Top 10 Songs of 2011 – #6: “MoneyGrabber” By Fitz and the Tantrums

26 Dec

And it works because there are six people in the band!

Michael Fitzpatrick is industrious. He is also quite ambitious. While most people suffer post-break-up torpor, Fitzpatrick responded to a break-up by choosing to release his energy into canorous, Motown-esque, music. Music that fuses bitter lyrics with lively rhythm and melodies. Shortly after a break-up, he began making music, and in 2008, after receiving a call from the same ex-girlfriend that inspired him to make music in the first place, Fitzpatrick acquired an organ that her friend wanted to given away, and started to pump out hit, after hit, after hit. Talk about a muse.

He envisioned the need for horns in his musical compositions so he called on a college friend and saxophonist named James King who joined Fitzpatrick’s musical pursuits. The guitar-less sounds were pretty sweet so he decided to keep the six strings out of it. He then figured he would need a full band and a female vocalist. At King’s suggestion, Fitzpatrick called on soul vocalist Noelle Scaggs. A few more phone calls to other instrumentalists brought the bunch together and after the first rehearsal Fitzpatrick sensed they were ready to play a gig. Wait, what? After one rehearsal. Like I said, Fitzpatrick had a vision and, well, was lucky enough to meet it quickly.

One week after the initial rehearsal, Fitzpatrick booked the band’s first show and, you know what they say, the rest was/is history. It is current history. The band is on our 2011 list.

Lesson learned - Michael Fitzpatrick reacts best to negative love events.

Pickin’ Up The Pieces, the band’s debut release, was released in 2010, but the song featured in our countdown was released as a single in 2011 so it counts. What is perhaps most humorous about the 2010 album is the place of recording. The band couldn’t afford a studio so opted to record the album in Fitzpatrick’s living room – which was not soundproofed. The carefree nature expressed in the melodies was also evident in this situation where the band chose to just go with it.

Fitz and the Tantrum’s musical styling may come off as a direct homage to the sweet Motown soul and gritty Stax soul of the 1960s. The band makes use of the Motown organ, an airy, bubbly, and inviting organ that was popularized by bands like Motown’s Four Tops. But there is something else there. I believe it can best be described as 60’s R&B/soul a la Indie flavoring with drippings of 80s new wave. A tasty harmonious concoction.

“MoneyGrabber” begins with the pre-described organ that supports a percussion introduction and even some echoed ohs. And then BAM! The song explodes with sound. The horns sound off over heavy percussion and Fitzpatrick and Scaggs scream out (with excellent vocal interplay):

Don’t come back anytime, you’ve already run me dry
This is your pay back, money grabber

I think we know where this song is going. The verse features Fitzpatrick singing over a simple keyboard and light percussion. It is very stripped down. There is almost something Talking Heads or just David Byrne about his voice and demeanor. The song then enters the chorus on the tail of rising horns and then we get to experience the diapason again. And if there is any question of what the song is about how do you like the lyric featured in this amazing Sly and the Family Stone-like bridge:

One. Two. Leave
One is for the money
Two is for the greed
And three times that I told you you’re the one
I just don’t need

Just awesome!

5 Responses to “Top 10 Songs of 2011 – #6: “MoneyGrabber” By Fitz and the Tantrums”

  1. John Phillips December 29, 2011 at 12:09 am #

    God, I forgot about this song, great tune. Just downloaded it.

    • Matthew Coleman December 29, 2011 at 12:11 am #

      I am a huge fan of the album. I am really looking forward to future releases.

  2. Amanda Grannis December 31, 2011 at 1:08 am #

    Money grabber is an awesome song-very 1960’s sounding!Did you know the band got its first big break through Maroon 5’s Adam Lavine’s tatoo artist? Weird stuff.

    • Matthew Coleman December 31, 2011 at 10:24 am #

      Wow. Didn’t know that. That’s pretty weird, but really cool


  1. The Top 10 Songs of 2011 – In Review (10-1) « The Music Court - January 3, 2012

    […] a la Indie flavoring with drippings of 80s new wave. A tasty harmonious concoction.”   Read the Full Article […]

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