I’m in an interesting place in my life. Being on the upper half of college (woah) allows me certain viewpoints on popular culture that others (i.e. people with big boy jobs and those in the real world) have since lost. Plus I work in a bar, which is basically a pop culture smorgasbord. A culture-copia, if you will. One element most clear in both college and a bar is popular music. It blares out of every car when I’m trying to sleep, or pumps from the speakers so loudly I can’t take people’s order. But while everyone can hear that music, I have a position to really see the gap between what the “artist” –remember, this is popular music- is trying to say and how it gets misinterpreted along the way.
“We Are Young,” by fun.
This has to be the second most popular song on the radio (behind Call Me Maybe), and the first most with any sort of artistic worth. The song is a catchy anthem about being optimistic in the face of crises, and, well, young. It says, in essence, “We’re young, let’s fall in and out of love so easily because we’ve got time ahead of us to find the one that really matters later,” which isn’t exactly encouraging, but romantic in the non-lovey sense of the word.
How people miss the point: “We are young, so we won’t get as bad of hangovers, and he says 'bar' a couple of times so let’s get wasted!”
“Somebody That I Used to Know,” by Gotye.
The Alphabet song, Baa Baa Black Sheep, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and now this Gotye song. The chord progression is as inescapable as breathing, or as this song on the radio. But the song is a refreshing change of pace, with slow, muted verses surrounded by a soaring refrain, telling the story of how you carry breakups with you into the next relationship, and how patterns repeat themselves. Also, Kimbra is totally naked in the video.
How people miss the point: They make a dance remix of the song.
“YOLO,” or whatever it’s called, by Drake.
Look, I”ll admit that I actually like the two previous songs. But I hate this and all songs by Drake so much that I don’t even know what the real title of the song is. But even though I hate stupid, lame-ass Drake, even I have to admit this song (whatever it’s called) really had to have been misinterpreted. I have to believe that, for my very sanity that “acclaimed” “artist” Drake meant more by You Only Live Once. "This is your one life to live, go do amazing things and improve the world the short time you’re here", I sincerely hope he meant.
How people miss the point: “Drink myself blind and puke in my hair tomorrow at work! YOLO!”
“Rolling in the Deep,” by Adele.
1. You will never get me to admit Adele is pronounced Ah-dell. I changed from Her-me-own to Her-my-oh-nee just fine, but Adele is most certainly Ah-del-lay. Adelle, maybe I could see. What? The song? I don’t think I have to describe it, it’s basically been playing at any given time on at least one radio station in the tri-state area for the last three years. As to what it’s about, I don’t really know. A relationship gone wrong, I guess. Looking back, I really have a break-up heavy list on my hands here. But the song is chocked full of powerful notes and raw emotions, focused just as much on the space between the notes as it is on the melody.
How people misinterpret it: They take the most emotional song by one of the most talented soul singers of the new millennium and make a dance track out of it.
If anyone knows where I can get a job as a music critic in order to tell everyone how wrong they are, I’d really appreciate it. In fact, if anyone knows of any job where I can write things and get paid (or even not paid) for writing them, I would also appreciate that.
He didn't cover "Gangnam Style", because "Gangnam Style" is perfect in every way,