Bringing Saxy Back: 10 Pieces of Audio Evidence Confirming 2011's Full-On Saxophone Revival
In an episode of30 Rock
from last year's fifth season, Tina Fey's alter-ego Liz Lemon walks the street, moping about the end of writing as career path.
Seems the show may have jumped the gun on that last one, though: Saxophone players have had a bunch of prominent opportunities in back in the music mainstream over the last year. Often used as a cheeky nod to the '80s, a number of songs released in recent memory have featured the wacky woodwind -- or at least a keyboard sound based off of the instrument.
Katy Perry's summer single "Last Friday Night" takes pop culture's blithe nostalgia to the limit. The track's solo was performed bySaturday Night Live
Band saxophonist Lenny Pickett -- the guy who kept the sax in the cultural spotlight for two decades. In a cruel twist, the music video had Kenny G on the reed -- the guy who wussified the instrument in the '90s and caused Pickett to carry that burden.
Appearing on American charts after success in Europe, "Mr. Saxobeat" is Romania's biggest musical export sinceEdward Maya's 2009 dance track, "Stereo Love."
As opposed to the accordion used by Maya, the sax employed in this track almost makes you forget the corny English lyrics presented in a Cold War spy's accent.
With a lineup as crowded as that of35 Denton veterans Gayngs
, there just has to be a sax in there. The first track of 2010'sRelayted
includes a saxophone over a hip-hop beat, evoking snowy evenings in Chicago or the Twin Cities.
Cameron Mesirow's vocal range often carries the disparate world-music soundscape in Glasser's debut albumRing
, but the album's finale "Clamour" includes a saxophone cough that registers low enough to attract nearby snakes and dogs.
A couple of tracks in Iron & Wine's latest album,Kiss Each Other Clean
, sound like a mashup of P-Funk and Fleetwood Mac. "Me and Lazarus" is the stronger attempt at this sound. The sax cuts in through the warbling synths, a good enough bassline and Sam Beam's vocal arrangements before disappearing.
I'd never been into folk groups with forest fauna names until Fleet Foxes brought in the sax inHelplessness Blues
. I can just imagine lanky lumberjacks pulling their beanies over their ears in the last couple minutes of "The Shrine/An Argument," when the saxophone shrieks in for a post-Coltrane bug-out. And that's an awesome thing to imagine.
Released a month before the single for Perry's "Last Friday Night," "The Edge of Glory" doesn't know whether it wants to be a dancefloor jingle or a rock ballad. More than likely, though, it will be forever known for this unfortunate footnote: This track was one of the last songs E Street Band saxophonist Clarence Clemmons recorded before he passed away in June.
I would call Deerhunter the boldest band with a forest-themed name, and last year'sHalycon Digest
was pretty easily the least wussy indie rock album of last year. The bellowing saxophone in "Coronado" best captures that '80s rock mood everyone else on this list is trying to evoke.
Because Destroyer's and Iron & Wine's albums both released on January 25, 2011, music bloggers named the date "Sax Tuesday." The title track on Destroyer'sKaputt
has an awesome buttery-sax-segueing-easily-into--makeout-inducing-smooth-jazz vibe. This makesKaputt
the Sax Tuesday winner in my eyes. Babies born this month can thank Destroyer later.
Last year, Moldova entered SunStroke Project's song "Run Away" into the Eurovision Song Contest 2010 --American Idol
's grandmother from the old county. Not only did it inspire other saxophone-infused dance tracks (see "Mr. Saxobeat" above), but Sergey Stepanov's flamboyant saxophone dance on Eurovision's stage also inspiredthe Epic Sax Guy internet meme
, which is really as good an indicator of a trend these days as any. Indeed: 2011 has been the year of the sax.
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