Sunday, January 31, 2010

Anticipation for Kings of Leon at Tonight's Grammys

From the Los Angeles Times, "Kings of Leon: Pop's Unlikely Royal Family is Back at the Grammys":

Kings of Leon has become the emblematic band of the new decade by resurrecting the sound and spirit of rock's classic era for a generation that doesn't view the music as necessarily heroic or transformative. Combining the blues strut of the Rolling Stones with the jitters of post- punk bands like Joy Division and, more recently, the reach of U2, the Kings of Leon do what great pop does -- they transcend any specific root or subculture to make something universal. And "Use Somebody," with its churchy chorus and what Caleb [Followill] calls its "double meaning" of mercenary lust melting into loneliness and soul hunger, was a perfect anthem for a troubled year like 2009.

Taylor Swift, Beyoncé and Lady Gaga might wind up trumping the Kings for Grammy statues, but "Use Somebody" stands as a song that's crossed borders and made many unlikely fans. It's one of only four rock songs in recent history to top four Billboard charts at once, including the mainstream and alternative Top 40 tallies. No less than Jay-Z called it his favorite song of last year in a recent Village Voice interview, saying it was rivaled in his book only by the Kings' more carnal but equally lofty "Sex on Fire" (which last year earned the Grammy for best rock performance by a duo or group with vocals).

Artists can't stop covering "Use Somebody." Nick Jonas and Nickelback both perform it in concert; English soul songbird Pixie Lott, avant-pop chanteuse Natasha Khan ( Bat for Lashes) and Jay-Z protégé Bridget Kelly have recorded it; Nashville emo band Paramore scored a YouTube hit after performing it live for the BBC.

"It was a perfect song for us to cover because I enjoy singing anything that's soulful," said Paramore's lead singer, Hayley Williams, in an e-mail. "All Caleb's vocal lines are extremely soulful. It could almost be any genre. And that versatility really shined when we were able to strip the song down acoustically. It didn't affect the power of the lyrics or anything because good art is good art no matter how someone translates it."

All this praise makes Caleb Followill uncomfortable. He's recently taken to telling journalists that he wants to "shoot himself in the head" when he hears "Use Somebody" -- he's sick of it and prefers to listen to late Texas troubadours like Townes Van Zandt and Blaze Foley, whom he claims as a current main influence. Yet he admits that he hit on something special when he followed through on the phrase he first uttered to his siblings on a desolate night during a long tour.

"It's kind of a hook," he said. "When you see it on paper and you think, it's Kings of Leon, he's going to be talking about some one-night thing. But really it's just the opposite of that. At the end of the day no matter who you are, you're gonna have those moments when you need someone to help you out."
RTWT at the link.


arleen said...

they didnt even play and that was the only reason i watched. any idea what happened?