Published on May 20th, 2020 | by Noah Dimitrie0
‘There She Goes’ by The La’s Is Our Classic Track of the Week
This week we take a look at The La’s classic single from their one-and-done 1990 LP. Is its clever simplicity the secret to its longevity?
Everyone has a cool story about discovering a great song. Everyone remembers where they were when their eyes were opened, and that switch got flipped in their brain. And all of a sudden, they just got it, whatever “it” was exactly. When it comes to “There She Goes,” I don’t have one of those cool stories.
I discovered this song from watching the Lindsay Lohan Parent Trap remake as a kid. It wasn’t at a cool bar where some undiscovered band took me by surprise. My discovery of the track wasn’t some bout of romantic serendipity; it wasn’t the soundtrack to love at first sight. It was used as cheap filler in a Disney movie during a montage of iconic London locales. The song was probably chosen for that scene because of how quintessentially British it sounds. On top of that, in 1998, Brit-pop had become a fairly lucrative sub-genre of jangly hooks perfect for a film about intrepid, curious teenagers switching lives.
I just remember it sticking in my head and kind of just always being there. I probably didn’t actually discover who performed it and seek it out for myself until I was 15 or 16. But when it did pop into my head, triggering a desire to track down the full tune, I immediately knew what to Google (thank God I didn’t stumble upon the Sixpence None The Richer cover). Sometimes you’ll only remember a random word or two. Or some songs’ melodies will park themselves in your long-term memory but frustrate you to death because its very hard to Google a sequence of notes. “There She Goes” wasn’t like that; the titular phrase in the hook is also the most unforgettable part. Perhaps the secret to its longevity as a pop classic is that its simplicity is its most memorable aspect.
Released in 1988 and again in early ’89, the song did not chart. Perhaps The La’s were too ahead of their time? Brit-pop was a handful of years away from really exploding. The band released their self-titled debut album in 1990 with a remixed version of the single. That remixed version did chart, hitting #13 on the UK Singles Chart. Unfortunately for the band, that was pretty much the apex of their popularity. Their self-titled studio LP was also their last.
I think urban legends surrounding the tune might’ve increased its popularity over the years (on top of the obvious genre elements becoming more mainstream). Lyrics like “Pulsing through my vein” and “No one else can heal my pain” triggered interpretations of drug use. The song has become collectively deemed a sort of cheeky ode to the euphoria of heroin use, though frontman Lee Mavers denies those rumours. But regardless of the accuracy of that interpretation, the fact of its warm reception provides a possible explanation for the song’s cult popularity. The jingle jangle of the guitars and Mavers’ sweet falsetto on the hook juxtaposes rather well with the (allegedly) dark subject matter. The contrast of that lovestruck joviality with the reality that it may be an ode to a different kind of love–the dirty and taboo kind–is quite appealing. When I first discovered that famous interpretation, the song’s bubblegum-pop exterior hit more like a clever façade, justifying my appetite for it. Hipsters everyone love this tune because it feels catchy yet edgy (or at the very least, too simple to not seem seductively coy).
There’s not really much to analyze about it. It’s about as repetitive as a pop song can get. It just repeats its chorus four times, adding only a slight little detour that you can only barely call a bridge before flowing right back into the hook. But as I mentioned before, its simplicity is its greatest strength. The La’s know what they have here. They know what precisely is catchy and memorable about it. There is something remarkably charismatic about doubling down on those instincts. The song is very forthright in acknowledging that you get what you pay for. It may be the least pretentious song ever written, confident enough that it doesn’t obligate itself to pull any punches or throw any surprises in there. It’s just a few slight variations on the same theme, branded firmly into your skull until it becomes all you can hum for the next week.
In a way, The La’s created more than a perfect pop song. They created a song that illustrates how much they understood pop music’s audience. The song is so successfully straightforward because it knows exactly which buttons to push with listeners. In a way, it’s a pop deconstruction, a blank parody that simply embraces the basic foundations of what makes people like catchy songs. And what ultimately stands out is its fearlessness in embracing that. Sometimes less is more. Sometimes the simplest things can also be incredibly complex.