I’m not often watching television these days at about 12:20 am, which might explain how I missed the performance of Future Islands on David Letterman’s Late Show in early March. But in looking at some other things today, I came across it. It is AMAZING.
I love the sound of this song, “Seasons (Waiting on You).” This synth-pop reminds me of some of the grooves of 80s Brit bands, combined with the vocal stylings of some of the best of late 60s-early 70s soul. There is just a great sound to this song. Plus the performance itself is beyond the pale. Samuel Herring, the singer, keeps doing this slide, dip, and gyration thing – along with a faux punch or two, you know, to let us know that he’s “punching it up a notch” – and it is simply mesmerizing, to say the least. It’s impossible to take your eyes off of him, to know what he’ll do next.
And I love Herring’s voice. He’s got a touch of the Bronski Beat, a touch of Terence Trent D’Arby, but with an American growl that seems borne of too many nights in a row singing this song and downing shots of Southern Comfort before jumping into the van and heading out to the next small Midwestern city to play another gig. It’s like he slips into monster growl mode, where he’s just spent all his emotions on what he’s giving us but will soldier on. He’s all in on this song from the very first beat, and he insists on pulling him along with us. And I went.
Plus he kind of looks like a young Marlon Brando, especially with that black t-shirt. (Marlon didn’t sing like that, though, as you know if you’ve ever seen his performance in Guys and Dolls!) I love how he transitions from tapping his chest earlier in the song to thumping it as he nears the crescendo! I love how he sings, “People change/but some people never do” and he points to himself as he sings the latter part and looks longingly at the audience, begging for our understanding of his steadfastness.
It’s a totally arresting combination visually and sonically, one that grabbed not only me, but also Letterman. Check out his enthusiasm at the end of the song, when he says “Oh, buddy, come on! Hey, thank you very much! Nice going! How about that! I’ll take all of that you got!” I hear you, Dave, I hear you.
But. Or perhaps, and yet. Here’s something crazy. I checked out YouTube, wondering if there was an official video for the song. And there is. But before you watch it, look again at the performance on Letterman. Keep that in mind. And then click the video below.
WTF? That might be the very WORST video for a song I have EVER seen! The disjuncture between the lyrics, the synth-pop, and the visuals that the director puts together is probably one of the more shocking things I’ve seen. My God, they have to put out another video – it’s unbelievably horrible! Boring, crazed, stupefying! A rodeo? A RODEO?!?! For this song? Why, dear Lord, why?
Please, Future Islands, make another video. We’ll treasure this for just how amazingly bad it is. But put out another video so people can see just how great this song is, a video that will complement the song. Or maybe just call the Letterman performance the video. That’s certainly great. Put the other in storage, though, only to be seen decades from now.