Any participant in the night life has seen them, whether they be casual partakers or hardcore intemperate indulgers. Those lovely, fly women in the club who seem to be having a fantastic time, all the time. But all that glitters is not neccesarily gold, which is the theme Mayer Hawthorne dealt with in his fantastic 2013 single “Her Favorite Song.” This song has already achieved instant classic status in my book, both for its smooth juxtaposition of two totally different funky feels as well as it’s deconstruction of the nightlife/single ladies narrative, along the lines of Amy Whitehouse’s “Fuck Me Pumps.” But Mayer goes beyond any type of moral judgement or reprimand by providing a song for the woman to sing, her favorite one in fact. “Her Favorite Song” in fact functions as two different songs, one is Mayers composition of the contemporary hip hop based grind that is the nightlife world his character inhabits, and the other is the song she turns to for refuge and true musical healing.
The song begins with a rock hard bass line, based around the interval of an octave. The bass has a heavily overdriven or distorted sound. The drums play a huge loud drum fill at the end of the pattern as the beat kicks in. The drumbeat itself is a fairly typical 1990s hip hop beat, rock hard, straightforward with a dirty snare sound and minimal syncopation. Hawthorne goes on to tell a story of a woman who “Walks straight to the bar in a party dress.” The woman is disturbed but trying to party her blues away, and it doesent quite work because she starts to tear up.
The next section is the “Her Favorite Song” portion, in which he says, “But when she gets home/she puts her headphones on/she plays her favorite song/and fades away.” The music itself for this section is a fluid, syncopated rhythm, with a a bossa nova style kick drum, a super hip bassline, and Earth, Wind & Fire Brazillian style vocals. Her favorite song gives her the wisdom and understanding to see “The world keeps turning/life goes on.” No matter what she was previously troubled by.
This particular one hits me on several levels. For one, the juxtaposition of the hard, grinding hip hop influenced funk track with the melodic, syncopated, loose Brazillian funk feel of the chorus is very meaningful for a fan of funky music in todays times. It’s like the sound of the world versus the sound of ones self. Hawthornes lady is like many of us, a person who has connected to music deeply in a manner that it can provide multiple levels of information and comfort to her. No matter how hard and unfeeling the world seems, the music is her comfort. In particular, Hawthorne being a funk/soul fan like myself, I dig the music he used to illustrate that, because it reminds me of my initial immersion into that world in the first place. While all the cars in the street where playing their ’90s hip hop, I was one who would go home, put on my AKG’s and play my favorite (funky) songs. Hawthorne tells a story of the power of music, when strong drinks and quick flings won’t do the trick. A story I’m sure many of us continue to live out in the here and now.