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My heart explodes every time I hear this song.
The Format was one of my favorite bands. You’ve probably never heard of them, yet they still so sound familiar to you. Why is that? Because The Format’s lead singer was Nate Ruess, the elastic-voiced lead singer of the band fun. and guest-vocalist on the Pink duet on “Just Give Me a Reason.”
I’m obsessed with Ruess’s extraordinary rubber band voice. Not only does he have a tremendously large range, not only does he have that androgynous mixed-voice tone I’m obsessed with, but his pitch is impeccable.
I always assumed they auto-tuned the heck out of him to get the perfectly round, ringing sound from his falsetto even as he swoops grandly from note to note. I’ve now seen enough live clips to think he’s the real deal (plus, I asked him about it one time on Twitter and he swore that it was without digital tuning).
The Format’s 2006 LP Dog Problems gives me butterflies in my stomach for the entirety of each listen thanks to the resonance of its lyrics and the peculiar sonic palette of indie dance pop with the occasional show tune influence, but if I had to choose one song from the album to leave on an endless loop it would be “She Doesn’t Get It.”
“She Doesn’t Get It” is a song built on surprisingly simple bones, with the intro and verse built on the barest sketch of an endlessly repeating e-g(/d#)-c#-g(/d#) figure. The band spins it up into something more intricate, with frantic hi-hat rides, chiming high guitar riffs, and ringing bells.
There are so many layers to unpeel in this narrative about being the odd one out, the oldest soul in a crowd. That’s the story on the surface, but underneath there’s something deeper about the nature of reality and how we choose to consume it. While his friends are all out to enjoy themselves, all Nate can see is the same dull trends rubber-stamped across the group.
All the girls pose the same for pictures
All the boys got the same girls’ hair
I am bored ’cause I feel much older
Look at me, as if I’ve got a reason to stare
He’s a sort of intellectually-elderly ugly duckling who can foresee the conclusion at each fumbling attempt at a relationship before they even begin, yet he keeps falling for the same types of girl because he knows exactly what type of guy they want. But, it’s not just any girl that he wants – it’s the one who’s about to go away.
She says she’s leaving on a Sunday
That leaves me one more night
Can I take you home?
I know it’s wrong
but I know your type
He can play the role for a night or two, but it never sticks. Maybe that’s why he’s waited until the last possible moment to make a move for this one girl – so it can be a perfect 24 hours without all the messy fallout that usually follows. [Read more…] about 35-for-35: 2006 – “She Doesn’t Get It” by The Format