Music That Sparks Joy

I have been watching that Marie Kondo show on tidying up. Of course I have. Besides the first – deeply irritating – episode it’s really calming, unchallenging television; Queer Eye without a tragic backstory. A few years ago I had a job that made me so miserable I used to get home and be pretty much catatonic until I had to get up the next morning for another work day. Then I left that job for one I liked slightly better but had such a toxic staffing situation that it was honestly more of the same. Around that time, I stopped watching anything that wasn’t funny or soothing or both – mostly I stopped watching Game Of Thrones – and ever since my entertainment, with the exception of the darkly addictive You, has been what I would largely classify as “wholesome”. I only watch things that Spark Joy.

Last year, I got bogged down in the way I consumed music, so much so that I stopped writing about it because I was sick of being negative. I would scrabble around for effusively positive things to say about songs I actually felt wholly apathetic about and then worry people would hear how hollow the words were. Or I would convince myself I was into a song, play it twice, and never play it again. Then I over-compensated on the things I genuinely did love – Brockhampton, The 1975, The Aces – because my depth of enjoyment for what I was listening to was like, weirdly desperate? Not insincere, because I genuinely do love those acts (and more!) so much, but I felt like I had to reiterate it over and over again because I was being snippy and scathing about everything else. And worse, I came to realise, once I took a break and got some distance and perspective, I was really just being wildly paranoid and neurotic about the importance of my opinions – no one fucking cares! In the big churning ocean of content, my one little blog, every Friday morning, was a drop, that a modest amount of people drank up regularly, and was fairly inconsequential to the rhythm of the big music machine. What a load of fucking fuss over nothing.

The thing is, I do really value integrity. One of the reasons I started writing again, aside from being unemployed and time rich, was because I could never trust what I was reading, either from brands I respected or followers I love. Everyone has an agenda – myself included! – but I thought if I could at least put something down every week that reflected how I genuinely felt about the songs I was listening to, that wasn’t beholden to a pay check, engagement rates, or even really timeline clout, there was some value in putting in an hour or two each week. For the record.

But I don’t know… I lost the love for it, I guess. I have a theory that mid-to-decade-end music is turgid and derivative, and the 7th/8th years are the worst as everyone tries to squeeze what little is left from whatever trend is du jour before something fresh and exciting hits around the 9th or 10th year. Streaming has disrupted that, a little bit, timing-wise anyway, but in other ways it has compounded it. How many more polyphonic ringtone beats must I hear with a UK rapper hashtagging over the top? Or that same trap drum pattern? There are mush-mouthed female singer/songwriters and growly-voiced male guitarists pouring out the fucking arse of New Music Friday every week and somehow the most heard-it-before acts are the ones that find success and then the cycle repeats until we’re stuck in a never ending loop of pop music being fucking boring. I’m bored. I’m so bored!

I’m being negative again, oops. My long, meandering point is: in the same way I have only been watching happy television, you can apply Marie Kondo’s super effective decluttering method to cutting through the endless rush of new songs hitting your favoured DSP week on week, leaving you to enjoy only the songs that Spark Joy. I have been kind of doing this for a few years anyway – concurrent to the Spotify playlist I throw everything I feel like onto, I have always had a more permanent, and more listened to playlist for the year that lives in my iTunes, of all the songs I have paid actual British Sterling for. These are the songs I am invested in. The ones that really do Spark enough Joy that I want forever copies of them that are mine. I think going forward the future of this blog will be to promote only the songs I will pay money for, which may make updates a bit less regular or predictable, but it will make them more worth reading.


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