Album: Wonderful Life, 1987
Justification: I remember when I was first learning music theory that the difference between a major and a minor key was explained to me as the difference between happy and sad. That semitone change in the third made all the difference (well, also the 7th, but that isn’t nearly so important).
It’s what makes ‘Wonderful Life’ so marvellously effective, with its at-first-glance upbeat lyrics about sunshine and wind in the hair and self-reliance, undercut by the melancholy melody and minor key (E minor, to be specific. Incidentally, if you’re the sort of person who ever wonders what instrument someone writes on, the key of the song is a good clue: despite the fact that it’s almost entirely played on keyboards, I’m betting Colin Vearncombe wrote ‘Wonderful Life’ on guitar). The grainy black and white video hammers the discrepancy between the lyrics and the meaning of the song home pretty relentlessly, just in case anyone missed it. That said, there have been several inexplicably upbeat club anthem covers of this which seem to miss the point somewhat. It’s found a recent second life as an anthem for refugee advocacy, though, which is perfect.
I loved this song madly at the time (though the rest of the album’s a bit patchy: his subsequent album Comedy is far better) but Vearncombe’s been off my radar for a long time – however, he’s still making music as Black and under his own name, which I should probably do something about hunting down.
And that chorus is going to be in your head for the rest of the day. Just accept it.
SONG YOU SHOULD HAVE REDISCOVERED THIS TIME IN 2012: Cracker were showing that Dave Lowery had a life beyond Camper Van Beethoven with ‘Teen Angst (What The World Needs Now)’.
AND HERE’S THE LAST FIVE…