The Perfect Pop Song

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Musings on pop perfection by KCRW DJ Mario Cotto:

A couple of nights ago, my buddy Steven was tweeting about the indelible pop perfection of New Order’s “Bizarre Love Triangle,” calling it the “perfect pop song.”

I readily admit it is one of the all time jams of all time, fersherr. But as I read it, I just happened to be listening to Ministry. Deep in the throes of their 1984 Wax Trax single “Everyday is Halloween” I became absolutely convinced that “…Halloween” is just as perfect.

Both tracks are obviously informed by early 80’s lockstep drum programming and synth stabs/washes and have similar progressions. But whereas New Order was investigating the space where New Romantic themes met Club/Freestyle music, Ministry was taking Goth themes to the same place. Consequently, they’re both perfect for the dancefloor.


However, where New Order was sharing the agony and sublimity of desire, mining age old dance music territory, from Earth Angel to I Feel Love, Ministry was getting ugly.

By bringing Goth/Industrial themes already made popular by Throbbing Gristle, Christian Death, and Bauhaus into 4/4 time, they essentially made dance music for people who didn’t want or need love (and in the process laid the groundwork for Nine Inch Nail’s audaciously perfect Closer.)

This was dance music for people in love with being outside of love. It’s a (potentially insincere) plaintive cry for acceptance while being insulted and insulting. A series of “denials and reprisals” that is perfectly designed to appeal to everyone’s inner Goth because it’s so insanely catchy. How could anyone ever EVER deny the “oom-paa-oom-paa-paa-paa”?

Maybe it comes with age, although I don’t think it makes me any less romantic, but the mystery and danger of attraction and repulsion is more compelling and ultimately more sexy than mopey longing and reverential longing. Sad sacks go home alone, creatures go home and “bump in the night.” Namean?

Mario Cotto