#944: ‘Lisztomania’ – Phoenix

I recall coming home from school one afternoon and watching music videos on TV instead of doing my homework. There was nothing good on TV, instead it was some mix of lesser-known songs that had just been released, most of which weren’t ever shown again except for that one showing. However, I was in the habit at the time of writing down songs I had heard and enjoyed on a little notepad, which I presumably still have, with the intent of looking the song up at a later time. This was how I discovered Phoenix.

The track I heard that day was ‘Long Distance Call‘, admittedly not one of the group’s best-known tracks, but a good track regardless. I wasn’t aware of the band at this point, and I wasn’t aware of the music they had already released. Thinking they were just another typical alternative rock group, I wrote them off somewhat, assuming I may or may not hear about them. Sure, I liked that song, but only marginally.

Three years later, I start to hear about a couple of new songs doing the rounds on the radio. I’d heard one was called ‘Lisztomania’, and people were going crazy over it. Eventually, I heard it, but without music recognition software around, I could only wait to hear from the announcer who the track was by. Eventually, I heard it, and was shocked to learn it was by Phoenix? “The same band?”, I questioned. “No, surely not, these guys actually sound better,” I assured myself.

As it turns out, I was way off, and Phoenix’s ‘Lisztomania’ was, ironically, a song that drove their fans into a frenzy all around the world. I may also be wrong, but it might be one of the only rock songs in recent decades to actually reference Franz Liszt and the phenomenon of ‘Lisztomania’ that his fans seemed to give birth to. For those who don’t know, ‘Listzomania’ was effectively a mass hysteria incident involving fans of Hungarian composer Franz Liszt, but during a time when incidents like this weren’t exactly common. For comparison, imagine ‘Beatlemania’, but during the 1800s.

Phoenix’s track though has stuck with me for almost eight years. Its catchiness is brilliant, and the phenomenal songwriting skills employed on this track, in my mind, prove that this is easily one of the best tracks Phoenix have ever written. Sure proves my 2006-self wrong, eh?

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