an ode to inconsequential pop songs

I was in a dirty club in the North Country ablaze with underage drinkers when I heard Pitbull’s, “Give Me Everything” for the first time. In what I am certain was a very poetic and romantic proclamation, I announced to my friends, “oh my god this is my favorite song!!!” It was my junior-ish year of college and for a good few minutes, my social anxiety and self-consciousness dissipated.

There are countless studies done, articles galore depicting what happens to your body when you listen to a pop song. But what happens to me feels like it goes beyond science. Pop music makes me feel limitless; as though I can do anything, achieve anything, be anyone. The kind of person who has an ever circulating roster of temporary companions but in this roster isn’t representative of a larger, gaping hole just the kind of person who loves fun for fun’s sake.  

Each song of the genre is anthemic in nature, they are choose-your-own-adventure listens. Is the scorned lover going to offer that second chance, are they going to pick themselves back up and learn how to be alone, or are they indulging in the unhealthy high induced by being around their crush?

Artists like Carly Rae Jepsen, Ariana Grande, Lorde, Dua Lipa, Kelly Clarkson, Maggie Rogers even newcomers Alessia Cara and Billie Eilish and so many others give me perspective when I feel like there is none to be drawn from especially when I feel a loss of control or lack of closure from life’s pushes and pulls.

And while I’m here, might I say there’s nothing that gratifies my existence and personal growth more than being a twenty-nine year old still able to fully relate to a teen.

Alaska literally makes me feel like a phoenix, rising, Sweetener is a 12 track recovery plan on how to bounce back from life’s lowest moments, The Louvre has the power to transform a winter season into summer again; a season in which I feel alive and am romantically involved with everyone when in reality it’s twenty degrees and a grey film has covered both the city and my heart. Too dark?

This also isn’t limited to contemporary pop. Throw on any Joni Mitchell track and suddenly its 1974 and I’m smoking inside a piano bar, eyes glazed over with a listless look reflecting on all my past torrid romances, whiskey also in hand.

I consider the different themes depicted in pop music representative of the varying parts of my personality. It’s melodramatic, it’s sometimes too vulnerable and other times too skilled at withholding feelings, it offers second chances to those who don’t deserve it, it wallows in the aftermath of failed attempts at love, and it’s too big of a sucker for the songs made by bad people; and sometimes it just needs a wild night out with its friends. 

As a kid, I felt shameful for loving pop music this much, especially around boys I liked. I feared my tastes would be perceived as uncultured, undeveloped, even stunted when juxtaposed with more refined interests like wrestling and porn.

I was terrified of being perceived as a perpetual teen girl living in an intricately fabricated world (I am). It makes me sad that I would diminish something I loved so much but thankful for realizing that people who look down on anything someone else loves with pre-judgment are typically boring. 

Recently, it’s felt like the music along with its artists have slowly evolved into something more mature and sophisticated that I often feel like the songs were written by my therapist (would be a cool past time). They help me find confidence when I’m not sure where to pull from, and remind me of the reasons why I love myself, as well as the comfort and excitement that being in love can bring. 

I’ll be eighty years old singing along to “Give Me Everything” at my granddaughters bat-mitzvah and there will be nothing shameful about that.