We’ve all had songs get “stuck” in our heads, but I’ve never had it like this before. Like Bill Murray’s 6:00AM ‘I Got You Babe’ alarm in “Groundhog Day,” it’s the first thing I’m hearing every day when I wake up. But unlike Sonny & Cher’s reoccurring ditty which only reappears the following morning, this tune continues swirling around my brain throughout the day – when reading, if engaged in a conversation, or even when listening to another song. Last weekend my friend and fellow music maven Maryellen texted me a clip of a song, describing it as a sweet, retro ‘70’s R&B thing, that I guess she thought I’d like. Unbeknownst to her, just two days prior another aficionado, Marc the Goldfish (who happens to be Maryellen’s son) had sent me the same exact song. Marc’s tastes presently hover on hardcore country and Norwegian metal (whatever that is), but somehow this one had crossed his radar, and he wanted to put it on mine. I questioned him about the apparent departure, to which he simply replied “It checks out.” The tune both had separately forwarded was ‘Leave the Door Open,’ a product of the band Silk Sonic. It’s a single that came out just a couple weeks ago. And, it’s the only one of theirs in existence. To date it seems to be doing pretty well: over 70 million views of the official video on YouTube to go with still another 70 million plays on Spotify. They sang it on the Grammys last Sunday night and on a broadcast that featured performances by superstars Taylor Swift, Harry Styles and Cardi B, Silk Sonic, an act that didn’t officially exist less than a month ago, clearly stole the show. A forthcoming full-length album, “An Evening with Silk Sonic,” is due out later this year, but currently has no release date. Or, for that matter, any other songs.
Silk Sonic, though, is hardly the work of unknowns or one-hit wonders, it’s a collaboration of two of the biggest Pop/R&B mega-stars in existence, Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak. And what they’ve somehow created, with this one song, is the most catchy, hooky, charming, irresistible, literally unforgettable tune I’ve heard in years (even though I’m not entirely sure I can explain why). Yet, they still had to petition the Grammys for a slot. Literally. I think. In the span of a couple days, all within less than a week of Grammy night, they had pled to but been rebuffed by the Grammy producers, broken up amidst salty barbs exchanged on Twitter, and then triumphantly “reunited” once the Recording Academy granted the opportunity to make their worldwide debut. This social media post, appearing with the hashtag #LetSilkSonicThrive, had started it off:
If you can see it in your hearts to allow two out of work musicians to perform at your show, we would really appreciate it. We just released a song and could really use the promotion right now. We have a lot riding on this record (and the Pelicans game next week, but that’s another story). We haven’t been able to perform for a while and we just want to sing. We’ll send in an audition tape and take as many Covid tests as we need to. I promise we won’t be extra. We just really want a gig again. I hope you’ll consider this request and give us the opportunity to shine.
Love, Silk Sonic
The first time listening through to the song I liked it but it didn’t necessarily stand out. The second occasion, which critically included watching Mars, Paak and the band’s bouncy and emotive choreography in the video, it completely hooked me. And now, a little over a week later, I fear I could become like Robert Schumann, the classical composer who went crazy from having notes stuck in his head.¹ The playful call-and-response vocals and soulful crooning is enchanting. And the swirling production, reminiscent of the classic Philadelphia sound popularized by 1970’s bands like The Delfonics, The Stylistics, and The Chi-Lites, is captivating. The tune is just…intoxicating. It’s so infectious it’s almost maddening. One small possible reason I noticed: a 5-beat, pre-chorus build-up that’s note-for-note to Michael Jackson’s joyful 1979 smash, ‘Rock With You.’² Not that I care. Or that it’s even a demerit. It isn’t. I think this song can do no wrong. In fact, here’s a sentiment I found online that I can absolutely relate to:
My battery = 1%
Me = Listening to this song
My battery = I’ll wait
The idea that Silk Sonic could perchance deliver a whole album of these throwback gems sometime in 2021 is almost too much to believe. Or handle. In truth, the anticipation of that possibility, and the fact that I may continue to have their one existing offering entrancingly rolling around in my head until then – four minutes of eargasmic bliss on repeat – could actually make me just a little bit nuts. But hopefully in a pleasing, and not a “Groundhog Day” or Schumann, way.
¹yes, I know this because of a Seinfeld scene
²if you don’t believe me, check the :51 second mark of ‘Leave the Door Open’ (“So if you tryna lay in these arms”) against :48 seconds into ‘Rock With You’ (“Share that beat of love”)