Previously on The Written Tevs: Pop music has moved away from being predomeninately Club Music to being what I refer to as “Pop-Club Music”, characterised by dour men whining against minimal synth/acoustic guitar accompaniment while women run around club shouting about sex.
And now back to our scheduled program:
Mike Posner has written a Post-Club song. Mike Posner. Mike Posner has a Post-Club song.
Mike Posner is one of those artists who’s regularly in the charts, yet has never produced a single note that anyone’s ever remembered. I promise you, most of the people who listen to this song on the radio will not know who sung it and will never realise they’ve heard another song by him. The reason for this is that the guy’s a pop culture chameleon: he writes whatever’s popular at the time in an actively inoffensive way, thus ensuring that a) unadventurous trend followers will buy his work in their millions and b) no-one will ever recognise the work as his because it’s lack of identifying features will allow it to disappear into the back of whatever party playlist it eventually becomes part of.
You can see this if you compare his biggest hit – Cooler Than Me – and his latest song – I Took A Pill in Ibiza – to the other songs that were popular when they were released. Cooler Than Me was released in the second half of the Club Age of Pop and had techno instrumentals, a cocky vocal delivery and an entitled set of lyrics which befitted pop’s self-aggrandising hedonistic nightclub ideology of the time. Now though, things have changed and so Mike Posner’s last hit is an underwritten acoustic whinge lamenting his wasted days clubbing in Ibiza (thus making this song pretty much a straight rejection of the ideology underlying every other song he’s released for a decade now).
Even with his inoffensive blandness though, Mike Posner still manages to be infuriating because if he does have a personality, then it’s one of a whiny self-involved douche. This is particularly true for Cooler Than Me which is primarily composed of Posner moaning about a girl at a party who won’t sleep with him because she thinks she’s “cooler than me”. The only problem is that, by the lyrics own admission, the woman is someone who’s enjoying herself and has tons of interest from several other men while Posner is sat in the corner of the room, moaning to himself about how he’s not getting any. She’s totally cooler than him. She’s completely in the right. If I was that woman, I wouldn’t sleep with Mike Posner either.
This sense of sneering that Posner cultivates feeds into I Took a Pill in Ibiza too. When he mournfully sings “I’m living out in LA / I drive a sports car just to prove / I’m a real big baller cause I made a million dollars / And I spend it on girls and shoes”, it’s meant to be an ironic counterpoint which takes the hedonistic images of club music and turns them into empty icons of defeat; but to me it just sounds like he’s still bragging about these things, only he’s doing it in a way that allows him to pretend he feels sad about it all. “Oh I live in a nice house with a manicured lawn and meet my fans in the streets and drive nice cars and have lots of money; it’s horrible.” Bite me. It’s a brag song pretending to be the opposite; I don’t believe in it.
Maybe I’m being unfair on the song though. Indeed, I’m almost definitely being unfair on the song. It does raise the very good point that a life of fame isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be, and the idea of making it an acoustic song with subverted club lyrics is very clever, if somewhat zeitgeisty. And a world in which even the most uninspired of artists are paying lip-service to Post-Club values is a better world than one where they’re not. All in all-
Wait, the song that actually hit No. 1 is the SeeB remix of I Took a Pill in Ibiza?
THE CURRENT UK NO. 1 IS A CLUB REMIX OF A SONG CRITICISING CLUB MUSIC?!?
Why would you even remix such a song? Posner’s original lyrics took club tropes and manipulated them to satirical effect; to then revert these lyrics back into a traditional club song just misses the damn point. I don’t believe Mike Posner’s original song but I can at least respect what it’s doing; this remix is less than pointless, it actively refutes it’s own meaning.
That said, I actually quite like the remixes’ sound: it has this nice half-club/half-ambient sound which reminds me of Lost Frequencies’ Are You With Me and improves quite a bit of the bland acoustic stylings of the original. It’s also much nicer to listen to than contemporaries such as Stitches (whose music is almost non-existent) and Lukas Graham (who’s still too hokey for my tastes). It still doesn’t need to exist though and doesn’t sound good enough to make up for that fact.
So yeah, all versions of this song just suck. In the case of the original, it’s mostly Mike Posner: no matter what the lyrics say, it’s still the voice from Bow Chicka Wow Wow telling me how hard his life is. In case of the remix, I don’t even know why it exists, nevermind why it’s popular. Mike Posner, even when he’s basically alright, is still hard to like. I would say that I hope that this is the last I time I hear him but I know that it won’t be; I just need to wait for the next zeitgeist to come along.
What was I saying about Posner not being original?