Regina Spektor: "Fidelity"


By Mark Abraham | 8 May 2006

Dear Caelyn and Hayden,

I haven’t been a very good fake uncle, I know, but I don’t live close enough to visit very often, and only Caelyn is probably old enough to begin to understand what “fake-uncle” means anyhow. I lived with your dad (and, 33% of the time, your mom) in a tiny residence room in Fredericton. I think you kids have it pretty good, ‘cause I love your parents, but let’s be clear: they have shitty taste in music (‘cept for your dad’s Wu-fetish). I figure I should start you on a good diet, and I think “Fidelity” is a good place to start, because it’s like the Patient Zero of infectious pop, all umbilical responses and melodies that sound like they were translated directly from the DNA of endorphins. And, look, I don’t want to complicate this, but if science is formula, and I’ll leave that for you to decide, so be it, ‘cause you’ll learn one day that learning itself occurs through iteration, and that sometimes even if a pleasurable response is evoked through similarity, that doesn’t mean that the pleasure is any less real.

With something like this it doesn’t matter if you can take its blueprint and slap it over a bunch of other songs and they would match exactly because when Regina colors this in, she ignores the rule where you’re supposed to stay inside the lines (and please, start fighting the Man early, dear fake-niece and nephew). The instrumentation is so simple; it’s all chimes and piano and picazzo strings bouncing with the occasional deluge of Tony Banks-keyboard warmth and it cues into both the basic body/mind response that good pop hits on as well as the implicit and hilarious disposability of pop that fueled so many late afternoon drinking sessions where your dad and I would blast the Spice Girls at 3:00PM (we had probably just woken up), put on sunglasses, hoist our beers into the air, and just dare people to find it weird or whatever. Because we liked those songs, and even if Regina is way better than the Spice Girls ever were, we knew that pop itself is a conflation of a whole series of emotions and ideas and joy and pain but it’s just basically one simple question: “do you enjoy life?” Drink!

I hope you both enjoy yours; your dad obviously does, and even if your mom shook her head at us sitting their, bobbing our heads like the morons we were, wasted before the meal hall would even let us in for supper, I know she secretly thought we were incredibly cute, because, hey -- that’s what this kind of music is about. Which is why, even when Regina is saying, “it breaks my heart,” don’t believe her, because the way she melodies the word “heart” on the repeat when the piano slides in proves that she’s having the time of her life.