Having little to do at the moment (and less money to do it with), the recent sunshine has been making me do a lot of thinking. One of my main preoccupations has been a typically pointless measure of short-term happiness. If that sounds, like, profound (man), don’t be fooled- my “investigtion” has so far progressed no further than asking myself whether I prefer waking up to nice weather or,uh, buying stuff. Sadly for my soul (but happily for the second-hand shopkeepers of West London), my muted responses seem to suggest the latter. In a way, I suppose, this is quite fortunate- the weather’s nearly always shit here and, for all its negative connotations, material acquisition can give you satisfaction even in the murkiest fathoms of February. Depressing though this may sound, even a very minor thrill is still a thrill, and contrary to the philosophy of Steely Dan, you can buy one pretty much anywhere. So far, so Warhol-lite, but stay with me- this is going somewhere, I promise. I picked up a pack of pickled onion Monster Munch in a Clerkenwell pub last night, and ripping open the packet launched forth a blast of fragrance a million times more evocative than any literary madeleine or perfect Summer’s afternoon on Hampstead Heath could ever be. While you’d have trouble comparing my pack of crisps with daffodils and verdant lawns in terms of freshness, the near-maniacal joy with which I savoured each of the notoriously malodorous potato snacks was happiness itself- in a foil bag.
This, in a roundabout way, leads me to Get Lucky, the new single by the gratifyingly weird French duo Daft Punk. Like most housebound losers of my generation, I’d been in a state of suspense ever since they uploaded the “trailer” for the song, an infectiously high-church Disco loop of rhythm guitar and bass that sounded exactly like Chic circa Rebels are We. My excitement was inflated yet further by hearing that not only did it sound precisely like Chic, it was Chic! For secular music geeks, the image of Nile Rodgers being coaxed out of bed by two men dressed as robots is basically the Second Coming, but with more flashing lights and a better soundtrack. Every morning, I checked for further news of the record, but bar a couple of characteristically look-at-us statements about unveiling the album at an Australian agricultural fair (no, seriously), none was forthcoming.
I read about it over my toast and Marmite yesterday morning, and practically snorted yeast extract from my ears. This was an event, and no mistake. I swallowed my anti-digital pride and immediately downloaded the track on iTunes. And then? Well…
For some people, purchase-power paradise is the crack and hiss of a freshly popped can of Coke or the rough/smooth cardboard surface of an Amazon package; for others, it’s that unmistakeable tang of new-car smell hitting the nasal passages. For me, though, there is nothing that can quite compare to the experience of walking really fast through Central London with a brand-new pop record blaring through my headphones on repeat. This was pure bliss. I marched from Earl’s Court to Soho grinning like a Happy Shopper logo on MDMA, bursting into song whenever I felt I could no longer keep the euphoria to myself.
If this makes me sound somewhat… unsound, allow me to qualify my testament; I’m a dedicated listener. I determine to wrench every ounce of satisfaction from an obvious future hit before it is robbed of its dignity by the sound editors of Changing Rooms and in-store supermarket radio. Few great pop songs can survive proper, genuine popularity- can anyone who’s ever suffered the Saturday night TV shitestorm of Paddy McGuiness’s Take Me Out ever listen to the once-bulletproof Franz Ferdinand single of the same name again? Or what about The Universal by Blur? Can anybody honestly claim it reminds you of anything other than those creepy British Gas adverts? Not I, my dears, not I.
But Daft Punk are different. Their singles- from Da Funk to Robot Rock via the certifiable perfection of One More Time and Aerodynamic- have a longevity and resistance to outside interference that is almost completely unique in modern pop music. They can withstand any amount of repeated listening, and if anything only reveal new depths with each play. If my demented walk through London yesterday is anything to go by, then Get Lucky– with its rare, non rape-y (and winningly banal) vocal contribution from Pharrell, its spacehopper bassline, its subtle but dominating drums and wonderfully stupid android backing vocals- isn’t going to break the continuity. Come on, oh arbiters of muzak mediocrity- do your worst.