Best Song Ever?: In the Aeroplane Over the Sea (Neutral Milk Hotel)

The first in (maybe) a series of reviews. 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. Up first is one that definitely isn’t the best song ever, but lets me test my review format. 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 came across Neutral Milk Hotel after reading that they had a 10.0 reviewed album with one of our nemeses, Pitchfork Media. (That’s darn near impossible). I checked out the album, and came across a song I had heard once before and had stuck with me reasonably well considering I had only heard it once. That brings us to “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea.”


  • Note the singing saw and the who cares if it’s out of tune trumpet. It does the whole “using non-traditional instruments” in an artistic, non-self-conscious-way. (see Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys).
  • It’s in 6/8 (kind of rare for rock music [well, indie {the genre} music]).
  • Evocative-ish lyrics “When we meet on a cloud, I’ll be laughing out loud” [internal rhyme for the win!]
  • Everything seems right in the world as the verses begin after the controlled musical meanderings (0:40, 1:28). The return after the bridge (the bridge starting at 2:00) is especially epic. As a listener, you’re rooting for it to get to the “What beautiful face…” after the song seemingly deconstructs after the bridge. At 2:45, everything is where it needs to be.


  • Neutral Cheese Who?
  • Odd instruments, intentionally sloppy singing and bass playing.
  • Lyrically, there are some nice little onesies (see above), but there’s not much going on beyond that.
  • Just plain too weird for most people.


While not a one and a half star song on its own merits, in the scale of whether it’s the best song ever, it really isn’t even a contender. It’s one-of-a-kind, but the weirdness-to-most-people inherent in making a song “one-of-a-kind” seals its fate on the “not the best song ever” side of the dividing line.

1 comment

  1. i looked at the wikipedia entry on pitchforkmedia….. the list of reviews with zero stars included “Jet”‘s “Shine On”, an album that, while not great, has a few very enjoyable songs on it. I’d probably give it a 2 to 2.5 star rating, which is equivalent to a four or five. here’s the thing though, if you’re gonna give something zero stars, you should justify your claim. this “review” is teh biggest cop-out ever… worse than the original franklin 2, and is an insult to all those who call themselves reviewers.

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