Barenaked Ladies – One Week

First Hit #1: October 17, 1998

Barenaked Ladies are probably the most unexpected bands to get absolutely huge. Well, huge in Canada, where their mix of odd novelty songs and unexpected serious moments somehow have propelled them to become one of the biggest acts in Canada. It also sometimes gets them notice south of the border as well, in particular with One Week. It’s a song released in the midst of a rap renaissance, featuring rapped verses, that has no real connection to rap in the least. Ed Robertson’s raps are barely coherent – jumping from pop culture references to food to other places that don’t seem to be connected to anything, delivered as quickly as possible so nobody can quite understand what he’s trying to do – but they’re definitely not trying to ape any kind of established hip hop style. They’re delivered over a background of pretty typical ’90s pop rock, and have a chorus that promises meaning that doesn’t really deliver. It’s a goofy song, but it’s not really like anything else, putting a mix of flavors together which shouldn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, work. It is, above all else, quite strange, but that oddity has an appeal. It’s not like very much else, both for good and ill, and it has an appeal that reflects it’s pure oddity. It never really started a trend, or even further influence the band’s recordings, but it is an odd and distinctive dish.

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One Response to Barenaked Ladies – One Week

  1. RBerman says:

    His singsong verse delivery reminds me more of reggae than rap, but it also fits well into the vintage tradition of patter songs. The verses are just a rhyming stream of non sequiturs and nerd culture references to superheroes, TV shows, superhero TV shows, etc. The pre-chorus and chorus have a totally different lyrical focus, with a smug man counting the days until his girlfriend apologizes for being stupid again, which is just how a nerd would relate to his girlfriend, until she left him for being a jerk. The chorus has different words each time around, which I wish more songs did. But realistically, most pop songs are lucky to have a chorus that isn’t the same line repeated four times.

    This is a good song, but a better one which went to #1 in your homeland (which, interestingly, “One Week” did not) is their followup single, “It’s All Been Done,” which is not as funny or frenetic but contains more interesting ruminations on how the repetitive musical tropes of pop music mirror the age-old cycle of romance. It also has a great chord progression (including a classic I-Iaug-I6-I7 from “There’s a Kind of Hush”) , whereas “One Week” is more of a pop-funk number that sits on the root chord through the whole verse and chorus, venturing away only on the pre-chorus.

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