Continuing with this month’s theme of stories on love and happiness –aside from the April Fool’s Day post– I have decided to discuss two unique songs with very intriguing, yet contrasting, views on love. Those songs are Paradise Circus by Massive Attack and A Thousand Years by Sting. Though both hits are concerned with love in some fashion, they differ particularly on the outlook of love.
To explain these songs without mentioning the talented creators behind the notes would be a shame, so I’ll first give some background on both of them.
Massive Attack is a trip hop group from Bristol that was formed in 1988. They quickly rose to prominence in England with their innovative fusion of soul, acid house, funk, and hip-hop. After giving them a listen one ceases to wonder how this group managed to sell over 11 million copies of their five albums, as well as attain the many music awards throughout Europe.
My first interaction with Paradise Circus resulted from watching the BBC detective show, starring Idris Elba, Luther. Just from the briefly-played theme song I was captivated by the electronic, trippy masterpiece. If you’re anything like me, down-tempo hip-hop isn’t your typical genre when choosing a style of music. But this track, packed with a medley of poetic lyrics and melancholic vocals, is an easy exception. Hope Sandoval, from Mazzy Star, offers a quite hypnotic feel with vocals, which adds to the overall shadowy theme of this song.
Like the crime drama for whom Paradise Circus is the title song, this musical track is presented in a very dusky display. Its small, four-line chorus is half of the entire song, yet still accurately gets its point across; the impact of love strengthens with the increase of investment from a person involved.
“Love is like a sin, my love
For the ones that feel it the most
Look at her with her eyes like a flame
She will love you like a fly will never love you again”
A chorus entirely pessimistic of the deep bond that is sure to spur between romantic partners, and an inevitability of the prospect of love assures those seeking romance of their soon submission.
Massive Attack’s critical outlook of love is not an uncommon opinion, just definitively bleak when compared to the view of the song A Thousand Years by Sting. Also a native of the British isle, the English singer, Sting, has an interesting contrast to Massive Attack with A Thousand Years.
After 7-8 years with The Police, Sting’s solo career started in 1984 to lead him to become a champion within rock, worldbeat, jazz, reggae, even segmenting into le rai with the international hit, Desert Rose, with Cheb Mami. A personal favorite of mine. His Hall of Fame status with The Police and as a songwriter is unsurprising as it is duly warranted. With that being said, A Thousand Years set a high precedence in the late ‘90s for all masterful rock songs to follow.
Sting’s take on love is something to be admired as he lists throughout the song –in various purposefully exaggerated ways– how his adoration is virtually undying. The countless metaphors for his eternal love are simplistic, yet endearing, as his lyrics point to a comparatively optimistic outlook.
Most intriguing about this song is the second stanza, in which Sting implies that while he may be indefinite on most things, he is certain of one – that he “still loves you.” Whomever “you” might be I’m not sure, but I do know that this song is undoubtedly a classic for a reason.
“A thousand times the mysteries unfold themselves
Like galaxies in my head
On and on the mysteries unwind themselves
Eternities still unsaid
‘Til you love me”
He –along with his whole world– will be incomplete until his, possibly, unrequited love takes a turn for the better. A somewhat hopeful expectation on a significant situation. An outlook I too often like to entertain.