John Wick and pop music, in general

A friend of mine shared a link to Paula Abdul’s “Rush Rush” on Facebook. While I was amused that it starred current internet spirit animal Keanu Reeves (in his old surfer dude mode), what got me was the instrumentation in that track.

I mean, listen to it:

The restraint of instrumentation, the melodic hooks inserted (as if the song wasn’t catchy enough already), the deliberate precision of each aspect of the track is something that continues to fascinate me. Maybe it’s time to think less like a rock songwriter, and more of a pop one. Unabashedly.

I will always be biased towards the rock form. Specifically, the loud-soft-loud dynamic I grew up with in the 90s. And to be honest, that’s been my template for every song I do.

Last January I wrote in an article about how the rock format needs to change.

“…maybe rock needs to redefine itself away from the form, rather focusing on its spirit: that which flips the middle finger at an increasingly consumerized society teetering closer to authoritarian rulers.” 

“OUR ROCK MUSIC HAS GONE WAY TOO SOFT. WHAT IT NEEDS IS TO BE DANGEROUS AGAIN,” AOMNL

Now we’re not exactly the hardest-hitting band out there (I still think Queso has a good mix of mercilessness and sophistique in their music), but we’re ultimately based on the “rock” format. And I guess that’s the rut I’m at right now. I admire how musicians like Brisom wears the nuances of 80s pop songwriting up their sleeves, for example; at the same time I love how Trent Reznor worships the same form yet throws it into a meat grinder and reassembles the form like a beautifully grotesque Frankensteinian creature.

I had a conversation with Kjwan’s Marc Abaya about musical ruts and how to get excited about making music again. We both took to the keyboard for inspiration; that’s where I’m at right now. I will forever love the guitar, but there’s something about the keyboard that frees me from the boredom of it all. Music feels new again. I can’t think RAWWWWWWWK! forever.

Incidentally he also suggested that I listen to our old stuff again, as that could surprise me. To be honest, it did.

Speaking of which, we’re on Spotify (but you should have known that coming to this site anyway). Do drop us a listen, or ten. Per day.

Paula Abdul’s producers rock.

— Adrian