In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well—some inspired by a weekly theme and some not, but always songs worth hearing.
Norwegian electro-pop goddess Annie originally rose to prominence in the mid-’00s thanks to a Madonna-sampling debut LP (Anniemal) and a fondness for sleek, playful ’80s music. Since then, her output has been scarce: a stellar second album (2009’s Don’t Stop), a few artist mixes, and a single. Earlier this week, however, she released a new EP, A&R. Recorded with usual collaborator Richard X, the five songs range from sparkly disco and Kylie Minogue-style electro seduction to ’90s Euro-techno cheese.
A&R’s highlight, however, is the Stock Aitken Waterman fever dream “Ralph Macchio.” The glittery Swedepop confection coasts on a foundation of perforated electronic burbles, martini-bar beats and Annie’s breathy, sugar-spun vocals. The music’s lighthearted tone matches the song’s content; naturally, “Ralph Macchio” is in the grand tradition of songs that double as idle daydreams about celebrities (e.g., Bree Sharp’s “David Duchovny,” P’s “Michael Stipe”). The lyrics are full of conspiratorial gushing about the brooding Karate Kid, with a level of chasteness about equal to that of a playground romance: “Kiss me once and keep me forever, Ralph Macchio,” Annie sighs. “And in my dreams we’d lie here together / Ralph Macchio / Never let me go.” Besides channeling the time when Macchio was a pinup-worthy teen idol, these crush confessions wistfully conjure a simpler time when a fairy-tale ending to romance meant nothing more than a chaste peck on the lips. In other words, it’s retro in more ways than one.