Before I get started on my real topic, I just have something I need to get off my chest.
Generally speaking, when your job title is “performing artist” it’s a good idea if you can sing. Or, at the very least, if you can’t sing, you should do something else awesome to make up for it. Which leaves me with the question…what are you still doing here? What do you bring to the entertainment table?
Ok. Thank you. Now I can move on.
I have to drive a lot for my job. I work with a developmentally disabled guy, and we are constantly driving from one activity to the next when I’m with him. And he loves to listen to music. Normally I bring my iPod and we listen to that. Because no way am I going to listen to top 40 radio all day long. This week, however, I was driving a different car and forgot to move my iPod to that car. Thankfully, since it had been awhile since I last caught up on what is going on in the world of
bad top 40 music, I was sort of curious. It says a lot about what is important to my culture, after all. So for nearly two days, we listened to the radio.
It was exhausting. Literally. I’m not just talking mentally here…although the mindless, almost comedic, repetition of phrases does get a little tiring for the brain. No, I actually felt physically tired by the music. Almost without exception, it’s fast-paced dance-y club music, with lyrics about never wanting to slow down, or partying non.stop. or doing it all.the.time. being chanted over the noise. Dizzying. And exhausting.
There were a few unexpected respites from the mad dash for the next high, thankfully. The first respite was comedic in nature, and generally came in the form of some hyperbolic love song. There were several of these, but the best example by far is a song by Bruno Mars (yes, I just googled that…I do not know the names of all these one-hit wonders), the chorus of which goes a little something like this.
I’d catch a grenade for ya (yeah yeah yeah)/Throw my hand on a blade for ya (yeah yeah yeah)/I’d jump in front of a train for ya (yeah x3)/you know I’d do anything for ya (yeahs)/oh oh/I would go through all this pain/Take a bullet straight through my brain/Yes I would die for ya baby/But you won’t do the same.
Wow. Really? Really? You would do all that?
No. No, you wouldn’t. And who’s asking you to, anyway? Before you write your next meaningful love song, Bruno, I suggest you take a minute to consider whether or not it’s believable in any way. You might also take a lesson from Flight of the Concords’ Jemaine Clement and ask yourself if you would really do that. The answer, most likely, is no. I flatter myself that my husband would defend me to the death if need be, but he’s not exactly running around begging to be let do it. That’d just be crazy. Which tells you how idiotic it sounds to be singing this to your girlfriend of fifteen minutes who’s already on her way out.
The second respite came in the form of one Taylor Swift, surprisingly. No, I wouldn’t exactly say I’m a fan of America’s newest sweetheart…she’s a little bit bubblegum and I like more substance in my music. But surrounded by other songs whose writers struggle to string one coherent thought next to another, her songs were refreshing. Still, it was much more exciting at the rare points of the day when they played a band like Florence and the Machine.
Toward the end of last night’s shift, my brain having been assaulted for nearly two days by mindless, pounding repetition, I was thankful to remember I had an M. Ward cd in the car. We sat back, relaxed, and let the beautiful combination of well-written music and lyrics wash over our tired ears. It’s been fun, top 40 radio, but I’ve gotten my social commentary fix and I won’t be seeing (hearing?) you for awhile.