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Someone once told me not to bother with 1984’s film adaptation of Nineteen Eighty-Four, advice I foolishly heeded until last weekend. Roger Deakins shot that thing! I was also stunned by its swooning, melancholy synthesized music, which is, I discovered, the cause of some controversy. Apparently director Michael Radford commissioned a whole separate score by Dominic Muldowney, while the studio thought bringing in The Eurythmics would somehow turn the unbearably bleak art-film into something slightly more audience-friendly. It failed: The music is absolutely devastating. Anyway, the director has since disavowed the Eurythmics version, and today many versions of the movie allow you to choose between scores. But it’s hard to imagine something more evocative than these uneasy synth-pop instrumentals. The video above captures the full, haunted score, and those opening notes of “Winston And His Diary” always get me, hollow and hopeful and doomed, a baleful little tune that keeps resurfacing again and again on the soundtrack. You can stream the movie with the Eurythmics version, by the way, on Hulu. [Clayton Purdom]
U.S. Girls’ recent album, In A Poem Unlimited, is easily one of the best things I’ve heard this year. It combines Meg Remy’s gift for illustrative narratives with a musical shift toward a collage of recognizable, lushly produced styles, resulting in an album of smart, searing political pop that couldn’t have arrived at a better moment. It’s all capped off with “Time,” eight minutes of near-instrumental world-beat bliss that—with its sticky bass vamp and scrambling hand drums—would be right at home on Remain In Light. Remy’s voice disappears after the first few minutes, replaced by an echoing saxophone that fades in and out like a transient specter, but her words loom large, painting “Time” as less of a funky, feel-good finale than a panicked final call to fix the injustices outlined on the rest of the album. [Matt Gerardi]
The news that Liz Phair would be returning to her old stomping grounds at Chicago’s Empty Bottle for the 25th anniversary of Exile In Guyville inspired some nostalgia in me this month. Sure, I love Guyville, but I also have a lot of strong feelings for her follow-up, Whip-Smart, which had a great trifecta kicking it off: the minimalist one-night stand song of “Chopsticks” and the complicated relationship frame of “Support System” surrounding the irrepressible “Supernova,” a super-hooky ode to a guy who walks “in clouds of glitter and the sun reflects your eyes / And every time the wind blows, I can smell you in the sky.” “Supernova” especially is still a favorite, even though it contains my most infamously misquoted lyric, where in a pre-internet review (can you even imagine), I thought “cherub’s bare wet ass” was “sheriff’s bare red ass.” As Liz Phair herself later pointed out to me in an interview, “It just doesn’t sound like something that anyone would want to kiss.” I was gratified to find on Twitter and elsewhere, though, that there are some people who heard it the same way I did (though I don’t really recommend googling “sheriff’s bare red ass”). Over the years, I have gotten tons of cocktail-party mileage out of that story, and I still love the song regardless. [Gwen Ihnat]