like most things, it started with a song. what follows is a stream of consciousness formed mostly in the early hours of yesterday morning, before i went to see the new mamma mia! film today, which spurned another seemingly endless train of thought.
the song in question? love it if we made it, by none other than the 1975. no strangers to my blog, i've written about them more times than i can count, yet still feel like there's so much to say. in a beats 1 interview with zane lowe, matty healy described the song as one of his most "outward". from trump to kanye, lil peep to poetry and everything inbetween, lyrically nothing is off limits. perhaps the easiest way to describe it is pop's answer to this is america by childish gambino, which went what the kids call "viral" and spurned a number of ~think pieces~ trying to unpack its many references.
upon first listen, i wasn't sure what to make of it. sonically it starts off fairly subdued, before building to a spectacular crescendo reminiscent of the sound and this must be my dream, sending shivers along my spine and tears down my cheeks. i suppose part of me was frustrated, mostly with the world we live in, that such a song needs writing in the first place, but also with the song itself for reminding me that Life Is Hard. fifteen year old me would have devoured the ~deep~ lyrics discussing The Human Condition™ as i listened mainly to the smiths, joy division and my chemical romance to name but a few; not the cheeriest bunch, i know.
then somewhere along the line, Life Happened and i decided to embrace my love of pop music, as it provided an escape from the world and what was going on in it. now more than ever i find myself clinging desperately to pop 2 and E•MO•TION like a synth-laden life raft; once i hit play, all my problems disappear for those few minutes. lately when it comes to pop, i feel like bigger is better, though our latest contenders for song of the summer might say otherwise. take it from charli herself - during a writing session with will.i.am, he reportedly told her: "it doesn’t matter what the verses say, just say anything in the verses and make the chorus really good”. it's a theory she seems to have stuck with on her last two mixtapes as the lyrics became increasingly minimal to make way for the huge drops and a.g. cook's weird and wonderful production.
so imagine my surprise when the 80s-lite pop of i like it when you sleep... gave way to something slightly heavier. give yourself a try harked back to the 1975's early years under the moniker drive like i do, and it seems the rest of their new material is heading the same way. as a lover of all things pop, it's a transition i have mixed feelings about, though clearly shows matty's personal growth as he looks outside his own feelings. i like it when you sleep... was littered with tales of break ups and drug binges, as well as a touching ode to his late grandma, none of which are particularly lighthearted topics, so perhaps it was the synth pop sound that made it easier to digest? i can't help wonder if this was a conscious decision, coupling a heavier sound with harsher lyrics that expose the darker side of humanity. the promotional campaigns for the upcoming album a brief inquiry into online relationships have made several references to social media, but it begs the question, has modernity really failed us, or is there something dark within us that drives some people to the extreme just for a few likes on instagram?
perhaps it's all a reaction to the trying times in which we live. though every generation has had its fair share of problems, we millennials have to contend with the sad reality that we'll never own a home without help from our parents and staying in the same job until we retire is an unlikely prospect, which makes the idea of kylie jenner as a "self made" millennial simply preposterous. with all the traditional markers of Adulthood stripped away, some experts have suggested that adolescence now lasts until 24, which technically means i still have at least another year as a teenager. ironically, social media has made us more connected to the world around us than ever as issues like immigration and brexit are now impossible to ignore, another distinction between us and the baby boomers. no longer can we turn off the news and disconnect from the issues on screen, as we carry the screens in our pockets and the worries in our heads with nowhere to put them down.
that's not to say i don't love the new songs, they just don't serve as the escape i so desperately crave when i log into spotify. nonetheless, both give yourself a try and love it if we made it carry a message of hopefulness. modernity might have failed us, but if we give ourselves a try, we might just make it. perhaps instead of shying away from such serious topics, we should lean into them and embrace our melancholy, as nora taylor discusses in this man repeller article. personally i love nothing more than listening to lorde's magnum opus melodrama at 3am; it's a somewhat cathartic release from all the emotions i carry around with me during the day.
speaking of cathartic releases, there is none more euphoric than watching mamma mia, and today i went to see the second instalment of what i hope will become a never ending franchise. i had Mixed Feelings when the sequel was announced, but i needn't have worried about being disappointed as i found myself laughing, (almost) crying and singing along to every song. with its central themes of love and loss, abba's joyful back catalogue keeps the whole thing afloat and i rediscovered my love for songs such as one of us, when i kissed the teacher, thank you for the music and the name of the game. i can guarantee i'll be back to watch it again, if not just to take a second look at cher's iconic ensembles and relive her rendition of fernando once again, all the while dreaming of a getaway to greece, hopefully in the not so distant future.
as i left the cinema on a high, i couldn't help but think of peter bradshaw's reviews of both films for the guardian. as i've said before, crabby old men should be banned from reviewing anything involving popular culture, as he gave the first film a one (one!) star review. perhaps trying to appear controversial, he lambasted the "irrelevant" story and declared it a "soulless panto". last time i checked, mamma mia wasn't renowned for its complex plot, and i find it hard to believe he sat through both films without even tapping a foot. he did give the second film a generous three stars though, so he must have a soul buried amongst his layers of self-importance and superiority. perhaps i'm reaching, but we've seen it time and time again; films and artists enjoyed by women, young or old, have been ridiculed for as long as i can remember, while sports enjoyed largely by men are celebrated the world over (anyone else relieved they won't have to hear three lions ever again?).
either way, i'll continue to love pop music in all its forms, from the dark decadence of pale waves, the melancholic musings on society from the 1975, and the ridiculously catchy party hits by a certain swedish pop group.