Artist: Karen O and the Kids
Album: Where the Waild Things
Are: Motion Picture Soundtrack
Best known as the lead singer of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Karen O also co-wrote and performed the soundtrack to the 2009 movie Where the Wild Things Are. An ensemble of child singers accompanies her and the collaboration is credited as “Karen O and the Kids.” Personally, I prefer Karen O and the Kids to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but they only ever recorded this soundtrack. It’s a fantastic soundtrack that perfectly captures the spirit of childhood and recklessness that is central to the movie. On the track “Building All is Love,” Karen O leads her kid chorus over fairly simple but ingenious backing band work.
“Building All is Love” is a wonderful song because you can hear the energy behind every part of it. The constantly-strumming guitars drive the entire song, even if there isn’t anything technically mind-blowing about the straightforward chords. When listening I get the feeling that the guitarist was not listlessly playing his basic part, but performing it intentionally as an integral piece of the song. It’s very much an instance where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Somehow, when everything comes together, what should be a basic and unexciting song turns out joyful and exuberant.
Lyrically, things are even simpler. 90 percent of the song is simply the words “all is love,” and it works. With all the poetic songs about love — which are beautiful, don’t get me wrong — it’s refreshing to find something that simply gets the message across that love is important in this world, and leaves it at that. Karen O and her band of kids simply want to remind you that love is everywhere, including in this song.
An interesting note about the track within the context of the album is that it’s very similar to another song called “All is Love.” This version was actually released as a single, and is more prominently featured in the movie. It’s a little shorter, and the vocals are much more emphasized than the backing band; there’s very little guitar in “All is Love.” I liked “Building All is Love” better, in part, because I find the constant strumming so crucial and also because I like how the title gives it a kind of “behind-the-scenes” feeling. It’s as if they were working on the song and building it into the final, more polished product that is “All is Love.” By comparison, “Building All is Love” is a little messier and a little rougher, but better for it.