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


Wednesday, March 9, 2016

First Round Matchup: INDIGO GIRLS vs PAVEMENT

(3) Indigo Girls, "Romeo and Juliet"

Fact is, I’d totally forgotten about this song. I mean, I remembered the idea of it, had in fact played it a whole bunch on guitar for a then-girlfriend, had in fact learned to play the guitar (not real well, I should admit) specifically to play her this song, since the Indigo Girls were a favorite of hers and of course I was in wooing mode. I only realized later that it was a cover, and that the original was by Dire Straits, a band I basically had written off as cheeseball on account of the inescapable digitally animated video in constant rotation on MTV, and I’d come later to appreciate their version. In fact the Dire Straits version had completely supplanted this one in my mind, so that I had only now a memory of this song—a sad song, to be sure, and a memory of what it sounded like, so that it was included here in the tournament kind of by default, like it’d seemed like a good song to include, and the rest of the committee had immediately agreed. And we’d seeded the tournament, and, yeah, Indigo Girls are a good band but let’s face it not a favorite in anyone’s mind, and I hadn’t actually listened to the song until this afternoon, when it finally came around on the playlist. I should be honest: I was basically avoiding the Js, because I wanted to put off listening to Joy Division, which seems to me obviously the saddest song in the tournament, until late, and hadn’t even wanted to write about it for that reason, wanted to preserve that particular pleasure, and besides, Jeff Buckley was here in the Js too, as the playlist sorted by the first name, and that’s a devastating song, and dude drowned, and so I had just kind of passed this whole section by until today on the way to work the Indigo Girls version of "Romeo and Juliet" came on and I have to say I sat there in my old ass car that they don’t even make anymore and when it fired up I felt how I used to feel, there it was, that old feeling, there’s the fire I remembered, and it went on to straight up wreck me. I was not prepared for the ferocity of the anger and the sadness and bitterness in the song and how fully felt it is, and how driven it is by that still-hot longing we get to just after the chorus, and how badly it still wants, even knowing it’s over, for it not to be, and how much it elevates the reserve of the Dire Straits version (which is still a great version, but how flat it felt this afternoon now in comparison). I mean to say that it wrecked me. It hit me with a force I was entirely unprepared for, and it left me there, and I couldn’t really listen to anything else for twenty minutes or so though I tried. I remembered then later how, right after I played it for that then-girlfriend—slowly, like you do, probably fucking it up a couple times, but mostly getting it—and I remembered the feeling of that expectant pause after the last chord, and I know that really I shouldn’t have expected anything else from this moment, and you know I was just another douchebag in college trying to play a guitar to impress a girl, and she said, well, it’s supposed to be a lot faster, isn’t it? Yes, Kathryn, yes it is.


(14) Pavement, "Gold Soundz"

The question you might be asking yourself by this point in the bracket: how do we experience sadness, exactly? Why do we feel down or feel filled with others’ articulations of suffering when we listen to a sad song? Why do we want to suffer at all? Why does it sometimes feel so good to feel so sad? Or, maybe to this song, what’s the good of sadness without catharsis? I mean, think of the way in which Sinead O’Connor’s voice surges in “Three Babies,” where the emotion fills us and we are moved by the song’s end. We don’t get that with “Gold Soundz”, do we? It’s not here to move us in the same way. Sure, it’s beautiful in its way, like a sunny day, but it offers no singalong chorus. It barely offers a personal narrative (or the apparently personal, the persona). It’s shrouded in coded conversations about nostalgia and the past (“Go back to those gold soundz / And keep my advent to your self / Because it’s nothing I don’t like / Is it a crisis or a boring change?”). It seems to be about the nostalgia we might have for songs we used to like (to give it the ultimate meta reading here). Then it gets to sentiments like “So drunk in the August sun / And you’re the kind of girl I like / Because you’re empty and I’m empty,” which point us toward a kind of near-nihilism. Someone’s surely written a paper about this song in the context of poststructuralism (well, uh yeah, there’s this), and that’s cool, since I like to use intellectualism as a tool to defuse my natural fear of sentimentality and cliché as the next geeky boy. I don’t know, man, it’s a sad enough song, but fuck it, I can’t imagine it taking down the Indigo Girls, who’ve already nuked this kind of argument from orbit (“I went to see the doctor of philosophy / with a poster of Rasputin and a beard down to his knee / he never did marry or see a B-grade movie / He graded my performance, he said he could see through me / I spent four years prostrate to the higher mind, got my paper / and I was free”). But then I’ve been wrong before—I’ve got my blind spots too—which is exactly why we put the teams on the court and play the game.


Which is sadder? Vote by 3/10 at 9am

Romeo & Juliet
Gold Soundz


  1. Amy Ray does further the original. If you're listening to the studio version, I'm fairly sure it's just her, not the duo. They did that when performing live too.

  2. This was an interesting one for me due to the cover situation. You remark that the original by Dire Straits is "flat," and while I agree that IG have so much more a raw emotional take on the situation that brings to life the grief the titular characters likely felt for their painful romance, I think the Dire Straights version's tone actually highlights the song's point more: that it wasn't just politics and teenage angst that doomed the relationship - it was fate. The vocal delivery of DS makes that chorus profoundly bleak: we were always doomed, we could never be happy no matter how much we tried, and who knows how often this happens to people caught in a world full of randomness and pain that prevents love from ever getting off the ground. That said, IG's version is amazing and sadder than this Pavement tune.

  3. I can say with confidence that neither of these songs will go far and also that three glasses of wine failed to win me over to the Santa video. Pathetico...

  4. Normally I'd think you're wrong about the Indigo Girls here, except that they'll be up against (probable winners against Yaz) This Mortal Coil. Two very different constituencies like those two songs, I suspect. But maybe I'm counting out the poststructuralists here before the buzzer goes. Agreed with nealf though about how the IG version highlights the personal trauma angle in the song as opposed to the classical tragedy of it.