I’m normally pretty vocal and, dare I say it, opinionated when it comes to the musical selections that are played at bars. Bear in mind that I am distinguishing between bars and clubs right now. I can’t even begin to rationalize my disgust of the electronica nonsense that plays at dance clubs these days.
Bars, meanwhile, will tend to have a better musical selection. There is nothing that beats an old-fashioned jukebox where people could play some classical rock such as Tom Petty, Johnny Cash, or even some more modern classics like the Pixies or REM.
While I am at a bar, and becoming progressively drunk, my judgment lessens significantly and I become more tolerable of what type of music is being played. If I’m out and having a good time, then I could put on my happy face and deal with the occasional upbeat Katy Perry or Rihanna song. If I notice that other people are enjoying it, and dancing along and having a merry old time, then I have no problem with that. Especially if the song is catchy and energetic to begin with.
However, I was out on Saturday, taking part in a belated Irish Day parade/bar crawl close to my hometown with several of my friends. It was still daytime, and though I was quite inebriated, I still play close attention towards the music and how the crowd reacts to it.
At the time, the bar I was at probably consisted a good 200 people or so. It is a very spacious bar and one of the more popular ones in the area I was in, and as I’ve already iterated my state of intoxication, I can safely say that I was immensely enjoying myself.
But then the song “Someone Like You” by Adele came on. Within seconds, everyone around me was swaying to the beat, dancing where they stood, and even singing along in groups with their friends as if it was one big party.
I didn’t want to be one to rain on the parade, but I immediately questioned how people can react with such liveliness to such a song. Yes, it is indeed a catchy song that has taken the radio waves but storm, garnering both critical and commercial success over the past several months.
However, has any one actually listened to the song? Has anyone dissected the lyrics? When you take a moment to break it down, you’ll realize that it is actually one of the more depressing songs in recent memory.
“I heard that you settled down/That you found a girl and you’re married now/I heard that your dreams came true/Guess she gave you things that I didn’t give to you.”
This is a depressing and somber ballad about a scorned lover who clearly was pummeled emotionally by their ex, and chose to express their distress at the fact that they have clearly moved on while they themselves remain miserable and dissatisfied.
And yet, as this song blared through the bar, people were waving their beers in the air and prancing around like they were at a disco. When Adele composed this song and harnessed all of her agony into it, I can hardly imagine that she ever envisioned that this is how people would be receiving her song.
Which, in turn, can only lead me to one conclusion. When surrounded with the right aura, intoxication and ambiance, a bar can play practically anything over their speakers and their patrons will enjoy it. Why stop at Adele? How about next time we blast a little Radiohead into the mix? How about we parlay that into some musical styling by the Verve? And then top it off with “Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley? I predict that it would elicit the same time of reaction as if they were playing “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves.
Again, I know it’s overly critical and possibly even harsh to find fault in people for simply wanting to enjoy themselves. I have no problem whatsoever with their public displays of enjoyment, but come on, if we begin dancing to just any plain old song than it takes away the uniqueness that derives from happy songs.
It’s nothing against Adele, whose powerful voice and unshackled emotion has actually provided a shining light in “mainstream music” this past year, but I think even she would prefer that her song was enjoyed solemnly, and not celebrated by drunken foolhardiness.
But perhaps I should blame the bar for playing the song to begin with and not the people dancing to it. Or perhaps I should blame the alcohol for giving people their urge to dance in the first place.
Wait, what the heck am I saying. Blame the alcohol? Never, ever, blame the alcohol. Shame on me for even thinking it.