Ugh… okay. So, I’m back to writing about men again – well, for now, at least. To be honest, though, this next entry in the challenge has me pining to just stick with writing about women for good. To be fair, though, I guess it was only a matter of time before I landed on a hard rock band from the early 2000s (just how it was inevitable that I’d stumble across a Pitbull song). I guess I should just leap right into it. Intwine were a hard rock band from the Netherlands who formed in 2001 when the original members were all in college. They gained notoriety when in 2002 the lead singer featured on the Dutch show Idols, which I would imagine is similar in concept to American Idol. The notoriety stems from the fact that he quit the show after learning that, upon signing a contract, he would not be allowed to perform his own songs under the Intwine name. As they say, there’s no such thing as bad publicity, and this gave the band a boost in popularity as they signed to a completely separate label from the show. Their first single, “Happy?” proved to be their most successful, peaking at #3 in the Dutch charts and setting the stage for their debut self-titled album. Their musical style adopted a number of influences throughout the band’s lifetime, from moody nu-metal, to more upbeat pop-rock, to harder metal influences in their later albums. After four studio albums and a string of singles that performed decently on the Dutch Top 100, the band quietly split up in 2010 for reasons that were never fully disclosed.
So, there was a point at around high school where I went through a bit of a moody stage, wherein music from the likes of Linkin Park, Slipknot, Breaking Benjamin, and the ilk were suddenly very attractive to me. I guess it just happened to tap into that very specific moment of teenage angst that I felt like I was experiencing at any given point of any given day – everything sucked and the music took me to a comfortable place where my negative emotions were validated. Listening to these bands nowadays, however, brings me little to no merit. Apart from their major singles that were on constant replay on rock radio and thus distinguishable, the vast majority of a respective hard rock group’s work sounds pretty similar to each other in every which way possible. The aggressive guitar and bass work, the strained vocals, the emotional lyrics that mention coldness, death, and/or being torn apart to some degree… it’s all the same from one song to another. Of course, there are definitely exceptions (A Perfect Circle are still pretty cool), but for the most part nu-metal, post-grunge, and all other threads of this particular strand of hard rock are pretty dispensable.
However, this is said while accepting that my knowledge of international hard rock doesn’t come anywhere close to familiarity I have for the American counterpart. After listening to this output from a Dutch band specializing in the post-grunge style, I gotta say… it’s pretty much the same. Seriously, if you would have told me that Cold or Puddle of Mudd had recorded this song, I would assume that it sounds pretty much the same. Well, maybe not exactly the same, as this is actually a bit of a more quieter effort than many of the other harder rockin’ counterparts. At least this is the case for the first two-thirds of the song, with only a sole acoustic guitar holding up the vocalist’s performance, until after the third chorus when it goes straight into mid-tempo rock mode. At least the singer express more of a sense of vulnerability in his emotions, instead of the try-hard anger that many other rock vocalists use to cover up their inappropriate sad feelings. In that case, then, this is more Stone Sour than Slipknot (I listened to a lot of these groups back then, okay?).
But it should also be noted that this song is total bullshit. So, it sets up the stage of this lonely person who is enduring a breakup (“Isn’t it strange / That the stars don’t shine no more now since you’re gone”). Someone had done the other person wrong, so now they’re in total disagreement and have decided to part ways, but the singer is still grieving over it all (“Feels like I’m drowning without you”). Nonetheless, through it all, he wishes his former partner the best: “I hope you don’t feel just like me / I hope you’re happy”. It’s a pretty standard tale, and although the majority of the lines fall strictly into cliché, heard-it-all-before territory, at least the level of performance feels somewhat genuine. However, after a few stanzas of this, the chorus is twisted on its head at the climactic finish: “I hope you don’t feel just like me / Fuck, I hope you feel much worse than me / Maybe not so happy”. Yeah… total cop-out. This indicates that the speaker has pretty much not grown from the situation at all – he’s still bitter, probably for reasons that are beyond his control, and makes the explicit decision to dwell in the negativity bubble that hinders (no pun intended) so many of these recordings. Any bit of redeeming factor the song ever had gets thrown out the window during these last few moments.
Why would I want to feel for a guy who chooses to not be the adult in a situation that most people have to go through in some way or another? Also, why is the song called “Happy?” – as in, “Happy” with a question mark? Actually, Mudvayne did record a completely different song called “Happy?”, complete with the question mark, so I guess there’s some lawsuits that may need to get straightened out. Seriously, though, I hate to be a nitpicker with this kind of thing, but this song should’ve gone with a different title. The only time you should title your song “Happy” is if it sounds like this or similar. The song itself isn’t very good either – it has enough qualities that keep it from being a thoroughly unpleasant listening experience, but in terms of writing, it’s so dismal and pointless. That’s a great single cover, though.