Saturday, January 10, 2009

Music: Bedingfield Third Again

TORONTO, ONTARIO - While traveling through the Pacific Northwest in September 2005, I was introduced to a British singer that I had never heard before. Natasha Bedingfield at the time had a single out called These Words. The song was noticeable because the lyrics clearly came from the "physical world."

Most music, by its very nature, features "emotional world" lyrics, focusing on feelings, what other people think, lamenting about the past, and occasionally even focusing on money, all things centered in the "emotional world" in traditional Chinese medicine. While examples of lyrics from the other three worlds certainly exist, even in pop music, there is little question that the "emotional world" dominates the charts.

Yet, Bedingfield's song was clearly "physical world" in perspective. Her time sense was on the present, not the past. While she did sing about expressing her feelings, the premise of the song was that she was having trouble doing so--and physical types are often known for having difficulty with vocabulary and preferring to express themselves with their bodies, not verbal language. This section is typical:
I tried to focus my attention
But I feel so A.D.D.
I need some help some inspiration
Whoa...But its not coming easily
As a "spiritual" type, I am usually drawn to things from the "physical world," and this song was no exception. Despite being handicapped by having only four months to work its way up my iTunes play count, it rapidly shot toward the top. By year's end, "These Words" was third in my play count for 2005 with 22 plays, trailing only Australian singer Natalie Imbruglia's "Shiver" (which I had first heard in May) at 25 plays and D.H.T.'s cover of "Listen to Your Heart" at 23 (the Roxette original stands as one of the most significant songs in my life).

Bedingfield had started to get attention from that hit, but she shot to the top of the charts in the United States in early 2006 with her next single, "Unwritten". This song bordered on a "physical world" anthem, clearly focused on the physical experience of life with refrain lyrics like:
Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else no one else can
Speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest, is still unwritten
This song spent all of 2006 near the top of my iTunes play count. At the end of the year, though, it again finished third, with 19 plays. Ahead were Aqualung's "Brighter Than Sunshine", also advantaged by getting its first play in January, at 20 plays, and Missy Higgin's "Scar" the clear leader at 28 plays.

By 2007, I was inclined to seek out new music by Bedingfield, and when her joint effort with Sean Kingston, "Love Like This" was released in October ahead of her next album, I soon discovered it. Yet, by virtue of entering the playlist toward the end of the year, it again finished--you guessed it--in the third position, with 13 plays. Ahead of it were breakout hits "LDN" by Lily Allen at 14 plays, and "Young Folks" by Peter Bjorn and John at 15.

In 2008, Bedingfield's new album "Pocketful of Sunshine" came out, and the title track made my iTunes playlist. In a lackluster year for music in my opinion, it amazingly ended up third on my year-end playlist at 11 plays, behind new artist Yael Naïm with "New Soul" at 12 plays and my choice for artist of the year, Leona Lewis and "Bleeding Love" at 17 plays.

So, the big question for 2009 is: Can Natasha Bedingfield make it five years in a row, and place a song at THIRD place on my annual iTunes play count? It seems unlikely, but I wouldn't have guessed that it would have happened three years in a row, much less four.

No comments: