Hello, and welcome to Radio Rants. Well, I didn’t expect to see these guys again.
Yep, fun., the makers of this year’s runaway crossover hit “We Are Young” are back with another single that got way bigger than I ever thought it would. I…still don’t know how I feel about fun.: on one hand, I’m always happy to see a band break big like this, but at the same time, I wish it was a band I liked. I tried to get on board with “We Are Young”, I really did, but after a few listens, it didn’t do anything for me. And while their earlier material is certainly more enjoyable, it still feels overdressed and non-essential (although “Be Calm” has some pretty great moments). I don’t know, maybe I’ll get more out of second single “Some Nights”.
“SOME NIGHTS I STAY UP/CASHING IN MY PADLOCK (ed: BAD LUCK)/SOME NIGHTS, I CALL IT A DRAW” Damn, they opened on a lo–“SOME NIGHTS I WISH MY LIPS COULD BUILD A CASTLE/SOME NIGHTS I WISH THEY’D JUST FALL OFF” I have no idea what that m–“BUT I STILL WAKE UP, I STILL SEE YOUR GHOST/OH LORD I’M STILL NOT SURE WHAT I STAND FOR, OOHHH”
Oh dear Lord, stop!
Let’s get this out of the way: fun. really want to be Queen. Not like, “Oh, they do a nice ‘Killer Queen'”, I mean I think they really want to have made A Night At the Opera and Sheer Heart Attack themselves. That’s the only explanation I can come up for why the song starts with the Million Man (and chipmunk) Multitrack Choir you’ll be hearing all over the song, as well as guitarist Jack Antonoff’s (when your last name sounds like “-in’ it off”, why do you name your son Jack?) Brian May wanna-be solos.
“Some Nights” is a wreck as a whole. But it’s such an impressive wreck that the best way to get your head around it is to look at each part on its own, because each individual bad part of it strengthens the others.
Ok, I’ve sat through a lot of T-Pain. I sat through a Ke$ha record, and will be doing so again sooner than I’d like. And “Some Nights” still has some of the most gratuitous vocoder abuse I’ve ever heard. If it happened once in the song, then that’s…better? But no, Nate Ruess, who has a great voice on his own, decides to wail into the squeaky toy three. Fucking. Times. I get that artists can do whatever they want for style and whimsy, but especially on that last one, it seems like Ruess is just terrified of there being part of the song where he isn’t singing.
That might also explain why the band leans hard on “Whooa-ooooh-whoaa”s. And, to be fair, the last big interlude with the guitar over it is the coolest part of the song, and for once the song sounds as anthemic as it wants to be. But for the most part, these wordless choruses exist to point out how painfully “Some Nights” sounds like “Cecilia”. Aside from that, “Some Nights” is ok musically; the drums do most of the leg work, while piano lays the musical groundwork for a mostly vocal song (again, Queen). The random guitar riffing is obnoxious, save the last minute or so of the song where it actually sounds planned, and Antonoff doesn’t sound like he’s trying to remind everyone that fun.’s actually a band.
Unfortunately, the martial drums, intrusive guitars, piano, and multiple vocals (the “ooh whooa oooh”s are more frequent than you’d think) make “Some Nights” fumble around like a cartoon character trying to keep sticks of dynamite in the air. Check out “Do It Like a Rock Star” from Amanda Palmer’s new album. It sounds like it could fall apart in a second, but every part of the song’s working together, and you don’t get that with “Some Nights”, where everything drowns out everything else.
The final nail in “Some Night”‘s crowded coffin is the lyrics. Instead of being tied to anything concrete (not a bad thing), they’re more about despair, existential crises, what life m–ah, fuck it. They’re about being a mopey teenager.
No, really. When I see lyrics this vaguely arty, erring towards clichés, mentioning mom and dad multiple times, and loaded with bullshit imagery (“I found a martyr in my bed tonight/She stops my bones from wondering who I am”), I can’t help but think of a pretentious, self-important teenager that goes around muttering “phonies” under his breath. The forced earnestness in the song’s two spoken word passages only kicks it higher on the Pretense-O-Meter.
It took me awhile to tire of “We Are Young”, but “Some Nights” was obnoxious from the first full listen. Whenever it would come on around me, I always thought I happened to catch it halfway through, because the song didn’t seem to have a real start or finish. After listening to it end to end, I’ve found that nope, that’s pretty much the case; “Some Nights” opens with a graceless chorus, and fades out in pretty much the same way. This is what truly irritates me about fun.: they’re so concerned with being EPIC that they miss the target by hitting it in the bluntest way possible.