A not so wise but frequently quoted Marilyn Monroe once said “If you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.” When it comes to certain singers, that same quote applies to their range of vocal spirit. Take the case of “Sandy” by Oh Mercy. At first glance, there’s nothing too special about this song. The repetitious opening percussion along with frontman Alexander Gow’s monotone vocal style seem to push the song along in a humdrum effort best classified as “good enough.” Hell, even Gow himself looks like he’s starting fall asleep around the 30 second mark of “Sandy’s” music video.
As the first chorus emerges, what was once tolerable becomes a gratifying surprise. Alexander Gow flexes a higher, more heartfelt pitch to make his desperate love seem much more believable and commiserating. As the first chorus fades out and the second verse reverts back to Gow’s originally flat style, the listener doesn’t feel as disconnected as when “Sandy” first began. The genuine sympathy felt during the chorus translates to a more natural understanding of Oh Mercy’s heartache within their invariable verses. As listeners begin to pay more attention to the lyrics, they learn that Gow is actually haunted by Sandy’s presence. Her existence is inescapably intoxicating and if he had never met her in the first place, he would be a clear-headed, emotionally sober individual. Sorry we didn’t pick up on that the first time around, Mr. Gow, but as my elementary school teachers used to always tell me, “Speak up young man!”