Today it's all about a little phrase that I don't think gets bandied about often enough. Certainly it's the first phrase I learn in any foreign language (out of interest, the second phrase I learn is "Sorry", which has just given me inspiration for another music duel sometime down the track...)
Thank You by Dido
Can you believe this song first popped up in 1998? I could've sworn it was more recent than that, until I remembered it was the closing credits song for Sliding Doors, that godawful pig-swilling snorgle of a romantic comedy, starring the 1990s' most overhyped and undeserving "it" girl, Gwyneth Paltrow.
Jesus, that movie still s*#!s me, and I only ever saw it once on a plane.
Thank You really slammed into the public consciousness courtesy of Eminem, who sampled the first verse for his mediation on tragic frustrated rage, Stan. Indeed, Dido's first verse does set up a melancholy state of domestic affairs: "My tea's gone cold/I'm wondering why I got out of bed alone/The morning rain clouds up my window/And I can't see at all". For twisted, disturbed Stan, the "picture on the wall" that reminds him that it's not so bad is of his idol, Eminem. But in the original, it turns out to be a lot simpler - it's a lover. Dido's chorus reflects the effect seeing her lover has on her - the change from minor into major chords is like the sun coming out from behind the clouds. "And I want to thank you/For giving me the best day of my life/Oh, just to be with you/Is giving me the best day of my life".
The song is a sweet salutation to the power a simple gesture from someone you love can have. In the third verse, Dido returns home soaked through from rain, and is handed a towel. "And even if my house falls down now/I wouldn't have a clue/Because you're near me". Dido's lover makes things better. And, as the chorus repeats, she's very grateful.
Thank U by Alanis Morrisette
It's always an awkward moment at karaoke when someone gets up to do You Oughta Know, isn't it? Alanis' epic first single about betrayal and heartbreak is the kind of screaming vengeance you want to hear from Norse valkyries or pissed-off Greek sirens, not Karen from Accounts whose boyfriend just tagged his relationship as "It's complicated" on Facebook.
It's for that reason alone that I'm pleased Alanis took herself off to India for a bit of a spiritual re-awakening. A few dips in the Ganges and thirty days at a healing yoga resort was just the ticket for pop's angriest chanteuse - and now karaoke keenos the world over can choose some more mellow Morrisette melodies for their musical mollification.
Thank U was released in 1998, making it contemporaneous with Dido. But the Canadian's focus is not on a person, but on a country that gave her a bit of perspective and calm. "How 'bout getting off these anti-biotics/How 'bout stopping eating when I'm full up" she begins, a call to arms to appreciate her first world life (although I do hope she finished that course of anti-biotics before she stopped). As a synth beat creates the other-worldly feel of the song, Alanis moves into the simple, prayer-like chorus: "Thank you India, thank you terror, thank you disillusionment/Thank you frailty, thank you consequence, thank you thank you silence".
The message of having to lose to learn about life has got a touch of art wank to it, no doubt. But the music makes it strangely powerful and joyful. My favourite part is the bridge: "The moment I let go of it was the moment I got more than I could handle/The moment I jumped off of it was the moment I touched down" It's about reducing fear to the bogeyman, nothing more, and certainly explains the reasoning behind having Morrissette appear nude in the video clip, with only modesty tresses preventing an R rating. Bare flesh is a metaphor for a bare soul.
Verdict: Another tough one personally, and can really depend on one's mood as to which is preferable. Light and sunny? Sure, Dido. But today my mood is more introspective, so I'm plumping for Alanis.
Now it's your turn! Which is the better Thank You? Leave your vote in the comment below!