Welcome back, friends, to the surprisingly semi-annual bit where I watch the season premiere of Survivor synced up to the music of an album, Dark Side of the Moon/Wizard of Oz-style, in an effort to determine who the winner is going to be. And with a season as special and epic as Winners At War, the music should naturally also be epic. And I can think of nothing more epic than the seminal 1990 Nelson album, After the Rain.
After the Rain (to which noted music journalist Robert Christgau gave a rating of D+) is mostly remembered these days for its title track, and the #1 smash hit and Hits of the 90’s compilations-staple “(Can’t Live Without Your) Love and Affection,” which is completely underrated as a crowd-pleasing karaoke song. Show this song the love it deserves! But aside from those two songs, there are 10 more songs, each one of them presumably full of guitars and keyboard and drums. I can’t wait to dive in! Let’s get started!
It would appear that someone has replaced my copy of Nelson’s After the Rain with The Beatles 1967-1970 (aka The Blue Album). Probably for the best.
If you’d like to play along at home (though, honestly, why would you?), I’m going to try to pause the songs during the commercials, but no promises. This is a science, but it isn’t an exact science.
Right off the bat, I did not pause out the 13-second commercial that happened before the show started, so I’m off to a great start. Anyway, we have a little recap to get beyond, to which John Lennon says “It doesn’t matter much to me.” Works for me. And then after that, “No one I think is in my tree” plays over Tony’s first confessional. I mean, come on. Spy Nest! Come on!
Side-note: while not optimal for this post, I highly recommend watching for like, every second of Adam. Songs completely aside, it’s just hilarious, knowing what’s to come for him.
I’m a little sad that the bit in “Penny Lane” about the fireman rushing in didn’t sync up to a shot of Jeremy, but ah well. He’s on Exile, I don’t really care about him right now.
“Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” kicks off as Jeff hands out the champagne to the players. And, awesomely, everyone throws their glasses over their shoulders as Paul gets to the title line, and as the crowd in the song applauds, everyone on the sand bar claps. Then the next time the crowd claps is when everyone is hugging each other after they’ve divided into tribes.
“Are you sad because you’re on your own” plays over a shot of Extinction Island. I really want “I get high with a little help from my friends” to play over a shot of Ethan, but it’s not happening. Damn! Though again, he’s on Edge, I suppose I should start paying attention to the players still in the game (and like, Natalie and Tyson).
“I read the news today, oh boy, about a lucky man who made the grade” – Ben gets choked by Wendell in the first challenge.
“The English army had just won the war” – over a shot of Michele. Um. Come on, Beatles, in the words of your very own John Lennon, don’t let me down.
(Pausing for commercials)
“All you need is love, love is all you need” plays over the shot of Amber, Tyson and Sarah around the well talking about their kids. I can’t argue with that.
“There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be” plays while Tyson is working the fire and having a confessional.
The “Love is all you need — yesterday” part plays over Tony and Sandra making up and calling their Game Changers headbutting “water under the bridge.” Another nifty little sync-up.
“Crab a locker fishwife, pornographic priestess, boy you’ve been a naughty girl, you let your knickers down” plays over Ethan doing things, which…*shrug.*
“Don’t you think the joker laughs at you” plays while Adam and Denise go looking for the well in the woods, and that feels appropriate for Adam. “I am the eggman, they are the eggmen, I am the Walrus” then follows over Denise’s flashback. So far it feels like the music wants me to think Denise, Tyson or Michele is winning. I’m not convinced yet.
“I say go, go, go” as Tony runs off into the jungle in his Game Changers flashback. Tony’s definitely getting a lot of the coolest sync-ups so far.
“The fool on the hill sees the sun going down” plays over Ben finding some sort of little crab critter and showing it to Michele. Ok, I’m ready to rule out Ben from winning. Which is not shocking. Even The Beatles in 1967 knew Ben was not winning this season.
Not a whole lot happened for the next few songs. Also, I am not pausing “Hey Jude” during the 30 seconds of commercials, because it’s just three and a half minutes of “nah nah nah, nah nah nah nah,” I figure I can let that run. I have to admit I did throw my hands up into the air and start swaying for some of that part, though.
And we’re back! As the blue tribe makes their way to tribal, I’m going to ask a question. Hey Beatles, is anyone from the blue tribe going to win this season? “Nah nah nah, nah nah nah nah.” Ok then.
“Don’t you know that you can count me out” from “Revolution” plays over Natalie answering a question at tribal. Cross off Natalie!
The lonely piano intro of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” kicks in as Natalie rides the boat to the Edge. Another cool sync moment.
“No one alerted you” over a shot of Nick, Wendell, and Yul. Poor guys.
I haven’t talked much about Sarah yet. The Beatles have mostly been ignoring her. However, the show definitely has been giving her lots of close-ups and little moments that are keeping her in the running for me so far. We’ll see how that continues to go.
“Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” pretty much entirely plays over Natalie at Edge, but I’ve already ruled her out, so I’ll just say that my favorite part of the song is towards the end, in the last verse. The first time around, when it’s Desmond, after Paul sings “Desmond lets the children lend a hand,” John and Paul chime in from the background with “arm,” “leg!” The second time, after Paul sings “Molly lets the children lend a hand,” if you listen very closely you can hear a nonplussed George say “foot.”
There isn’t a whole lot to report on for the next few songs, but once we get to “Here Comes the Sun,” we get the chorus over a Tony confessional, and scenes of Tyson doing some low-level scrambling.
The voting (for Amber) happened during the solo to “Something,” and that about wraps things up as far as the episode is concerned.
While there were some pretty cool moments, I’m not entirely sure that I’m much closer to having identified the winner. I was able to eliminate Ben and Natalie, and then all of the blue tribe. That would imply the winner is coming from the red tribe, but who? Tyson got some encouraging moments, Sarah was virtually ignored (possibly by me…I might have missed a confessional of hers while I was writing down stuff about Tony), and Tony got the best sync-up moments. I’m taking this to mean that Tony wins! Unless I’ve read this completely wrong and what The Beatles are trying to say is that Sarah is the stealth winner. Man. I feel like Michele with a 50/50 coin flip here. It could go either way, however, this is all about using the music to identify the winner, not using the absence of the music to identify the winner. Gotta land on Tony. So, congrats, Tony! The music is never wrong! Except for pretty much always.
Mike Hirsch first started watching Survivor at the merge episode of Borneo, and was hooked through Fiji. He then stopped watching until his wife got him back into the show for San Juan Del Sur, and he dutifully caught up on his missed seasons. He hasn’t seen a movie in 20 years.
Favorite seasons: HvV, Pearl Islands, Tocantins, Cagayan, Cambodia
Favorite players: Earl Cole, Sandra Diaz-Twine, Kelley Wentworth, Boston Rob, Jay Starrett