CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL SCORE: (2) JEFF BUCKLEY 168, (7) Tracy Chapman 159 .......... FINAL FOUR FINAL SCORES: (7) TRACY CHAPMAN 154, (1) Joy Division 90 ..... (2) JEFF BUCKLEY 137, (1) The Cure 89 .......... ELITE EIGHT FINAL SCORES: (1) JOY DIVISION 74, (14) Low 60 ..... (7) TRACY CHAPMAN 85, (1) Elliott Smith 69 ..... THE CURE 65, (2) Radiohead 58 ..... (2) JEFF BUCKLEY 74, (1) Neutral Milk Hotel 44 ..... FINAL SWEET SIXTEEN SCORES: (1) JOY DIVISION 75, (5) PJ Harvey & Nick Cave 24 ..... (14) LOW 73, (2) Concrete Blonde (64) ..... (1) ELLIOTT SMITH 78, (4) Gary Jules 44 ..... (7) TRACY CHAPMAN 74, (6) Kate Bush 53 ..... (1) NEUTRAL MILK HOTEL 54, (13) The Church 49 ..... (2) JEFF BUCKLEY 73, (3) Sinead O’Connor 35 ..... (1) THE CURE 109, (3) Tori Amos 86 ..... (2) RADIOHEAD 76, (6) This Mortal Coil 50 ..... (1) JOY DIVISION 96, (9) Mazzy Star 91 ..... (2) CONCRETE BLONDE 76, (7) Bob Mould 28 ..... (14) LOW 60, (6) Crowded House 51 ..... (5) PJ HARVEY & NICK CAVE 65, (4) Alphaville 38 ..... (1) ELLIOTT SMITH 113, (8) Replacements 88 ..... (6) KATE BUSH 87, (3) Nirvana 64 ..... (7) TRACY CHAPMAN 99, (2) The Eels 62 ..... (3) GARY JULES 103, (12) Morrissey 63 ..... (6) Kate Bush 72, (3) Nirvana 53 ..... (3) SINEAD O'CONNOR 66, (11) Ride 27 ..... (13) THE CHURCH 106, (5) James 44 ..... (2) JEFF BUCKLEY 95, (10) Smashing Pumpkins 40 ..... (1) NEUTRAL MILK HOTEL 80, (9) New Order 56 ..... (2) RADIOHEAD 102, (7) Nine Inch Nails 99 ..... (6) THIS MORTAL COIL 61, (3) Indigo Girls 60 ..... (4) TORI AMOS 89, (5) Swans 40 ..... (1) CURE 82, (8) Tom Waits 68 ............... FINAL 1ST ROUND SCORES: (5) PJ HARVEY & NICK CAVE 93, (12) Midnight Oil 38 ..... (7) BOB MOULD 63, (10) Peter Murphy 47 ..... (1) JOY DIVISION 117, (16) Erasure 19 ..... (6) CROWDED HOUSE 98, (11) Leonard Cohen 54 ..... (7) TRACY CHAPMAN 199, (10) The Smiths 162 ..... (5) MORRISSEY 115, (12) Morphine 83 ..... (3) NIRVANA 137, (14) Slowdive 102 ..... (8) THE REPLACEMENTS 128, (9) Dream Academy 82 ..... (13) THE CHURCH 262, (4) Magnetic Fields 193 ..... (10) SMASHING PUMPKINS 165, (7) Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds 155 ..... (9) NEW ORDER 160, (8) Sarah McLachlan 78 ..... (1) JEFF BUCKLEY 204, (16) Bjork 92 ..... (4) TORI AMOS 78, (13) Echo & the Bunnymen 22 ..... (8) TOM WAITS 72, (9) The Pretenders 22 ..... (6) THIS MORTAL COIL 51, (11) Yaz 31 ..... (3) INDIGO GIRLS 71, (14) Pavement 26 ..... (9) MAZZY STAR 132, (8) REM 46 ..... (2) CONCRETE BLONDE 88, (15) Psychedelic Furs 34 ..... (4) ALPHAVILLE 71, (13) Dead Can Dance 36 ..... (14) LOW 120, (3) U2 65 ..... (1) ELLIOTT SMITH 63, (16) 10,000 Maniacs 24 ..... (2) EELS 50, (15) Counting Crows 46 ..... (4) GARY JULES 62, (13) Depeche Mode 19 ..... (6) KATE BUSH 59, (11) Sisters of Mercy 20 ..... (1) NEUTRAL MILK HOTEL 42, (16) Violent Femmes 12 ..... (11) RIDE 25 (6) Peter Gabriel 24 ..... (3) SINEAD O'CONNOR 37, (14) Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark 17, ..... (5) JAMES 24, (12) Red House Painters 23 ..... (7) NINE INCH NAILS 46, (10) Wilco 31, (5) SWANS 31, (12) Pet Shop Boys 18 ..... (1) THE CURE 50, (16) Gear Daddies 10 ..... (2) RADIOHEAD 40, (15) Liz Phair 35


Thursday, March 10, 2016


(13) The Church, "Under the Milky Way"

“Under the Milky Way” is a mysterious song. I’m still not sure what it’s about: various online theories suggest a bar in Amsterdam named the Milky Way, a sexual encounter, something vaguely Egyptian; however, none of these theories satisfy. The band repeatedly describes the song as a tossed-off accident (and they don’t seem too thrilled that this is the song that pretty much defines them—its own little corner of sadness, we suppose). So let’s say the song is about a dark-evening-of-the-soul sort of mood. “Sometimes when this place gets kind of empty / Sound of their breath fades with the light” has that bleak, party’s-over kind of feel, and the repeated “Wish I knew what you were looking for / Might have known what you would find” hints at a friend’s suicide as the reason for all of this introspection. This mood—sad, thoughtful, lonely—is rendered even darker by “something quite peculiar / something shimmering and white.” A supernatural something? The song isn’t telling. Finally, we have to acknowledge the bagpipe solo. It shouldn’t work, but it’s gloomy, funereal...pretty much perfect. 


(4) Magnetic Fields, "I Don't Believe in the Sun"

This track was selected from the Fields' incomparable triple-album 69 Love Songs, which, as you may notice, does not necessarily consist of the usual sorts of love songs that you might expect. Or, since it does actually consist of 69 songs, Stephin Merritt moves all around the spectrum of love, spending much of the time, as he does here, in its shadow. This is a simpler song than many of his compositions, with the lovely lyrical inventions ("The only stars there really are / Were shining in your eyes / There is no sun except the one / That never shone on other guys / The moon to whom the poets croon / Has given up and died / Astronomy will have to be revised…) subverted effectively to the mood of the song. One has to admire the unexpected way we arrive at the rhyme, and that pleasure is part of how we take part in this particular sort of sadness: we can't help but smile—a little. We don't think that takes away from the depth of feeling: in fact it increases the emotional range of the song so that the lows seem a little lower, don't they? I don't know about you, but sometimes I like a brief smile to distract me from my tears.


Which is sadder? Vote by 9am 3/11

Under the Milky Way
I Don't Believe in the Sun
Poll Maker


  1. Hey, just broke a tie. Right on. FIIIIIIEEEEEEELDS!

    1. Nice work. I was also surprised how close this one is, but I think it's down to the wit and almost-but-not-quite (?) ironic feel that may turn some (foolish) people off from the Magnetic Fields, or maybe it's the protest voters who all have their own preference of Magnetic Fields song and feel somehow wronged? There's no way The Church should win this matchup. But I'm only one vote so.

    2. The Church take a back seat to no one for existential melancholy-even if this song is kind of their Pretty in Pink. But way better. I think that The Church are also hurt, as many of the bands in this competition have been, by their mediocre video. This song sounds way better (and sadder) than it looks...

    3. Hmm, so those who don't vote for Magnetic Fields are "foolish"? I'm sorry, but Stephin Merritt's vocals are an ungodly mix of Scott Walker and Johnny Cash and belie whatever inherent gloom the song does, or does not, have.

      "There's no way The Church should win this matchup."

      And this is based upon what? The subjective interpretation of sadness or simply different tastes in music, or both? It might be hard to distinguish those voting for the "best" song versus those voting for the perceived saddest.

      You know, "Under the Milky Way" was a minor hit in 1988 and again a decade later due to the film Donnie Darko. Are some voters equating success with "lack of sadness"? Perhaps, as quite forlorn ditties by the likes of U2 and R.E.M. have already been felled by, quite frankly, lesser foes...

      I suppose this exercise is yet another lesson in just how different musical tastes can be...

      Perhaps the very definition of "sad" has evolved? Does it denote more irony than pathos for the younger voters weaned in a post-Grunge world? Again, the lack of success for many Eighties songs in this contest leads me to believe as much...

    4. I'm also interested in that question of irony versus pathos, a subject that featured strongly (in my view anyhow) in yesterday's matchup between Pavement and Indigo Girls (Indigo Girls won HANDILY, and I suspect that pathos and directness is almost always going to win against irony). For me, The Church song just isn't particularly sad to me, honestly, and as a big nerd for Magnetic Fields one wants to defend them. Though I think you could argue that "Under the Milky Way" is a better SONG, if not as sad a one. Which may well be what the voters are saying here. As for me I do like a bit of wit to defuse my resistance to seeming sentimental, which is why Merritt gets me every time. I'm not saying that irony and wit are the same here, but wit does seem to be used oftentimes to create distance in a song. Anyhow, the committee's view of the relative strength of these two songs is pretty clearly indicated in the seeding, so I suppose I should just shut up and let the votes and comments fall where they may.

  2. Um, for one thing 1988 was my Vancouver year. I was sleeping with my therapist (they put couches in the room for a reason). So, no, Church cannot be sad. Second, MF video has it all, a Menards commercial lead-in (they r sad hicks trying desperately to be Lowes),and then the stock footage cigarette guy and then cut to a mime and then cut back to pensive cigarette guy then cut to a French mime then that pop-the-collar guy then the guy who takes B/W photos guy and then back to a mime. Striped shirt, smoking Gauloises cigarettes, of course.

  3. This one was difficult for me. I voted for MF, mostly because I appreciate so much of their other work. I know next to nothing about The Church, though I acknowledge “Under the Milky Way” as an effective composition. And I enjoy the song. And I can't separate it from the image of Jake Gyllengal wearing a skeleton hoodie.

    I'd like to also offer up The Magnetic Fields' “All the Umbrellas in London” as a personal nomination. It's a tremendous song and display of melancholy: “All the Umbrellas in London couldn't stop this rain / and all the dope in New York couldn't kill this pain / and all the money in Tokyo couldn't make me stay.”

  4. I will grant that "Under the Milky Way" maintains a MOOD, but I would not call it a mood of sadness; more a mood of slightly eerie mystery. And the lyrics are impenetrable. I am dumbfounded that MF is trailing in this contest. I mean, the narrator is so sad that the actual moon has died. Entire scientific disciplines will have to be revised. That's a three-pointer right there. Come on.

  5. Slow to comment. I voted Church because of the bagpipes. It's the kind of move that Ander talked about with the na-na-na-nas in the Crows song. Obviously, I like some kind of moment where subtext erupts into a yowl. But I may have subconsciously been a protest voter regarding the selection of the Magnetic Fields song ("Deep Sea Diving Suit" would have been my choice, I think).

    In any case, whatever my real reasons for voting, I think the Church is a tough out: I think it's an objectively good song. But I don't like a March Sadness tournament without the MF moving on.