Thursday, January 4, 2018

Certain Songs #1088: Maren Morris – “80s Mercedes” | Medialoper

Album: Hero
Year: 2016

With her first major label album, Hero, Maren Morris straddled the line between traditional country and slicked up 2010’s pop country with verve and alacrity, and while there were several fine songs on Hero, especially the “music as religion” powerhouse “My Church,” it was the slicked-up pop of “80’s Mercedes” that ended up getting me.

Songs about driving around in cars, of course, have been around as long as cars existed, so the sentiments expressed in “80s Mercedes” aren’t all that new: we’re young, we’re cool, we’re driving around in a classic convertible.

But it’s only the car that’s classic. From the golden piano (or “piano” as the case may be) and millennial whoop that open it, to the thudding beat and swirling synth effects, “80s Mercedes” is a completely artificial construct — as emphasized by the video — that only locates any semblance of authenticity in the vocals.

But hey, sometimes authenticity is overrated, especially in a great pop song. For me, all of my normal resistance is utterly shredded every time Morris gets to the chorus:

Feel like a hard-to-get starlet when I’m driving
Turning every head, hell I ain’t even trying
Got them Ray-Ban shades pretty in pink
Call me old school, but hey
I’m a nineties baaaaaaaaby
In my eighties Merceaaaaaydees
I’m a nineties baaaaaaaaby
In my eighties Merceaaaaaydees

It’s the very very long melody line in that chorus that gets to me. The first two lines are shouted, bragging declarations — with cool internal rhymes (“get” “-let” and “I, “try”) — followed by two lines with apropos retro references that set up the final acknowledgement that she’s totally rocking her cool old car.

And it’s that final acknowledgement that kills me: the way she wraps voice around “baby” and “Mercedes” that kill me: sensual and sinuous and knowing all at once. It completely captures the once and eternal fun of being young and just driving around with your friends for no reason other than to just hang out.

And in this case, they’ll have fun fun fun ’til daddy takes Mercedes away.

“80’s Mercedes”

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