Neko Case “Bad Luck” (2018)

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The Song Of The Summer, that unofficial title bestowed on the one intoxicating, exhilarating song each year whose arrival and subsequent omnipresence best define the musical zeitgeist of the steamy, celebratory season finally again upon us today. Or maybe it’s just the tune you’re most likely to hear at the beach. Looking back over the last 15 or so years, three immediately come to my mind: Beyonce in 2003 with ‘Crazy In Love’ (can you believe that deliriously catchy song was her debut single?!); ‘California Gurls’ by Katy Perry in 2010 (“daisy dukes / bikinis on top” and Snoop Dogg…Yep); and, of course, Carly Rae Jepson in 2012 with the archetype of the category ‘Call Me Maybe’ (man, that song was inescapable, and has well over a billion video plays on YouTube…Incredible).

Well, I’ve already heard mine for 2018 – though it most assuredly will not register even a whisper on the mass pop music and culture scene. The song is ‘Bad Luck’ and it’s by indie-rock siren Neko Case, a somewhat older than chart-topping teeny-bopper candidate, about whose exceptional 20+ year career as a solo artist and with her prior band, The New Pornographers, I am sadly only now becoming familiar. This tune is just so, what,…likeable! I haven’t been able to get that peppy chorus with those beatific backup singer harmonies out of my head for weeks. And yet I’ve learned that its irresistible perkiness stands in remarkable contrast not only to the fatalistic tone of its lyrics but to the circumstances around which she recorded it: Case, who was in Sweden at the time assembling her forthcoming new album, tracked these vocals the day after learning that her 18th century farmhouse home in Vermont had burned to a hole in the ground. That, one might understatedly say, is no day at the beach.

Still, it’s apparent that while the blaze may have destroyed all her possessions, a wry sense of humor survived: She appears on the album cover seemingly unfazed by encroaching flames at her back, which may or may not have been sparked by her crown of lit cigarettes. The music world can admire her steely savoir faire, sing along to the catchy chorus, and dance to this wonderful misery. All summer long.


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