Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

Emiliana Torrini – Jungle Drum

Seeing as how she’s from Iceland, it’s probably a reasonable bet that no, she’s not got much idea of what a jungle’s actually like…


Hillary Brown: Nancy Sinatra for the modern age. More trilled R’s, a good deal less bad-assedness.

Martin Kavka: Every party needs a song for that moment when people begin to get tired from all the alcohol they’ve imbibed; it gives everyone their second wind and keeps things going until much later in the evening. This is that song.

Frank Kogan: Icelandic woman suffering from infantilism is sent to highly regarded finishing school in central Africa, but hearing beat over the radio that originated in Havana or Chicago, skips out on her elocution lessons, devoting herself to mastering the rhythm, instead.

Talia Kraines: Charming and instantly memorable pop, this is one of those songs I’ve raced to find my phone to for a bit of Shazam action. Not many people could make the sound of a drum and get away with it, but Emiliana is one of them.

Anthony Easton: In this post-Obama age it is so difficult to figure out ironic racism, race blindness, blind racism, and casual dismissal of historical notions of race. I wonder how the racial politics would work out if the jungle drum chorus was less goofy — if it was an actual sample of juju, for example. As it stands, I kind of love the onomatopoeic charm.

Martin Skidmore: Take out the “dum dum dum” bits and this would be likable enough, but those are too irritating for me.

Chuck Eddy: Vocals pretending to be drums — like “Little Drummer Boy” or “Turn The Beat Around”! And I like the initial fake-jungly Bow Wow Wowzy Burundi beats and tropical birdhouse exotica at least as much. But then the excellently named Emiliani Torrini starts reciting several actual words. Which may well be unfortunate, but the silliness of the rest bounces too much to bother resisting. Minus gratuitous references to two despised superstar duets of the ’80s, this would have been a fun novelty hit (in continental Europe — fuck the U.S., man) at any time in the past four decades.

Michaelangelo Matos: I just really paid attention to Alan Vega’s “Jukebox Babe” for the first time the other week, so this song’s timing is opportune for me. Fake rockabilly, especially of the echt-’50s “OMG we’re all WILD ANIMALS aren’t we” variety, beats fake Laurel Canyon by me anytime. Plus: “Hey, read my lips/Cause all they say is kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss.”

Chris Boeckmann: Oh, look, another cute, quirky girl singing a cute, quirky song. Feels like she’s trying to channel Annabella Lwin, but Torrini comes across a bit too conventional for me to fully embrace her bras-off, headdresses-on “free spirit” bullshit.

Peter Parrish: Perfectly lively and everything, but the best song on Me And Armini by a measure of three thousand space miles was “Gun.” So I recommend listening to that instead.

Ian Mathers: When you’re in love with someone and you know they feel the same way, your heart doesn’t really beat like a jungle drum. And you don’t have to tell someone to “read my lips / ‘cause all they say are kiss kiss kiss kiss kiss” because you’re too busy making out already. So it’s perfect that the music here sounds so restless, nervous, unsettled (not to mention a tad atavistic and primitive, in the 1950s beat combo sense) even as Torrini sounds like she’s singing with a smile on her face – few songs have captured as well as this one the absurd giddiness and terror of the serious crush.

3 Responses to “Emiliana Torrini – Jungle Drum”

  1. I really like her, but this album left me a bit empty–her first two are different from this, and different from each other besides, and a lot easier to like.

  2. I loved this last year when I heard it and I still love it; #1 in my car.

  3. I’m still slightly confused as to how it made it into the German charts – was there supposed to be a release (again) or did it really only make it out of an accidental playing at the grand finale of Germany’s Next Top Model? It certainly seems like the ladder, which makes it’s prolonged stay at the top of the German iTunes charts even more confusing… But I am truly happy for her, I’ve been loving her (and this song too, incidentally) long time…