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Adam’s Top 100 of 2013: #7, Train – “Mermaid”

Water you waiting for?

Water you waiting for?

First Chart Entry: “Meet Virginia” (#6, 1999)
Biggest Hit To Date: “Drive By” (#1 for three weeks, 2012)

“MERMAID”
#1 for three weeks, 25 weeks in the top 40

Music Video:

The lovely locomotive lads opted for a shiny boat in their highest-charting song on this year’s countdown and washed up on a woman who tickled leader Pat Monahan‘s fancy. What can I say? It’s the classic buoy meets girl tale.

Riding the tide of their successful 2012 California 37 album, this third radio single from it was co-written by Monahan and songwriting teams Espionage and Stargate, with Espionage and Butch Walker co-producing the track. In a bit of a twist, this song was actually on the airwaves during the winter months, although I guess it was a helpful reminder that summer would eventually show its face. Its rise up the charts was about average, climbing to #1 in its thirteenth week on and spending the first three weeks of March in the top spot. (I first wrote about it in November 2012.) I can’t say I’ve heard it in regular rotation on the radio since it was a current on the charts, though the song remains a fan favorite.

“Mermaid” did very little outside of the States, and even in the U.S., it missed the Hot 100 by a few spots, peaking in the Bubbling Under. It did, however, become the band’s latest top 20 entry on the Hot Adult Contemporary survey, a streak that likely has a few more years left in it. After all, the band is still a hot touring act, Monahan has a popular weekly podcast and their music is still all over the place. This one may have gone overboard, but it wasn’t a total loss.

2013 was yet another great year for Train and I can’t wait to see what 2014 brings, including a new album due to be released in the third quarter. Stay tuned.

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SINGLE REVIEW: Train – “Mermaid”

Long Train runnin’.

They’ve been reggae and calypso and now they’re up to their third single from their compact disco. Ay dios mio.

Train have been pretty consistent this era in providing some earworms that you can’t help but crank up on the stereo. In January, they unveiled the first single from California 37, a song entitled “Drive By”, and despite some cringeworthy lyrics (I’m looking at you, Hefty bags) it rose to a peak of #2 on the Hot Adult Contemporary chart, top 20 on CHR radio and spent a few weeks on top of my own personal chart. Just a few months ago, Train employed a mariachi band for about fifteen minutes to create “50 Ways To Say Goodbye”, which spent six weeks at #2 on my survey and, again, went top 5 Hot AC and top 20 CHR. I give that one brownie points for using Yom Kippur in the lyrics. The Jew Crew has to stick together, people. Plus, “I Gotta Feeling” with its auto-tuned “mazel tov” and “l’chaim” has been overplayed for years anyways. By the way, are there actually 50 ways to say goodbye? Can someone get Paul Simon on the line or is too late in the evening?

There’s been some shifting around when it came to the third release from California 37. A few months ago, a music video blog reported that a clip “Bruises”, which features Country singer Ashley Monroe, was in production, so I automatically assumed that that was the choice. Several weeks passed and I then noticed that “This’ll Be My Year” was being released to radio in Australia. Hmmm. Well, “Bruises” ended up being a video-only single, and “This’ll Be My Year” is staying down under, and thus, we come to the official third single already at American radio stations: “Mermaid”.

Now, “Mermaid” sounds like your typical Train track. A rolling guitar shuffle. A solid drum beat. There’s no question that they’re developing a sound that’s instantly recognizable. However, this time around, Train have decided to take a page out of the Jimmy Buffett Songbook, past the chapter on the Coral Reefers and onto a riveting description on Shipwrecked Sailors. So, Captain Pat Ahoy, Mateyhan takes a boat (let’s be honest, it was probably an inner tube rather than the S.S. Virginia) to some island that only Johnny Depp knows of. Is that because he’s famous and can afford a private island or because he’s a pirate of the Caribbean?  Alright, so then he’s like, “Oh God, this is just like Cast Away,” which I suppose is good since that won Tom Hanks a Golden Globe but it’s also bad because Johnny Depp wasn’t it. Maybe we can change it to Sweeney Todd. So, then, unlike the movies, some girl washes up and Pat gives her his coat because obviously the water is freezing this time of year. Wait, if she’s a mermaid, wouldn’t she be used to the water temperature? Homegirl needs to like, chill (no pun intended.) Oh, look, a clue. We’re on the Puget Sound. Hold on, I thought this was the Caribbean. Is this really the Bermuda Triangle? Is somebody gonna play the triangle? Help me, help me, I’m all out of lines…

Fine, you can’t overanalyze this sort of thing. It’s a light, fluffy pop song about a future love that washes up on shore; it’s not like it’s “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” Although, I suppose if this underperforms, you could call it a train wreck (not that I want it to, I’m just saying.) The only other thing I’m going to take issue with is that Pat Monahan wants this girl in 1992, because I’m being honest, that wasn’t a great year for songs about the sea at top-40 radio. The only thing that seems to fit is “Walk On The Ocean” by Toad The Wet Sprocket. Pacific Ocean, perhaps? Or, if you’d rather, the sea of love. Ooh la la. I can imagine a music video going viral already. Pat Monahan’s vocal is solid as usual, the lyrics are more cohesive than usual, and since the band seems to be a streak, then I would assume this is going to be a winner rather than a wipeout per usual. Just keep the life preserver at the ready. You never know when the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” formula is going to be taking on water. –AFS

Purchase “Mermaid” on AmazonMP3.

Listen to “Mermaid” on YouTube.

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