Monday, March 15th, 2010

Erykah Badu – Window Seat

Think it says something for this year that I’m faintly shocked it’s been 12 days since a song averaged over 7…


Alex Ostroff: Our first taste of Return of the Ankh proper is a far cry from the political jams that defined the first half of Badu’s New Amerykah project. Here, we return to the more organic sounds of Mama’s Gun and a focus on the personal. Rocking back and forth on her porch, mired like the rest of us in the daily hustle for love, work, food and human contact, Erykah just wants Scotty to beam her up and out of here. Absent that option, she’ll buy a plane ticket and fly above it all, look out the window and gain some perspective before landing. There was a time when I found the neo-soul shtick unfocused and messy, but falling hard for her last album finally gave me an entry point. So while “Window Seat” is essentially ?uestlove laying down a loose groove, and Erykah doing her usual thing, nobody does it quite like her.

Alex Macpherson: A simple drum break, a two-chord daydream of a melody and some freeform wordless scatting: Erykah Badu rejoins us in deceptively casual fashion. “Window Seat” begins as though picking up a narrative midway through, slipping easily into the slipstream of a story so large that a mere song can’t hold all of it; its structure is such that it never needs to end, it could continue cycling through its constituent parts — going deep with desire, rising up with tender pleas. In this way, Badu makes the simple emotion of missing someone feel epic. She reminisces, shuts off the outside world, free-associates in her own inimitable way; beautifully rendering a section of an emotional journey, making us aware that it’s already been going on for some time and will continue long after we’ve moved on.

Martin Skidmore: How did this get to be a single? It sounds 100% like an album track, a lazy, jazzy workout with no energy and very little suggestion of a tune. It’s very pleasant, the playing is very good, and she has ample vocal talent, but it could hardly be easier to ignore as background music.

Al Shipley: As a teaser for an album I’m highly anticipating, this is good, but as a single I have doubts. I miss hearing Erykah on the radio, and with Maxwell and Sade scoring big R&B radio hits without pandering to it, I wish that she was releasing a song that had even a chance of achieving the same feat.

Anthony Easton: I think that Badu is more interesting on these songs of urban sadness and erotic longing then in her more actively angry political work — it suggests a way forward post Obama.

Rodney J. Greene: Starts as a lithe neo-soul groove with cleva lyrics about a needed getaway, the kind of deal you’d expect Badu outgrew around the time she turned in the headwraps for an afro wig. Then she just has to go and complicate the whole thing. A series of alternatingly forlorn and wistful bridges stages an internal drama of conflicting emotions. Erykah desires both the freedom of individuality and the comfort of intimacy, but never settles which of the two she more strongly craves. The tune’s cyclical nature makes it seem as if this sequence of thoughts could recur a million times without resolution, which in turn only strengthens the song by avoidance of an easy way out.

Alfred Soto: I love her diffidence, even when she’s being nasal about it. This no-fuss groove, which would have been right at home on Mama’s Gun almost ten years ago, serves as an excuse for Badu to allude (Lightin’ Hopkins!), muse, yearn, and, inevitably, drift.

Matt Cibula: Yep, I’m all in for this one, which should be a non-shocker for everyone here. “Window Seat” would seem to hearken back to a Mama’s Gun sort of ballad, but it’s tighter, more thoroughly worked-out than a lot of those jams were. And it just keeps expanding into loveliness; this qualifies as the year’s “song with the funky breaks.” Furthermore: speaking also as a parent of three who finds the creative process to be a cruel cruel bitch, this is the freshest and most apt metaphor she’s ever spun.

4 Responses to “Erykah Badu – Window Seat”

  1. had i gotten it together over the weekend, I would certainly have given this an 8 or 9.

  2. 10 imo

  3. i listen to this song every day when i wake up & then before i go to sleep

  4. I like Erykah when she’s not being all political and shit, which means I like this song.