“Do you believe in something beautiful?/ Then get up and be it/ Fighting for the smallest goal /To get a little self-control/ Won’t anybody here/ Just let you disappear?”DOwnload
I like Ted, because Ted has an evil masterplan, and one the whole, I’m a great fan of evil masterplans. Unless, of course, they involve pesky gas chambers and peasant culling, but those aside, devious genii are up there in my good books. See, Ted is on a mission, the grandest mission of all: to bring sublime pop music to dour indie kids who might otherwise curl their dour indie lips in distaste at the mere mention of the P-word.
Oh, they don’t realize it of course; that’s where the masterplan becomes fiendishly clever! Ted himself may not even be aware of the great and noble mission he is obviously embarked upon, but on some deep subconscious level, his id has seen the light and is set on spreading that light of pop joy into the recesses of musical awareness currently only lit by the dim flicker of Bright Eyes.
Because, dear indie kids. This! Is! Pop! You may stutter and start, shaken with shock that the same genre label that is branded by wee Ashlee and lil’ Hilary could possibly apply to someone who sings about eating disorders, transcendence, conversing in Basque or Catalan, or any other of Ted’s wide range of lyrical topics.
“But no!” You may cry, brandishing hand-drawn robot T-shirts and back issues of McSweeny’s as if they were talismans to ward off my painful truths. “This cannot be! His band name is Ted Leo & The Pharmacists! Pharmacists! That’s indie! There are real instruments! And he writes his own songs! It can’t be pop!”
But it is. Because this is joyfully buoyant, skippingly infectious, ultimately delirious pop. There are jubilant bridges and a surging chorus, crashing backing layers and melodic vocals. There are “Oh woah woah”s for crying out loud! Sure, the lyrics are multisyllabic and intelligent, but pop solely as the domain of synchronized dance routines and ‘high/sky/fly’ refrains is sooo 1998.
“Wait a moment,” the indie kids say, in a final desperate attempt to disprove my logic, “He did a mockingly hip live cover of Kelly Clarkson. It was on all the mp3 blogs. That’s indie!”
Not so, my dears. You all happily sat and listened to the American Idol’s fabulous latest single simply because it was Ted and his chemists lulling you into a false sense of superior security. Evil masterplan. Told you so.