I don’t really like pop music. It’s not that I don’t enjoy mainstream media, and I promise it’s not coming from a place of elitism. It’s just that I tend to prefer songs that tell specific stories, whereas most pop songs are more about general moods. But the reason that I love specific-story songs is because they’re not meant to be relatable. I can instead invest in a perspective character and enjoy the story being told.
Pop music, however, aims for the mass market through broad appeal. The songs are about ‘universal’ experiences that a majority of people can relate to. More often than not, however, that ‘majority of people’ excludes me.
The fact of the matter is, most pop music is about romance. There are countless songs about dating and breakups and unrequited love, and when it’s not about those, it’s about sexual interest or chemistry. Those kind of things were never very relevant to my life.
So, when there’s a catchy pop song explicitly about not being in love? I’m going to fall for it, head over heels.
Will Jay’s “Never Been In Love” wouldn’t normally have a place on my blog – usually I only talk about other media when I’m doing an M&M, my series on how to use a certain medium to tell a certain story – but this song brought such joy to my day that I just had to make a post about it.
The thing is, I’ve listened to songs about not romantically loving before. I gather them in a Spotify playlist that I call “Aromantic Attitudes.” However, the end result is that it’s a pretty somber collection. I have songs like Of Monster and Me’s “Love Love Love,” which is pensive and subtly lonely (made worse by the fact that most people interpret it as a song about a woman who is “too emotionally damaged to return any love”).
Or I have songs like Mika’s “Overrated,” which is actually about a painful romantic love, but I appropriate it just for the line “love is overrated,” and Gabrielle Apsin’s “Please Don’t Say You Love Me” that I forcefully reinterpret as a situation where the narrator’s friend harbors unrequited love for her, when it’s actually about a requited love that’s moving too fast.
Or I have songs like Grace Vanderwall’s “Beautiful Thing,” a soft and slow song about her sister, and Jasmine Thompson’s “Old Friends,” which is about missing people the narrator had been close to platonically. Although both of these songs are very sweet, they’re very obviously not meant to be cheerful. It’s actually incredibly difficult to find upbeat songs about friendship, and it’s pretty disappointing.
((Now, some people would, here, be quick to point out Clean Bandit’s “Rather Be,” which I agree can be interpreted as entirely platonic despite the band’s description of it as “a love song about being completely content with the person that you’re with.” However, there’s just something about the song that… puts me on edge? I’ve yet to meet anyone who agrees with me, but I find it somehow… unsettling… and it makes me feel anxious, so I don’t personally categorize it as an upbeat song, ahaha))
So, “Never Been In Love”? It’s a novelty. I adore how it’s explicitly states how romance isn’t a priority or even a necessity in everyone’s lives, and it does it in such a positive way. It’s upbeat. You can dance to it. It’s both a proclamation and, honestly, a little bit of a celebration, and I appreciate it more than I initially realized. It’s the most feelgood song on my entire playlist.
I think the world could use some more songs that emphasize how romance isn’t the most important thing in some people’s lives. There are enough songs glorifying romance. Maybe if there are a few more songs like this one, I’ll be able to enjoy pop music more. Maybe it could even inject some fresh themes and perspectives into the industry, revitalize it – one can only hope.
Edit: I CAN’T BELIEVE IT’S BLACK DAY AND I FORGOT AND DIDN’T INCORPORATE IT INTO THE MAIN BODY OF THE POST! NOW IT’S TOO LATE!!! I’M TOO LAZY!!!
For those of you who don’t know, in South Korea, we have a fun little holiday that falls on the 14th of every month. The most popular three are Valentine’s Day, White Day, and Black Day, which falls on February, March, and April 14th respectively.
In Korea, girls are supposed to give chocolates on Valentine’s Day, and boys are supposed to give reciprocal gifts on White Day – though, I think there’s no harm in making it gender neutral / all-inclusive, as long as we keep the give-and-reciprocate relationship between the two holidays.
And then, people who did not receive gifts on either of the days get Black Day. The holiday is exclusively for single people, and it’s called Black Day because it expects single people to wear black, eat black-colored food (typically black-bean noodles, called jjajangmyeon), and commiserate. Just another example of how commercialism expects romance to be something people really, really want in their lives.
However, for me, Black Day had always been a chance to celebrate my singleness. I’ve yet to have the chance, but I’ve always wanted to go out with all my single friends on Black Day, eat jjajangmyeon, and make fun of the over-emphasis of romance in our culture. God, I’m craving some right now.
But yeah, I suppose it’s a happy coincidence that this post settles on Black Day. I suppose I’ll just have to consider this my personal little celebration ❤