I’ve lost touch with what’s going on in music today, and I hate that. For most of my life I’ve been lucky enough to have cool friends who put me on to notable new music, music that’s slightly edgy, slinky, groovy, hypnotic, grungy, or otherwise interesting. Usually this is music that critics like and that stays just this side of mainstream—keeping it cool.
As an example, check out this video by Gomez: a great band I listened to a lot in the 90s.
But I’m not hanging out with cool friends at the moment. I’m hanging out with Oliver and sometimes his most excellent nanny, Julie, while Craig works upstairs (maybe listening to music, but mostly just slaving away on income generation). Julie is a Filipina, and something I’ve noticed about South Pacific cultures is that love songs are massively popular. Ballads. Stuff that we consider schlocky or cheesy here—stuff whose symbolic queen is Celine Dion or perhaps Whitney Houston in her heyday.
Anyway, this generalization aside, Julie’s MP3 player is Oliver’s favourite thing in the entire world, surpassing even my cell phone (which no longer really works because he’s goobed it so thoroughly). And on Julie’s player is some of the most exemplary cheese of all time: Bonnie Raitt’s Total Eclipse of the Heart, Bryan Adams’ Heaven, Air Supply’s I’m All Out of Love, Faith Hill’s Breathe, and yes, Houston’s I Will Always Love You and Dion’s My Heart Will Go On.
Oliver is WAY into this music. He sings terribly to it and rocks back and forth on the floor staring down intensely at the player he keeps possessively on his lap. He cries when we try to take it away from him, so the player is kind of a fixture in our livingroom.
Mostly I’m upstairs when it’s on, but today it had been left playing while I was downstairs cooking while Oliver napped and Julie was cleaned in another room. As I soaked lentils, chopped leeks, and boiled cardamom and cinnamon, I listened to the syrupy playlist.
And sang my heart out.
And knew every word.
And felt my heart expand and my spirit soar.
By the time my soups were finished, I was in a fantastic mood. There’s something to be said for abandoning cool.