We all know the trickery of attraction. If music is a universal language, surely there’s a song that celebrates the passionate exuberance slash terror of a first crush. It can be cringe-worthy when the object of affection isn’t a willing participant. The emotional basket-case in all of us swears: “I don’t know what he or she did to me; I’ve changed who I am just because we’re together.” The “being into you” story—-as I call it—is so redundant; it’s a wonder we need it like amniotic fluid to a starved fetus. Anyone remember 1992’s I’m so into You by R&B group SWV? Yes, even they knew what the first spill into affection overload felt like.
Tamia sang just six years later: “I really like what you done to me. I can’t really explain it, I’m so into you.” You guessed it. The song is called “So into You”.
I think song ideas then were far better than the sample-driven crap we burst our ear drums with today. Did you know that the original version Tamia’s song contained a beautiful piano intro? The state of “into you” hasn’t died. The song list just keeps getting longer. It’s so long that the line between what we feel and what actually happens is blurred. In 2011, two female artists used that “so into you” idea: Jennifer Lopez and Ledisi. JLo says that her guy is a love controller that she can’t get over. Ledisi says he’s like chocolate cake and Patron on ice.
We like familiarity when we name our feelings and music producers have caught on.
Let’s compare The Chainsmokers’s “Closer” to Kid Ink and Ty Dolla Sign’s “F With You”
I’m prepared for people to be uneasy because I’m comparing and Urban Contemporary song with an Electronic Pop Song. The first song has bludgeoned us over the head for at least a year or two, while the latter is just a few months old.
The Chainsmokers “want you closer in a Land Rover”. They ground the song by drudging up a four year broken-up relationship that supposedly still longs for itself. There are random sentimental signposts like a Blink 182 track, and stolen mattress from an old roommate in Boulder, Colorado. They even bring up a massively expensive car. The Chainsmokers say their song is really about the remembered regret felt from having desperate relations with a person that should have been long forgotten. But do the lyrics really SAY all that. Not completely, The production has syrupy a F-minor scale that just sounds more cheesy and pedestrian than sorrowful and longing. There’s a rumor that the melody is taken from another artist. Visit Genius.com to find out more about that. I just find it hard to believe that she was that gorgeous after 4 years. I think you were just too drunk to care.
F With You uses an old song to try and create a new message. Instead of longing to share a love relationship. Kid Ink and Ty Dolla Sign make a song about traveling, hanging out and twerking. Gone are the romantic feelings that made the first song unforgettable. I just long to F* with you and “drink Bacardi and zoom around in the rari'”
They both re-imagine the same story. I’m so into you and I don’t know what to do.
Kid Ink and his partner are into hanging out again. There’s longing there. The Chainsmokers are into feeling sorry about a relationship that was over four years and they just need therapy and maybe some prayer.
There are two goals in selling this kind of music: One, create sentimentality and longing where there is none. Two, sell a slick beat and convince the audience that whoever made the track is a musical genius.
And that my friends, is why I’m an English student.
English informs, entertains, and persuades. From the satire of American Dad and Family Guy to the speech of American Presidents, language always has a broader message. Songs are made of words. Words always matter.
There’s nothing wrong with having fun and dancing to the beat, but music producers are not our educators. A naïve idiot has no problem confusing J Lo and Ledisi with the mundane foolery of The Chainsmokers, It’s just music, after all.
Music executives don’t just sell songs they sell ideas. If we look at the “I’m So Into You” idea again, we can easily conclude that people aren’t going to be interested in analyzing how language works inside of art. We, humans are only interested in what inspires us, and often we don’t give second thoughts to what something inspires to do. Stay Woke. Don’t let that language catch you sleeping.