Yesterday, for the first time, I was exposed to the earworm that is the current cultural obsession, “Call Me Maybe.” I was distractedly switching from one radio station to another and recognized the hook, which I had heard before. But I’d never listened to even the entire chorus, and I was curious to see what all the hype was about. I tried to be as objective as possible: it has bad lyrics and is over-produced, of course, but it’s dependably catchy. I couldn’t help but feel a tinge of self-loathing, though, as I willingly exposed myself to a pop song I’d somehow managed to avoid over the past few weeks since it wriggled its way into the minds of everyone and their cat. I know what most of you are probably thinking– how had I not heard this song before?! I know. I’m that kind of person. The kind who catches wind of something that’s extremely popular and goes out of their way not to encounter it for fear of becoming even more depressed with the way music, film, and books are all headed south in terms of quality. This sounds pretentious of me, but I am in no way a hipster. Not even a snob– or much of one, anyway. And actually, it’s not that difficult not to know what’s currently topping the charts, because for the most part, I don’t listen to the stations that keep the Top 40 in constant rotation. I’ve heard of Drake, David Guetta, and fun., but I have no idea what they sing. Wait, fun. is the band that sings that “We Are Young” song? Okay, I do know that song. Also, I hate that song with every fiber of my and your being.
I realized yesterday, when I was cursing myself for getting “Call Me Maybe” stuck in my head after ONE listen, that I’m very selective with my snobbery. Once upon a time, I didn’t possess that quality when it came to music. The height of it when I was a kid was preferring the Backstreet Boys over the newer copycats, *NSYNC. And those pop songs of my youth– do I not still belt them out when they come up on the old iPod shuffle? Don’t tell me “Baby One More Time” isn’t a perfectly crafted tune. (It is.) Don’t tell me you don’t doo-doo-DOO-dum when Mariah Carey’s “Always Be My Baby” blasts through the speakers. (You do.) The Backstreet Boys I was oh-so-loyal to until Justin Timberlake finally cut his sink-sponge hair? They were my fire, indeed. (And likely yours.)
Do I still love those songs because they were simply better bubblegum pop songs, or is it more likely because I associate them with my youth? I’m not so sure “Call Me Maybe” is inferior to Aqua’s “Barbie Girl.” Actually, there probably isn’t much that’s inferior to Aqua’s “Barbie Girl.” It just seems that way because I’ve grown out of my appreciation for songs about giving boys my number and also giving them the option to not call me by saying, you know, maybe.
Of course, I’m not immune to all the recent earworms out there. Maybe it’s because I heard it on public radio first (which does nothing to convince you I’m not a hipster), but Foster the People’s “Pumped Up Kicks” really got my kicks pumpin’. I guess a song just has to have a certain magical quality for me to embrace its total lack of coolness and be willing to belt it out anyway. Twenty-four hours later, whether I like it or not, that Carley Rae-whatserface song is STILL stuck in my head. Stupid lyrics prevail again. Gonna go listen to something depressing now to combat it.