For the record, this is this.
The (non-existent) lord only knows.
Okay, that’s unfair. It’s a hit because its got a bounce. A somewhat irresistable bounce.
It’s got at least three (strings, guitar and vocal) incredibly catchy hooks, that are just destined to bounce around your head for decades to come.
You are never going to be able to not sing along to a song with such trite lyrics. Even if some of it is actually quite pretty/true.
REM are one of those ‘classic’ bands. All their songs are either classics or songs that only the ‘true fan’ remembers. You know, the people who actually buy their albums, and not just the greatest hits.
What’s not to be classic? Catchy, bouncy, optimistic (even if there’s possibly an irony in there). Also the lady from the B-52s has a fantastic voice that contrasts really nicely with Michael’s tone. (For me, the best thing about Michael Stipe is that he has a brick tattooed on his hand, in that weird pad between the thumb and forefinger that is supposed to be a pressure point for headache relief or something. That’s cool.)
And the video is bright and shiny, and nobody questions whether or not they are exploiting the old man in the background, as thematisized by the string hook.
But still something about it bothers me.
Is it my desire for credibility kicking in? Am I just unwilling to like something that has such mainstream success?
Let’s not get carried away, and recognise that I love Lily Allen, and I don’t care what anyone says (addendum: that phrase almost always mean that someone really cares what everyone says).
So if we rule that out, then we’re left with this weird dichotomy of pop music.
The thing that makes a great, successful pop song, is also the thing that makes it eventually drive you mad.
A great hook.
It’s that catchy little loop that swirls around your head.
You hear it on the radio, it makes you smile with recognition in an instant. You maybe nod your head and tap your toe, or even sing along.
And you forget it when it ends.
For a bit.
Until you find yourself humming it later on. Maybe you’ve forgotten the title, but you remember the hook.
So you ask someone what it is, whistle the tune.
And they’ve got it in their head then (like an infectious disease.) And you think to yourself.
‘Ah yeah, I like that song.’
But the relationship quickly turns sour. The fiftieth play that day on the radio.
The hook is no longer so much fun. It’s stuck in your head.
And you can’t get rid of it.
It drains you of that love, despite the bounce and positivity.
Until you hear it again for the first time in years. Your first memory is a groan. But then you remember what you loved in the first place.
And everybody does that together.
And you’ve got a classic.
No illustration today. The artists are busy.