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The Best Song In The World

We hear songs we like all the time. Sometimes though, we hear a song that sets off a reaction in us that goes beyond mere liking. For whatever reason, whether it's the lyrics, the melody, or the singer's voice, a song can become an obsession. We play it over and over again. We make other people listen. We wish we'd heard it years ago. We love it.

This column is about the songs that make us do those things. If it goes well I might turn it into a recurring feature. You'll let me know.

Welcome to the inaugural edition of The Best Songs In The World.

The first BSITW is "Burial" by Miike Snow, who is a band, not a person. Made up of American singer-songwriter Andrew Wyatt, who also plays in the New York City prog-glam outfit Fires of Rome, and the Swedish production duo Avant & Bloodshy, Miike Snow works a kind of hyper-emotional keyboard-driven dance-pop. You may have heard "Animal," a sort-of hit from the band's self-titled debut, which came out last May on Downtown Records. That song had one of the catchiest choruses in recent memory--no surprise given that Snow's resident Swedes co-wrote and produced Britney Spears' "Toxic." These guys know their way around a pop song, but "Burial" stands out for being that rare pop song with depth. It's suffused with a sense of yearning that matches the gorgeous allure of the leaping melody and lullaby-like synth hooks.

Much of that yearning comes from Wyatt's lyrics and vocals. I don't know how old the tall, thin singer is, but from his looks, I'd guess he's in his early 30s. So I can't explain how it is that his voice sounds like a cross between a wizened old woman and New Order's Bernard Sumner. It's an eerily magical sound, and in its blend of experienced earthiness and dancefloor reticence it makes the sentiment of "Burial" hit even harder. "Misery is all we know lately" go the opening lines, "Saturdays are all the same."

I've been there before. I'm not gonna lie, part of the reason this song has stuck with me is because I've had a lot of those same-seeming Saturdays lately. On "Burial," though, Wyatt's moving vocal and gleaming, whooshing musical soundscape suggest that the bummer will pass.

The chorus is also darkly uplifting. "Don't forget to cry / At your own burial." Wyatt is singing about homicide of the spiritual, not physical, variety. "Now it's all a funeral / I've become a serial / Killer of us both." Wyatt swoops up to a high note on the third syllable of both "funeral" and "serial" - hope. The song ends with a starry sky of keyboard lines. By the time you get there, you realize the song is about burying the blues, not yourself.

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