Week 38: “What Would You Do With A Million?” by Giant Jnr.

If you like music enough to be reading this, you’re probably familiar with the psychological process of band obsession. These are the stages you go through when you discover with what is to become one of your favourite bands, and it’s exactly what happened to me when I was first becoming familiar with the electronic duo Lemon Jelly. The steps are:

Disbelief: “How have I not heard this band before? Why didn’t anyone tell me?”
Determination: “I must find everything they have ever made. Do not interrupt me.”
Euphoria: “This is the greatest music ever created. I want it played at my funeral.”
Shock: “I’ve listened to everything they’ve ever done, but I still need more.”

After being mired for a while in the shock of realizing that there was no more Lemon Jelly to be had, I stumbled into the saddest stage of band obsession: desperation. I started doing searches for “sounds like Lemon Jelly”, following unlikely tangents in the hopes that they would turn up something, anything of value.

And then I came across Giant Jnr, a wacky electronic duo (why are they always duos?) whose song titles alone were enough to give me hope. Who wouldn’t be intrigued by an album called Fear of Julie Andrews? A quick read through the track listing revealed tracks entitled “Every Cloud Has a Silver Aeroplane”, “Let’s Buy Some Apples”, and “I Take Things Apart (And Then I Get Bored)”, and I knew this was an album for me.

Despite being faster than your typical beautiful song, the album’s first track, “What Would You Do With A Million”, is a quirky, fun, and lovely piece of music. And I’ll always be grateful to Giant Jnr for tiding me over while Lemon Jelly put together some new material.

What makes this a beautiful song:

1. Ingenious use of a vocal sample. I like to imagine that the chopped up sample is the voice of someone who has been asked the question posed in the song’s title. The mish-mash of ums, okays, and the occasional thoughtful whistle is what originally hooked me on this song. It’s funny, it’s rhythmic, and it will be in your head for days.

2. At 0.28, a repeating three-note loop begins, and keeps going for most of the song, regardless of chord changes. Describing it that way makes it seem like it might be annoying, but in truth it provides a nice ethereal background for the song.

3. There’s a synthesized harmonica solo at 2.18. I’m pretty sure that the powers-that-be in the music industry outlawed the use of synthesized harmonicas after their overuse in campy 80s music (see Glass Tiger for details). But somehow, Giant Jnr has defied the law. Even more mysteriously, it actually suits the song pretty well.

Recommended listening activity:

Checking your horoscope at the end of the day to see if it was right.

Buy it here.