Song of the Day #5,335: ‘new body rhumba’ – LCD Soundsystem

I interrupt your normally scheduled Random Weekend for a couple of bonus movie posts.

My initial plan was to spend next week featuring five of my favorite musical moments from last year’s films. I culled the list down to seven but was having trouble deciding which to cut. Then it occurred to me that nobody is forcing me to constrain these posts to the weekdays.

So I’m starting my music moments early.

My first selection (though these are in no particular order) comes from writer-director Noah Baumbach’s White Noise, an adaptation of Don DeLillo’s 1985 novel.

I enjoyed this satirical take on the culture’s obsession with commercialism and death, but I didn’t love it. I did, however, love the film’s closing credits sequence, a choreographed dance number featuring the principal cast plus a slew of extras in the aisles of a supermarket.

The sequence is set to a banger by LCD Soundsystem called ‘new body rhumba,’ a song they wrote for the film and one that should have been nominated for an Oscar.

Watching this I was reminded of the ending of another film, Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox, which similarly ends with a dance in a supermarket. That movie was co-written by Baumbach so perhaps he has a thing for dancing in grocery stores.

White Noise is in part about the ways we distract ourselves on the inevitable march toward death. This scene beautifully illustrates that concept.

Baumbach put it this way in an interview with the LA Times: “I suppose one way of looking at the end of the book — and of the movie — is that we’re all just shopping until it’s over and we die. So it’s a dance of life, which is also a dance of death. We like to think of them as separate but they’re not. They’re the same.”

[Intro: James Murphy, Nancy Whang, and Both]
Climbing the down escalator
To the frigid bardo (Up, up, up, up, up, up)
Rise (Up, up, up, up, up, up)
Kidnap yourself (Up!)
Don't call the fuzz
Just counting the bills
You've got fives, tens, twenties, fifties
Hundreds, hundreds, hundreds, hundreds

[Verse 1]
Yeah, I need a new body, I need a new body
I need a bit of shape and a tone
Ooh, ooh
Yeah, I need a new body, I need a new body
I can't shake sleeping alone
You see, I have been misplaced
I have been mislaid
Like a covetous dog that you can't just leave in your home
Yeah, I need a new lover, I need a new body
I can't stay out too long
Like my hands have gone numb

[Chorus 1: James Murphy & Nancy Whang]
(Pana, sonic, pana, sonic, pana, sonic, pana, sonic)
Just give us what we want
(Pana, sonic, pana, sonic, pana, sonic, pana, sonic)

[Verse 2]
I never deny it, no point in denying
The ransom and the defence has drained us with their expense
It's endless
Yeah, I try not to hide it, I try not to buy it
But you can't just sit on the fence
It's true
And now, I have been mispriced
I have been mispriced
Chipped and then deviced
Tagged and rinsed for lice
No, there's never a warning, I needed a warning
I try to be content
But I'm tight in the chest

[Chorus 2: James Murphy & Nancy Whang]
(Necco mini 'nilla wafers, Necco mini 'nilla wafers)
(Pana, sonic, pana, sonic, pana, sonic, pana, sonic)
So, give us what we want
(Necco mini 'nilla wafers, Necco mini 'nilla wafers)
(Pana, sonic, pana, sonic, pana, sonic, pana, sonic)
(Necco mini 'nilla wafers, Necco mini 'nilla wafers)
(Super, super, super, super, super, super, super, super)
Please give us what we want
(Super, super, super, super, super, super, super, super)

[Post-Chorus: James Murphy & Nancy Whang]
(Super, super, super, super, super, super, super, super)
Over 200 miles of turnpike
3000 miles of goods
Would you like to add a protein?
Would you like to ask me about my day rates?

[Verse 3]
I need a new body, I need a new party
To represent my needs
Yeah, the distance is growing, but so is the longing
Which leaves the inbetween
And so, this is the end, or near to the end
Let's say goodbye to a beautiful friend
Staggered and blind on the rack, on the mend
Let's close the eyes of a beautiful friend
So, I need a new love and I need a new body
To push away the end
To the water we send you

(Ah, ah, ah, ah)
Dim that light in your eyes
Coming out of your eyes
People can see it
When it pierces the veil
The pink ones at night
When it gets too much
Otherwise, too much noise
If you look up
Block out the periphery
The earth and trees surround you
Framing your escape
Into the sky
Into the stars
Leaving the ground
You feel your feet let go
The air a bit cooler now
Thinner in the lungs
Cleaner in the mouth
And you know what they say
"Don't look down"
"Don't look down"
But they also always say
Selfish, by the bed:
"Don't go to the light"
"Don't go to the light"
"Don't go to the light"
"Don't go to the light"
Well, go into the light
Go into the light
Go into the light
Go into the light

5 thoughts on “Song of the Day #5,335: ‘new body rhumba’ – LCD Soundsystem

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    Your review and this scene has me curious to see this movie despite mixed reviews and mixed feelings about Baumbach’s films.

  2. Peg says:

    I probably would have benefited from this review and video if I had read/watched it prior to the film. Wonder how much the A&P paid for the advertisement 😜

  3. Amy says:

    Not a fan of the song at all (though it does become a kind of white noise for the scene), but I love the set design, color choices and symbolism. All that product placement! All those environmentally unfriendly plastic bags tossed to the wind after they enable us to carry our goods from place of purchase to place of use (or, at least, storage… can’t help but think of Carlin’s brilliant bit about “stuff”)

    While I appreciate the aesthetic and ease of using a supermarket, and the focus on those products that lack nutrition such as the chips (Wise, ironic 😜) and sodas, I’d find the overall point more effective if the scene was set in a mall. We do need nutrition to survive whereas there isn’t a single item purchased in a mall that is a necessity.

    Love the break from random weekends to enable you to focus on two more films.

    • Clay says:

      The novel concludes in a supermarket, so I suppose Baumbach wanted to honor that choice. I guess an argument could be made that while we need to eat, we don’t need to go about it in the sanitized, commodified way epitomized by a giant supermarket. Certainly human beings ate for thousands of years without going to Publix.

      And hard disagree on the song… it slaps!

  4. The Cool Guy (Daniel) says:

    Very happy with this decision to reclaim ‘Random Weekend’ to post whatever the heck you want and what a phenomenal start. I had, well, many feelings about ‘White Noise’, but felt my opinion exponentially increasing as I was overjoyed watching this credit sequence. I can’t say I was too familiar with LCD Soundsystem’s discography before discovering this delightful tune, but this banger is more than enough for me to consider myself a fan. Immediately, I was taken in by the Talking Heads type production and James Murphy’s clean and crisp falsetto. It’s hard not to break into a wide smile watching this family we’ve followed all film break it down alongside their community choosing to not be so preoccupied with the finality of life and take pleasure in some of its most mundane moments. Genuinely preposterous that this song didn’t earn a nomination, but I hope LCD can take consolation in the fact that I’ve with rare exceptions been playing it on repeat since I heard it.

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