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28. Regina Spektor – Us



On tracks like these, it’s as if Regina Spektor has a symphony orchestra in her head. Just as small boys conjure football stadia in their back gardens, complete with roaring support and iconic commentary, Spektor plays alone but fills in the gaps with her own vivid imagination. And for a song as romantic as Us, the imagination of epic, megascale beauty is almost better than any possible realisation – after all, you can do anything you want in a daydream – and it’s that sense of boundless optimism that floods this song with so much warmth. Here, we get a peep into Spektor’s head and see a world of statues built to honour great lovers and cities renamed after them. There are idealists trying not to succumb to the crassness of modern life. There is the joy of simple pleasures. And because her orchestra is only imaginary – because this is the small scale dreaming big – the sense of potential makes Spektor’s manifesto seem even more attainable. The peak arrives in the final minute, as her imagination spills from her head and directly onto the track itself: she flits to and from her own lead vocal to sing a descant harmony, and the sheer abandon in her voice is hypnotising. But mainly, Us is pure persuasion: despite featuring just one voice, one piano, one violin and one cello, the song is bursting with life and vigour; it’s full of an addictive, inescapable grandness beyond its means. It has a self-belief that is enthralling to encounter.

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