I’ve bought nothing to say
I’ve bought nothing to say…
…We may drag it out however that’s for different bands to do.
That’s how the Strokes parodied the state of pop music of their 2006 track “Ask Me Anything.” It’s straightforward to agree with their evaluation, which ages properly with each passing Chainsmokers’ album. Pop musicians—at the very least the High 40 hit producers—concentrate on lyrical tendencies which broaden their industrial attraction whereas eschewing the power to make important statements. There are exceptions, in fact. However after they do say one thing significant, it’s usually unintended or ironic.
However earlier than Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, or One Course, there was a bunch that exceeded all others in its capacity to say nothing. Now lengthy forgotten, their one blip of common success was as wonderful because it was unbelievable. Twenty years in the past, the Italian electro-dance-pop trio Eiffel 65 dominated the airwaves with their inexplicable hit “Blue (Da Ba Dee).”
And maybe that’s what Eiffel 65 is wrestling with—how know-how erases the road between what’s actual and what’s fantasy.Overseas sounding and pushed by heavy synth and piano, “Blue” topped the charts all over the world, whereas bagging the #2 spot on the US High 40. Most of us will instantly bear in mind the tune, and reference it with different EDM hits of the time (like Darude’s “Sandstorm” or ATC’s “All Around the World”). Much less comprehensible than the musicality of “Blue” was its lyrical composition. It’s, in fact, a “story about a little blue guy that lives in a blue world” whose each possession is dominated by the colour blue. Making no try to explicate the verses additional, Eiffel 65 entrance man Jeffrey Jey dives into catchy however meaningless refrain which makes use of a mix of the phrase “blue” and the syllables “da,” “ba,” “dee,” and “dye.” It got here as no shock when Rolling Stone named “Blue” the 14th most annoying track of all time, just under “Cotton-Eyed Joe.”
However even with all its flaws, “Blue” and its equally vacuous album Europop shouldn’t be consigned to the dustbin of pop music historical past. The album does carry a sure musical attraction (it went multi-platinum after all). And it truly consists of many trendy musical tropes earlier than their time (drum machines, extreme synth, autotune, and even a rap solo). However Europop ought to be remembered extra for what it doesn’t say than what it does. For in saying nothing, Eiffel 65 truly says one thing. Or, to paraphrase music critic Winnie the Pooh, generally one of the best of one thing comes from nothing. Located in context, “Blue” and Europop inform the story of a society gone mad with know-how, and this story ends in unhappiness and meaninglessness. Eiffel 65 had been prophets of solipsism, and twenty years on, their prophecies have been devastatingly correct.
Flip On, Tune In, Drop Out
Europop is an album about know-how, and “Blue” is a track about what know-how does to us. The band would explicitly deny this interpretation. Within the current Vice particular commemorating the track’s twentieth anniversary (warning: specific language), they state that the track is actually concerning the coloration blue and had been amazed when completely different cultures started to reinterpret it (People thought it was about despair; Germans thought it was about intoxication). However the proof, significantly the album’s logical group, seems to contradict instantly this assertion.
The album is in reality an exploration of the technological advances within the late ’90s. Europop was launched in 1999, on the verge of the second millennium. The Web was on the rise. Amazon had simply begun increasing past books, and the Y2K bug was looming. It was a time when know-how was simply starting to make issues completely different. And “Blue,” with its computerized riffs, sounded completely different from nearly the entire main hits of 1999 (assume “Livin’ La Vida Loca,” “All Star,” or “No Scrubs”). Whereas EDM is ubiquitous these days, digital music was an oddity again then. The world wasn’t but saturated by computer systems.
Europop cashed in on this area of interest. Of the 12 songs on the album, between a 3rd and half are about tech. The opposite half are actually about nothing (“everyone is looking for the dub in this life / everybody just keeps on asking why why why?”). Of these which we will assume are about tech, some sound triumphant—“Europop” discusses the approaching tide of digital music—whereas others, like “Another Race,” are extra cautious, presumably warning us that’s know-how is alienating. At occasions it’s onerous to inform the place the band comes down on the rise of know-how. Maybe they themselves are not sure. “Silicon World” is a juvenile and effusive celebration of the brand new horizons the Web was giving to pornography (“All that I want is a silicon girl”). “Hyperlink” is way the identical. However “Living in a Bubble” exhibits some actual lyrical depth. Though not explicitly about know-how, it manages to ask questions on what’s actual and what’s illusory:
The bubble is a difficult factor
All filled with hype
And it’s not straightforward to attempt to see
The way in which that issues are.
And maybe that’s what Eiffel 65 is wrestling with—how know-how erases the road between what’s actual and what’s fantasy. But when that’s what they’re doing, then their answer is jarring. As Europop progresses, it waxes right into a fever pitch of fanatical devotion to the Web. It concludes with the trio of “Europop,” “Silicon World,” and “Hyperlink,” all unfettered celebrations of know-how, pornography, and the Web. This was an age of adolescent optimism concerning the Web, and Eiffel 65 takes the lot: “Up, make us gods who shall go before us” (Exodus 32:1). Our consummation with know-how is full.
Or is it? If one fails to pay shut consideration to Europop (and, given the album’s high quality, that is straightforward to do), one may miss the way it truly ends. Bookending the album are two principally equivalent mixes of “Blue.” What’s important about that is the way it modifications the lyrical bravado. We go from exulting within the glories of the Web again to the earworm of whole blueness. One may simply clarify this ending on account of a poor album leaning to closely on a chart topper. Different albums do that type of factor. In that case, then Europop is meaningless and chaotic drivel—going from a lecture concerning the evils of capitalism (“Too Much of Heaven”) to an commercial for Sony (“My Console”) after which into blue nothingness.
The opposite possibility is to learn “Blue” with the English idioms that it carries. When one does so, it turns into apparent that the track is about despair. Jey, a Brooklyn native fluent in English, would have recognized that blue in English, and particularly in America, means to be down and out. To say “I’m blue” is to say “I’m sad.” When Jey states that “blue are the feelings that live inside me,” it’s onerous to see that which means something aside from unhappiness. And the truth that every part he sees is blue signifies that unhappiness colours his notion.
If Eiffel 65 educate us something, it’s this: don’t drink the draught of know-how all the best way down.However why is he blue? The primary verse offers a easy reply: as a result of he ain’t bought no person to pay attention. This logic of Europop is belabored however clear. Expertise results in social isolation which results in unhappiness and despair. As we grow to be extra engrossed with what we will do electronically, we grow to be much less and fewer linked with others, and finally much less linked to ourselves. Jaded unhappiness is all that’s left. If that is how we’re to grasp “Blue,” then Europop instantly is sensible. It’s no celebration of the Web, however a forewarning about how gorging on know-how isolates, oppresses, and destroys. For in looking for out all of our wishes on-line, we find yourself damaged. And if that’s so, it’s higher to say nothing than something in any respect. Blue da ba dee da ba dye.
That the album got here out in 1999, when the Web was a nascent factor, is much more exceptional. We now know that Web utilization and despair are intertwined. However to foretell that development a long time earlier than the current exhibits actual perception. And to attach know-how, despair, and social isolation verges on prophetic. Europop was an unheeded warning about technologically induced solipsism. We didn’t pay attention.
Eiffel 65 supply no answer to the dilemma they current, nor may they. A part of the issue with Europop is that it’s tough to take critically. Does it focus on necessary issues? Sure. Does it achieve this utilizing an inexplicably ridiculous music video? Additionally sure. So transitioning from this into issues of actual gravity can really feel disingenuous.
However as foolish because the album is, the issue it presents is actual. There isn’t any lack of understanding about how know-how is eroding our social connections, and so there isn’t any finish of options. Some cry for extra remedy; others need us to unplug utterly; and some wish to remedy the issue by means of the issue (assume the rise of on-line communities like gaming clans, Web excessive colleges, and even live-streamed church).
There may be one other method: the best way of localized communities. That is primarily what obsessive know-how utilization threatens. Fifty years in the past, nearly each human exercise concerned spending time with folks. Now, with an countless provide of video games, info, social media posts, and porn at our fingertips, we’re spending much less time with others than earlier than. Or we assume that spending time on-line is spending time with others.
However participating in actual localized communities is the antidote. Not solely does it promote our well being, however it is usually God’s design for our lives. And the primary method He has offered for that is continuous, embodied native church participation (Hebrews 10:25). Reference to a neighborhood physique of believers begins to undo the poison we’ve imbibed on-line. Will we really feel lonely? God’s persons are there. Do we’d like which means, reproof, and instruction? The preached phrase offers it. Do we have to really feel one thing actual? We sing to the Lord. Being bodily grounded and compelled to make connections with others slowly begins to wake us up from our know-how induced dream. And it offers us the Sabbath relaxation and sense of self we so desperately want.
After all, church participation received’t instantly remedy our isolation, neither is it a remedy for medical despair. However it goes a great distance in direction of re-situating us as created beings in God’s bodily world by giving us actual and constant group, not the faux model peddled on-line. It is going to be tempting, as know-how turns into increasingly ubiquitous for even this final bastion to cede floor to the unreal. A part of this might be vital as a way to attain the tradition, however the trick might be to keep away from giving a lot that church turns into a know-how showcase moderately than a spot of embodied worship. And if Eiffel 65 educate us something, it’s this: don’t drink the draught of know-how all the best way down.
 I’m grateful to my good friend Andrew Barber for this perception.