Wednesday, September 04, 2002
Back to chronicling the year's best in pop...

Shakedown - At Night
My boyfriend and I have completely different sleep patterns: if he doesn't get to sleep by 10:30 or so he has a shocking headache the next day; if I try to go fall asleep before 1:00am I tend to lie in bed all night, only half-aware that I'm awake but certainly not sleeping. Since the civilised world tends to adhere to his sleeping patterns rather than mine, I can be somewhat difficult in the morning. Not surly, really, but dazed, slow, not really there.

So I sympathise with Ms. Shakedown when she complains, in that ever so saccharine breathy sigh of hers, that "some days just don't feel right... I think I feel much better at night." Ms. Shakedown and I share a certain understanding of the way in which the young body wants to work, which is to go against the grain of nature in the pursuit of a mindless expenditure of energy, to gear up for depletion, and to live in the red the rest of the time. And why wouldn't you go all out when you've got "At Night" playing in the background? Sprightly yet slinky, texturiffic but ever-so-smooth, "At Night" is pure 1am music, sweat-and-make-up smeared deleriant, one vodka shot too many. Like Kylie's "Can't Get You Out Of My Head", MRI's "Tied To The Eighties" and Yoko Mono's "Higher Than Phunk (ie. three of the best dance tunes of the last year), "At Night" aims for an oddly metallic sexiness, not tech-house so much as prog-disco, its trancey jitter-riffs rubbing up sensuously against the coke dazzle of the funk guitar and the spring-heeled house beats. This is night music because it's machine music - "At Night", despite its winsome flutter, is pop as pure compulsiveness. Hence the way Ms. Shakedown's girlish refrain itself becomes a jabbing jitter-riff, puncturing her own easy songful narrative as if to say, "well, after all what does it matter? I'm merely serving a ruthlessly functional purpose."

And yet "At Night" is defiantly not night music for me. Instead it's been the song I've pulled out more than any other these past few months as I've stumbled out of bed and attempted to motivate myself to go to uni; the song that, between the hours of seven and nine on any given day of the week, is my pop song of the year. Because this is music that doesn't allow sluggishness, apathy, sloth, even when I've got a bloody good excuse. And because Ms. Shakedown and I share a certain understanding.


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