Liked The Number Ones: Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)” (Stereogum)

Really, a lot of Houston’s best bits on “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)” aren’t even about what she can do with her voice. They’re pure personality: The whoo as the song first kicks in, the giggle on the breakdown, the “now get with this” aside. Walden has said that the vamp on the breakdown — “Don’tyouwannadance Sayyouwannadance don’tyouwannadance!” — was Houston’s idea. Houston never bothers to sell the sad parts of the song, the stuff about loneliness calling. She knows she doesn’t need to. The song comes from the perspective of someone who wants to find joy in companionship, in bodies moving. The vocal comes from someone who’s already achieved that goal. It’s aspirational.

Watched 20 Years Ago, ‘Donnie Darko’ Turned ’80s Pop Into Nostalgic Dread,20 Years Ago, Donnie Darko Turned ’80s Pop Into Nostalgic Dread from Stereogum

The soundtrack for ‘Donnie Darko,’ which debuted at Sundance 20 years ago, mines ’80s pop for beauty and dread and romanticism. From its opening scene set to Echo & The Bunnymen’s “The Killing Moon” on, the film made the sounds of gloomy new wave and postpunk cool.

I cannot remember where I first saw Donnie Darko, but it has been one of those films that I have come back to again and again. I am not sure what it is about the film, but maybe Tom Breihan captures it best with the suggestion of ‘the vibe’.

Really, though, the story didn’t matter. It was the vibe: Gyllenhaal’s sick-of-this-bullshit grimace, the eerily modulated voice of the giant rabbit who came to visit Donnie at night, the way Kelly’s camera floated through classrooms and cul-de-sacs. And it was the music. Kelly set Donnie Darko in 1988; the movie’s climax happens on the Halloween just before the Bush/Dukakis election. In the movie’s best sequences, Kelly takes the songs that would’ve been playing on modern-rock radio at that moment — the Bunnymen, Tears For Fears, the Church — and mines them for beauty and dread and romanticism.

I am not sure I appreciate how foreign this music was at the time. I remember seeing songs like The Killing Moon on Rage, but as Breihan attests, I do not remember hearing much of the music on the radio.

Listened Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven Turns 20 from Stereogum

Lift Your Skinny Fists isn’t built for playlists, for sampler tastes. It’s a whole experience, and it might be the purest one outside an actual Godspeed show. You don’t just throw this record on and go about your day. You submit to it. You breathe it in.

I remember ‘submitting’ to this album. I wonder whether I would submit myself in the same way?