At the Ambassador last week with Douglas and two fellow rock camp counselors, we had the place to ourselves, so I sang whatever showed up on the first page of the new song updates. Which, logically, was "1 2 3 4" by Feist. iPod ads be damned (or praised), I love "1 2 3 4." I can no more resist its coy charms than I can a box of Saint Cupcakes. But there's nothing like karaoke to unmask a song's weakness. Feist has a slight substance dissonance--her voice is full of it, rich and sorrowful and subtle, but her lyrics don't carry it. They tend to be half-formed, vague, and repetitive. They sound like scratch lyrics.
However, when tweaked and transposed to Sesame Street, "1 2 3 4" gains some concrete meaning! (Thanks Douglas, pop miner extraordinaire).
Still a cupcake. But a cupcake you can sink your teeth into. Plus the line "chickens just back from the shore."
By contrast, the depth and substance of the girls who played Saturday's rock camp show blow Feist out of the water. This was the first-ever Rock Camp Studio, where veteran campers learned not just how to play but how to record themselves. Here is a clip of the Sneak Team, ages 15-17. Formed their band Monday. Wrote and recorded this song, "Let Me Tell You," by Friday. Had the entire audience of the Bagdad Theater on their feet, and the hairs on the back of my neck thoroughly on end.
Let me tell you how I let it go
Let me tell you what you'd never know
Society saying what to be
Just an illusion of confusion that they all seem to see
Well let me tell you how I let it go
In a world of freedom I feel oppressed
For the way that I talk and the way that I dress
For the people that I love and respect
Don't know why I can't be different without being depressed
So breathe it in, as it begins
(ignorance, arrogance, negligence and sins)
So breathe it out, and do not doubt
(confidence, happiness, innocence and dreams)
...Well let me tell you how we let it go
Feist can do the Muppet monsters. Leave it to the teenage girls take on the real ones.