Make It All OK
August 13, 2007
Oh dear…it’s R.E.M. Speedwagon.
Chuck Klosterman wrote an essay about how musicians like Coldplay and movies like Say Anything are all about presenting a notion that he described as “fake love,” i.e., a sappy, over-dramatic version of romance that plays into our most unrealistic expectations of actual relationships. Klosterman’s argument is essentially that idealized, aestheticized versions of love get in the way of most people’s ability to appreciate their own lives, but let’s face it, he’s no Guy Debord. Chuck buys into all kinds of art that sells an image disconnected from reality, so what he’s really saying is: “This wimpy, overblown sentimentality totally sucks.”
“Make It All OK” seems to exist as though to prove his point. Its sound is pure “fake love” — if there was a video for it, it would have to look exactly like an episode of Dawson’s Creek or Grey’s Anatomy. Actually, the song is so limp and saccharin that it barely seems strong enough to be a part of either soundtrack. Effective “fake love” songs operate on a ridiculous certainty of emotion, but “Make It All OK” is just a lot of snooze-inducing relationship drama. There’s absolutely nothing interesting about this song on a lyrical or musical level other than that it seems so completely out of character for the band in general, and Michael Stipe in particular. Where is the mystery? Where is the poetry? Where is complexity? Where is the dignity?