Connect with us

Music

Play on Pleasure: Vanessa Carlton’s ‘A Thousand Miles’

Who can resist jumping in with a “MAKIN’ MY WAY DOWNTOWN?”

Brogan McCuen

Published

on

Each week, CMN’s Brogan McCuen raves on about a musical guilty pleasure. (And uses a lot of parentheses.) And probably a bunch of other stuff, too. We call it Play on Pleasure.

I used to sell vinyl records in downtown Seattle, and let me tell you, the opportunities to reference Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles” were exorbitant, and with a team of music enthusiasts, you know we took advantage of it often. I spent a lot of those two years with this song stuck in my head, whether I liked it or not.

Really though, why does this song hold up after eighteen years? (18?!)

I’m glad you asked! (Me too – Ed.)

First, my friend Zawadi brought to my attention that this song is in the key of B major, which is pretty obtuse for a pop song. To give you an idea of how common that is, here is a convenient graph that breaks down the most popular keys of songs on Spotify in 2015. There are twenty-four keys total, and the two most popular keys take up over 20% of the graph, while B major rings in at #16, used in only 2.6% of songs.

This is likely because B major isn’t a very fun key for anyone but the drummer (#musicjokes). The departure from the classic G major and C major makes “A Thousand Miles” subconsciously more interesting to our ears.

The spirited orchestral strings also pick the melody up and propels it forward, along with the very pronounced adult contemporary drum beat that had to be cheesy even when this song was released.

Plus, this is one of the most iconic piano riffs in pop music.

You can’t get halfway through this first riff in a karaoke bar without everyone getting white girl hyphy. And Vanessa Carlton’s red nail polish and matching wrist sweat bands in the music video are so delightfully 2001. And don’t even get me started on her lip sync face.

This is likely why this song is what it is to some of us: prime fodder for the nostalgia generation.

On the subject of karaoke, there is a lot to be said about this song’s singability. It’s in a pretty moderate key, so most people can sing it without too much effort — I can still sing it even when I have sick voice. And if you can’t sing the melody, you’re probably singing along to the strings part.

Vanessa hardly belts when the song peaks at the end, so you don’t even have to gear up for much. This makes it so accessible, who can resist jumping in with a “MAKIN’ MY WAY DOWNTOWN” in the car or with a hairbrush microphone or with arms around the shoulders of random strangers in a bar?    

And lastly, I think we can all agree that Terry Crews doing that head boppity bop to this song in White Chicks was the only solace in that terrible movie, because that is pretty much what all of us do when we listen to it, too.

In case you’re wondering—Vanessa is aging very well, though her latest work, a cover of Lucinda Williams’ “Lonely Girls,” is decidedly less upbeat and memorable than her 2001 hit 😉

If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.

Brogan is a Seattle Pacific University graduate who majored in Creative Writing (with a creative non-fiction concentration) and minored in Music. She is also a karaoke host, a pole athlete, and the lead singer of a classic rock cover band. After working at an e-commerce record store for two years, she shifted her focus to incorporate her writing inclinations with her musical background (plus, her roommates were tired of hearing about the Dilla sample that Miike Snow used in "My Trigger"). Enter: CMN.

CMN Reports

Education1 week ago

California Will Require All of Its Public Universities to Offer the Abortion Pill On Campus

The Golden State expands women's healthcare choices on campus.

by , The Catholic American University
Government2 weeks ago

California Becomes the 1st State to Make HIV Prevention Drugs Available Over-The-Counter

The Golden State progresses towards reducing HIV/AIDS.

by , The Catholic American University
Business2 weeks ago

California Will Allow Its Own Cities and Counties To Open Their Own Public Banks

The Golden State alongside North Dakota leads the way in public banking.

by , The Catholic American University
Government4 weeks ago

Abortion Fully Decriminalized Across The Nation of Australia

The country's most populous state is giving women choices in healthcare.

by , The Catholic American University
Free Speech4 weeks ago

Meet The Young People Against Socialism in America

A new conservative youth group takes on the rise of American socialism.

by , The Catholic American University
Government1 month ago

Meet the Progressive Rugby Player and Veteran Taking on the Democratic Establishment in New York

This Queens candidate wants to put his community first.

by , The Catholic American University
Election 20201 month ago

This Progressive Truck Driver is Challenging a Democratic Incumbent in Washington State

This young working class truck driver is taking on the Democratic Party establishment in Olympia, Washington.

by , The Catholic American University
Election 20201 month ago

The State of Maine Will Use Ranked-Choice Voting for Future Presidential Elections

The Pine Tree State progresses towards more electoral reform.

by , The Catholic American University

Most Read From CMN Writers

[]
1 Step 1
keyboard_arrow_leftPrevious
Nextkeyboard_arrow_right

Copyright © College Media Network