100 Best Songs of the 2010s – #25: “The Less I Know the Better” by Tame Impala

The song at #25 on my list of 100 Best Songs of the 2010s is “The Less I Know the Better” by Tame Impala. The achingly beautiful song about young lust and love makes me wish I was 18 again, and is so fucking gorgeous it stirs the hopeless romantic in me, bringing a tear to my eye and a lump in my throat every time I hear it.

Tame Impala is the music project of Australian singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Kevin Parker, who writes, records, performs and produces all his own music, although he collaborates with a number of musicians, many of whom are members of his other psychedelic rock band Pond, for live shows. “The Less I Know the Better” is one of the singles from his stellar, critically-acclaimed third album Currents (which ended up on many critics’ best album of 2015 lists). I could just as easily have chosen “Let It Happen”, another equally beautiful song from Currents, for this list, but I think I love “The Less I Know the Better” more.

Parker stated in an interview with Under the Radar that the song “shouldn’t be on a Tame Impala album, because it has this dorky, white disco funk. I wouldn’t call it cheesy, but it’s not trying to be too cool, because the lyrics are pretty dorky and the groove is pretty dorky. But at the same time, for me, I love that kind of music.” So do I. Swirling, glittery synths are combined with a strong bass groove and gorgeous layered chiming and gnarly guitars to create a stunning and dreamy backdrop for Parker’s ethereal falsetto vocals. I love this song so much that I’ve literally listened to it on repeat more times than I can recall. Why this song was not a huge #1 hit is a complete mystery to me. It only appeared on the Billboard Hot Rock Songs chart, where it peaked at a paltry #35.

The lyrics express the protagonist’s intense longing for a girl he can’t have, which Parker so beautifully expresses with his enthralling vocals:

Someone said they left together
I ran out the door to get her
She was holding hands with Trevor
Not the greatest feeling ever
Said, “Pull yourself together
You should try your luck with Heather”
Then I heard they slept together
Oh, the less I know the better
The less I know the better

Oh my love, can’t you see yourself by my side
No surprise when you’re on his shoulder like every night
Oh my love, can’t you see that you’re on my mind
Don’t suppose you could convince your lover to change his mind
So goodbye

She said, “It’s not now or never
Wait 10 years, we’ll be together”
I said, “Better late than never
Just don’t make me wait forever”
Don’t make me wait forever
Don’t make me wait forever

Oh my love, can’t you see yourself by my side?
I don’t suppose you could convince your lover to change his mind

I was doing fine without ya
‘Til I saw your face, now I can’t erase
Giving in to all his bullshit
Is this what you want, is this who you are?
I was doing fine without ya
‘Til I saw your eyes turn away from mine
Oh, sweet darling, where he wants you
Said, “Come on Superman, say your stupid line”
Said, “Come on Superman, say your stupid line”
Said, “Come on Superman, say your stupid line”

The unusual and entertaining official video brings the song to life with an imaginative and humorous blend of romance, surrealism and colorful animation. It shows a high school basketball player lusting after a cheerleader, who soon begins a relationship with the team’s gorilla mascot named “Trevor”, who’s referenced in the lyrics. The video was filmed in Barcelona at the visual arts collective CANADA, and the two primary characters are played by Spanish actors Laia Manzanares as the cheerleader and Albert Baro as the basketball player.

Rather ridiculously, the video has been age-restricted by YouTube due to a couple of provocative scenes, so click on the “Watch on YouTube” link to watch it.

Or, just listen to the song on this Official Audio:

5 thoughts on “100 Best Songs of the 2010s – #25: “The Less I Know the Better” by Tame Impala

  1. badfinger20 (Max)

    Jeff this is one of my favorite songs of the ones you have posted. You cannot beat that opening…and I love the song period. This would be good cruising music.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. hanspostcard

    The closer you are getting to the top on your countdown- the more familiar the songs are becoming to my ears. Although I couldn’t have told you who did this song I have heard it numerous times. Worthy of its high position on the chart.

    Liked by 1 person

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