Morning Countdown #13 (7/4/09)


It’s the Fourth of July, or as we call it in Korea this year, “Saturday.” Ha ha. Anyhow, I got up this morning and turned on the TV to see an episode of “Sex and the City.” It was actually the last episode (well, if you don’t count the movie) where Mikhail Baryshinikov dances his way into Carrie’s heart (sorry for all the lame jokes today) and whisks her off to Paris. There, Carrie broods, sulks, and pouts before Big comes and takes her back home. It’s a great show and a great episode, but I couldn’t help but yell at her in my mind: “Hey, you’re in Paris! So your boyfriend turned out be an ass, and you stepped in dog poop in your fancy shoes. So what? It’s still PARIS, so stop your whining already!!!” Anyhow, in case you couldn’t tell, I’m very, very looking forward to my European voyage in October. As of now, it’s Paris, London (with a day trip to see the Stonehenge), y Barcelona es un posibilidad. I’ll be bringing my tennis racket in the hopes of finding some people to play with (get your mind out of the gutter; I’m talkin’ tennis).

Anyhow, things are getting better at my school, and my head no longer feels like it’s trapped in a vise all the time (I’m telling you it was the dancing that helped). The kids have realized I’m really going (I’m starting to get several “Tommy Teacher, don’t go”s each day, ouch), but before I go, I’ll be preparing a personal letter for each of the 6th graders (about 180 in total), gift packs for the Sticker Champion Team students (it’s based on a semester-long points system; the winning team in each class will each get a cookie, a glitter pen, and a marshmallow treat; thank God there’s Costco in Korea!), and I managed to get the VP’s permission for a 2nd Tommyland Chess Tournament (35 entrants!), which will take place next week. On top of that, I’m supposed to enter final grades in ten days, and I have a three week English ‘camp’ to plan for that starts at my school right after the regular semester ends. I have a full plate, no doubt, but my outlook has improved (again, I’m telling you it was the dancing), and as Tim Gunn always say, I’ll make it work. But I’m definitely looking forward to heading California on 9/2 and de-workalizing myself (bring on the Quarter Pounders and the library books!) before heading to Europe.

Anyhow, here’s the day’s Countdown:

1) After Tonight – Mariah Carey
2) Viva La Vida – Coldplay
3) Time Is Running Out – Muse
4) I Have Nothing – Whitney Houston
5) Tempted – Squeeze

Mariah Carey makes her debut on the Countdown with “After Tonight,” which suffers from what I call the Stepdaughter Syndrome. Namely, it’s when a song suffers from being very similar to another song by the same singer that’s clearly superior. “After Tonight” is a decent, Spanish-flavored ballad, but it’s clearly a “My All” knock-off, and Mariah’s sing-one-line-then-breathe-one-line vocals end up rather irritating. I’ll probably be deleting this one from my mp3 player later today.

Coldplay’s up next, which is interesting, because the band itself suffered from the Stepdaughter Syndrome for a long while. Basically, I saw them as another Radiohead without the innovation and the creativity. However, “Viva La Vida” and “Violet Hill” did a lot to redeem Coldplay in my eyes, as they’re both great songs. It’s harmless and edgeless (and in the case of “Viva,” almost entirely guitar-less) rock, but it works in its own way.

Muse follows Coldplay, and Muse would never be accused of not being innovation. They’re sometimes too creative for their own good, but when their mix of alternativism and dance rock works, it’s way cool, and “Time Is Running Out” is Muse at their very best.

Next up is Mariah’s vocal predecessor and rival, Whitney Houston. “I Have Nothing” is an elegant number, and Whitney’s voice is absolutely flawless. That being said, the song’s melody is just so slow and boring. Without Whitney’s gem of a voice, the song itself would indeed have nothing (and you thought the bad puns had run out, au contraire!).

SqueezeThe final song on today’s Countdown is “Tempted” by Squeeze, and in a matter of seconds, it showed the major flaw shared by all of the four preceding songs. They all had their moments, especially today’s runner-up “Time Is Running Out,” but they lack one essential quality: FUN. They are all so self-important and all so serious. Then you have “Tempted,” which is all about the hooks coming in and taking you for a whimsical amusement park ride. It’s the perfect anthem for my life right now. Life is full of ups and down, down, downs. It’s hard AND hard work. But it also depends on how you look at it, because life definitely has its moments. And right now, screw it, I’m gonna put on a smile, keep on spazz-dancing, and put on “Tempted” as the soundtrack to my life. And that is that.

WINNER: Tempted – Squeeze

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