After the 80's songs video, I had to go and listen to this thing after it seemed so polarizing. At first, I hated it, but it kinda stuck in my mind? It's such a strange, grating, catchy song. I wanted to see if any of y'all were having the same trouble.
Temporary Secretary - what do you think?
I *really* hate it. I like me some weird-ass music that some might call grating, but I absolutely cannot stand that song.
HOWEVER, I love that it exists. It's before its time (as a song by a Beatle should be), the idea behind it is hilarious, and it reminds me a bit of The Residents, whom I love. I just hate everything else about it.
Given the options, terrible.
I wrote more, but gave it some thought and I’ll leave it at this:
It’s super simplistic and not in a good, straightforward way. It’s experimenting with ideas others had already done better (Bowie and The Talking Heads, to name a couple).
It sounds amateurish, but he’s well within his right to experiment and create what he wants.
This wasn’t new or groundbreaking, it was playing with ideas others had already successfully explored, but to far worse results.
This song, man.
I somehow made it 35 years of my life without hearing it until the GB stream happened. I feel like thanking everyone around me who had previously made the effort to spare my ears of this. It's like the world chose to pretend this never happened (for good reason), and I enjoyed three-and-a-half decades of blissful ignorance. Now I have to know it exists, and my life will never be the same.
There are things that are amusingly terrible, like Sail the Canals. This is not one of those things. Temporary Secretary has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. It's abysmal lyrically, it's thematically questionable with some real Don Draper shit, and the instrumentation is a frenetic synth with offbeat drums that sounds like a dog stepped on a few random preloaded beats on a Casio keyboard.
It doesn't even give you time to prepare for the auditory onslaught. It immediately launches into the short synth bar that's not particularly varied and proceeds to repeat the fuck out of it at a tempo that is such that someone who's just done about seven lines in the bathroom would likely request a slower song. I can only describe this first bit as something akin to an alarm clock jarring you out of the deepest hangover where you slap wildly at the nightstand.
Then we get a guitar riff (if you can even call it that) and a blown-out drum sample, both playing basically at random. It is a deadly combination in which there isn't even a rhythm to potentially enjoy. The one thing I will say for the beginning of this song is that it sets a tone for the rest of the song to be as offputting as possible, and it absolutely delivers there once the "singing" starts.
Now, Paul McCartney is capable of being a decent, even good vocalist. The man is a goddamn Beatle, for fuck's sake. However, here a choice was made to whine instead of sing, and much like the beat itself, the notes of the vocals vary little and repeat way sooner and more often than they should. The pitch changes just appear and disappear to ensure that the song has zero flow, and despite this, it also manages to be intensely boring.
I assume the intent was for this thing to be quirky, but it's bereft of charm. This is abundantly clear once the chorus hits. Again, a choice was made to have the vocals be as irritating as possible, as the "Temporary Secretary" refrain sounds like a voice a person would use to poorly mock someone else. Also, they made sure to use the same sample of it throughout the song so that the grating inflection is inescapably emblazoned into your eardrums.
There has been a long-standing horrific tradition in pop music where "catchy" music is considered good. I'm not even sure it's fair to consider Temporary Secretary to be "catchy", as it's really just undeniably and unforgettably painful. At 1:38, the song at least tries to have some variation, with a quickly-spoken word bit that seems like it's potentially building to something, but the lyrics are impressively vapid, and what it builds to shockingly leaves a lot to be desired.
It's just yells of "I need a", with a nebulous wacky accent applied to it where the actual sound is "AAAHNEEEEEDAAAAAAAUUUGGHHHHHH". Then, in true Temporary Secretary fashion, it repeats this needless filler. I suppose this could be considered the crescendo of this nightmare, but it then goes back into a lengthy bit of the Temporary Secretary refrain and really doubles down on it.
This portion is brutal enough on its own, but two renditions of the Temporary Secretary line inexplicably drop the y at the end of Secretary to where it just sounds like "Secretarrre". I genuinely can't tell if this was intentional or simply a case of poorly trimming that portion of audio, but either way it's infuriating. It's followed by a cringey bit about girls staying on the right track, whatever the fuck that means.
Then we get a repeat of the spoken-word section from earlier before one final, soul-crushing string of Temporary Secretary refrains (and one more "Secretarrre" thrown in just to piss me off), except this time there's what sounds like a screeching monkey inserted in between them, because that was clearly viewed as a previously unused opportunity to insert just one more awful noise into this song.
The song is only three minutes and thirteen seconds long, which is shorter than a typical song. However, Temporary Secretary feels so much longer. It is truly exhausting due to its pace and its torturous intonation. They crammed an amazing level of agony into this song. Temporary Secretary is an atrocity of the highest order. It's horrifying enough in and of itself, but the fact that it came from Paul McCartney really puts it over the top as indefensible.
Bury this thing in the desert.
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