Do you know what I mean when I say ‘earworm’? I don’t mean an unpleasant parasite (though that depends on the artist I suppose). No, an earworm is a song that seems quite ordinary at first listen, but eventually worms its way into your brain. Then when you wake up at 6.30am and are brushing your teeth sleepily… it’s THERE. It stalks your waking hours, popping into your mind throughout the day, until eventually you concede you must like it a bit.
This is the situation I find myself in with the title track from Alicia’s fifth studio album, “Girl on fire”. At first it just sounded like a new song, it was a bit basic, I wondered if it was a buzz single or something, but no it’s the real thing. Repetition’s the big thing at the moment, in the absence of catchy hooks. I mean just listen to Coldplay’s Paraaa-paraaaaaa-paradise, how long did that chorus take to whip up? (Sidenote: I’m totally getting “Paradise” finally, after that Life of Pi trailer).
I’ve always been a casual fan of Alicia since her debut ‘Fallin’ 11 years ago (!), though I’ve never really gotten into more than a couple of singles per campaign. I just expected a certain level of impenetrable artistic vision to go along with it (maybe that’s what normally puts me off).
But no, “Girl on fire” is a pretty repetitive track, with Alicia bellowing about a girl who’s possibly on ACTUAL FIRE. She seems to labour the metaphor a bit too much. I suspect she’s just hot stuff, but Alicia’s certainly very pleased about it. She likes singing “Fiyaaaaaah” at every opportunity over the simple melody and big drum beat. It just feels a bit lightweight, and so I wonder if I’ve missed something.
But that chorus really does get stuck in your head. The video is pretty odd too, Alicia’s just in a room doing various skits: Mary Poppins, preparing beans (?), feeling the flock wallpaper. What is the narrative here?! It’s colourful but strange. What’s with that surprise gunshot at the end?!
I’m just glad she’s having fun, or being empowered, or just a bit mental after having her first kid (she called it Egypt, so Christ knows). It’s no “Try sleeping with a broken heart”, but it’ll do for now. FIYAAAHHHHHHH!