The 8 Ball 11.17.12: The Top 8 Songs For Black Friday
Welcome, one and all, to the 8 Ball in the Music Zone! I’m your host Jeremy Thomas and as always, I will be tackling a topic and providing you the top eight selections of that particular category. Keep in mind that this list is meant to be my personal opinion and not a definitive list. You’re free to disagree; you can even say my list is wrong, but stating that an opinion is “wrong” is just silly. With that in mind, let’s get right in to it!
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The fourth week of November is just about upon us, and everyone in the US knows what that means. Yeah, Thanksgiving, bleh bleh bleh…for most people though (sadly), the week is more important for Black Friday. The day after Thanksgiving is the start of the holiday shopping season and it has become an annual ritual that the retailers make their deals increasingly more crazy (and increasingly earlier on Thursday evening) in order to get a good start into their biggest sales month. I am in no way a fan of Black Friday; I hate malls in the first place and when you pack them full of people who have been sitting out in the cold for hours so that they can race each other to be the person who gets that TV for 50% off, my tolerance of them goes down even further. Still, Black Friday is as much of a Thanksgiving weekend tradition as tryptophan, football and family arguments and that can’t be denied. Since many of you will be going out for the big deals in a little under a week, I thought this would be a good opportunity to give you a playlist of my top 8 songs themed to the occasion.
Caveat: Not much of a caveat here, except to say that this is not necessarily the best songs that happen to fit the Black Friday theme, but rather the songs that are most appropriate in various ways. I did try to tackle various aspects of Black Friday’s “charms,” and it is worth noting that I focused largely on direct Black Friday appropriateness and not just a title that works or a single lyric; it was the overall theme of the song I was looking at.
Barenaked Ladies – “If I Had $1000000″ (1989)
“Weird Al” Yankovic – “eBay” (2007)
Madonna – “Material Girl” (1984)
My first choice for this list may well raise some eyebrows. After all, Matchbox Twenty is not exactly a band that inspires thoughts of great deals, crowds or even particularly crass commercialism. I mean sure, they were a band that was pretty much built to be a mainstream success but they are no more commercial than a thousand other bands. And at first glance “3 a.m.,” a song about an important woman in the singer’s life who has some rather serious emotional problems, doesn’t have a particularly strong connection to the shopping event of the year. But viewed in a certain light, the song absolutely fits Black Friday. Let’s even set aside the opening lyric, “She says it’s cold outside and she hands me my raincoat/she’s always worried about things like that” which could easily be sung by someone on their way out after Thanksgiving dinner to their local Best Buy. Many other lyrics in the song completely fit the theme. “She’s got a little bit of something, God it’s better than nothing” could fit either a woman in the store who didn’t get exactly what they wanted, or even the singer thinking about how what they managed to procure will have to be enough for that important lady in their life who made sure they had a raincoat. And thinking that “happiness is a mat that sits on her doorway?” Hey, I’m not gonna judge what some people want for holiday presents. Whatever works for you. It’s not an obvious choice and it isn’t intended to be a Black Friday song, but it sure fits.
This song is all about instant gratification, which is fully fitting within the theme of Black Friday. “I want it, want it, want it” sounds exactly what many of the people who go deal-shopping on Black Friday are looking for. Meanwhile, the Peas point out many of the consumerist attitudes that the “Now Generation” goes hunting for and the way that the digital age has contributed to that. We can set all sorts of arguments about how it is kind of hypocritical for the Black Eyed Peas of all people to be complaining about the generation who have grown reliant on advances in digital technology, but you can’t deny that “And I just can’t wait/I need it immediately” pretty much resonates perfectly with the idea of people crowded outside of Target waiting for the doors to open so that they can be the first to get the new products that have been delayed until Black Friday so they can post up huge first-week sales numbers. “Need for Speed is my credo,” indeed.
Sometimes, someone like me gets dragged to a Black Friday sale, largely against their will. You can only be bugged and nagged about how great the deal is on some item or another before you give in. Also, sometimes people need rides and well, you have to be a good friend. This song pretty much exemplifies how we feel when trying to navigate the hell that is a Black Friday sale. I’m not going to lie; I had “And if my keeps going this way I just might break your fucking face tonight” running through the back of my mind at one of the very few late Thursday night salesfests I’ve been to. And this song even fits for people who don’t hate Black Friday like me; those people who are at the stores voluntarily need a game plan to make sure that, when facing down a rabid forty-five year-old soccer mom who is trying to get their kid the last copy of The Avengers on Blu-Ray, you come away not only with the disc but with your arm. Bringing along a chainsaw to skin some asses raw wouldn’t be a bad idea. (Disclaimer: That was a joke. Do not bring a chainsaw to a Black Friday sale, or any other weapons. There, my job is done.)
Let’s face it; if you’ve survived a Black Friday sale and come out with anything that you wanted, you’ve probably done some things that you’re not proud of. Things you won’t ever tell your kids about. Things that will make you wake up screaming in the middle of the night and that may, quite possibly, put you on no-fly lists for the rest of your life. You’re going to need to be rebalanced in that case and get back that part of your soul that was drowned within the viscera of mass commercialism. For just such an instance, I present Enigma. Many of my younger readers may not remember Enigma; even people who do probably just know them as the guys who got the “monks in pop music” trend going with the Gregorian chant-filled “Sadeness (Part I).” Most people don’t remember or realize that the electronica group has continued making music throughout the years and, four years after “Sadeness (Part I),” even had another hit with “Return to Innocence.” The song is just as spiritual as “Sadeness,” with an aboriginal Taiwanese chant replacing the Gregorian of the previous hit; however “Innocence” is more spiritually rejuvenating. There is less of a mournful stance and more of a feeling of rebirth–not entirely surprising, given the title. For people who need to get karma back under control or simply want to keep a Zen attitude instead of a more violent route, I suggest this one.
Many of us avoid the Black Friday insanity, preferring to stay home and avoid the crowd. That doesn’t mean we don’t have our own crazy rituals though to get the best deals, and for many that involves Amazon.com and checking back hourly to see what wacky new deals have come up. Online retailers have realized that, as shopping from the comfort of one’s home becomes more and more popular, there is a world of profit to be gathered from those who don’t want to deal with the cold and the fighting and the camping out and the crowds. But they can’t just throw everything online for twenty-four hours because it doesn’t create that hype; plus, stock would run out quickly. So instead they create little windows of time for their deals. As an online Black Friday shopper, I fully acknowledge that getting up at 4 AM to see what Blu-Ray discs are now on sale for the next four hours is as crazy as waiting outside a store for hours; it’s simply a more convenient crazy. For people of my breed I give you the ultimate song about the negative aspects of obsession with technology–which also fits just fine for those people rushing out to get ten bucks off an iPad or Android tablet. Its approaching twenty years since this song was released and it’s never felt more appropriate.
An important lesson to remember during the cash and goods-heavy holiday season, this one. The Beatles are, of course, one of the most famous and iconic bands in rock and roll history and “Can’t Buy Me Love” is one of their most well-known hits, particularly among their earlier and more pop-driven work. It seems almost a quaint notion these days that, with songs like “Material Girl” and the bling-heavy rap of the last decade and a half dominating the landscape of music and pop culture, someone would believe that money isn’t all that important because it can’t buy happiness and love. That very notion has been mocked on more than one occasion and whenever anyone talks about it, they’re usually doing so in order to get elected. But it remains a truism today as much as it did in 1964 that you can’t fortune doesn’t equate to happiness, and goods in particular don’t mean anything in terms of importance in the world or personal satisfaction. We could all do well to keep that in mind when we’re being terrible human beings while we look for the best price on a new laptop.
This is almost the ultimate song about malls–and thus, Black Fridays. Off of Warren Zevon’s 1989 album Transverse City, this little ditty isn’t Zevon’s most well-known song but it is certainly accurate for just such a list as this. Zevon’s ode to the ultimate shopping location describes a mall that is “seven stories high” where the singer and his girlfriend plan to spend their day. Zevon threw in some nicely anti-consumerist themes here, with lyrics like “We’ll put it on a charge account we’re never gonna pay” and “You buy everything you want and then you want more.” In the age where malls are increasingly more terrible to be at, this song says with a moderate amount of subtlety exactly why this is the case; it covers just about everything except for the fact that the people you’re bound to encounter at malls often represent just about the worst humanity has to offer without being flat-out criminal. Why yes, I did work at a mall once or twice during holiday season, why do you ask?
I know that Axl Rose, Slash, Duff McKagan, Steven Adler and Izzy Stradlin didn’t write “Welcome to the Jungle” about Black Friday. I’m fully aware that the song is about the streets of Hollywood. But when I hear “You’re in the jungle, baby…YOU’RE GONNA DIE!” it is really hard for me not to imagine the apocalyptic feeding frenzy that takes place at the height of the biggest sales day of the year. The first track off of the landmark album Appetite for Destruction resonates with the day in almost every line. “Welcome to the jungle/we got fun and games/We got everything you want/honey, we know the names” competes with the next stanza, “We are the people that can find/whatever you may need/if you got the money, honey/we got your disease” for the single-most appropriate set of lyrics to Black Friday that were ever written. Let’s face it; it’s a kill or be kill world out there when the chips are down, especially when you can buy two and get one free. And Axl Rose’s hyena-howled lyrics portray that as effectively as anything ever could.
MUSIC VIDEO A-GO-GO
The good news is that not everything about next weekend is about cutting people to be the first to save a few bucks; there’s also a little thing called Thanksgiving. Being a guy whose birthday often falls right on Thanksgiving I’ve always had a special affinity for the holiday, and thus, I give you Adam Sandler’s “Thanksgiving Song.”
And that will do it for us this week! Join me next week for another edition of the 8-Ball! Until then, have a good week and don’t forget to read the many other great columns, news articles and more here at 411mania.com! JT out.