Komeda: “It’s Alright, Baby”
For those times when you’re in the mood for something light and catchy, smart but with no heavy messages or ponderous musical experimentation, just something to bop along with while doing chores around the house (although frankly I’m not entirely certain that I “bop” when doing chores), mowing the lawn, exercising, and what have you, but can’t bear the thought of listening to the current crop of musical junk being spewed out by the record companies (do they still call themselves that, really?), there are bands like Komeda. Hailing from Sweden (not unlike another famous band known for its light and catchy music, who I will admit to having been quite a fan of when I was around 11-13 years old), Komeda plays it upbeat but not dumb, fun but not ironic — they do happy music without reservation. In fact, they sometimes seem like nothing less (but much more) than an updated version of the Swingle Singers, except with more instrumentation, fewer singers, and performing their own music.
And speaking of the singer, lead vocalist Lena Karlsson sings with a cool confidence in a voice that sounds just a bit sped up — but I’m not talking Alvin and the Chipmunks here. There’s just something a little unusual about her slightly accented tone, as though she were a male singer on a 33-rpm record spinning at 45 rpm. That quality, along with their high-energy, ’60s-inspired melodies, makes Komeda’s music sound like the soundtrack to a cool Saturday morning cartoon that you remember from your childhood. Not surprisingly, perhaps, they showed up on the Powerpuff Girls: Heroes & Villains album in 2000, featuring music inspired by the Powerpuff Girls (and as funny as that might sound, it’s a great album, featuring the likes of the Apples in Stereo, Frank Black, Shonen Knife, and Dressy Bessy).
For me, the high point of Komeda-ic enjoyment is the groovy “It’s Alright, Baby.” Appearing on their 1998 album, What Makes It Go?, which is chock full of this kind of song and is great fun from start to finish, the song charges headlong right from the beginning and doesn’t let up until the end, complete with secret-agent guitars, wiggly synths, Beatlesque piano, and all the “Woo-hoos!” you could ever want. If you need a pick-me-up on a gray day, Komeda’s “It’s Alright, Baby” just might be the place to start…