Song 84: Spoon, “The Underdog” (2007)


Another great running song! This one’s all about taking care of business, and not in the Bachman-Turner Overdrive sense of the term. No, this is about Britt Daniel overtaking you because you’re not paying attention. You cut out the middleman, and you’re now just dealing with the underdog, who will destroy you.

This is one of those songs that I loved the minute I first heard it. I knew I loved Spoon, and I knew they were capable of some pop magic, but until Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, it was some pretty abstract magic. This one is a balls-out blast, complete with a horn section that gets louder with each verse.

“The Underdog” was produced by Jon Brion, which makes sense when you think about it. It may not have the sad-sack beauty of his work with Aimee Mann, but it’s got the same sheen, the same kind of tactile arrangements (those clicks and clacks in the last verse sound like they’re creeping up on you, don’t they?

Interviews with Daniel revealed a Van Morrison influence on this song, which never would have noticed but seems obvious in retrospect. Like Morrison, Spoon and Brion use horns not to punctuate or emphasize, but to bathe you in warmth. It’s a funny addition to this song about kicking your ass, but that’s Brion for you. The guy’s a genius, and Spoon ain’t so bad either.


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