Laughing at the absurdity

10 11 2009

I Hate Myself and Want to Die: The 52 Most Depressing Songs You’ve Ever Heard by Tom Reynolds

i_hate_myself_and_I_want_to_dieYou know how in High Fidelity, the big motif was the top 5? Top breakups, movies, songs by theme, whatever.

Well, imagine if Nick Hornby took all the plot and characters out, but left the wit and the obsessive need to categorize and list things.

That’s what you have here. Reynolds has gathered and sifted through decades of music just so he can present them, complete with mocking commentary, to you. And who are you, mysterious reader, to enjoy such a thing?

Honestly, you’re probably a Pajiban or something close to it. There’s no getting around it. The style here is not unlike what made me a fan of Pajiba’s writing in the first place, albeit it with a bit less cursing and fewer sexual innuendos. But the snark is straight up stinging—Reynolds doesn’t hold back when it comes to pile-driving a deserving song right into the ground.

Seeing as “depressing” is kind of a catch-all adjective (hell, depending on the day I’ll find a cereal commercial as depressing as, say, worldwide famine), Reynolds breaks it down into categories by theme such as:

  • I Was a Teenage Car Crash
  • She Hates Me, I Hate Her
  • Horrifying Remakes of Already Depressing Songs
  • I Had No Idea That Song Was So Morbid
  • Perfect Storms

Now, Perfect Storms really are something to behold. Described as “the audio equivalent of a Donner Party guide loudly insisting he knows the way through the pass,” they necessitate the use of at least two things:

  • BCM (brain-concussion modulation): “When vocalists, anxious to show they can hit a high J, wait breathlessly while the orchestra slams the music into a higher key”
  • Rasputin Effect: “Right when you think the song is over and dead, it comes back to torture you further”

And he’s not kidding, they are awful. But the entire book is hilarious and fun to read. I was laughing out loud at some of the low blows he takes at what is considered by far too many to be really deep and meaningful music. Smart, witty writing, and thank God because these songs really are downers.

The only, only thing missing for me was an accompanying CD. Some of the older songs just aren’t in my music collection and it was hard to read along if nothing about the song was sticking in my memory. To satisfy my own craving, and to encourage some of you to read the book, I’m providing a handy dandy playlist with most of the songs.

I don’t consider this to be a spoiler—any fool can see the songs listed in the Table of Contents—but it certainly helps to listen to the songs first. It only makes the book that much more enjoyable, I promise.

Click here to go to the playlist!

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