Saturday, 20 December 2008

borrowed & blue get happy

Happy music is treated with some suspicion by music fans. Dark is easy. It's EASY to do pain and sad and suffering because not only do people relate to it, they crave it. People don't want to be elevated from their day-to-day conditions, or if they do, it's only because they revel smugly in knowing that someone, somewhere on the end of their iPod headphones, has got it worse than them. Whenever 'happy music' is mentioned, sneered words like 'Christian' eventually follow (as if Christianity wasn't the most blatant pain-and-suffering-fetishising model ever).

I use happy music in the same as I use angry music: as a source of energy. I use it deliberately as a drug. To bring me up, to take me out of myself, to shoot my soul hard-and-fast out of my ribcage until it becomes something bat-winged and beautiful and something not like me.

In my teens and early twenties I had something approaching similar to what people blanket-term 'agoraphobia'. I found it hard to leave the house, integrate or hold conversations with people, partly what scared me was what I didn't know who I was when I was doing these things, and for a long time I could only get through it by a) pretending, being someone different and b) (and crucially) being drunk. Around that time I invented a mix CD which I used for a bit as a crutch to enable me to work through these things. When I walked down the street I'd blast it out very loud through my crappy CD player (much louder than iPods let you crank stuff these days). The opening track was the almighty 'Where Eagles Dare' by The Misfits, and the CD featured similarly sonically-invulnerable moments like Nine Inch Nails' 'Wish' or Dead Boys' 'Sonic Reducer', but the most effective tracks were actually tunes like 'I'm Alright (Theme from Caddyshack)' by Kenny Loggins. You can't walk down the street and listen to the theme from Caddyshack and not feel a thousand times better than you did when you left the house.

Despite being someone who - I'm told - doesn't look very happy most of the time, I have a natural bias towards happiness - which people are often quick equate with inanity or banality - in pop songs, and a bit of a distate for angst, which normally seems a bit crass, obvious or insincere in musical expression. Happy music makes me feel better about the world in the same way that bright colours and moulded plastic do. The only thing that worries me about my affinity for it, is the way that I pursue the most aggressive, bizarre extremes of the genre, and overdose on it in a way that makes the effect giddying and intoxicating. It can make you feel drunk and deranged. It'll make your head spin and you'll see stars.

For Christmas, I thought it would be fun to do a compilation of the most aggressively-happy songs borrowed & blue has put out so far. You probably won't like it.

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