If I Die Young

If I Die Young by krin.jpg

Date Aired
September 27th, 2011
Running Time
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Todd plays "If I Die Young" on his piano in a very upbeat manner.

A pop song review

Todd: Hmm. Oh boy, I'm excited. Yeah, this week, the pop charts have dumped a little something different on our plates, and I couldn't be happier. [Gretchen Wilson - "Here for the Party" starts playing.] That's right, put on your cowboy boots and crack open [grabs...] an ice cold beer. We're gonna be looking at some country music today. Yee-haw! [Takes a drink and is a little disgusted] Don't usually drink beer. Someone get me a Mike's Hard Lemonade?

video for Rascal Flatts — "Summer Nights"

Todd (VO): Okay, I think I've mentioned this before, but I used to listen to a lot of country music. Now that was back in the 90s when I was a kid. And I still check in on country music every now and then, but me and it lost touch right around the same time I discovered...

Todd: ...everything else in the world.

video for Easton Corbin — "A Little More Country Than That"

Todd (VO): So I'm not really up-to-date on country music as a whole. I used to know every Brooks & Dunn song backwards and forwards, but nowadays I can't really tell a Brad Paisley from a Dierks Bentley.

Todd: One thing I have noticed though is that these days, country music is skewing way younger.

Video for Keith Urban - "Long Hot Summer"

Todd (VO): This used to be a genre for adults for better or for worse. It still is in many respects, but a lot of it, the crossover stuff especially, is directed at a much younger crowd. The male artists all look like jeans models; [Video for Miranda Lambert - "Kerosene"] the female artists are all, like, blonde and tan and 19. Everyone has just gotten much, much prettier.

Todd: Look: [album cover of Johnny Cash - "At Folsom Prison"] 60s, [pictures of John Denver] 70s, [Kenny Rogers] 80s, [Garth Brooks] 90s, [Billy Currington] today. You see the difference?

Todd (VO): [video for Luke Bryan — "Rain Is a Good Thing"] Yeah, Nashville still makes songs about blue collars and booze and "gosh, we love family and America" and all that. But it has to make room for a lot more stuff about [Video for Carrie Underwood - "Cowboy Casanova"] boys and blue jeans and butterflies and so on. And if we're gonna talk about country's trend towards the teenyboppers...

Todd: ...we gotta talk about the pretty pink pony princess of them all—Taylor Swift.

Video for Taylor Swift - "Teardrops on My Guitar"
Taylor: Drew looks at me

Todd (VO): Taylor Swift is one of the most successful country artists in history, precisely because no one speaks to teenage girls like she does. Now I've bagged on her before for her ridiculous, sheltered, girly teenager-ness, but there's a genuineness to her that forgives a lot of her flaws. [Video for "Fifteen"] She believes what she's selling. The only time when I really found her Taylor-ness grating was when she put on pretensions of wisdom in "Fifteen."

Taylor: Cause when you're fifteen…

Todd (VO): But she has a sincerity about her that is impossible to fake, which is why there's not really been anyone who's been able to duplicate her success so far. But that hasn't stopped people from trying.

Todd: Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to The Band Perry.

Video for The Band Perry - "You Lie"
The Band Perry: The way you lie

Todd (VO): Newcomers to the country scene, The Band Perry are a brothers-and-sister group consisting of Neil, Reid, and the lovely blonde Kimberly.

Todd: Yes, of course she's a Kimberly.

Video for "Hip to My Heart"

Todd (VO): These fine, upstanding-looking men and woman released their debut album last year, and have thus far charted four singles off it, the biggest of which, "If I Die Young," reached #1 on the country charts last December.

Video for "If I Die Young"
Kimberly: Lord make me a rainbow, I'll shine down on my mother

Todd (VO): Now for the most part, The Band Perry seem like your standard mixed-gender country band like Lady Antebellum or Sugarland or Little Big Town, but their biggest song, "If I Die Young," is definitely trying to take its chunk out of the Taylor Swift fanbase.

Todd: Now I touched on this song briefly in a video I made back in January, and I didn't think I'd have the opportunity to do a full review of it.

Todd (VO): Oddly enough though, the song is just now starting to catch fire on pop radio, [brief clip of "All Your Life"] time enough for The Band Perry to have released two singles in the meantime. Now I'm not sure why it took so long to take off, nor do I understand why such an oddly morbid song is the country song that caught on with the public.

The Band Perry: Sink me in the river at dawn
Send me away with the words of a love song

Todd: Now I admit, the Taylor Swift comparison isn't perfect. [Brief clip of "Teardrops on My Guitar"] You'll never see Miss Swift tackling as deep a subject as the tragedy of an early death. But I'll tell you this—I do not consider this song a very serious-considered take on mortality. But let me let you come to your own conclusions. Go ahead, Perrys.

Kimberly: If I die young, bury me in satin
Lay me down on a bed of roses
Sink me in the river at dawn
Send me away with the words of a love song

Todd (VO): Geez, picky, picky. You know funeral arrangements are expensive, right? And this especially? All this—not gonna be cheap. But you know what?

Todd: You wanna bankrupt your family so that you can have a bitchin' farewell service? Go right ahead, it's your funeral...literally. Let me just...[reaches for paper] get all this down.

Kimberly: If I die young, bury me in satin

Todd: Ah yes, the touch, the feel of satin, the fabric of our l...well, "lives" is not the word. But, gotcha. Go on.

Kimberly: Lay me down on a bed of roses

Todd: Gotta make some floral arrangements, check.

Kimberly: Sink me in the river at dawn

Todd: Want the ol' cinder blocks around the ankles treatment, gotcha. [Looks over list] Okay, what order did you want all this in?

Todd (VO): Like, I gotta bury you, I'm guessing on a bed of roses, and then...what did you want here? Dig you up out of the ground and sink you in the river? Like, did you want all that on the same day? 'Cause if we sink you in the river at dawn, the entire rest of the service has to happen before sunrise, which is...not optimal.

Todd: God, this is a lot of steps. You really sure all this is necessary? Geez. Okay, what was that last part?

Kimberly: Send me away with the words of a love song

Todd: Can do!

Video plays with this song playing
Boyz II Men: I'll make love to you like you want me to
And I'll hold you tight

Todd (VO): Oh, sorry, is that inappropriate? Just...I got a little distracted trying to get all those other details in order. You should probably be a little more clear.

Todd: Ugh, just one more thing before I, you know, order the dress and the roses and rent a dock on the river, I gotta ask a question. Are you actually dying?

The Band Perry: Who would have thought forever could be severed by
The sharp knife of a short life

Todd (VO): Do you have any reason to believe that you might die young? Do you have cancer or something? 'Cause...you don't mention anything, and without that, this all seems a little weightless and disconnected and meandering.

Todd: Do you lead a dangerous lifestyle, maybe? 'Cause seeing as you're a...

Todd (VO): ...Caucasian female—the group with the single longest life expectancy of any demographic—I can't imagine why you would expect to die young.

Todd: Or is she suicidal? Oh, I guess that could be it. Maybe she has an abusive or unloving family.

Kimberly: Lord make me a rainbow, I'll shine down on my mother
She'll know I'm safe with you when she stands under my colors

Todd (VO): Hmm, she seems to speak pretty fondly of her mom, so I guess not that.

Todd: Well then, I bet it's issues with boys; it always is.

Kimberly: I've never known the lovin' of a man

Todd: Yep, see. Virgin. There you go. She's all depressed and shit 'cause she'll never find someone who really loves her.

Kimberly: I've never known the lovin' of a man
But it sure felt nice when he was holdin' my hand
There's a boy here in town, says he'll love me forever
Who would've thought forver…

Todd (VO): No, not that then either. Geez, future looks pretty good for this chick.

Todd: What's she being all doom and gloom about?

The Band Perry: If I die young, bury me in satin

Todd (VO): So...like...I guess she just wants to leave a good-looking corpse, and that's why this is all about dying young. If she lived to a ripe old age, I'm sure she wouldn't bother. She was like, "what's the point? No one cares when you're old. If I die old, bury me in garbage. Like, lay me down on a bed of roaches 'cause it doesn't even matter."

Todd: And seriously, at least Taylor Swift only planned her wedding.

Video for "Love Story"
Taylor: ...pick out a white dress...

Todd (VO): What kind of chick fantasizes about their funeral?

Todd: Why would someone write this? I don't get it.

Kimberly: A penny for my thoughts, oh no, I'll sell 'em for a dollar
They're worth so much more after I'm a goner
And maybe then you'll hear the words I been singin'
Funny when you're dead how people start listenin'

Todd: [long pause] Oh.

Todd (VO): Oh, okay. Okay, I get it now. See, there's the whole reason that song is this. I get exactly why this was written. Yeah, 'cause we all went through that phase.

Todd: Hell, I went through that phase. I'm not gonna lie to you.

Cut to Todd in his room writing. There's a knock at the door.

Todd: Go away, I'm busy. [Knock again] Go away!!! [Puts on headphones] If I were dead, they'd all listen to me. [The song he's listening to is Blink 182 - "Adam's Song"] Blink 182, you understand my pain.

Todd (back at piano): God, I was such a whiny little brat all those...ten months ago when that was filmed. But that's entirely the same mindset this song was written under.

Todd (VO): And that's why she plans her funeral like it's her Sweet 16. This isn't about fear of death or sadness about death or making peace with death, contemplating death. No, it's about fantasizing about death.

Kimberly: Funny when you're dead...

Todd (VO): At that point, this song stops being a bittersweet contemplation of life cut short, and it starts being about turning death into a selfish fantasy about being the center of attention.

Todd: And it's a stupid fantasy at that.

Kimberly: Funny when you're dead how people start listenin'

Todd (VO): Yeah, funny. Actually, no, it's really not funny...or true, for that matter.

Todd: I mean, some people's thoughts are reexamined after they die, but not many. Lots of people die and no one cares who they are or what they had to say.

Clip from funeral on Lost
Hurley: Scott Jackson worked for an Internet company in Santa Cruz. He won a sales prize. Sorry I kept calling you Steve, man. Um...amen, I guess.

Todd: Now people start listening to dead people when they had something of value to impart to the living, and I'm not convinced that the narrator of this song is gonna leave behind anything but a LiveJournal full of bad poetry and doodles of unicorns.

Todd (VO): [Valley Girl accent] "Oh, my God, people are gonna start paying attention to all my deep thoughts, like that...wars and stuff are bad and shouldn't happen, and it's sad when puppies die, and that Heather was, like, totally a mean-girl bitch, and that Bobby was totally stupid to be dating her in the first place, but you could totally tell he's gonna leave Emily and go back to her, which is, like, totally retarded. Oh, my God, can't wait to be dead. It's gonna be awesome."

Todd: Check this out—someone in charge of the music video even threw in the hilariously pretentious touch of throwing in a reference to a...

Todd (VO): Tennyson poem. You know what? I went ahead and read "The Lady of Shalott."

Todd: [holding book] Yeah, I read poetry. Just what I do, 'cause I'm smart.

Todd (VO): And I guess it makes sense in that "The Lady of Shalott" is about a [paintings of said poem] woman who dies on a river; but on a deeper thematic level, it doesn't work at all because she dies barely mourned and completely unappreciated. So it doesn't make any sense that this is about "The Lady of Shalott" because they don't really have any thematic similarities.

Todd: But it makes perfect sense that this is about some chick who wants poetry written about her. That I buy without question.

Todd (VO): And that is unfortunately all I hear in this—just adolescent self-absorption. And it doesn't help that I already feel like her lyrics are just clumsy to begin with.

Kimberly: They're worth so much more after I'm a goner

Todd: Well, golly, Cletus, she's a goner!

Kimberly: And I'll be wearing white when I come into your kingdom
The Band Perry: I'm as green as the ring on my little cold finger

Todd (VO): Does she mean...

Todd: ..."green" like young...not ripe? Or does she mean like [picture of green skeleton] literally green and decomposing? I honestly prefer to believe the latter, it would make it...

Todd (VO): ...a lot less cutesy and precious. Also, green ring? Why? What a weird detail to include. [Picture of Green Lantern] Is she a Green Lantern?

Kimberly: So put on your best, boys, and I'll wear my pearls

Todd: Yeah, sure, lady, dying young is all about rainbows and nice dresses and jewelry. No, this is...

Todd (VO): ...a piece of maudlin, emo crap directed at teenagers out there too old for Hannah Montana, but not disaffected enough for Hot Topic. Although I feel a little bad picking on this song. I guess it's a little unfair to expect much more than this out of Miss Perry.

Todd: I don't know what insights into life and death I was expecting her to have at the tender age of... [Picture of her reads "Kimberly Perry, Age: 28] Wait, what? What? Are you kidding?! Holy shit, that's older than I am!

Todd (VO): If you die young? Hell, lady, you're running out of time. Please tell me you found this song in, like, a ten-year-old diary of yours. Like...what was all that shit about never knowing a man's touch? Ugh!

Todd: How did anyone above the age of high school write this?! I'm flabbergasted!

Todd (VO): The hell was this? I'm sorry, this song just went from bad to inexcusable. I can't believe they put this out. This is ass. You know what, lady? If you die young, I'm gonna make sure that you get buried in a refrigerator box next to Scruffles, your pet hamster, in the yard! What are you gonna do about it?!

Todd: You're dead! Deal with it!

Closing tag song: The Misfits - "Die Die My Darling"

"If I Die Young" is owned by Republic Nashville
This video is owned by me
I listen to The Band Perry Farrell

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