Everybody Needs a Thrill

What a strange and great thing ‘Pop Life” is. Beginning with a deceptive, back-masking, tape-reverse keyboard pad: swirling out of a dream the way a lot of the songs do on ‘Around the World in a Day.’ Followed by a drum figure and then a groove and then some padded chords– piano, but also more swirling keyboards, although reigned in a little now and disappearing once the singing starts– followed by a pop and slap bass, which, growing up, was something every kid tried to do whenever you got close to a bass (most failed). Followed by Prince’s voice– Cab Calloway meets Mighty Mouse– triggering a delay that is only slightly behind the groove, forcing you to move to the song as if held back from behind, one hand on your belt loop. Followed by the opening line– ‘What’s the matter with your life?”– followed by a female voice shadowing the singing followed by the chorus over the same chords, at which point: more swirling keyboards. Followed by a sense that the song is about someone who is successful but misguided and unhappy followed by a realization that, because he’s mocking them, it’s someone Prince doesn’t really like. Followed by another verse and then another chorus, which is followed by more layers of keyboards during the post-chorus break. Followed by another realization: that the production is moving ever so slightly, and shifting, throughout the course of the song. Followed by the female singing getting louder, then quieter, followed by the piano faded up and then down and then up. Followed by the pop and slap bass line evolving, sublimely, while the song moves on: the same chords cycling with no intention of changing. Followed by “Whatcha putting in your nose?” Followed by the last chorus– Prince is snarling a little more by this point– and then, remarkably, inexplicably, a complete and utter disappearance of the song, replaced by what sounds like random noise. Followed by some echoe’d shouting, metal clanging, a crowd’s voice surging, and then followed by another chorus which isn’t allowed to finish. Followed by a fade out and some more noise. Followed by silence. What a strange and great thing ‘Pop Life” is.

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