‘Hey, Soul Sister’, Train


TrainA Song You Hear on the Radio

Train is the most unobjectionable band in the world right now (Sorry, Maroon 5). Even this writer, who hardly ever sits on the fence on a topic, can’t seem to muster enough of an opinion on this spectacularly ordinary band. For example:

  • If music were gauged by climate, Train would be room temperature.
  • If Train were an actor, they would be Tom Hanks.
  • If Train were a restaurant, they would be Chili’s.
  • If music had a uniform, Train would wear a white shirt and khakis.

They are the absolute middle of the road, so much, in fact, that you can hear them everywhere – elevators, restaurants, television. “Lite” Adult Contemporary radio stations play Train just to sound edgy. Hot pop stations that cater to Katy Perry play them because it’s music that tweens’ parents don’t find objectionable.

Of course, Adult Alternative stations eat them up because their listeners, ages 35-44, like hearing someone their age still rocking. Last year’s monster smash, “Hey, Soul Sister,” was released in 2009, was the No. 3 song of 2010 and is still on AAA radio station playlists.

I could take them or leave them. I liked their first two hits, “Meet Virginia” and “Drops of Jupiter”; they were catchy and likable, with just enough angst, throat singing and electric guitars to make you feel like you were listening to rock and roll. And I didn’t dislike their albums. They were non-threatening and agreeable. I tolerated them without throwing them away.

“Hey, Soul Sister” is just as disarming. My kids sing it around the house. I hear it on commercials. The song has yet another catchy chorus and makes cool 80s references to Madonna and Mr. Mister. Despite its awkward lyrics (“untrimmed chest”? “You’re so gangsta, I’m so thug?”), “Hey, Soul Sister” is like peanut butter and jelly – something you devour every day, has little nutritional value, but is tasty and safe. If that’s the way you like your music, then great.

I don’t care one way or the other. Really.

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  1. jb

    You have adequately described the unobjectionable-ness of Train, although their most recent single, “Save Me San Francisco” is the liveliest and most interesting thing I’ve ever heard from them.

    Every time “Hey Soul Sister” shows up on the playlist for my radio show, I die a little inside. Which means I have been stone dead since 2009.

  2. AMD

    “If music had a uniform, Train would wear a white shirt and khakis.”. Excellent.

    I thought the Glee version (performed by the Warblers) was superior to Train’s original. The lyrics are utterly atrocious though, as you rightly say. Mr Mister? Did we need to be reminded of the ’80s band who, if music were a country, they’d be even more Estonia than Train?

  3. Charlie

    I hate Train. “Meet Virginia” and “Drops of Jupiter” are two of the most annoying songs I’ve ever heard.

  4. Susan

    Well, it’s pleasant. Even I’VE heard this song–lots. I thought with a name like “Train” they’d be more like “Trainspotting.” Edgy, dark. Thanks for catching me up, bro!

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