Music occasionally begs accessories. A box of tissues, a journal, a picture (ripped in half or whole, depending on the song), a sex toy... some songs simply cannot be enjoyed to the same degree without physical appurtenances. This week's Bitch Tapes is a collection of songs like this. They all require the same item. I'll give you a hint. It's erudite. It's prolix. It's usually cumbersome, as tomes go. By now, you may be holding one. Give up? It's a dictionary! All the songs on this list contain SAT-ready vocabulary words, which wrinkle our brains while massaging our cochlea. Have some to add? Share your knowledge in the comments! (Track list, with pertinent definitions, after the jump!)
1. Fiona Apple- To Your Love Choicest word: Desideratum (n): Something wished for, or considered desirable. As in: My derring-do allows me to dance the rigadoon around you/ But by the time I'm close to you/ I lose my desideratum. See also: Every other Fiona Apple song ever. I wear my dictionary like a badge of honor when I see her live. NOT KIDDING.
2. The Decemberists- June Hymn Choicest word: Panoply (n): A complete or impressive collection of things; a splendid collection. As in: You were waking/ Day was breaking/ A panoply of song. See also: The music of Colin Meloy. The books of Colin Meloy. The blog of Colin Meloy. Song choice here entirely arbitrary. A band often labeled "hyperliterate," the Portland group is leading the charge on so-called "Nerd Rock," and singer/songwriter Colin Meloy's use of archaic, showy language is the stuff of indie-rock legend. The band, which is now on hiatus so that Meloy can (SURPRISE!) write novels, might consider taking up second jobs as SAT tutors until their reunion tour.
3. Blackalicious- Chemical Calisthenics Choicest word: Many. Mass spectograph? Refrigerant? Cyclotron? Galvanic? Flexure? Take your pick. As in: Every verse on this track. Now, I KNOW Blackalicious has a song called "Alphabet Aeorbics," but in terms of words and phrases one needs to look up while listening, nothing beats this one, which could have saved my abhorrent AP Chemistry score many yeares ago, had I discovered it in time.
4. Thomas Newman- Verisimilitude Choicest word: Um, there technically are none. But that title! Verisimilitude (n): The appearance of being true or real. As in: The title of the song. THERE ARE NO WORDS! I JUST LOVE INSTRUMENTALS! OK?!? See also: "In Loco Parentis", on the same soundtrack. That Lemony Snicket. He so articulate.
5. Joanna Newsom- No Provenance Choicest word: Elioated (adj.) Pale and drawn out as a result of lack of light. As in: Her faultlessly elioated fish-belly of a face/ The muzzle of a ghost. See also: "Does Not Suffice," on the same album; taught me bouclé, jacquard and cartouche ALL IN THE SAME LINE.
6. Jack Johnson- The News Choicest word: Diegetic (adj.) Of or relating to narrative or plot. As in: You can't believe everything you here/ The diegetic world is so unclear.
7. Warren Zevon- Play it All Night Long Choicest word: Brucellosis (n.) A bacterial disease affecting cattle and buffalo, causing undulant fever in humans. As in: The cattle all have brucellosis/ We'll all get through somehow. See also: Any other song that uses the word "brucellosis." OH WAIT THERE ARE NONE. Zevon is the only person ever to have used this word in a song. KABLAMO.
8. St. Vincent- Dilettante Choicest word: Dilettante (n.) A person who cultivates an area of interest with no particular committment or knowledge. As in: Slow down dilettante/ So I can limp beside you/ Following your houndstooth
9. Regina Spektor- Aching to Pupate Choicest word: Pupate (v.) Of a larva; to become a pupa. As in: Aching to pupate/ Aching to pup-p-pate. See also: "Lacrimosa," which means "weeping" in Latin and also appears on "Songs". I know, larvae, gross, etc, but seriously, PUPATE. I didn't say it had to be pretty. I said it taught us a new word.
10. Mirah- Archipelago Choicest word: Archipelago (n.) a group of islands. As in: I'm in the archipelago and I'm waiting to arrive/ I'm in the archipelago and I know I'm still alive. See also "Golden Archipelago," a gorgeous album by Shearwater. One of my favorite words, except I always say "archipegalo" by mistake, which sounds enough like "gigolo" that I can't take it seriously and my intelligent-sounding sentence is ruined. Sigh.