What is it about vocoders? They add a distance to the human voice that, in the skilled hands of Laurie Anderson, renders it omnipotent, supernatural. And marching through the uncanny valley right alongside her processed singing is that “ah ah ah” ostinato, both weirdly neutral and unsettlingly robotic. The simple mi-re-do-ish tune, with its comforting tonal harmonies, lies in creepy conflict with the unsettling ransom-note lyrics. Somehow this song manages to get at something sinister about empire and technology while remaining catchy, funny, and oddly touching.
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