite from good to great is Julian Casblancas’ enthusiasm in the vocal delivery.  I don’t know what he’s singing about, exactly, but it doesn’t really matter because whatever it is he sure as hell means it.  Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the song is also insanely fun to dance to.

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