I don’t get Drake. He’s never seemed that dynamic to me, nor has he ever seemed particularly weighed down by personality. My sisters seem to fancy him, though I don’t know why. I just don’t get him.
A lot of the time, he sounds monotone and uncaring to me. The Motto and Headlines are particularly bad examples of this, with Headlines’ chorus in particular sounding like he’s just mumbling his way through it because he’s got better things to do. Elsewhere you have Started from the Bottom which misses out the majority of it’s plot and feels incomplete as a result, plus songs like Hold On, We’re Going Home which are just unpleasant on a sexual politics level.* I think I’m still to even hear a song of his that sounds finished to me. Why do people like him? I don’t know.
It should thus be no surprise that I like this song infinitely more when Drake isn’t rapping over it. It starts with some really interesting instrumentation, coupled with an ethereal performance by Sample-of-the-Week Kyla – then all this gets thrown away for a single drum beat stuck over Drake tiredly mumbling about something.
This wouldn’t be too bad if the dour tone was somehow justified. The song is basically about how much Drake loves someone and how much strength their relationship (and booze) gives him during his hard, tiring life. This is not an uncommon topic at the least but other attempts at the message have at least tried to sound happy or empowered, working via the idea that a song about something positive should sound positive. Instead, One Dance seems to be actively aping Cheerleader by OMI: both have Afro-Caribbean inspired music; both are implied to be set in clubs; both are about how much strength the narrators derive from their loves; both sound fucking miserable; and neither of them have music which matches their lyrics. Drake’s song is at least more justifiably tired that OMI’s is – a subtext in a lot of Drake’s songs is how tiring existence is, meaning that even the most positive things in his works need to ultimately be read as lesser evils trying to make existence better and failing – but there is just a massive disconnect in regards to what I’m hearing and what I’m supposed to be feeling.
Maybe it is this disconnect which both songs are actually about. I’ve talked quite a few times about Deconstructionist Post-Club Songs: songs designed to deconstruct club music and reveal how hollow and fragile the form is. These songs appear to be the opposite though: in both, love is the hollow lie and the music is the only thing that’s real. We’re frequently told that romance is necessary for a happy, fulfilling life; yet these songs feature characters who are so beaten by life that not even their best romances can manage to lighten them up; as much, romance is deconstructed and shown to be as hollow a lie as club music is. So what is left for us? Where do we go from here?
Alas, if this type of music has a flaw, it’s that it never answers those questions; hence why reconstructionist music is more popular in the charts, people generally preferring flawed answers to complete mysteries. And, though I’m a great supporter of deconstructionist music, this problem does plague this song: ultimately, it just sounds a bit miserable without having much of a point. What are people actually getting out of this song, especially considering how many other tracks at the moment are just like it? I don’t get it.
Am I missing something? I must be. If you know what, please let me know in the comments; I’m genuinely all ears on this one. Otherwise, I’m just stuck in the dark (apparently much like Drake’s work itself).
* The one exception is Hotline Bling, which I really like. Drake sings it terribly, the music is little more than musak, the lyrics are problematic – yet combine all of these features together and they somehow end up feeding into each other, producing an almost Biz Markie level of wrongness which feels oh so right. The result is a nicely off-putting track that is highly interesting to listen to; I love it.