69. INXS - New Sensation

I listen to lots of music and lots of different kinds of music, so it's not often that I hear a guitar sound that I haven't heard before. Granted, I was seventeen when I first heard it in 1987, but it was a sound that immediately grabbed my attention. And over twenty years later, it still does. I hear that killer guitar riff and I know that I won't be able to rest until I hear the rest of the song. That's what great songs do. Just like in The Godfather, Part III, "Just when I thought I was out... they pull me back in." My wife could be having a baby, and I hear guitarist/saxophonist Kirk Pengilly's opening guitar riff, we're finishing the song before we go into the hospital. And then, apparently, I'm getting a divorce. But anyway...

"New Sensation" comes off of 1987's hugely popular album Kick. Following the success of their Listen Like Thieves album, the band wanted to take their music to the next level. Saxophonist/Guitarist Kirk Pengilly said that they wanted to put out an album "where all the songs were possible singles." He wasn't just saying that. Kick churned out five singles, four of which made the US Top 10 (you could add another one with the awesome video for "Mediate" that tags the end of "Need You Tonight," an 80's take on Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues" video from the 60's.) Kick may just be one of my top 10 favorite albums of all time, so the fact that it spawned one of the greatest songs of my lifetime is no surprise to me.

"New Sensation" grabs you from the start with that great guitar, and then singer Michael Hutchence's voice keeps you. "Live, baby, live" is what he opens with, and the song's musical style follows that dogma. It's a song full of life, from the way Michael sings to the way everyone plays. Drummer Jon Farriss' drums are simple and crisp, adding a nice one-two punch with Kirk's guitar. Tim Farriss, the second of the three Farriss brothers in the band, puts his "I'm the lead guitarist" ego aside and let Kirk play the killer lick and rounded out the song with some strong rhythm work. It's musically an almost perfect pop song, start to finish. You even have Michael Hutchence yelling out "Trumpet!" right before the saxophone solo. It's a song that doesn't try to take itself too seriously, other than to tell you to live life to the fullest, and have as much fun as you can along the way.

Lyrically, the song is about the different stages in our lives and how we deal with them. There are different, new sensations in life and it's your choice on how to react to them. As the singer, Michael will help us through, giving us guidance along the way.

Cry baby cry
When you've got to get it out
I'll be your shoulder
You can tell me all
Don't keep it in ya
Well that's the reason why I'm here

Throughout the song, there are various situations, life in general, sleep, dreams, tears, hate and love. It's the gambit of human emotions, all covered in a catchy pop tune in less than four minutes. Michael wants us to try and get to the positive, bright side in any of those situations. He's definitely a "life is what you make of it" kind of guy. Me, too. Which is partly why this song resonates so much with me. As long as you have someone to help you along the way, you can make it through life. The tragic irony, of course, it that Michael Hutchence lost his life alone in a hotel room in Sydney.

It's trite to say that his inspiration lives on in the songs he left behind for us, but his songs do live on. I still hear "New Sensation" on the radio today, and on 2009 Top 40 stations, not "All 80's All The Time" stations. So there may not be a Nobel laureate legacy that follows him, but people will continue to listen to his songs for years to come. I know I'll still listen, and after listening to "New Sensation" about a dozen times while writing this entry, and it still sound fresh and something that I want to listen to again. That's the sign of a great song.

1 Response
  1. Anonymous Says:

    You have totally picked this song up wrong.

    It is about him picking up a girl (live baby live now the day is over) and then taking her back to his hotal and shagging her (sleep baby sleep now the night is over) and then in the morning kicking her out (which the rest of the song explains).

    I love this tune, but it is the most Narcastic tune I have ever heard.