Jesse Jarnow

“1, 2 step” – ciera featuring missy elliot

week of January 29, 2005

#2 this week, #2 last week, 14 weeks on chart

Listening to the leaked Guero last week, I got to thinking about the still-yawning divide between the music that I sincerely, unabashedly enjoy and, well, songs like Ciara’s “1, 2 Step,” currently hovering at #2. As a piece of music, “One Two Step” is beautiful. I admire it immensely. The arrangement is fantastic and adventurous. There are a million things going on: strings, kettle drums (or maybe very deep bass drums), a half-dozen synth patterns and countermelodies, bells, near-ambient filter beats, backwards masking, echoes, voices talking back, and probably a good handful of tricks that I’m missing owing to the lo-fi mp3.

It’s really cool. And, if it were on Guero with Beck doing his thang on top, I’d probably not only like it a lot, but also think it one of the best songs on the album. That said, I can’t realistically see myself getting excited about “1, 2 Step” coming on in shuffle. My first inclination is to say that it’s probably because of the lyrics. But that’s sorta dumb, ’cause there are tons of songs that I love (like most of Automatic For the People and Astral Weeks) that I couldn’t quote more than a phrase or two from, and enjoy them simply because I am enamored with the way they sound.

Of course, I feel confident that “1, 2 Step” isn’t meant to be listened to sitting at a desk, under headphones, repeatedly (12 times now), while consciously dissecting. It’s meant to be listened to… well, lots of places – the car, at a party/club, in passing – but certainly not here, like this. From a distance, like an impressionist painting, the details might blur into something mysterious, something not meant to hold up over time at all, but simply to hold up in your imagination until next time, and – when that time comes – over again before you could entirely remember to remember it. So, with that, I’ll leave Ciara on my harddrive. Perhaps, some day, we’ll meet again…