On songs about food (again)

Back in September, I wrote a column about food music, briefly touching upon the song “Artichoke” from New York City band Cibo Matto’s 1996 album, Viva! La Woman. In fact, a food motif is present throughout the album’s nonsensical songs. What results is a very successful album, teetering between silliness and seriousness, and trip hop and indie rock.

“Apple” – “Apple” begins with a clattering rhythm and whispered chant. The song squeaks and chugs like a machine, almost enough to be danceable — but then wordless moans creep in and out slowly enough to capture your full attention.

“Beef Jerky” – In the beginning, “Beef Jerky” sounds like a 1950s sitcom — an apron-clad housewife is sweeping joyously, when a grizzly bear rips through the door and eats the pie that’s cooling on the windowsill. Then it gets sassy with vocalist Miho Hatori squealing, “Who cares? I don’t care!” and “A horse’s ass is better than yours!”

“Sugar Water” – Michel Gondry (The Science of Sleep) directed a really stunning video for “Sugar Water” featuring a split screen with the same footage — one playing forward, the other backward. In the video, both members of Cibo Matto end up accidentally colliding.

“White Pepper Ice Cream” – The members of Cibo Matto wonder what white pepper ice cream would taste like, eventually determining that they do not care. Jazzy brass blasts in and out in the background as Hatori’s signature whispy vocals float over a sparse beat.

“Birthday Cake” – In this spunky track, Hatori drops the Miss Nice-Lady routine and screams at the top of her lungs, busting mad, strangely pronounced rhymes. Mainly, Hatori informs listeners that she put pot in the cake so they should just shut up and eat it.

“Theme” – Although not obviously titled after a foodstuff, “Theme” is about a sensual meeting with a man drinking a cappuccino in Milan. “The accidental meeting made my blood red like Chianti,” the song goes, referencing an Italian red wine.

“The Candy Man” – Reminiscent of Willy Wonka’s creepy but magical boat ride, the song’s chorus is a modern take on the chipper “Candy Man” song in 1971’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Still, it seems they’re not just singing about the man’s candy…

Le Pain Perdu” (“The Lost Bread”) – Using some trumpets and dance beat, Cibo Matto compares everyday life to stale bread and a dull relationship to overly sweet and mushy maple syrup.

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