From just five years after Match.com (1995) was developed comes Mars Meets Venus (2000). The song takes a satirical look at dating in the modern-age, and was produced by TV Mania. The fact that “modern-age” was used in a sentence here is already unnerving, but never mind. It is Monday. Let’s just take a listen!
I like the texture of the crunchy guitar and deep keyboards and synth chords on this one. The call and answer between vocals and lead guitar work really well between verses, too. There are a lot of things one can say about Warren’s tenure in the band, but one thing for sure is that he and Nick worked well together, both as a production team as well as in song writing. On far earlier albums, musically speaking, a listener might hear a directional tug-of-war between guitar and keyboards. On this song, the approach seems different, as though the two work together to create an emotion, rather than oppositional.
As a result, the production feels tighter. There is still plenty of effect added to the vocals, but in appropriate moments as opposed to being overused all over the place. Echo works when used sparingly as an emphasis. There are highs, and there are lows – not just a flat wall of sound. There is a fantastic bottom to the tone, and the music is danceable and fun. The muted drums are a great effect as the song fades, too.
Lyrically, the song isn’t difficult to understand. Its humorous reflection on dating makes me chuckle, and remain grateful that by the time this song was released, I was already married. (Gosh I’m old) I like the fact that although the subject is a bit cynical and funny, musically the song isn’t satirical at all, with that great rock guitar and solid beat. It is a good, solid tune.
This song really screams the Pop Trash album to me. Let’s start with the fact that the song focuses on the new(ish) phenomena of online dating that came on to the scene at that time. Now, we know that before this, there were classifieds but with the ease of the internet, dating ads increased dramatically (or that’s how it appears). Pop Trash had many moments that focused on some element of popular culture. Earlier, we talked about Hallucinating Elvis, Lava Lamp, Playing with Uranium and even the cover that screams some sort of weird pop culture references. So, I’m not surprised that they chose to go with this as a song topic. Of course, at the same time, I could comment that I highly doubt any of them needed to chose something like online dating to meet people. At the same time, is this a topic that works for the listeners? It is so specific that I’m not sure people care unless they are actually using some sort of online dating service themselves. Then, if you are, do you want a song about that? I also worry that anytime the band focuses in so narrowly on some modern day cultural element that it will be outdated, at some point.
Switching gears, musically, the instrumentation sounds like Pop Trash, too. The emphasis on the modern day guitars along with the keyboards and some effects feels like Pop Trash. The instrumentation works to make the mood of the song fun and upbeat. You don’t even have to listen to the lyrics to know that this is not a serious song or one to be taken too seriously. It is just to be enjoyed. I find it interesting that the lyrics are such that it ends up really being Simon just singing through a list of adjectives, characteristics, qualities, etc. I almost wonder why they didn’t go with more of a rap quality for that since the lyrics would have lent themselves in that way. That being said, I don’t mind Simon’s vocals even if I struggle to pay attention to what he is saying until I get to the more traditional sounding chorus. I also find it interesting that they end the song with the lyric, “Here’s looking at you.” That line makes me wonder. Who is looking? Can you look at someone from the internet, especially in the 1990s? Maybe it is just me but putting one image up was a lot for my old dial up!
Overall, I think the song is a fun one. I think the music works well and the chorus is such that it would get stuck in someone’s head. I’m not totally sold on how Simon sings the versus but I suppose that it makes sense for the lyrics. The biggest drawback is simply the very narrow, very focused topic that will definitely age the song and the album. I get why this would have been an interesting topic to explore but it isn’t one that I care too much about. It does not have a universal appeal and cannot imagine someone being able to apply it like a metaphor.