Sunday, November 13, 2011

Song #15 of 9999 - I Don't Like Mondays by The Boomtown Rats

Song #15 of 9999

Title: I Don't Like Mondays
Artist: The Boomtown Rats
Year: 1979
Album: The Fine Art of Surfacing

I read a column today in the local Sunday paper that referenced this song as a predecessor to Foster the People's "Pumped Up Kicks," which I admittedly had never heard until a few minutes ago. The article expressed concern over the more recent song's lyric about a kid taking a gun to school and suggesting that "All the other kids in their pumped-up kicks better run faster than my bullet." The song is so saccharine-sweet that I can't imagine anyone being inspired to do anything but tap a toe or whistle along if they could muster the energy. The video shows the band doing fun things like playing in concert or admiring the pressing of their record or drinking a beer or whatever. I would say they are the most banal band around except they would be tied with a thousand other equally banal bands for the top spot.

Which brings me to Bob Geldof and The Boomtown Rats, who are quite the opposite of Foster the People. Their song certainly could not be read as a call to action as it grimly recounts the story of a remorseless teenage girl who opened fire on a playground full of children in January of 1979. (Asked why she did it, she replied "I don't like Mondays. This livens up the day.") Yet, it has much more potential to incite a similar event because it exudes passion where "Pumped Up Kicks" does not. This point seems to be lost on the author of the column referenced above, who referred to the Foster the People track as a "soundtrack" for "moody teens with guns." Really? I can't imagine any moody teen listening to that song.

Anyway, I'm talking too much about a bad song and not enough about a good one. Lovely piano work, dramatic story-telling, effective tempo changes, compelling lyrics--it's no surprise this song was a #1 hit in the UK. Geldof would go on to greater fame as the organizer of the Band Aid and Live Aid relief efforts for poverty-stricken Africa.

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