You ever experience that feeling of dread that comes after hearing one of your favorite songs in a commercial? I’ve been gutted by that sensation loads of times. “True Colors” was recently used for a Sky television campaign. Granted, it was a cover version, but it still sent chills down my spine to hear that beautiful song played every ten minutes to sell cable in HD. The fact that News Corp owns Sky just added grave insult to injury. Beyond the simple fact that a great tune is being debased by a product, the other drawback to this occurence is that it means you’re going to hear that song ad infinitum, in small 30 second chunks, eventually causing you to fall out of love with it.
It’s a true test of greatness to see a song put through that wringer and still come out the other side as vibrant as ever. (Though, for the record, i-Pod commercials, weirdly have almost the opposite effect. They take a little-known song and make everyone love it.) Anyway, today’s great thing has successfully passed that stress test–on multiple occasions.
120 Peter, Bjorn and John’s “Young Folks”
I know that there will be plenty of folks out there that ARE sick of this song. But this is my stupid blog and I still love this ditty. Let’s listen to it now! Right now!
Such a happy, whistle-fueled, jingly-jangly bit of pop. That song was my ring tone for TWO years! I actually thought that I had killed it recently. I hate taking phone calls at the best of times and I chose this song to alert me to the pesky arrival of an incoming call. I worried that it would surely drive a stake through the song’s peppy little heart. And, I was indeed starting to roll my eyes when it would sound. But no, this song’s got nine lives. It came on my iPod when I was working out recently and it actually made me pick up my pace on the treadmill. It fueled my joy. This song’s got legs!
There may be one or two of you out there who have never heard this song. To be fair, I haven’t lived in America for a few years now and I don’t know if “Young Folks” has been rammed into your earholes as much as it has over here in the UK. Peter, Bjorn and John are a trio from Sweden. Is it just me or is Sweden a gold-mine for durable pop? Three items of proof: 1. Abba 2. This song 3. “Love Fool” by The Cardigans. I’d even argue that Ace of Base have at least ONE song in their back catalogue that people would still enjoy. (It’d have to be one song as all of their songs sort of sounded like their first single “All That She Wants”.) “Young Folks” was officially released in 2006. It was in late 2006, or maybe early 2007, that my friend Paul went to see a Peter, Bjorn, and John show, sort of by chance, and reported back to me that watching that concert made him feel like what the people who first viewed The Beatles must have felt like.
But, don’t just take it from me and my supercool friend Paul. Even the experts agree that this single kicks serious ass. It was rated # 5 in Pitchfork Media’s Top 100 songs of 2006 and #2 in NME’s list of the year (beaten only by Hot Chip’s Over and Over–which, though it is a fine song, I would argue has less staying power).
Though the recording utilized the lady-vocals of Victoria Bergsman(of The Concretes), Peter, Bjorn and John have collared other female vocalists to assist, like Traceyanne Campbell of Camera Obscura whilst on tour. The song is also beloved by other musicians. Kanye West has sampled “Young Folks” twice, once in the song “Interviews (Interlude)” and once in his own version of “Young Folks”–though, I guess that would be less of a sample and more of a rapped-through cover (same tune, different lyrics). Shogo Tokumaru, of Japan–natch–has also done a sweet little cover. I found it exceedingly difficult to actually get a proper clip of it. However, it is played about a minute into this interview.
“Young Folks” also benefits from some simple and sweet lyrics. Seems to me that it’s about two people who fancy each other and are surprised to find themselves in such a happy position. The stuff of ages.
What do you make of this track? I think it’ll be just as golden in a decade. Any songs from ten years ago that still hold up as powerfully for you?
Bonus…here’s a link to The Onion’s AV Club “Random Rules” feature with Peter (of Peter, Bjorn and John). He seems nice. Random Rules