Tomorrow it is pretty likely that we will receive a notification of a debut of a new song by the Chainsmokers in the bottom half of the chart for their latest single, “High.” This rather repetitive edm single features a chorus that repeats over and over again complaining that a sorta-partner only calls him when she’s high and that she wears over and over again that she is going to change but never does, and the accompanying music video has the same sort of feel about it with longing and pursuit and ultimate frustration. This is by no means an uncommon sentiment in life and it is a pretty relatable sentiment for many people. Quite a few people find themselves entangled in situations where there is a lack of change, an unhappiness with the status quo, and repeated promises to change without the will or the desire to change being present.
Yet while the song is certainly well-produced and catchy enough, there are some elements of it that serve to undercut its frustration with repetitive cycles. For one, as already mentioned, the song itself is incredibly repetitive given its short runtime of around 3 minutes or so. For another, the song itself is not only repetitive within itself, but also within the context of music in which it appears. For the most part, The Chainsmokers have not been a particularly original act when it comes creating contemporary electronic dance music. Their career as a whole has been marked by a tendency to exploit cultural trends and musical trends and to chase them both relentlessly and sometimes even successfully. For them to complain about a lack of change and progress from someone else in their life given their own lack of progress in artistic credibility and integrity seems a bit hypocritical from this admittedly unsympathetic audience.
In this particular case, the Chainsmokers are ripping off one Kid Laroi, who has recently become popular as a protege of the late Juice Wrld, singing songs in a similarly emotionally immature register to that late singer, without the same sense of pathos that made his mentor’s songs occasionally rise above terrible. I have yet to find a Kid Laroi song that I can stand to listen to, in part because I simply hate the sound of his voice and partly because I hate the content and attitude of his songs. The fact that I can stand to listen to this particular song for all of my issues with it suggests that vocal production and at least slightly more tolerable lyrics can overcome the issues that I have with it being somewhat of a rip-off. Competence often trumps originality when it comes to pop music, not least because genuine originality is so rare when one has a large enough historical perspective on music or any other creative art form. And if the Chainsmokers are not original, at least it can be said that they are competent, most of the time.
Resistance to change is by no means a unique problem. We frequently simultaneously desire other people to change for our behalf while remaining resistant to changing ourselves for the benefit of other people. Expressing what is a common sentiment is by no means always something that is going to be appreciated or that is going to make one look sympathetic. Hypocrisy is a common aspect of humanity because of the asymmetry between what bothers us about the conduct of other people and what we recognize as being the same sort of conduct in ourselves or those we approve of. Perhaps if we find ourselves bothered enough by what we recognize in others and also in ourselves, we may even be motivated to change ourselves. That would be something, now wouldn’t it?