So, we recently watched a top-10 video, one of those “best songs of 2022” affairs (late, yes, I know, we’re well into 2023 now, but hey, it’s always good to hear from a creator you haven’t heard from in a while) and I got to hear this, which I’d never heard before:
I will be the first to admit that I don’t really know from popular music – I honestly think the only song on the entire list I recognized was Lizzo’s “About Damn Time,” which has definitely been on in the background on a number of occasions while I’ve been out and about. I probably couldn’t pick Harry Styles or Kendrick Lamar out of a lineup (never mind that my powers of name-to-face matching have never been all that impressive) and am a lot more likely to catch myself accidentally humming this than anything written in the last five years, most of the time.
I’m sure part of this can be safely attributed to the atomization of popular culture, as well – in prior decades I didn’t really have a clue who was popular either, but at least stood a reasonable chance of picking up enough from the radio to get by. These days, not so much – some of the video folk I follow can introduce me to such musical esoterica as Gaelynn Lea but I don’t hang out on TikTok, which is where I understand The Youth are busy defining what is popular.
“Anti-Hero” is curious, though. True expression of the insecurities of one of pop music’s big names? Another pose? Neither? Both?
It’s relatable, anyway – let whoever among us has not found themselves awake at 4 AM rehashing social missteps cast the first stone. And it’s certainly catchy; I discovered the chorus threading itself into the background music of my inner monologue pretty much immediately after the first listen. When someone eventually manages to infuse modern popular music with a memetic virus of some sort we’re all doomed; they have gotten very good at crafting earworms, out there.
(…Also, I was not expecting to hear Taylor Swift singing about being murdered by her daughter-in-law for the money; that got a bit of a startled laugh out of me.)
It must be a hell of a thing to have to deal simultaneously with being famous and also being a person.
Many of us seem to think that fame is a kind of transcendence – that to gain it is to become something other than you are, better, stronger, more talented, more beautiful. It is less a transcendence, I think, than an addition, or perhaps a division. There is a version of you that is famous, powerful, that lives in the hearts and minds of your fans and detractors. An idea of you that does in fact transcend you, after a fashion.
But the thing is, you’re also still a person. With all the irritating foibles and failings and little weirdnesses that entails. You are still you, just a you that exists in multiple, perhaps somewhat schizophrenic forms, and you cannot escape your self by sometimes inhabiting a public version of it.
Feels rather exhausting to think about, honestly.
I wonder how many people who are famous really just wanted to make art and then had to put up with fame as the price of it, versus people who wanted the fame and make things to that end?