Thursday, April 19, 2012

Another Basic Single Not Worth Hunting Down: Everclear's "Wonderful."

The Good: Good song
The Bad: Poor presentation of it, Short, Poor use of medium.
The Basics: A good song, the one-track single to "Wonderful" is not worth hunting down.

Every time I come across a c.d. single in real lifeI feel like I have a real opportunity to do help consumers out. The reason for this is simple: c.d. singles frequently come in several forms with varying features and paying for the wrong one can often be a mistake that can be ridiculously costly. In the case of the Everclear c.d. single "Wonderful," there were multiple releases, but only one which was a one-track release: the radio-release single. With Everclear becoming my next Male Artist Of The Month – having only reviewed So Much For The Afterglow here, so far – I wish I could start with something more complimentary!

Radio-release singles are c.d. singles given to radio stations to allow them to play the popular song the band or record company is promoting, in this case Everclear's song "Wonderful." While there are other versions of the single which have exclusive tracks, the one-track single only has "Wonderful" and it is virtually worthless to anyone but collectors of Everclear merchandise. The reason for this is simple: every major compilation for Everclear has the song "Wonderful" on it and fans who love Everclear's music who are looking for rarities and b-sides would do well to hunt down the popular release (store-sold) "single," which actually had two exclusive b-sides. As it is, there was only one one-track single for "Wonderful" and the only way to get it now is in the secondary market through vendors of obscure c.d.s and albums.

That said, what is on "Wonderful" isn't bad. The song is a good example of the talents of the band Everclear as the song was written by the band Everclear and the group provides all of the vocals and instrumental accompaniment on the song. Lead singer Art Alexakis is even a co-producer of the song. In other words, despite how annoyingly overplayed the song became, "Wonderful" is very much the song the band at the time wanted to create.

"Wonderful" is a rarity in a pop-rock song, a storysong with both a sense of narrative and a thematic purpose. Exploring the difficulties of growing up as a child of parents who are falling out of love, "Wonderful" captures the sense of being tugged between two different worlds and finding contentment in neither. With lines like "Hope my mom and I hope my dad / Will figure out why they get so mad / Hear them scream, I hear them fight / They say bad words that make me wanna cry" Everclear captures well the simplicity of youthful thought processes and observations of complex adult relationships going on around them.

The song is very much a typical pop-rock song in its instrumentation. "Wonderful" is a pretty straightforward guitar/bass/drums rock song with additional accompaniment on the keyboards. The opening chords to the song have become almost instantly identifiable given how much the song was played when it was released.

The vocals are similarly distinct for being Everclear's and belonging to Art Alexakis. He has a very masculine and clear voice which is smooth and distinct (Everclear songs may sound a lot alike one another, but no one quite sounds like Everclear and Alexakis's voice is a big part of that). Alexakis is able to go primal near the end of the endless refrains to "Wonderful" by screaming out the lyrics in a way that sounds strained and emotionally tired. That level of expressiveness also sets "Wonderful" apart from most pop-rock tracks.

But "Wonderful" is hardly a perfect single. While part of the purpose of the lines is to create a childlike sound to the narrator, lines with rhymes like "I close my eyes when I get too sad / I think thoughts that I know are bad" are just unforgivably hammy.

In the end, though, the primary reason listeners should avoid this c.d. is because no matter what the price, you're overpaying for what you get. "Wonderful" still has decent rotation on many radio stations, especially adult contemporary, and with the declining prices of c.d.s from Everclear, there are plenty of albums that have this one song - and many more - on them for around the same price or less. I tend to recommend Ten Years Gone myself!

For other, former, Artist Of The Month reviews, be sure to check out my takes on:
Greatest Hits - Red Hot Chili Peppers
Opiate (EP) - Tool
Seal (2) - Seal


For other music reviews, please check out my Music Review Index Page where the reviews are organized from best album/single to worst!

© 2012, 2010 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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