Detholz! B-Side – “Millionairess”

Welcome to the Detholz! Mp3 Blog Episode VIII! Once again, sorry for the late posting today. Better late than never.

Note: The same 3 or 4 people always comment… to the rest of you out there in TV Land, feel free to weigh in! I can see your stats all the way from here– I know you’re out there. Don’t be scared off by all of the music geeks. This is a forum that is open to all, and if there are questions/comments on any other aspect of the band or these songs, please feel free to throw your hat in the ring! No one here is a biter (at least as far as I know). And, because we’re on the Interweb, you can opt to remain blissfully anonymous!

On today’s episode, we’re going to have a little self-deprecating fun. The song, “Millionairess,” is an out-and-out reject, plagued with musical and lyrical problems from the start. It was unanimously voted down by other band members, and will forever reside in the Detholz! circular file.

So, your further criticisms are welcome! Below are mine. Let us sharpen our scalpels and begin…

I. SONG CONCEPT

This song is about someone I knew a long time ago who was first betrayed by her family and eventually by herself. Sorry to plead the 5th, but that’s really all I’m prepared to say in a public forum.

Lyrically, the song is a disaster. In addition to the queasy, gross-out imagery, the lyrics have a “Bee Gees” sheen to them, where the images and rhymes just… miss the mark. If I have any Achilles Heel when writing lyrics, it’s in over-reaching. I have a tendency, even in my day-to-day life, to try too hard to say something that’s actually pretty simple. Oh well. Perhaps it’s from a lifetime of listening to sermons on tape.

II. MUSICAL CONCEPT

OK, here’s where it gets juicy. This song began with the piano and drum groove, which I heisted directly from the Latin band Yerba Buena’s song, “Fever.” I wanted to go totally out of my element rhythmically in this song. I think the groove is fairly successful– especially since it wasn’t originally my idea! Things definitely went south from there.

This was an experiment doomed from the start. I had a very hard time crafting a convincing hook to this complex rhythm. Again, I’m no drummer! The result was the simple 4-note chorus (“I never killed anyone”), which doesn’t conjure a particularly pleasant image, nor is it set to a convincing melody. In retrospect, it might have worked better in the accompaniment, though with all of the other mistakes in this song’s arrangement, it hardly matters.

Earlier this year, I became addicted to the Miroslav Philharmonik orchestral plugin and decided to go nuts with a Steve Reich/John Adams-esque orchestral arrangement here, which lends the song a ponderous quality… like, “where the hell did this come from?” The “Traitor” motive (see previous posts) is all over the place, backwards, forwards, both in the orchestral instruments and the clavinet. If there’s anything that saves the song, it’s the Traitor motive, in my opinion, as it’s woven in pretty snugly.

The worst part is the painfully “Broadway” bridge. Augh! It makes me cringe every time I hear it. When the bridge hits, I imagine 20 clones of myself filing onstage from either side, enthusiastically waving top hats and canes, belting out the ridiculous background vocals. I included the pointilistic flute part in the bridge for continuity’s sake to link it to the previous verses, but it just doesn’t belong there.

Emergency! Send in the clowns!

Not to mention the leather and vomit imagery which, as ham-handed as it is, is made doubly ridiculous when given the Broadway treatment– though a musical that revolved around leather and vomit might be one I’d pay to see.

Feh. Apparently, I’m no Sondheim.

The final element that doesn’t work are all of the repeated “ones” and the persistent fifths in the piano. I played this song for a friend in the car, and it literally curled his spine. He immediately sat up straighter, began to fidget, and looked subliminally uncomfortable. While I would have enjoyed this result 10 years ago, it gave me no pleasure to see a friend physically recoil from one of my songs.

So, commenters, whip out your poison pens! Or perhaps you disagree and see some redeeming quality in this pretentious morass?

One thing is certain: my millions will elude me if I keep turning out caca like this.

III. LYRICS (gulp)

“I NEVER KILLED ANYONE”

One

Breathing in a perfume
Perfect head of hair
Alone within a pillar
A multimillionaire

Rightful heiress
Millionairess

And when your daddy tried to tell you something
Those were the words that you’d never forget
Now the bodies in the liquid are bumping you
Now he’ll never get to do it again
Do it again

“I NEVER KILLED ANYONE”

One

Hand upon the leather
Eyes roll back in peace
Skin begins to shimmer
See through to the seat

Throw up on your letter
Vomit from the fumes
That waft up to St. Peter
In his receiving room

And when your sister tried to tell you something
Those were the words that she shouldn’t have said
And now committees in the hallways are mumbling
“What should we have said? What should we have said?
What should we have said?”

“WE NEVER KILLED ANYONE”

One

Forgot to tell you
Got to tell you something:

WE NEVER KILLED ANYONE

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28 Responses to “Detholz! B-Side – “Millionairess””

  1. WOTSAC Says:

    Now Sondheim I can’t speak to, but I suspect that if Andrew Lloyd Webber had written a musical revolving around leather and vomit, it would be at least as ridiculous – and quite painfully ham-handed.

  2. BP Says:

    I’m sure I’m one of the “same 3 or 4” who “always comment”, so forgive me for perpetuating that trend. Really, I think your assessment (both good and bad) of this song is pretty much right on. I was definitely intrigued by the fade out of the band at the end and the use of the string parts. Out of anything in this tune, that would be something you might want to consider borrowing for future use elsewhere.

  3. Steve Chignell Says:

    All I can think about is that ridiculous image of 20 Jim Cooper clones filing out onto the stage endlessly repeating the word “one.” I suggest doing something like that at the church.

  4. Eri2 Says:

    I started out with a really open mind on this one, but it just got worse as the song progressed. I really love quirky music, but this one got progressively tough to deal with. I guess you can just claim it was your artistic vision to create discomfort for the listener to better emphasize the song’s theme of betrayal and to engage the listener in the depth of the discomfort caused by a betrayal. If you want to go the “pretentious morass” route you might as well go full boat 🙂

  5. Eriq Says:

    Edit: Eri2 is actually Eriq…stupid new ergonomic keyboard…

  6. Eriq Says:

    and now I posted in the wrong blog article…I’ve done it…I hate mornings….

  7. Eriq Says:

    Anyways…. I started out with a really open mind on this one, but it just got worse as the song progressed. I really love quirky music, but this one got progressively tough to deal with. I guess you can just claim it was your artistic vision to create discomfort for the listener to better emphasize the song’s theme of betrayal and to engage the listener in the depth of the discomfort caused by a betrayal. If you want to go the “pretentious morass” route you might as well go full boat 🙂

  8. not KD Says:

    initial thoughts in chronological order…

    interesting piano part,
    oh there the drums
    ah, there is the hook. this isn’t that bad at all
    one, one, one…
    holy f#$K, when will he stop saying “one”
    ok that’s enough
    stop it
    ok, he stopped saying one,
    verse is interesting as well
    hey, i kinda like this
    dammit! he’s saying “one” again

    seriously, I think there are some redeeming value there. the piano part is nifty, the I never killed anyone hook is already stuck in my head. lyrics aside, the verses are fine as well.

  9. anonymous Intarweb poster Says:

    Here I am expecting a glorious disaster and what do I hear? Not that. I myself am a purveyor of all music that’s bad, and this is not a “bad” song. Overwrought? Perhaps. Pretentious? Maybe. A complete swing and a miss? Doubtful. I actually kind of like the intro piano line and how it plays off of the drum beat. However, as soon as you start saying “I never killed anyone” you start to lose me. The flute lines are nice, but the “One One One One One One” parts sounds too much like Air to me. And that’s a bit jarring after the drum bits. Sounds like two or three songs put together.

    Maybe you’ll wind up filing this next to Victory Mansion, Time Travelling Peterbilt Semi, A.I. Agency and Next New Now, but I think some bits of it work. Just not in the same song.

    aIp

  10. dj Says:

    I’ll comment about this song a bit later when I have time, but I still have Jon’s “Our Universe” song stuck in my head.

  11. detholz Says:

    WOTSAC: It’s over now. The music of the. Night.

    BP: Aw, come on, BP. You’re always welcome here. I meant no offense to our glorious “regulars,” just wanted to make sure no one was scared off by the overabundance of music-speak.

    Yeah, that little fade out trick is one I’ve used before and is generally more effective on the tunes that pluck the heartstrings. Later in Oct. when it’s closer to Halloween, I’ll post a prime example!

    Steve: The ways things are headed at that place, don’t be surprised if you show up one week and see me doing a softshoe across the platform and then leaping into the pastor’s arms.

    Eri2/Eriq: Sorry you’re having trouble with your keyboard. Is there an echo in here?

    Agreed on all fronts. Overblown. Tough to take. Pretentious.

    Swing and a miss! Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. That’s the beauty of songwriting.

    Anonymous: Air, huh? I suppose I can see that. I saw them in Oslo, Norway a few years back, and despite the layers of gloss, they were pretty impressive.

    Astute observation. The plague of any music school grad is the inclusion of too many ideas into one song. When this composition started breaking down, I attempted to compensate by stacking on more parts and getting more gross. I’m afraid I got lost in the woods on this one. Oops.

    Deej: Not surprised to hear that. Catchy tune. As Jon would say, think of “Final Countdown.” It’s the The Mother of All Catchy Songs and will immediately destroy anything looping in your head.

  12. Phil Says:

    I dunno if it’s just my natural tendency to be a contrarian, but I actually like this song. I like it quite a bit. I actually like it quite a bit better than a lot of the other songs I’ve heard on this blog. I like the drums, and I can definitely see this coming to life in a live environment. Maybe I’m just damaged in the head, but I’m a sucker for a good drum beat. I know my opinion goes against the grain here, but I like the song, and that’s that!

  13. detholz Says:

    not KD: Thanks for the blow-by-blow. Perhaps there are elements here that are salvageable, but I don’t have the patience to pick through old songs and make a cut/paste Frankenstein. This is a legitimate technique– and I applaud you if you do it– it’s just that when I crank something out, I like to let it float away. At least until the band gets their claws into it.

    Phil: Fantastic! So it’s not a total loss. I listened to this over and over again after I wrote it and *tried* to like it, but I just don’t. There’s no arguing taste, that’s for sure. For my part, I’m glad someone out there finds this one interesting– even if it’s only one or two brave souls.

  14. kebabdylan Says:

    i see this song as a beautiful mess. It certainly is interesting! and the actual blog post was a fantastic read. And even though it makes me chuckle at times, i actually kinda like it. I am with phil, I would rank it above a couple of the others on this blog. I rather be confused by a song than unmoved either way.

    i do agree that this one is just too over the top and way busy with ideas. I have ended up laughing at some point with each listen which is probably not a good thing.

    The repetition of “One” works for a little bit but it just goes on too long. It does bring to mind a danielson familie song (http://www.kebabdylan.com/goodyBox/02%20Idiot%20Boksen.mp3) one of the best uses of repeating single words. and jc i also uploaded tabula rasa in the same directory if you are interested.

  15. anonymous Intarweb poster Says:

    Hey Jim I know what you mean about trying to piece together bits and pieces from other things to make something new. In my professional life, I write ad campaigns. And typically for any client, we’ll come up with 4 or 5 new campaigns for a presentation, and the client will choose one. The other campaigns will be forgotten about. So the suits around here always want to “recycle” old campaigns for new clients. We fight that at every turn because those are old ideas and the reason we’re in this line of work is to come up with new ideas. I’d imagine that the reason you write a song is to come up with something new, not to try to resurrect some old idea. Even though you share his initials, let’s leave the resurrecting to that other JC.

  16. dj Says:

    OK, now how do I get Final Countdown out of my head? It’s like a cage match in there and Europe is Rick Flair. Can anyone defeat “The Nature Boy?”

  17. jim Says:

    I read the blog, heard the song, but I haven’t read anyone else’s comments. So I hope I’m not repeating anything that ‘s alread been said. So here I go.
    First off, I’ll agree with you Mr. Cooper in saying this song is doomed. But me being probably the regular here that fights for the music for the musician, I totally appreciate it. Regardless of how ‘all over the place’ it is. I’d love to see the music video for this one where your top hat and cane imagery would reside. Hilarious.
    Ultimately though, the whole damn thing was absolutely SOOOO worth it to hear the (i may be wrong) the chordally augmented Death to the Traitor string section reprise in the end. Maybe you didn’t mean to do it. I would think you would have brought this up in your blog if you did it intentionally. I don’t know. But I got goosebumps over and over when I had to keep hitting the rewind button. Well frickin’ done.
    On the reprise subject. I need to now take this opportunity to express how perfect your version of Invisible Touch was. Throwing in your own Invisible touch with the whaky signiture guitar line from the Who Are the DH track completely wigged me out in the absolute best way. Well done on that one, Sir.

  18. jim Says:

    “Whoa, whoa, whoa!” towards Anonymous Intarweb’s first comment. A.I. Agency should never have been cut. It belongs on the same glorious album that Tammy will eventually make it onto.

    I just started reading other comments while waiting for my sis and hubby to say bye to dad. (damn long, midwestern goodbyes!)

  19. detholz Says:

    ‘Bab: Again, I’m glad there are people that see redeeming qualities in the song. It’s certainly a mess, beautiful or no.

    Anonymous Intar: Writing pop music is a lot like writing an ad, I’d expect, except that you actually get paid to write an ad.

    dj: Only one man can defeat the Nature Boy:

    DUSTY RHODES

    Jim: Yeah, the ending came out all right– perhaps the only redeeming quality of the arrangement is that it…well…ends.

    The Traitor motive was intentionally reharmonized in the strings. Glad you lekkit.

    I realize it’s incredibly self-indulgent to self-reference, esp. for a small potatoes band like us. But if you’re gonna cover Genesis, might as well go all the way, you know?

  20. jim Says:

    Oh. And I forgot to ask.
    Did you add slight distortion to the drums, or have I blown my van speakers out?

  21. detholz Says:

    Jim: I always distort the drum tracks these days– or at least slap some overdrive on them. I like the “blown out” sound, plus it takes away some of the “robo-drum” sheen that comes with using a drum machine.

  22. Jim Says:

    Indeed. I’ve actually used this technique as well, seeing as the only drums I can record in my apartment (when I can’t get to where my real drums are) are the ones on my keyboard, for the same reasons.

  23. BP Says:

    Umm, it’s late Wednesday night, and no new post for this week… Going into Detholz withdrawal…

  24. Jim Says:

    Alright. I’m sorry I ever said that this one was doomed. After hearing it for a while now, I don’t even hear the disjointedness anymore. It rocks and flows, and the ending is still the best. I know you probably would never use it for the Traitor album, but if you were to put together an album called Crap I Don’t Want To Use, I’d buy two copies.

  25. detholz Says:

    BP: Sorry, brother! I had a week “live, direct from Hell” last week. I promise to be more punctual on this thing.

    Jim: Thanks.

    I appreciate the suggestion of creating an album’s worth of discarded material– in this interweb age, that’s a great idea. I also like your title very much! Simple, direct, unapologetic. “Crap We Don’t Want to Use.”

    I also appreciate your use of the family-friendly word “crap,” as opposed to… well, you know. This would ensure inclusion on the racks at Family Bookstores.

    Seriously, I’m glad you get something out of this song. I can hardly stand listening to it since the lyrics gross me out. As long as it has a home somewhere, I’ll gladly give it up for adoption.

  26. Jim Says:

    Honestly, as hard as I try to hear the entire song, I can’t say I even know what your singing about. Sorry. But the music rocks.
    I’ll work on that.

  27. Jim Says:

    I still can’t quite make out what you’re saying by listening to the track, so I just read the lyrics. I think they’re darn good. They paint a descriptive picture, and I’m digging the phrasing and melody. Also, I never pictured the repeated ‘one’s as an annoying vocal part, but more of a droning instrumental part. The gross-out factor only makes me want to hear more, although, I usually strive for that kind of effect in my own writing.
    And weather or not you’re one to pick and choose parts from discarded pieces to use in newer pieces, my only suggestion is to keep the Traitor reprise somewhere in the album. It’s just too cool.
    All in all, music AND lyrics are a go in my book. I’ll be waiting for you to send me the adoption papers.

  28. detholz Says:

    Jim: The signature at the bottom of the papers is hard to read. You can also find it on the baby’s bottom. It reads: “Xavier Roberts.”

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