Beck Throws Curveball With New Single “Wow”



It looks like our old friend Beck is back at it, confounding his fans yet again. Two years ago he surprised everyone with the album Morning Phase, a collection of beautifully written folk-rock songs that eventually won the prestigious Grammy Album Of The Year. Last year he took another left turn with the release of the single “Dreams”, a heavily produced, new-romantic-style power pop earworm that featured all kinds of memorable guitar flourishes. For me, it had to be the song of the summer last year.

Well last week Mr. Hansen released a new single called “Wow”, and it’s something else altogether. There’s not a guitar to be heard. It’s partly a return to the “two turntables and a microphone” Beck from twenty years ago, rapping over heavy electronic hip hop beats. Rock fans who break into a fevered sweat at the first sound of rapping should avoid this single, or at least take some meds before listening.

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It’s definitely not his strongest work ever, but give it a couple of listens and it should grow on any fan of atmospheric grooves and sunny, positive vibes. There’s more going on than immediately meets the ear. The lyric shifts from typical Beck hilarity – “Standing on the lawn doin’ jiu jitsu / Girl in a bikini with the Lamborghini shih tzu” – to a warm and optimistic life view in the last part of the song:

It’s your life
You gotta try to get it right
Look around, don’t forget where you came from
It’s just another perfect night
We’re gonna take it around the world
Ride these wild horses
We’re gonna take it around the world

It’s really a three minute suite. It moves from the stark spare opening verse into a trademark Beck “na na na na na na na” section, sounding like a psychedelic version of the chorus from “E-Pro”. For part three, a piano is introduced and the rapping is replaced by a really nice old-time soul melody. It’s a sweet, quirky little song, par for the course for the Rock Chameleon. Summer tunes are maybe becoming his thing.

 

 

 

 

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