WVAU’s #6 Song of 2015: "My Baby Don’t Understand Me" by Natalie Prass

Michael Lovito

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Courtesy of Space Bomb

I‰’m not entirely sure you can classify “My Baby Don‰’t Understand Me‰” as a “break-up song.‰” Break up songs usually contain a sense of closure: either the singer‰’s left their lover, or the lover‰’s left the singer, and either party can be angry, sad or happy about that, but either way, you know where everyone‰’s wound up. By song‰’s end, the couple is no more, and each party knows where they stand.

Instead, “My Baby Don‰’t Understand Me‰” occupies a much more harrowing middle ground, the borderlands between being a couple and breaking up, the moment where it all begins to fall apart, but no one‰’s actually acknowledged it yet. All that‰’s left is a looming sense that the current situation isn‰’t working out, and the toxic apathy that fails to end it. Not quite dread, but a withering sense of wasted time and imminent despair as a relationship limps its last few feet.

And yet, what a joy it is to listen too! Natalie Prass and producer Matthew E. White managed to take this awful feeling and turn it into the most complete and lushly produced and arranged song of the year, heck, of the last five years. While the dramatic strings of the earlier part of the song hint and a musical theatre sense of grandiosity, the gentle kisses of guitar and introduction of horns introduce a dash of soul, leading up to one of the most fantastic auditory climaxes of the last decade. Prass compares her love to a “long goodbye waiting on the train,‰” painting a picture of a couple that‰’s in dire need of a fresh start, but for whatever reason, can‰’t make the split.

This song is the first track on Prass‰’s self-titled debut album, and while most artists may want to put their best song first, it‰’s a huge misfire because the bombast and production value of this song make it the definition of a “show stopper.‰” It outshines any context it‰’s put in. Every time you listen to it, what track came before or after no longer exists or matters; all other songs seem trite. It‰’s a song that eats like a meal, a piece of art that manages to tell it‰’s story and please the ears in only five minutes and ten seconds. Mix all that feeling with White‰’s pocket symphony and Prass‰’s angelic vocals and what comes out is one of the most complete and powerful songs of the last decade, one destined to be a classic for years to come.