Song Reviews

Listen: Vampire Weekend — “Step”

Timothy Grisham / March 19, 2013


I am not on the Vampire Weekend hate bandwagon.

I understand the hate: cultural appropriation, collegiate elitism and a million other arguments over perspective and privilege. I get it. But, to me a lot of people don’t see how utterly tongue and cheek it all is. Maybe it is because I come from the same New York ivy league, ivory tower that produced Vampire Weekend, but it seems to me all a big wink-wink  with a particular eye towards a certain slice of New York culture.

All that said, the groups newest song, “Step”, off their third album, Moder Vampires of the City, takes what was once a blink – then turned tick with Contra – into a near-turrets induced attack. Let’s break it down:

  1. It uses composer Johann Pachelbel‘s “Cannon in D” as its chief motif. This move alone has several repercussions. One, it only fuels the fire of those who produce arguments on their credibility based elitism. Two, it is nothing new. If you ever had the chance to hear Rob Paravonian’s comedy bit about “Cannon in D”, you will realize that this motif is literally in a million pop songs. Most less obvious. When it is completely obvious, it has been done better on an exponential scale. See Spiritualized’s “Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space”.
  2. The lyrics. Again, not winning anyone over on this one. insert hipster criticism… Lets see what hipster enclaves are name dropped: New York, LA, Berkeley  San Francisco, Oakland, etc. Okay now trends: Disco, Mixtapes, Marxist theory, two-dollar words, punks… You get the point. Oh, and it is non-linear… The fortune-cookie phrasing and total lyrical construct is such a pastiche of other artists that it is almost insulting to name them off.

Production wise the song is great, it hits the right tones, notes for the intent, nothing is out of place. Everything is a nice perfect construct; perhaps that is another negative.

But on the plus side, they did make a lovely lyric video, that I have watched a few times on mute.

This is not to say I am writing the band off completely, this is just a song review, I am after-all, not on the Vampire Weekend hate bandwagon… Yet.

Watch the lyric video here:

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