Friday, October 26, 2012

Sugar Ray Macca

I like pop. Melody is, as no one says, my jam, and pretty much regardless of style or trends, in the modern era, at least, pop equals melody. The beat may vary, the production certainly does, but melody is a constant in the majority of pop music.

So I liked Sugar Ray. What can I say? I did. Not enough to give them any money, but when one of their three or four songs I knew came on, I enjoyed them. I know it's not cool to admit it—hell, it wasn't cool to admit it back when they were selling millions of records, it certainly ain't cool now. But it's been a mighty long time since I cared what people thought of my taste in music, and back when I did care, I had the metabolism of a jackrabbit and, what the hell, even back then, back when I cared, I really didn't care much. I mean, listen to this intro:

It's "Ventura Highway" with a nice groove and less ridiculous lyrics. And if the band's sense of humor isn't exactly on a Monty Python level, well, I give 'em credit for not just trying to look cool. Is frontman Mark McGrath kind of annoying? Sure, but a lot of that may just be how much I wish I had his looks (certainly his hair and his abs). And, yeah, his voice is kinda nasally, but on the other hand, I found out not too long ago that he lived, for at least a little while, in the same small Connecticut town as me at the same time. So, you know: represent, my brotha.

Same goes with (what I think was?) their last hit:

Again, catchy melody, decent enough lyrics, prominent acoustic guitar set against a cool beat: for a guy like me, what's not to like? (Answer: the silly Robbie Robertson-like conducting of the other band members during the lovely acappella intro.

And here's my point. Tonight it hit me that Sugar Ray's basic DNA can be found right here:

Oh, sure, sure. I know, I know. "Band influenced by Beatles" isn't exactly news. Even to be influenced by a former-Beatle's post-Beatles work isn't exactly earth-shattering. But that's not what I'm talking about. I'm not talking about having been influenced by the Fabs, although clearly the band was. I'm not even talking about having McCartneyesque influences or bits and bobs. I'm talking about this specific post-Beatles Paul McCartney song being the basis for Sugar Ray's biggest hits.

It's all there, save the nasally voice. That's Sugar Ray's entire hit template, one sub-3:00 tossed-off ditty, later sped up slightly. I mean, jeez, listening to the section from about 1:42 until the end, it feels like Sugar Ray owes a certain British knight royalties.

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