Saturday 20 January 2018

that's just life: resolutions, reality and redemption

it's only two weeks into the new year and already my resolution to Be Healthy has failed - i've had mcdonalds twice this week and find myself constantly snacking on the sweet treats found in the kitchen where i work. speaking of which, i can't believe it's only been two weeks since i started my internship at a fashion showroom. with the 6am wake up call, seemingly endless commutes and never ending stream of clothes i have to unpack and steam, it's already starting to feel like groundhog day. my legs also feel like i've done some kind of high intensity workout after lugging box after heavy box up three flights of stairs this week as new deliveries arrived. whoever said fashion was "glamorous" clearly has no idea about all the work that goes on behind the scenes. still, i'd much rather be there than standing in a fitting room for hours on end, counting the hours until i could leave. and besides, january is hard for everyone right? 

as always, there has been a handful of songs to soundtrack my travels to and from work, and rather than dwell on my inability to keep a simple resolution while lowering my stupidly high expectations, i'd much rather talk about what i've been listening to lately. 

the common theme running through the majority of these songs is the use of autotune. i mentioned this in my last post, in the end paragraph which turned into a sort of rant about the genius of charli xcx and how people can't see the innovation behind her use of said autotune. (i'm calling it now - in five years time, mainstream pop music will be littered with the hallmarks of PC music's signature sound.) since then, she released an ~official~ remix of don't delete the kisses that's similar to the version she performed on triple j, though i do still prefer her own interpretation. however her newly added lyrics hit me right in the chest; "i'm in love with ideas of us / and i'm in love with ideas of love" she sings in the first verse, echoing my own feelings towards crushes and relationships right now as i find it so hard to trust anyone. 

recently i've had lucky - from her mixtape pop 2 - on repeat, which defies the limits of her own voice by using autotune to create impossibly high notes way out of any singer's range (yes, even mariah carey). this puts a new twist on what would otherwise be a fairly conventional break up song, though it can be used in a more traditional, less experimental style. again i mentioned them in my last post, but the chainsmokers are a good example of this. their track young uses autotune in the bridge: "i'm calling you up, you tell me it's over / say what you want, but it's hard when you're young / i'm calling you up, you tell me it's over / you say what you want, but it's hard when you're young". perhaps it's the contrast of such devastatingly real lyrics with the robotic quality of the autotune, but i feel it in my chest every time i hear it, and have had it on repeat non-stop as i try to figure out what i want to do with my life. in total contrast, this midnight kids remix gives the song an exuberant, joyful twist and makes me feel like anything is possible, and will be on repeat as the seasons change and the days get lighter and (hopefully) brighter. this facebook post discusses their inspiration when writing their debut album, and i must admit it's given me a lot more respect for them as there's so many deeply personal stories behind what might seem like shallow party tracks. 

following a logo rebrand, their newest track sick boy isn't my favourite, but has a much more sobering lyrical theme as they discuss the trappings of fame and the negative effect of social media on our generation - "how many likes is my life worth?" they ask in the bridge - which is something i've been struggling with as differentiating between what's real and the images we see on instagram becomes more difficult. there's a level of self-awareness that critics of the duo probably weren't expecting as they sing "make no mistake i live in a prison / that i built myself, it is my religion". they acknowledge the negative side of living in the public eye and having every action scrutinised, and even employ a somewhat political take as they talk about how being "from the east side of america" makes them "desensitised to hysteria"; a possible reference to the mass shootings, natural disasters and political unrest that make up so much of the world's news coverage these days. whether the rest of their next release contains more of the same remains to be seen, but as this song grows on me i'm excited to see what's next for the duo.

not long after writing my end of year review i re-discovered francis and the lights. probably best known for his work with kanye west and bon iver, he also utilises autotune to give his music a haunting yet ethereal quality. some might argue that it makes a person's voice sound souless and robotic, but for me autotune adds an extra layer and dimension to a song. tracks like see her out (that's just life) and friends from 2016 all use autotune in a way that adds, not detracts from the emotion. sadly, friends reminds me of someone i matched with on tinder and briefly spoke to last year, but i can't deny they have good taste and i never would have discovered the song otherwise. see her out is francis coming to terms with the end of a relationship and co-writer aaron lammer describes it as "a turn of the corner after a dark period", building to a spectacular crescendo replete with synthesizers, giving it a hopeful and optimistic quality. other highlights include the more upbeat tracks i want you to shake and just for us, as well as the slightly more reflective cruise, faithful, breaking up and never back, from 2017's album just for us.

australian pop sensation troye sivan also made his return to music last week and new single my my my! is already my most played song on itunes, and the guardian named it their best track of the week (i was overjoyed when i discovered my favourite vice writer joel golby wrote that piece). this euphoric 80s-inspired track is pretty much all i've listened to since, and i can't get enough of the video, which takes inspiration from 90s-era madonna and george michael with its black and white theme and strobe effects. speaking to paper magazine he described the song as "a song of liberation, freedom, and love," and he encourages listeners to "throw all inhibition to the wind, be present in your body, love wholeheartedly, move the way you've always wanted to, and dance the way you feel — hopefully even to this song", something i definitely plan to do this year. 

if my my my! is the party, synth-led second single the good side is the 6am comedown, as sivan reflects on the end of a relationship (i'm noticing a theme here in the songs i've been listening to lately). he expresses regret that his success in the music industry had a negative effect on the relationship and its aftermath; he got the "good side" by going on tour and performing the songs he'd written about it, as "the people danced to the sound of your heart / the world sang along to it falling apart". it wasn't all bad though, as this person "taught me the ropes, and you taught me to love". finding the positives in a breakup is really the only way to get through it, and though i've never been in that position, i would imagine it's hard to do so when you're on the receiving end of it. once again the use of autotune can also be heard in the bridge, as he repeats the words "sympathise", "apologise" and "recognise", the distorted tone somehow blending perfectly with his own voice, and it sends shivers through me, somehow bringing the song to life and forcing me to think about how i could apply those words to my own interactions with people, as i'm often reluctant to see things from another point of view. 

all relationships require an element of compromise, but when it comes to myself and what i want, i'm focused solely on my dreams and desires, and this year i really want to start living in the Real World, accepting that things won't just be handed to me and i have to start at the bottom and work my way up. just like charli, i'm in love with ideas of love, but i want to believe that i'm capable of experiencing it and finding someone who will accept my love of cheesy pop music and watch vine compilations on repeat with me, though if past experience is anything to go by, tinder is not the place to do it. 

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