1980 and all that: 2014

St Vincent

Ohrwürm. The Germans call such things an Ohrwürm: a tune that gets stuck, persistently, in your head. We call them Ear Worms. Shaun Keaveney has even devoted a whole feature to them on his BBC 6 Music breakfast show.

My usual earworms are typically things I would never choose to listen to. They’re always things like a Boyzone hit from the mid-90s, some form of bubblegumery like Aqua’s ‘Barbie Girl’ of Steps’ ‘5-6-7-8’. And then there’s ‘We are the Ovalteeneys’.

Don’t ask.

Fortunately there are occasions when the Venn diagrams of the Earworm discography and the All Good Music discography do intersect. ‘Wordy Rappinghood’ is a good example. As is St Vincent’s ‘Digital Witness’.

‘Digital Witness’ boasts an infectious flurry of parping brass that it’s impossible not to like: Bah-bah BAH ba ba ba ba ba baa, Bah-bah BAH ba ba ba ba ba baa.

If that doesn’t worm its way through your ears, nothing will. You are impervious to die Ohrwürmer. Congratulations. You are a marvel of modern medical science.

‘Digital Witness’ isn’t just about trumpets interfering with the cranium though. Its lyrics – an assessment of our reliance on small screens for every part of our lives:

If I can’t show it, if you can’t see me
What’s the point of doing anything?

It recalls lots of dystopian fiction: Orwell’s 1984 and Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We for the theme of a lack of privacy and Raymond Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 for the willing submission to a world of screens in preference to reality or an engagement with ideas.

It is, in summary, rather good.

If you don’t have time to read any of the above – hopefully not because you’re too busy staring at screens – then this blast of three minutes and 22 seconds of pop bliss should fill in most of the gaps for you.

You can even watch a video for it on a screen of your choice.


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