WVAU’s #4 Song of 2015: "Pedestrian at Best" by Courtney Barnett

Jack Marsden

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Courtesy of  E-Verse Radio

Just like any other weekend, my friends and I were in my beat up Volvo cruising around suburban New Jersey with no destination in mind. The routine was simple: pile the whole friend group in the small sedan, fill up on gas, and turn on WFMU. A lot of my time in high school was spent listening to this freeform, painfully weird radio station, as it seemed to be the lone glimmer of eccentricity in the bubble of our beloved conservative, homogenous hometown. From almost unlistenable noise rock to subtle ambient compositions, it was the norm to be pleasurably confused while listening to WFMU. The biggest surprise came that late-February afternoon when Courtney Barnett‰’s “Pedestrian At Best‰” struck the airwaves with its potent barrage of power chords. The packed car of teenage boys went silent. We were instantly in love.

The song itself is simple. It relies heavily on a few power chords and Pavement-esque guitar hooks. It‰’s fun and extremely catchy ‰ÛÒ bound to get stuck in your head. But the real genius lies in Barnett‰’s lyricism and unique vocals. Her Australian accent is apparent and is combined with a steady, almost monotonous talk-singing. It‰’s somewhat reminiscent of Andrew Savage of Parquet Courts but unique enough not to sound like a mere copy of previous styles. The main plus-side to this style of vocals is the clarity given to the lyrics. Barnett‰’s poetry in “Pedestrian At Best‰” is the true reason I believe it was the best song of 2015. It‰’s what made a car full of high school boys go silent and what made WVAU obsessed.

“Pedestrian At Best‰” is an honest admittance of Barnett‰’s indecisiveness and inability to understand her own feelings. The song also talks of existential crises and the resulting anxiety. These lyrical themes put on top of an extremely fun and lighthearted core perfectly sums up my college experience. It may look and feel like I‰’m having fun, but we all know I‰’m slowly losing a grip on reality. And with this song‰’s success in 2015, it looks like I‰’m not the only one feeling this way.