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The all-inclusive, ever-changing, and uncomfortably flexible guide to all things music in the 2010's.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Greatest Songs of 2011: #48: When Saints Go Machine - "Kelly"

If my name were Kelly, I’m not sure how I’d feel about a song like this existing. On one hand, it’s absolutely beautiful, a stubbornly playful buoy on a sea of gummy electronics. Its lyrical content is positively adorable. “First time Kelly kissed a boy,” lead singer Nikolaj Vonsild croons in his brittle falsetto. “Was an echo in smiles in a virginal love letter.” How cute is that? It’s a precious representation of an event so formative as a first kiss, and it’s even more impressive when you think about how no one’s ever communicated that event in a song before.

But, then again, there is a very real darkness to “Kelly.” The first kiss in question is almost too joyous, and that is made apparent with continued lyrics sung no differently by Vonslid. “At a dead end / That’s why I’m finding my own,” he sings on the chorus, and it’s made apparent that Kelly’s life pretty much peaked when she had her first kiss. Which kinda makes sense given the context. If your first kiss was so powerful “the economy broke down,” would you blame the colors of May finding your subsequent life so boring they would be prompted to just up and leave? That sounds devastating to me. It almost doesn’t sound worth it. A pop song like “Kelly” shouldn’t make you ponder such existentialism, and yet still be so much fun. (Did I mention it’s bouncy?) I suppose if my name were Kelly, I’d be down for letting this track soundtrack my sidewalk strolls. I just wouldn’t take its implications too literally, you know?


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