Another in the “Best Song Ever?” series. Simply, I give the background, a point, a counterpoint, then star rating for songs that I have on my list of “good songs” with the goal of deciding what’s the best song ever. Note for those using feedreaders: the song is embedded on this review’s entry so there’s a point-of-reference in the review; you might want to view this entry from the webpage instead of the feed.
I was really never a fan of Ben Folds Five. I thought “Brick” was catchy in its own way, way back when (1995?). I never followed Ben Folds Five, but I knew the band ceased to exist sometime between 1995 and 2000, with Ben Folds going out on his own, making CD’s that sounded just like when he was in “Ben Folds Five.” (I had no problem with it, I just wasn’t into it.) I randomly (very randomly) heard the song, “Magic” sometime in the fall of 2005 on WMUH. I didn’t know what it was when I heard it (I had missed the DJ’s intro), so I scribbled down some of the lyrics to look up later on the internet. Turns out that this was the mystery song. +1 for college radio.
- Shows that playing “around” chords and a pleasant melody can get you pretty far as a singer-songwriter. (yes, I’m aware that being that he had a backing band, this isn’t really a “singer-songwriter” type song). For what it’s worth, the song was actually written by the drummer, Darren Jessee, so it’s not necessarily a “Ben Folds” song.
- The viola playing the bottom of the chords in a nice touch during the first verse.
- It’s in 6/8. None of the pedestrian 4/4 stuff here, thank you very much.
- The soft-loud-soft dynamic is used to good effect here. (see “against”)
- 2:12 – At the risk of venturing into girliness, the line “You’re the magic that holds the sky up” really gets the point of that whole “love” thing. It’s not a metaphor, there’s nothing really figurative to it, I’m not sure it’s even symbolic, but it’s just a gentle exaggeration which gets the point across rather well.
- For the love of God, who thought it would be a good idea to have the timpani levels so loud. If you’ve turned up your head phones to hear the first verse, the timpani is seriously “damage your ears and headphones” loud. Why, why, why? Studio engineers:The enhanced dynamic range offered by CD’s is a privilege, not a right. Don’t abuse it.
- Again, the timpani. If anyone has his or her bass turned up (most people usually do), the two timpani entrances (combined with the relative quiet of the first verse) will cause noticeable clipping because of their volume. Again, why?
- The string section is a bit gratuitous. A single viola, violin, or cello would be ok, but with all of them, it gets a little heavy sounding.
I’ve got a fever and the only prescription is louder timpani. No one would ever say that, even jokingly making reference to a Saturday Night Live sketch. The slightly over-the-top string section can be forgiven, but when the mixing of a song calls attention to itself, someone should be fired. Jarring dynamic changes are one thing; being unpleasant to listen to is another. It gets 4 out of 5, because of the quality of the song, but the mixing should really give it an “NA” for its rating.