12 hours of tropical house
I just spent my entire 12 hour flight from Amsterdam listening to one song that I don't even like all that much. I'd pretend it was some kind of deep critical exercise but we all know it was just what I had on during take-off and there's some terrible compulsion in me to loop repeat that moment through the limbo of travel time, like the world won't have shifted half a day by the time I land. Like, being an anxious millennial, all the apps and messages and communication lines I rely on to hold my shabbily combobulated psychology together will have been waiting for me.
My curiously deep level of ritual involvement in liminality, for a very non-superstitious person, aside there is a level of deep diving you can get into even the most shallow song during a 12 hour immersion. Just the act of looping is weird - you start noticing the intro, in this case because it sounds like a different song and for a second my répétition-anaesthetised brain takes notice before sinking into the wash again.
The song in question was I Need You by Armin Van Buuren, Garibay and Olaf Blackwood. I have no idea how this even got onto one of my playlists - almost certainly drunk Shazaming because as much as I'll defend the soft-scoop slush of tropical house to the death, this is some under-whipped shit if I've ever heard any.
One thing that it does have - and I can't pretend that I don't think this is absolutely how I have fallen into it - is house piano. I'll forgive any track almost anything if you throw a bit of house piano into the mix, it does something so pleasant to my brain. Like a head massage I wouldn't tolerate the touch of, it instantly soothes and energises the stressed-out Cerberus that stands guard over most of my mental faculties at the best of times and definitely during longhaul, solo travel where I'm worried about connections.
Regular times: the dog will bite but give it a bit of house piano and ohhh, squeaky toy rolling on the ground glee. Suddenly I can transcribe or the words flow or at least I can do things other than stare out the window, mentally frantically scratching at a door in a Labrador panic that I'm never coming home ever ever ever again.
(I don't get this existential dread with short-haul, maybe because Ryanair let me purchase as much wine as I like from the very offset or the lack of the jet lag that I've learnt, in my thirties, absolutely floors me)
Anyway, the song. Starts with a clicky intro borrowed straight from something else I've relentlessly looped but can't place, then that ol house piano hits and gives me just enough seratonin to make it to the bridge and that fully generic trop house low-pace stomp.
Like walking on a treadmill, it's got a meaningless, barely functional bounce that never goes anywhere. Not to be totally millennial about it but it creates a soothing concept of progress where you can't comprehend any - 3883km to go? 547 miles an hour? Mate I can't even get my head round the fact it takes me longer than five minutes to walk to the station, no matter how much I will quantum physics to make it otherwise.
Obviously, à well suited choice for 12 hours of desperately trying to resist looking at the thing that you know is going to tell you it's 11 hours and 47 minutes to go because you just checked it and it was 11 hours and 48 minutes and even supposing it said it was only 10 would that be in any way comforting?
But as it's gone on I've caught myself vibing to the lyrics. I'd assumed the chorus was from the perspective of the dude singing but it turns out to be some girl's narrative, heading off into the - bear with the heavy-handedness here - sky to seek something out.
That's definitely the effects of 12 hours of exposure because do I really think she walks on midnight/as she says her goodbyes is lyrically good? No. I enjoyed she's a slut for finding love up there until I realised it was the much tamer “just trying to find a love up there” which is nowhere near as evocative.
That said, I do like the gothic hysteria of I need you/like the waves need an ocean/like a lover needs devotion and the subsequently philosophical like a desert pleads for water/like a mission needs a motive but perhaps that's the sleep deprivation starting to kick in. Or the heroic narrative I've just developed for having tolerated 11 hours and 37 minutes of the dude in front fully reclining his seat onto me until he violently righted it, spraying my own drink all over me.
Anyway, back to the merits or even point of relentless looping, frantically thumbing this as we descend, before the doors unseal and I lose the editing rights to this particular montage. There are so many things I love about relentlessly, unnecessarily obsessing about a song - and this is certainly proof that there's literally nothing so boring I can't be incredibly, floridly extra about it - but perhaps my favourite, right now, is that moment when you're absolutely, totally numb to it.
There's literally no note in this song you haven't heard actually hundreds of times (o once listened to one song for two months so this is a relatively weak obsession) but the moment you're utterly underwhelmed by anything but the repetitive motion, that elevator music remix of the brain that wasn't all that interested in this shit in the first place anyway.
And then! There's a bit in the ninety millionth chorus where he does this really bad not-impression of Darren Hayes on To The Moon And Back with she cries and then the beat drops a bounce so basic the cheapest HR video wouldn't try to teach you company values over it and I laughed aloud on this plane noticing it. I'm gonna play this song like 200 times more before I get to Punta, minimum.