Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

Simple Plan ft. Natasha Bedingfield – Jet Lag

Not so close you can almost taste it, evidently.


Alex Ostroff: Simple Plan cropped up in Canada in 2002, breaking into the public consciousness at the height of the power-pop-punk scene. But while Sum 41 were having existential crises and rocking out in empty pools, and Good Charlotte were attempting to ignite class warfare and rocking out in empty pools, the nice Quebecois boys of Simple Plan were penning pop songs about girls and breaking up and love. So while this feels a bit mellower and more polished, the transatlanticism of “Jet Lag” isn’t that much of a departure from their previous material. Long-distance relationships are fertile ground for the melodrama required in a good pop song, and create a legitimate in-plot reason for a duet; TashBed feels like an odd choice for a ‘rock’ song at first, but acquits herself fairly well, especially on the pre-chorus cry: “Trying to figure out the time zone’s making me crazy!” The song isn’t really cleared for take off, though, until the chorus — a mass of tightly coiled lines and yearning harmonies. “Jet Lag” would get an easy [8] if it weren’t for the existence of a French version featuring Marie-Mai. Her voice fits more smoothly with the track than Bedingfield’s, and the lyrics somehow seem less forced than the English ones at times. Plus, the bilingual love story sells the distance more effectively. It also makes me think of this recent bit of Quebecois film, perversely convincing me that despite the glorious romanticisation of distance in pop songs, this flight is probably doomed to crash, lending the entire affair an unintentional and lovely ephemerality.

Hazel Robinson: Simple Plan? As in the Canadian Good Charlotte without the propensity for incredible pop choruses? Natasha Bedingfield? As in Bridget Jones Pop? How have they ended up making a song that sounds like the cast of High School Musical performing the hits of U2? If it’s to try to recreate the dislocation of jet lag then good work, people. Although there’s an app for sorting out the time zone, dudes, it’s really fine.

Jonathan Bradley: Nearly a decade after their debut album, what always seemed the most interminably tedious of Canadian pop-punk acts has emerged from the chrysalis. “Jet Lag” is the kind of travails-of-touring tune that should not be relatable in the slightest to those of us who don’t live Spinal Tap lives, but Simple Plan buries the jetsetting and shoves the loneliness to the forefront, giving the tune an appropriate emotional versatility. “You say good morning when it’s midnight” doesn’t even need to be about literal time differences. All of the tyranny of distance stuff is just frosting, though. The spark behind the song’s enormous appeal is its bottle rocket guitar line, its stuttering “heart-heart” chorus, and, of course, the vocal interplay between Pierre Bouvier and a Natasha Bedingfield surprisingly suited to power chords.

Ian Mathers: These guys are responsible for the mewling “Welcome to My Life,” my default answer when someone asks me what my least favourite song is, so I’m predisposed to hate everything they’ve ever done. But “Jet Lag” is such an adorably runty attempt at power pop (they’re just trying so hard not to be shit) that I kind of adore it. Maybe it’s the good influence of Tashbed (I love that I can say that with a straight face here!), but I find myself not wanting to punch Simple Plan guy even a little.

Jer Fairall: A fitfully engaging example of what used to get called “power pop,” but exactly what audience do you think you’re courting when you recruit the previous decade’s blandest female pop vocalist as your guest?

Dan Weiss: Disappointingly catchy joyless professionalism from two dunderheads so equally has-been I can’t tell which one drew the short straw.

Zach Lyon: My girlfriend recently spent two weeks in Ireland, a five-hour timezone jump. You get used to it pretty quickly, you dumb goons. Good job coming up with a simple hook and turning it into the most dramatic, whiny ordeal you’ve ever been through, something that wouldn’t be out of place in the middle of a Disney Channel movie about teenage rock-stars-in-love going on separate legs of a tour.

Michaela Drapes: No, this isn’t the most creative lyric or production of all time, but Bedingfield and Bouvier’s voices slide up nicely together, clearly benefitting from being smoothed over by a slick mix that seems a thousand tracks deep. It’s a charming bit of disposable transatlantic romance fluff, destined to become the lead track on a million long-distance couples’ iTunes playlists.

Alfred Soto: This ode to the rigors of the touring life is a descendant of “Leather and Lace” and Sheryl Crow and Kid Rock’s “Picture,” with a dash of Fountains of Wayne. If the arrangement weren’t so perfunctory — if the guitars didn’t chug so predictably — including Bedingfield herself, who sings like she’s the one with jet lag, we’d have something.

Jonathan Bogart: I was hoping for the long-awaited unification of pop-punk and pop-pop; I got a mopier “Need You Now” without the relatability.

Edward Okulicz: We tell ourselves that now we’re older, we have too much in the way of critical faculty to enjoy such a fluffy, silly concoction as this cuddle-punk nonsense, but this has so much conviction that my guard is down. Bedingfield’s voice holds up better over something with some pace and volume than I’d have expected. The lyrics don’t so much as flirt with triteness as get to third base with it but as far as workmanlike attempts to evoke a very specific feeling, it’s not as bad as it could have been. Above that, it is dangerously catchy, which forgives sins far worse than that.

2 Responses to “Simple Plan ft. Natasha Bedingfield – Jet Lag”

  1. Listening to this again, I probably should have joined Edward and J-Breezy. The chorus is just so good!

  2. Wow, the French version of this is amazing. I actually like a Simple Plan song now. (The English one isn’t bad, but Alex Ostoff is right about the lyrics. Plus Marie-Mal sells the lyrics way more than Natasha Bedingfield, whose delivery is a little flat. Er, flat in terms of emotionality, not music.)