Video: "3AM" by Kate Nash

You should know, I'm an absolute sucker for pop music. You should also know, I'm an absolute sucker for love. Or better put: "love".

In the video, Nash contrasts the feeling of "love" versus the exhilarating release that comes from letting go of "love". "3AM" encapsulates both moments within Nash's joyous melody. The song begins with a self-accelerating punk drive. Nash delivers soft and quivering vocals over the fast-paced snare and kick beat with a femme fatale edge, but the submissive lyrical context:

You are the one I think of
All the night
And all the night it feels so right
I miss your arms
The way you kiss me
The way you pull me in so tight
But I want you so bad tonight
places Nash in an equivocating position. I can forgive Nash for her confusion. Like most times in love, we don't really know what we want. Do we want to be strong? Or do we want to submit? Nash's voice calls, "Yooouuu....Yooouu....". Love is a two person game.

Nash's record Girl Talk was released yesterday, March 5th, and is now available on iTunes. You can pre-order the vinyl at Insound.

jsm59's picture

does not belong on a site dedicated to audiophiles! Sounds like the type of drivel  teenage girls would listen to along with Britney, Lady Gaga and the like. I have never made a comment like this on this forum but this really got to me. We need to stop promoting musical mediocrity and this was the last place I expected to see/hear it.

Stephen Mejias's picture

I think it would be even more beneficial, to all of us, if "audiophiles" stopped criticizing others' taste in music. Doing so is like criticizing someone for enjoying life. And it gives all audiophiles a bad name.

himynameisjuan's picture

was on her first album, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Though, I was secretly hoping that her latest record sounded a lot more like this.

Ariel Bitran's picture

is obviously capable of doing anything she wants.

WJ ARMSTRONG's picture

I'm sure you will enjoy this too. It's charming:

jsm59's picture

still don't agree. Is there some snobishness in my post-yes, I suppose there is. BTW: Love your column Stephen.

Stephen Mejias's picture

This is the point: Every time someone posing as an audiophile speaks negatively about my taste in music, I think to myself, "Audiophiles are assholes." Or: "I don't belong here."

And these thoughts are coming from me -- a person who has dedicated himself to becoming a better listener, writer, and representative of arguably the greatest audiophile publication. Who, then, am I writing for?  Any why?

And, still, we wonder why there aren't more people interested in high-fidelity reproduction. Why should they be?  What does hi-fi have to do with fun?  What does it have to do with music?  This is largely why non-audiophiles and aspiring audiophiles are reluctant to get involved in the hobby: Why would they want to hang out with a bunch of assholes?

I'm not saying everyone has to like what I like. But do not tell me I'm wrong for liking it.

I think we need to stop promoting human mediocracy. Everything else will fall into place.

dalethorn's picture

I'd accept the criticism for the featured track, but I went to iTunes and sampled quite a few more, and there's a serious artist at work here.

And if that weren't enough, having mum buy her the guitar after she broke her foot - well, that's as good as a new easter bunny.

Ariel Bitran's picture

This is some seriously crafted work. Please show some respect where it is due.

Ariel Bitran's picture

I think this song is beautiful.

jsm59's picture

and, like dalethorn, checked out more of her stuff and my opinion is unchanged. I just wanted to voice my opinion at the time--probably should have kept it to myself :) . This discussion could go on and on like the letters published in the magazine almost every month regarding whether reviewed products are too expensive (or not).

Ariel Bitran's picture

i disagree with SM above. i invite open discourse on music. if you want to say my tastes suck, thats fine, cause if I'm hanging out with you, I'll probably be just as much of a prick ;-). Just be ready for a rebuttal. I wouldn't share something with you if I didn't feel it was top-notch. I think calling this song "fluff" is not paying any attention to just how well-constructed and melodically ambitious it is. This song is one hook after another, and if you've ever been the guy or the girl in this story, you can connect with Nash.

writing pop music is not like passing gas. it doesn't just happen. it takes craft and focus. if you don't dig that, i think that's ok, but i feel your criticism is just plain wrong.

Stephen Mejias's picture

I also invite open discourse on music, as long as it's intelligent and respectful. I'm especially tired of audiophiles insulting teenaged girls.

jsm59's picture

right to dig this type of stuff (and question me for not liking it). For me, its too simplistic in its writing and chord structure and lacks maturity.  You know better than me, in your position, that posting music/videos (or equipment) here may garner a strong reaction (+ or -). I probably should have toned down the initial post a few dB.


Maybe look at it this way... if I didn't respect you, I probably NEVER would have said anything. (Goes for SM too).

Ariel Bitran's picture

That's what I'm talking about...

Too simplistic in its writing and chord structure and lacks maturity...

Well lets start with the first criticism: simplisitic in its writing... this is POP music. Just as a hi-fi reviewer should ascertain the engineering goals of a designer to get a better idea of whether or not that designer met his or her goals, I feel same goes for the appreciation/criticism of a song. Does it accomplish its goals? This is a weird question because it raises the further question of what is the goal of music? I like to think that the goal of music is to create an idea for you to reflect on, genres and compositional choices predispose where those ideas go based on history and purpose, and you can use them as a guide in the discussion.

In this context, we're looking at a pop/rock/punk song --- a song with the expectation to entertain and be enjoyed within a pop context: a catchy verse/chorus sequencing. One should not judge pop music by standards to be placed on prog rock. If this were a prog rock song, and it were the same four chords the whole time, then we might have some issues, but then again, it could then depend on many other factors (delivery, variation, speed, whatever) -- so despite this pop "formula" what really matters in the end is if the final product is good.

So if we have a simple song like Nash's, what can she do to juice it up? to make it better? Well like you said, the chord structure is simple. Is it? Hell yeah it is. Its actually the same four chords the whole time. what a bitch. can you believe she's actually making a song interesting with the same four chords the whole time. how does she do that?

- slight variations in the vocal melody and in her delivery

- doubling up the number of syllables in the chorus while the guitar also doubles up (for lack of a better musical term) its melody

- spacious arrangement -- the purpose of a simple song is for the lyrical content and main melody to be highlighted. Here the guitar gently follows Nash's vocal line but accents slightly different notes within the chords, a tinkling keyboard is thrown in during the chorus adding more layers for dynamism.

What I find MOST impressive is that the song IS only 4 chords!!! The fact that she fits so many different hook-filled melodies over the same 4 chords is not only wildly impressive but incredibly difficult and is a result of trained years as a pop-songwriter. Most people will write a four chord song and their melody will be the exact same notes as the roots of the chords and the note sung will change when the chord changes. This is common, but uncatchy (I can give you some examples if you want). Nash does a little of this in the verse, but her inflections at the end of each line break the mold. Her "Yous" and the Chorus are separate melodies entirely. Their bouncy and linear nature also make them catchy.

No, this is not Picasso's Guernica. It's not the Rite of Spring. It is pop music.So i feel your criticism are invalid because you are invalidating what makes pop music so great. Joy in simplicity, but the greater talents can evoke the complexity from within.

Ariel Bitran's picture

I believe one other very important aspect to this song is the contrast betweent its relatively fast tempo, punk backbeat, and aggressive bass guitar versus Nash's soft delivery and submissive lyrics. It's edgy yet feminine. and keeps the song from being too sugar-coated.

Ariel Bitran's picture

Simplicity is difficult. Simplicity takes time. Finding simplicity in ones life is part of the maturation process. Buckling down and focusing -- great pop music is an emblem of maturity.

if you're talking about lyrical content, well... i dunno if Nash is being mature or immature, but she's being truthful. and as a listener, I feel that matters most. Honesty is also a sign of maturity. as a top youtuber comment says, "I feel her feels."

jsm59's picture

here has a lot to do with our difference in opinion. I am 50+ and my ear requires material that has a certain level of complexity now. It didn't always. I think this is a natural progression over time for some people. This is probably why I am now a jazz fan. In the rock/pop vein, this is probably why I still like Donald Fagen (and Steely Dan) so much. I also like a lot of classic rock stuff that is, at its heart, simple. For me, those classic rock artists had a talent level far surpassing those of today.

The material at discussion is too simplistic for me--period. You make good points and are very articulate in your arguments, but I just don't get the music like you do. Let's move on since, like the arguments for/against reviewing highly expensive products, there will be no resolution.

Also, more than the music itself, my original point and opinion is that I had trouble reconciling this material with where it is posted--on an audiophile magazine site.  I suppose this is snobbish, I am aware of that and will not defend that--it's my right.

Ariel Bitran's picture


but we were just starting to have fun :-)


in regards to "why is this on this site?"

why not?

Stephen Mejias's picture

I think I get what you're saying, jsm. You don't enjoy this particular track. Totally cool. I don't feel as drawn to this song as Ariel does, either. But I question whether this has anything to do with age. Instead, I suspect we embrace different types of music and art at different points in our lives for many different reasons. There are reasons, besides age, that allow you to connect with classic rock but prevent you from connecting with this Kate Nash track. And those reasons are completely personal and completely right—for you. Some days, I want to hear Raime; other days, I want to hear R. Kelly. It just depends on my mood. There's always room in our worlds for both Steely Dan and Kate Nash, but we choose whether we want to make the room for both.

I don't think there's some hierarchy or natural progression to musical enjoyment. Will we all be listening to Wagner just before death? I hope not.

I can be as snobbish about music as anyone. My girlfriend reminds me of this fact all the time. And I will never win the argument because, at the end of the day, she's right: Lady Gaga is as valid as Leonard Cohen or Sonic Youth or Led Zeppelin. You just can't argue against happiness.

I mean, you can, but why would you?

Also, more than the music itself, my original point and opinion is that I had trouble reconciling this material with where it is posted--on an audiophile magazine site.  I suppose this is snobbish, I am aware of that and will not defend that--it's my right. 

If I can achieve anything of lasting value during my time at Stereophile, I would want it to be the complete obliviation of ideas such as that. When it comes to the appreciation of music, there's no sense in limiting ourselves. Yes, we will always strive for the best possible sound quality, but the music through which we enjoy that sound should never be limited. 

dalethorn's picture

The featured track sounds like 'Girlrock' to me, not an official genre of course, but having been involved myself since the beginnings in Riot Grrrl etc., it's a very familiar sound, and something that most audiophiles (~94 pct. male?) would not stray into very often. That impression applies to just that track - this lady covers a wide range of material. I wonder sometimes if the reactions are due to unfamiliarity, like an opera fan stumbling into a store that stocks only hip-hop. BTW, I didn't confuse this music with Lady Gaga or Britney Spears - no similarity.

Ariel Bitran's picture

thanks dale. def an extension of 'girlrock'.

dalethorn's picture

Well, if a person is separated far enough culturally from the source of this music, or any music, it could be just as hard to appreciate as listening to a lecture in Klingon. But maybe there's more there ... there's an 'energy' thing about pop music, especially the kind that isn't too homogenized by overly zealous mixers and producers - anyway that energy thing - it's just not the same in most jazz or classical, where you kick back more and savor the sounds in a different way. So for me it's not just the sound, or the lyrics, or the quality of the chord structures or whatever - it's about getting my head into that space where a particular music comes alive. And it's different being older. Now everything is optional - I can go with whatever I'm in the mood for, or even turn it around and create the mood. But for young people in school etc. it's serious stuff - listen to the wrong thing and you could find yourself ostracized from your peers.

Ariel Bitran's picture

about the energy. the amount of times i've listened to "Rosanna" by Toto in the past 3 months is sickening. But it makes me feel good.

Yet as a musician and critical listener, i get a kick out of breaking things down. While there is no formula for what will work, the talented ones are the people who can put it together the right way so that the most amount of people will feel it (the energy). and there are so many ways to get it right.

dalethorn's picture

Well, after refreshing myself on Toto I felt really adventurous and checked out the downloads for 'Roxanne' - it's available in Reggae, Hip-Hop, French cabaret, jazz - I'm not believing I spent a whole afternoon on this. All I wanted was Sting doing the version I heard at the Grammies circa 1990, and now look....