Today I ended up having kind of a powwow session with my 5th-6th grade students in the middle of class. It felt very “Breakfast Club”-style (I don’t want to say Dr.Phil-style, because I don’t like the show, and I find him to be a pompous ass–as opposed to me, who’s an ass but very aware that he’s an ass).
Basically, in the class, we’re spending the week making a book about ourselves. And today, we were working on a page where we write down what makes us happy, what makes us sad, what makes us scared, etc. Well, one boy–big, boisterous, but really more bark than bite and still kind of sweet inside–announced that nothing and nobody makes him happy. Then he in his broken English managed to tell us that he once went up to the top of his apartment building and looked down, wondering what it would feel like to fall.
Obviously, it wasn’t the happiest of stories. The kids were giggling kind of nervously, and the boy himself looked perfectly nonchalant. I wasn’t sure how much of the story was true, but I decided it was time for a special Tommyland talk. So I sat down on a desk and basically told the kids following:
“How old are you guys? 12 and 13? Well, the truth is, this is a TERRIBLE age. You study, you listen to parents, you listen to teachers, you study more, your parents still get angry, and you pretty much don’t get to choose anything. So what do you do? Well, you keep trying your best, and you wait. Because when you finally get through high school and move on to college, BOOM, your life is gonna get so much better. Then you finish that, and you’ll get a job, you’ll make your own money, you’ll make your own decisions, maybe you’ll move into your own house, and THAT’S when you’ll be very, very happy. So remember that life WILL get better. Until then, you try, and you wait.”
The kids were listening so intently that you could hear a pin drop (a rare instance in Tommyland). Then one boy–quiet, thoughtful, dreams of being a K-pop singer–asked, “Are YOU happy?” I had to think about it for a moment, but then I honestly answered, “Yes! If I want to eat dukbokki, I can eat dukbokki. If I want to go to Europe, I can go to Europe. So I’m happy.” Then the same boy countered, “But Tommy Teacher always say, have no money!” I just trailed off with “Well, yeah… Okay, let’s get back to our books!”
Anyhow, I don’t envy kids’ lives at all. I hope all the pressures and responsiblities on their tiny shoulders don’t suck the life out of them. On that note, let’s move on to the Countdown!
1) Pero Me Acuerdo de Ti – Christina Aguilera
2) Lovergirl – Teena Marie
3) It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over – Lenny Kravitz
4) The Pretender – Foo Fighters
5) Everybody Plays the Fool – Aaron Neville
We start with Christina’s Spanish ballad, and it’s a solid start. It’s one of my favorite Christina songs, because she’s restrained for once and actually builds up to the moment where she starts letting loose with her big voice (usually she just starts belting from the first note onward). I’m still not sure what the title means, although I know it’s “I’m _____ed of you.” I’m going to guess, “I’m REMINDED of you,” but I’m too lazy to look it up right now. Lo siento.
Then it’s time for another female belter: Teena Marie with “Lovergirl.” I hadn’t heard this song in AGES, and I didn’t even recognize it until a couple of lines in. You have to give Teena an A for effort here. She sings her heart out until she sounds seconds aways from a straitjacket, there’s a power guitar solo AND a keyboard solo, and near the end, Teena actually starts rappin’ for a little bit. In the end, it’s all a bit too much, but hey, she certainly gave it her all.
Lenny and his dreadlocks are next with his ode to Lisa Bonet, the naughtiest of the Cosby kids. It’s a cool song, but the title kind of bothers me. I know Lenny didn’t coin the expression, but it just sounds rather silly. It ain’t over til it’s over. Well, duh! Why not just say, “It’s not over.” Otherwise, it’s just like saying, “I’m not hungry unless I’m hungry” or “If it’s not 3:00, then it can’t be 3:00.” Could you BE any more obvious? Well, if you can’t, I guess you can’t.
Who better to slay such silliness than the Foo Fighters? “The Pretender” is not only my favorite song by the Foo crew, but it’s gotta be one of my favorite rock songs in the last couple of years. I was shakin’ my head to it on the subway, which is always a sign of a great Countdown song.
Finally, we end with Aaron Neville’s inimitable voice reassuring everyone that we all get played some time. You may remember that I’ve talked about this song before, how I find myself humming the chorus for no reason time to time. It’s a great song, although the versus aren’t quite as eminently singable as the choruses (chori?).
But as good as Aaron is, the Foo Fighters are out to kick major ass on “The Pretender,” and there’s simply no denying them. It’s a TKO for the Foo-men.
Winner: The Pretender – Foo Fighters