No, this is not a cover of the Sheryl Crow tune about “the sun going down over Santa Monica Blvd.” or a version of the pop-country hit by Sugarland from a few years ago we’ve all heard in supermarkets with the semi-annoying “ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh” chorus . This “All I Wanna Do” is by a new-ish band from Wales named The School. But because the song’s sound and production is so evocative of orchestral girl groups of the mid-‘60s (think any band from that time which had a “-ette” suffix at the end of their name and you’ve got the idea), the tune at times seems like a long lost gem from 45 years ago.
The School isn’t exactly breaking new ground with their sound or lyrics, but in re-creating a sweet, innocent mood that isn’t heard by wide audiences anymore, this song seems quite fresh. But more important is simply that this group has both an ear for a great melody as well as great production choices that wring every last bit of adorableness they can out of this quick and simple slice of vintage-sounding pop. (The School’s other songs are pretty good as well; go here to check out their website. Another song of theirs, “I Want You Back,” made our “short list” of indie rock & pop favorites of 2009; go here to check out that post. And no, that song is not a cover of the Jackson 5 classic.)
Anyway, if you’re not the retro girl-group sound, “All I Wanna Do” might not be your thing. But the whole point of these “off the beaten track” first dance song posts is to bring you tunes for a first dance that you won’t find recommended anywhere else, regardless of the genre. So if you’ve here and read this far, you’re probably looking for something new – even if that new thing is a sound that harkens back to the days of girl groups performing in beehive hairdos and matching outfits on The Ed Sullivan Show.
So, why is “All I Wanna Do” a great first dance song, and a outstanding song overall? Well, first, with its innocent, teenager-in-love-like lyrics about needing to leave the world and its troubles behind for a while and escape to be with your sweetheart, it captures a sentiment that no doubt many couples who have a youthful spirit about their relationship and/or a lot of mid-century modern retro furniture in their apartments will love. Second, it’s,short and sweet – but not too short to be over just like that, and not too sweet to be cutesy.
But the best thing about the song is the vocal melody; it gives wings to, and makes memorable, a song with a sound and a subject done countless times before. If you’re at all into vintage-sounding pop, it’s quite hard to resist the airy, clean voice of singer Liz Hunt and the tune’s uplifting chorus, especially since each time it repeats it becomes more orchestral and lush, as layers of angelic vocal overdubs, gentle backing “aaahhs” and soaring strings are added in just the right amounts to build things to a big, exhilarated-sounding near-finale that will make couples feel like spinning each other around like goofy teenagers.
Okay, so you might not actually go that far in front of a reception of your guests, but if you’re a couple that tends to wear your giddiness on your sleeves, it certainly is nice to have a song that gives you the option.
The School – All I Wanna Do
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