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"The Suburbs," Deconstructed

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Top honors at this year’s Grammy Awards went to a collection of songs about growing up outside the urban core. Today: a reaction to Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs” from sociologist Christopher Niedt of Hofstra University’s National Center for Suburban Studies.

Guests:

Chris Niedt

Comments [20]

I second Camille and Charlie. I was obsessed with Blur's Parklife (while in HS in the NJ suburbs) and always kinda hoped it was influenced in some small way by "Pleasant Valley Sunday".
Also - not specifically about the suburbs - but "Sick Day" by Fountains of Wayne.

Feb. 17 2011 10:35 PM
Michelle from Park Slope, Brooklyn

I grew up in the suburbs of Minneapolis..
In Suburbia by Pet Shop Boys is a favorite of mine ..."Lost in the high street, where the dogs run, Roaming suburban boys, Mother's got a hairdo to be done,
Let's take a ride and run with the dogs tonight, in suburbia...."
I remember just getting in my car cranking the music and driving...wherever

Feb. 17 2011 10:25 PM
jennifer tobias from east village

"Houses in the Fields" by Iris Dement

Feb. 17 2011 10:18 PM
art525 from Park Slope

Shangri-La by the Kinks.

Feb. 17 2011 04:29 PM
Jane

the whole thing with cars and bikes is very Montreal. They look down at cars over there, and they have the highest use of bikes in Northern America.
There is a wonderful system of bike rentals, it is quite easy to get a bike using your credit card and just bike to the station nearest to your home. Those stations are everywhere, even on the outskirts of Montreal.

Feb. 17 2011 02:23 PM
David Bragin from Brooklyn

David Byrne’s True Stories, Especially the song “I wouldn’t live there if you paid me to” always resonated with my suburban life.

Feb. 17 2011 02:22 PM
Gary from Upper Left Side

I've listened to the "The Suburbs" several times. Although the music is good, the concept of this album--"the suburbs"--is a lament from 30 years ago. I would have liked Arcade Fire to have lamented the financial meltdown and the resulting economic wreakage that will pervade the world for rest of the 21st century.

Feb. 17 2011 02:22 PM
Miranda from Manhattan

Re: songs about the suburbs, I think of Desaparecidos lyrics from their album "Read Music/Speak Spanish":

From the song "Man and Wife, the former":
'Cause I sold some sh*t I'm saving up
We can get that house next to the park
I'll get more hours at my dads shop
Yeah we'll plan for everything
And we'll enroll in that middle class
Get a compact car full of discount tags
If you're feeling trapped or too attached
Remember we wanted that

and from "Greater Omaha":

Well, traffic's kind of bad
They're widening Easy Street
To fit more SUVs, they're planting baby trees to grow to shady peaks
A little shelter from the sun
Or the upper tax bracket
Here on the cul-de-sac we're not giving back till the community repents
Cause we can't afford to be generous
There's closing costs and a narrow margin
So go earn your degree and we'll take you out to lunch
You can work for us
But you got to eat em all up
Yeah, one more mouth full and we will be happy then
Yeah, one more mouth full and we will be happy then

Feb. 17 2011 02:21 PM
tim from Brooklyn

I wasn't shocked when Arcade Fire won album of the year. The Grammys, in essence, have always been a tool to promote acts on the "major" side of the music industry. I think it makes perfect sense that if there is a new act that's on the verge of U2-like stardom that the voters would want to give them that extra nudge, if only to keep the majors (and Grammys) relevant.

Feb. 17 2011 02:21 PM
tim from Brooklyn

I wasn't shocked when Arcade Fire won album of the year. The Grammys, in essence, have always been a tool to promote acts on the "major" side of the music industry. I think it makes perfect sense that if there is a new act that's on the verge of U2-like stardom that the voters would want to give them that extra nudge, if only to keep the majors (and Grammys) relevant.

Feb. 17 2011 02:19 PM
Keni from long island

Joni Mitchell - Hissing of Summer Lawns, Ladies of the Canyon ...

Feb. 17 2011 02:18 PM
Frank Grimaldi from East Village

My favorite is Ben Fold's Rockin the Suburbs. He seems to talk about the suburbs by talking about different people - songs about Lisa, Fred etc.

Feb. 17 2011 02:17 PM
Logan from Brooklyn

A note from a homegrown suburbanite from the outskirts of NYC:

When we were young we turned to punk, which is the classic anti-anything genre. In a town full of houses and strip malls, punk seemed like the appropriate response from a teengage population with nothing to do. I think the Arcade Fire is still tapping into those punk roots, but might just be sick of the mosh pit...

Feb. 17 2011 02:17 PM
Charlie Roberts from Highlands, NJ

Two singles come to mind: "A Well Respected Man" by The Kinks and "Pleasant Valley Sunday" by The Monkees.

Feb. 17 2011 02:16 PM
camille from brooklyn

Blur

Parklife
Modern Life is Rubbish
The Great Escape

Feb. 17 2011 02:16 PM
Charlie Roberts from Highlands, NJ

Two singles come to mind: "A Well Respected Man" by The Kinks and "Pleasant Valley Sunday" by The Monkees.

Feb. 17 2011 02:16 PM
Brian

Screeching Weasel: "Hey Suburbia!"
the best.

Feb. 17 2011 02:15 PM
Travis Fyfe from Brooklyn

Bomb the Suburbs by William Upski Wimsatt

Great book!

Feb. 17 2011 02:15 PM
Robots Need to Party from NYC

Funeral is distinctly suburban as well. I guess this is Arcade Fire's milieu. How do these albums differ thematically?

Feb. 17 2011 02:15 PM
a g from n j

any notable distinctions between canadian and american burbs ?

Feb. 17 2011 02:13 PM

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