Unwanted Number - Elvis Costello & The Imposters

from the album Look Now (2018)

One of the central tenets of this blog is that there are two essential elements of a great popular song:  songwriting and vocal performance.

Listening to Look Now, the latest album by Elvis Costello & The Imposters, I am reminded that there is more to the equation than those two attributes.  Otherwise, I would consider every song Costello song over the past four decades to be "great"; after all, his songwriting and vocals are consistently that good.

Putting my finger on that extra "something" is not as easy as it might seem.  It is intangible, dealing in  currencies such as relevance, resonance, and vibe.  What is it that connects a listener to one great song over another?

 The song I am digging most on the album is Unwanted Number.  Stellarly written and performed, there is something in the R&B vibe that connects me.  A magic in the soul hooks and groove.  A ghostly haunt in the backing vocals.  An affinity for Steve Nieve's ascending piano patterns.  A perfectly placed bridge.

If you want to be a successful songwriter, singer, musician, or sound engineer, my best advise is to listen to the truly great artists, like Elvis Costello.  Their music holds the hidden keys to everything you are looking for.

Click Here to listen to Unwanted Number by Elvis Costello & The Imposters.

Click Here to read my September 2013 blog post on Cinco Minutes Con Vos by Elvis Costello & The Roots.

Click Here to read my May 2013 blog post on Losing Game by La Santa Cecilia, a song featuring a guest vocal by Elvis Costello.

Click Here to read my November 2018 blog post on 8 Gods Of Harlem by Rosanne Cash, a song featuring guest vocals by Elvis Costello and Kris Kristofferson.


  1. Hidden keys, such that they are, are indeed the factors that the truly great have and are able to impart to the rest of us magically. Declan belted out Unwanted Numbers deftly, as only a seasoned artist can, and the world is greatly enriched by his talent.


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