Brian mostly writes about movies and TV, but he’s contributed some music commentary over the years. This week, I’m revisiting seven of his song reviews and recommendations.
“Thneedville” from The Lorax – From “Five for Five: Brian’s Picks” (2014)
God I love this song…
While I would love to launch into a sprawling defense of [The Lorax] as a whole, I’m afraid it will have to wait for a future post, as we’ve got a lot more ground to cover and I’m fairly sure I’ve already exceeded my fellow writers’ typical “5 for 5” blurb wordcount. So let’s instead look at just the opening scene, as the citizens of Thneedville greet the morning, eager to begin another day in their “perfect” community.
The song effortlessly blends jubilation and menace. Though the environmentalist angle is readily apparent (when has ecological media ever been subtle?), I can’t help but dig the cheeky way in which it’s conveyed. Characters extol the virtues of their society while simultaneously expressing their disinclination “to know where the smog and trash and chemicals go.” They note with amusement how taking a dip in the water causes them to glow, and a deliveryman sniffs a dollar as the protagonist’s mother sniffs a fresh shipment of air (packaged bottled-water-style, a la Spaceballs).
But the genius of “Thneedville” extends beyond the lyrics and visuals. The song is a musical powerhouse, and the arrangement perfectly serves its purpose: The frequent, near-yodel pitch wavering channels Seuss’ trademark wackiness, while the pounding bass suggests more sinister implications behind the Thneedvillians’ revelry.
Regardless of these implications, I would happily dwell in a dystopian society if it meant I could start each day with a mass song-and-dance rendition of this infectious number.
Brian has contributed many outstanding opinions and bits of knowledge to my taste in culture, a few of which we will address this week. One of my favorites, though, has been an enthusiasm for “Thneedville.” What Brian writes is true. All of it. This song is a masterpiece of an opener, maybe the best animated one since “The Circle of Life.” The tune soars and glides, with dynamic vocal harmonies and a thrilling, upbeat production.
Here’s a fun story that I’m not sure I’ve ever told anyone, even Brian. At my previous job (Brian’s current employer), I would occasionally have days where I needed to concentrate intensely to get a lot done. I eventually developed a formula for such days:
I would get in to work as early as I could, preferably before all of my coworkers. I would mute the office phone and shut my office door. Then I would turn on my work playlist (helpfully titled “work”). It contained exactly four tracks: “Thneedville,” then the demo version of “Thneedville,” then “Wildest Dreams” by Taylor Swift, then… the entire score of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
There was a deliberate flow to this playlist. The two “Thneedvilles” would give me a jolt of morning energy (accompanied by a coffee from the Keurig), then “Wildest Dreams” would mellow my temperament a bit, and then Lord of the Rings would hit, and I’d be ready to conquer the world. My rule was that I had to pause the music if I ever stopped working, even for a bathroom break. This meant that any day I finished the whole playlist, I’d have four dedicated hours of hard work done. This feat was surprisingly tough to pull off; it made me realize how inefficient and distractable I am by default. (I have nevre quite resolved this problem.)
So cheers to Brian for the best kids’ movie opener that functions as morning pump-up number a fellow Earn This writer has ever introduced me to… errr, maybe second best. You’ll hear about #1 during the corresponding Colton week.