Tuesday, July 23, 2024

The Best Selling, Most Downloaded Album of the Week? David Byrne’s Exquisite, Catchy “American Utopia”

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The number 1 most downloaded album or purchased CD of last week? You think Kendrick or Drake or Black Panther?

Wrong. The exquisite “American Utopia” by David Byrne is number 1 with 59,000 copies sold. No streaming. All hard sales.

(Regular radio, even FM stations that play Talking Heads songs, ignore new music by classic artists. It’s a shame. Call your local FM rock station ask for this album to be heard.)

The leader of the Talking Heads, writer of some of the most innovative and memorable music in pop history, has a total winner with “American Utopia.” Some of the songs– like “Everyone’s Coming to My House” and “Doing the Right Thing” — are so magnificent that I’d put them up there with Byrne’s most famous Talking Heads compositions. (And that’s saying a lot because there are MANY of them.)

Byrne is the practitioner of sunny paranoia. His songs sound upbeat but they carry dire warnings. “Bullet” rips through our hearts as much it does the subject of the song. “It’s Not Dark Up Here” could inspire its own “Get Out” sequel. “Every Day is A Miracle” — or is it? “The pope don’t mean shit to a dog” is one of many lines we’ll be quoting like “Once in a Lifetime” preoccupied us in 1981.

I keep circling back to “Doing the Right Thing” — What am I not supposed to do now? What’s that and is it my business? What exactly, exactly did you tell me? What’s good, does that mean it’s right? with its classic melody and soaring violins. Where Byrne used to grate to get attention now he softens us, moves in for the kill.

The music? These are sounds all those other guys on the charts will be sampling. Gorgeous, supple, ironic– and eminently original.

“American Utopia” is so good, you know it won’t be nominated for Album of the Year. It’s just too smart, too delightful.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedmanhttps://www.showbiz411.com
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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