I love music. I almost always have something playing, whether it’s the radio, podcasts, or songs from my playlist.
When I was in elementary school, I started playing clarinet as my music elective, and once I hit high school I was playing in multiple bands every day. That got me into dixie and jazz.
After high school, I worked at an animal hospital, and often had to work at 7:00 a.m. As a teenager and then early 20-something, I’d fallen somewhat out of the habit of having to be functional at that hour, so I ended up picking up the habits of one of my coworkers of listening to Top 40 Hits stations at that hour. Sure, mental mindfluff, but it had a good beat and it would get me up and moving (and was a much kinder alternative than the country station another coworker would play).
Before that time, I was usually of the rock persuasion, and sometimes alt rock. Nothing terribly exciting.
I’ve always loved classical music for periods of studying for school or when I wanted to write, and I developed an appreciation for trance and electronic as I got older. Like many people, I got into Moby following the release of his album Play, and that love has stuck with me, with Wait for Me being an album I can put on repeat and listen to all day, pretty much.
So I like to think I span the spectrum when it comes to music, and I’m pretty open to listening to most things. I do have artists I dislike (Oasis, most Smashing Pumpkins are two that come to mind), but even among the ones I dislike I usually find songs I enjoy.
I recognize that artists — or most, I would hope — have a love of their craft and a need to create, and if they become commercially successful, that can be both another goal or a nice bonus. I’m sure lots of musicians would love to become hugely successful, but are maybe happy to have airplay and/or fans at their concerts.
And I know there is a whole industry behind determining who becomes successful, who is groomed/bribed/etc., and there are a limited number of song writers in the industry that write a huge percentage of the music out there, or at least the Top 40 stuff. So beyond that, it’s often the artists themselves that carry things forward.
But good god, does Bruno Mars’ stuff strike me as specifically written for commercial success. And I enjoy some of his stuff — it’s catchy, it’s light, I can listen and ignore it. And fortunately it doesn’t get stuck in my head.
A few of his hits that particularly seem to fit this mold for me:
- Just the Way You Are, the anthem for Nice Guys everywhere, who want to tell girls that they don’t have to change for guys to find them attractive — because that’s all a girl really wants, is male love (okay, this is a rant for a totally separate post). But I can just imagine this song ending up in rom coms that are written about the girl that’s not ‘conventionally’ attractive — like if She’s All That were to be produced when that song was at its height. And I do enjoy that movie, so whatever, judge away.
- Lighters. Oh my God does this one get to me. It’s so frustratingly written to have people at his concerts think they’re being totally original by holding up lighters and waving them back and forth and getting into the vibe of the concert or whatever, when all you’re doing is literally following what the song tells you to do. Hah, and I just discovered through Google searching the lyrics to quote that this is actually considered an Eminem track. Still! Annoyed by this song.
“You and I know what it’s like to be kicked down
Forced to fight
But tonight, we’re alright
So hold up your lights
Let it shine
Cause, this one’s for you and me, living out our dreams
We’re all right where we should be
With my arms out wide, I open my eyes
And now all I wanna see
Is a sky full of lighters
A sky full of lighters”
- And the worst of the bunch, “Marry You,” the song that spawned countless “creative” proposals. Like so many classic “love” songs, people are not really paying attention to the lyrics when they use this one as the soundtrack for their proposals:
“We’re looking for something dumb to do / Hey baby / I think I want to marry you”
- Okay, well, if you’re not sure that you want to marry me, or you think it’s something dumb to do, don’t propose.
“Who cares if we’re trashed got a pocket full of cash we can blow / Shots of patron / And it’s on, girl.”
- Oh sure, I’ve always wanted to get smashed and get married. That sounds like the best time to make a life-changing decision. While I’m at it, let’s buy a house and go have unprotected sex.
“Don’t say no, no, no, no-no / Just say yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah-yeah / And we’ll go, go, go, go-go / If you’re ready, like I’m ready.”
- Okay, ignoring the repeating to fill time, but you’re not ready. You’ve said it many times. And you’re having to persuade me to say yes? Yeah, not really a long-term/forever person kind of love I’m seeing here.
“Is it the look in your eyes / Or is it this dancing juice? / Who cares baby / I think I wanna marry you.”
- You only want to marry me because I’m drunk? Um, thanks.
“If we wake up and you wanna break up that’s cool / No, I won’t blame you / It was fun, girl.”
- What the SERIOUS fuck? Seriously people, are you listening to this song at all when you propose to your forever person? Or do you just not care?
And full confession: I have this song on my mp3 player as a running tune because it has a decent pace beat. Damn you catchy music!
I don’t know, maybe it’s the Canadian that I am, but this whole “love me, buy my music, here, listen, this song is written specifically for that purpose” feels icky to me. And yet, I listen to Top 40. So maybe I’m just being a hypocrite here, or maybe he/his songwriter really is that desperate for love/hits/money.