It is the song of 2008 because it was good to listen to during the peak of the financial crisis. It is the song of 2008 because its sheer presence — not its subject, but its circulation — was both symptom and diagnosis of the situation. It is the song of 2008 mostly because the song in one form or another became improbably ubiquitous and then some, moving a million digital downloads, crossing demographics, reaching the bourgeois and rocking the boulevard. It wasn’t as popular in absolute numbers as any number of songs, but its relative popularity reverberated as a mysterious surplus. And that surplus, the condition of possibility for "Paper Planes" to exceed itself, is the surplus of 2008: a surplus of misery, of the awareness of misery, of the awareness of misery as an outcome of inevitable systemic fuckage, and of the dawning awareness that it must change. This is the moment of optimism is that otherwise dread-laced toomuchness wound sinuously through public space in a song whose hook was a semiautomatic and a cash register blent together into a single motion, the coordination of power that scales to every level — and who could decide if that sound was the corner or the world, Bun B and Rich Boy’s scrapey game or DFA's digitized assay of impersonal, imperial force? Both, duh — it was about how collusion, coercion, shake-ya-ass synchronization get solicited at every stratum, for better and mostly for worse.
Let’s call it hegemony funk.
Monday, January 12, 2009
M.I.A.'s great "Paper Planes" just came on the iPod (immediately after Captain Beefheart's "When It Blows Its Stacks"), reminding me of jane dark's great remarks (scroll way down) on why it was the song of the year, even though it was from 2007 (and jane wrote about the album, Kala, at length then, too). I don't write about music much anymore, but this was some good shit (and, incidentally, not unrelated to questions about life under neoliberalism and so on). This is only a small portion: