This statement could gesture more at ignorance than truth, but anyhow, not many songs about loss are written from a place of the acceptance. There’s fury, there’s sorrow, there’s disbelief, but you’d be hard-pressed to name a cut that pays homage with the same simple sweetness of the Commodores’ “Nightshift.”
The 80s funk ‘n’ soul outfit’s only hit after Lionel Richie’s departure from the group, “Nightshift” could work no matter what it’s about – sing the phonebook to “Nightshift,” and you have a jam on your hands, providing you’re blessed with the honeyed luster of J.D. Nichols’ vocal chords. But beneath the multi-part harmonies, “Nightshift” is an understated farewell, equal parts paean and eulogy.
by Grace McCreight
Cast your mind back to the halcyon days of 2002. Jeans were lowrise, Kirsten Dunst kissed Toby Mcguire upside down in the rain, and American Idol was brand new. 9/11 was a recent memory, there was a sniper in DC, and we were all still afraid of anthrax in our mailboxes. The new millennium was simultaneously prosperous and tumultuous, innocent and anxious.
Into this confusing time stepped a perfectly anxiolytic film – Scooby Doo: The Movie. This stylized fever dream finds the Mystery Machine gang investigating a vacation island that is best described as “MTV Spring Break: Disney Haunted Mansion”. Over the course of 86 minutes [SPOILERS AHOY], Rowan Atkinson plays an evil robot controlled by a crazed Scrappy Doo, Fred’s consciousness is embedded into Daphne so that he can look at her boobs, and Shaggy finds love with a woman named Mary Jane. It’s a beautifully light-hearted combination of early-00’s youth culture and 70’s drug nostalgia, rolled in puka shells and covered with glow-in-the-dark paint.
by Nicola Householder and Charlotte Murtishaw
“I can whistle with my fingers, especially if I have a whistle,” Mitch Hedberg once deadpanned. Far be he from the whistling virtuoso of Andrew Bird, who CNN once declared a “whistling wonder,” though it seems like the childhood sport is all-too oft abandoned, popping up occasionally in the most random of genre. To take a quick but dizzying survey of some of its most memorable moments:
The halcyon twee pop days of 2006 peaked with Peter Bjorn and John’s inescapable “Young Folks”; ‘Ye was inspired enough by the Swedish band’s whistle-driven earworm that he addressed his various spats with the mainstream media over the instrumental. Yet PB&J were far from the first to build a song around whistling; even just a year prior, Juelz Santana had hit the Billboard charts with the far less innocent “There It Go (The Whistle Song)”. It had, in the sixties, pervaded movie soundtracks, from the Spaghetti Western stylings of Ennio Morricone to Bernard Herrmann’s score for “Twisted Nerve” (which would in turn end up in Kill Bill, before being sampled by young West coast rapper Rob $tone as the base of his Spooks collaboration “Chill Bill”.) ’60s classical guitar virtuoso Robbie Basho gives master whistler Bird a run for his money, but in the end, it’s moments like the famous outro of Otis Redding’s “(Sitting on) the Dock of the Bay” that remind us of the simple, unvarnished pleasure of whistling a tune, through good times and bad.
This playlist makes a rough stab at pinning down some of the most critical cameos of whistling in popular music in the past fifty or so years – feel free to get lost in the whistory.
Nicola Householder is a San Francisco-based graphic designer and former college radio DJ for Pratt WPIR. She specializes in print, packaging, and pranks. Find her online at nicolahouseholder.com and @nicolasage.
Charlotte Murtishaw is an American.