Saturday, July 19, 2008

Sing to Me

Rereading what I wrote about Darren Hayes's Time Machine Tour DVD, my review really doesn't do it justice. It's just...awesome. Of course, if you don't already love Darren, it might not be that special and it'd be hard to understand why I'm so excited over some weird Australian guy and his giant origami crane. To aid in understanding the love, I put together a little video blog to chart my love affair with Darren.

It begins in 1997. I'm sixteen. The Internet is a wild and lawless place, ruled by mighty geeks. The first grunts of l33t speak are being made. This is where I spend the majority of my time. I don't watch much TV at home, but my cousins Aimee and Lori are watching videos when I happen across this:

Now, I already have weakness for dark-haired, pale-skinned girl-y boys, so Darren Hayes looking his darkest-haired-palest-skinned-girliest-boyest wins me over instantly. I have no idea what a "chica cherry cola" is (surely, this is some exotic Australian saying, used to describe extreme sexiness!), but I don't care. The only way he could possibly appeal to my preferences more is if he put on eyeliner and took a shower in the video.

The next video from Savage Garden that I see is a bit more soulful, though. "I Want You" was about simple desire, and that's what it evoked. This, though, brought deeper feelings. Yes, it was love.

[Sony BMG likes to deprive us, so I can't embed the video. Just watch it here.]

So for the next three years, as any sappy teenage girl in my generation should, I adore Savage Garden. Then, I start drifting off towards a different sound and wearing less pink. I lose track of the band and am only vaguely aware when they break up.

At some point, I happen to see the video for Insatiable, which is a nice song, but just not the sort of thing I'm listening to at the time. Besides, his hair is blond.

So, years pass. A girl in one of the role-playing games I play uses Darren Hayes as the avatar for one of her characters, and I appreciate the visual eye candy, but am totally oblivious to his continuing career. As far as I know, he's stopped producing music entirely. In the summer of 2006, I hear he's come out of the closet and married his boyfriend. Good for him, I think, and not much of a surprise, but don't think any more of it.

A year later, though, I'm getting back into role-playing and that girl who used the pictures of Darren (Hi Nicole!) is highly aware of his current career. After I express my purely shallow interest in his looks, she sends me links to a few videos from his solo career.

Starting with this one.

And all of a sudden, I'm sixteen again, swooning over sweet and sappy music. Chances are if he wrote the song for any specific person, he wrote it for the man he ended up marrying, which just makes it all the sweeter.

It's not entirely smooth sailing, however. Before I'm won over completely, first I have to deal with a few bumps in the road. I hear his falsetto:

At first, I'm a bit...stunned and disturbed by the video. Actually, I think my initial response was a hearty W. T. F. and I jumped back from the computer. But, it grows on me, like a fungus or tumor. It's silly and over the top and delightfully playing with all of these images from the 1980s. Sure, it's a little dorky and just the sort of thing you don't want to publicly admit to liking, but...I do. I really, really do, and I dive into his latest album like a starving woman into a swimming pool of pudding.

I actually find that I like his solo stuff more than I'd ever liked Savage Garden. The electronic elements and darkness he brings to the table now really help, and the sad songs or ones drenched in nostalgia get to me. Like this one:

And while the video is kind of weird, the song "Casey" is probably one of my most favorite songs in the world. This song alone would be enough to get Darren my undying loyalty as a fan. It perfectly captures what it had felt like to be a teen and longing to get away, and fearing being left behind. Whenever I listen to it, I can close my eyes and I'm back in Boulder City, driving around in Lori's white Ford Falcon. We're singing along to a mix tape, driving by all of those fancy houses overlooking the golf course, or down by the corrals. There's the hum of cicadas in the air and even if the sun's gone down, the heat of the day is still lingering. We're driving and talking and wishing for someday.

So, I suppose this is why I love the tour DVD quite so much. Some bands, I listen to and I like immediately. They're tucked away on my playlist somewhere, to add to the soundtrack of my life. Some grow on me with time, and when the mood is right I might care to listen. Darren's music has been more like an eleven year seduction, the world's slowest courtship. It came on me slowly, but it culminated in a rich and complex appreciation. Not to mention a whole hell of a lot of nostalgia.

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