Song vs. Song: CRUEL WORLD Y'ALL

In the second installment of "Song Versus Song" where I unfairly set up songs to duke it out based on the merit of their name and pretty much nothing else, we have Phantogram up against Lana Del Ray. 

If this was really happening, I'd petition hard for some nice femslash fan fiction about Sarah and Lana. WHAT I BLEED RED BLOOD JUST LIKE THE REST OF YOU!

But really.

Really. 




Some background for the plebes: Lana Del Rey is an immensely popular American singer-songwriter beloved by edgy women and gay men in their teens to late 20s. I think her zenith was really a few years ago, but I am sure she'll have another surge of popularity at some point. She's talented!

And Phantogram is a fun indie band that specializes in an electronic sound that is almost like a groovier Portishead. Their music has a lot of throwbacks to hip-hop, which is also a lot of fun. Plus, they've made music with Big Boi of Outkast fame, which is AWESOME.


Any more context that you'd like - I invite you to use our good old "Do No Evil" friend, Google.

"Cruel World" by LDR is kind of a swan song. It's the sort of schtick LDR is renowned for; it's smoky, it's bitter, it's about heartbreak. That really terrible feeling after a bad break-up when you realize you should have not shared so much with that person because they weren't willing to hold space for you. If this sounds like I'm reflecting on something, yes, yes I am. 

I learned recently "Ultraviolence" is considered the pumpkin-latte-sipping, Crocs-wearing sibling in the LDR family. Well, let me out myself by saying "Ultraviolence" is one of my favorite works of her. One listen and I want to start talking to someone about "Infinite Jest" over craft beer. 


It's definitely weaker in an artistic sense than her most recent works - LDR seems to be on a really interesting creative bender lately and I wish I could appreciate it more, I fullheartedly do. But I don't because it isn't clicking with me. Although her latest single is almost fragile in its beauty.

MEANWHILE, "Cruel World" by Phantogram ... will destroy you. That song isn't playing games. 

Sarah offered in an interview that it's about hope, and the music itself would convey that message. But the lyrics are insanely abrasive and cathartic, and to me it's when someone deus ex machinas out of a situation that is no longer serving them.

Case in point, I heard "Cruel World" for the first time after I went through a "break up." The person in question had decided I was no longer good for them, and honestly, she did me a favor because the situation had become very toxic and hurtful. As in, this is something that is going to haunt me for a long time (although I've ridden out the truly tough parts). She walked away from me; it wasn't vice versa. So when I heard "Cruel World" I immediately imagined it as her message to me. And that might have been a fucked up thing for me to do at that time, but I think it was actually pivotal in me healing. Like, I played this track on repeat for weeks because it resonated with me. Eventually, I got to this point where I was able to see I was not the toxic person - she had her issues, too. Thus, I reclaimed the song about my comeuppance, which was basically me living well and learning from my mistakes. I guess to write that down it seems simple, but it was an emotional hell. It helped though that I had a baby guinea pig to focus on and made a friend in a similar situation. Plus, you know, I had my job to keep my mind occupied. Nights were hard for a long time, though. I also started dating again, which was definitely not great for that year (sans one Finnish woman) but seems to have hit a nice spot.




So, for me, I'd pick Phantogram. Theirs is powerful, and Sarah has teased they're making new music (which I imagine will be out fairly soon.). LDR is down a certain thematic rabbithole, but some of her stuff seems promising. Case in point, this track:


Next week I will be back and possibly comparing No Doubt to the Velvet Underground, which is a thing no one should probably ever do, but #YOLO!



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