“Why should I know better by now when I’m old enough to know not to?”
Beth Orton in a Stolen Car…
One of the ways in which pop songs (if Orton is pop at all, which is a stretch I guess) fascinate me is in the way that songwriters like Orton can build on a theme throughout. The line above by Orton is typical of this – she starts with it, and then builds on to add different knowers and knowees, eventually finishing with the line that “I just want to find the place where I belong.” Agreed…
It was also hilarious to watch the young uns (or maybe not so young, who knows?) freak out over how amazing that cool new artist Missy Elliott is at Katy Perry’s halftime show. She’s been amazing for a while, and I’m glad that she’s experiencing a renaissance.
So, I had to pop on “Work It,” one of my favorite songs of 2002. What struck me this evening, though, is the complete switch in mood between the two songs. Orton’s features violins and a relationship in decline, and the desire to simply run away (and how to maybe fight that urge), while Elliott is in complete control of her men, using them for what she needs and then moving on, so confident that she says entire lines backward. Like Orton, she’s in control of the process, as demonstrated by the structure of the song, one in which she gradually moves from all-out horniness to a shout-out to all of us (I think I’m included, or maybe hope) to think about just what this call to sexy time means.
The videos also demonstrate just how structured both songs are, and show Orton having fun with the camera (and being in control). The images are a fascinating reverse, with the starkness of Orton’s moldy walls neatly contrasted with Elliott’s playground from the Fallout series. Both move throughout, Orton knowingly alternating between glaring and smirking at the camera, a smirk she shares with Elliott, whose frenetic energy is amazing. Elliott’s glowers with absurdity, with her getting a tongue bath from Prince and eating a Lamborghini, while Orton remains minimalist, but they’re both unconventionally beautiful and sweat charisma.
In the end, who knows why I love both songs so much, or whether it matters. But the journey lens that I see so much of my life through is thankful that they were both there.