I spent many a year cursing YouTube for being nothing more than a place for dopes to shoot videos of themselves doing ridiculous things and pretending they were spontaneous or as an endless repository of cute pets doing cute pet things. I’m willing to admit I was only partially wrong.
YouTube has made it possible for me to not watch Saturday Night Live but still see this incredible performance by the incredible Florence + The Machine. I know, you thought once I’d reviewed Ceremonials I’d be done raving about her; you thought wrong. I love that record and this performance of “Shake It Off” gave me goosebumps the first time I heard it.
One thing I love — besides Florence — is the way the beat-driven song is arranged for live performance. Many bands would bring canned beats or sequencers and electronic equipment to re-create the rhythms of the studio version. Florence brings two drummers to bang out the polyrhythms and I love it.
The studio version of “Shake It Off” has layers of Florence’s overdubbed vocals as well as a Machine choir. For her performance on Saturday night live, she assembles a choir to back her and I sat, transfixed, watching and listening as she belts out one of my favorite songs of 2011. She has two drummers, a choir, and a fucking harp. All that’s great and provides sublime sonic scenery but what really matters here is That Voice! Goosebumps, kids. Seriously.
YouTube, I forgive you but as for the rest of you lot: if you don’t love this song, we’re not friends.