2009: “Dog Days Are Over” (Florence and the Machine, Lungs)
This one is a bit of a chronological mess. The song itself was released as a single in 2008. The album containing it came out in 2009. And the music video that introduced the song to me followed along in 2010. But I decided to go with the year the album came out because, well, it’s my damn list.
It was that surreal whirl of a music video that really got my attention though. It references everything from Princess Mononoke to the B-52s to the Bible in this Technicolor mélange of face paint and robes and beehive hairdos. It really doesn’t have a whole lot to do with the lyrics, but it really doesn’t matter. It fits the mood of the song, simultaneously uplifting and exuberant as Florence Welsh just belts to the rafters, but with a darker undertone that matches the lyrics as her cohorts explode in flashes as the song ends. For all its church revival energy, the lyrics hint at no small amount of trepidation; happiness hits “like a bullet in the back,” and love has to be left behind “if you want to survive.” It seems less about celebrating the end of bad times and more about having gotten so used to the bad times that she’s not really sure how to handle the good ones.
Getting back to Welsh, it’s appropriate that the album is called Lungs, because boy does she have a set. And she’s not just blaring at the top of her range the whole time. She’ll bring things down to a falsetto that makes the moments she does go full throat all the more powerful. And are they powerful; even with pounding keyboard chords and thumping drums competing for attention, she’s front and center and absolutely mesmerizing. You want to leap up and join her.
So maybe I was doubly late to the party on this one — along with plenty of other people, because the song was everywhere in 2010 — but I got there eventually.