That #Selfie Song–how it sounds, and a few thoughts on human capital
I’ll get back to that question later. For now, I want to stay focused on the music. First, it’s interesting how the refrain “but first, let me take a selfie” serves in place of the scream or silence or other sonic shock that precedes the drop. For example, in a lot of brosteppy songs, the drop is immediately preceded by some sort of distorted, disruptive vocal–”bangarang” in Skrillex’s “Bangarang,” “tsunami” in DVBBS’s “Tusanmi,” you get the idea. I like to think of that vocal disruption as analogous to the “shock” in shock capitalism: in the same way that a tsunami wipes out civilization and prepares it for redevelopment, the sonically distorted “tsunami” interrupts the flow of the song and prepares listeners to experience the reintroduction of order (the ‘hit’ on the next downbeat) as even more intensely pleasurable. The idea is that this apparent disruption isn’t actually disruptive–the shock is not an end, but a necessary first step. Why, then, would a girl taking a selfie be so (apparently, but not actually) disruptive? Why does the girl selfie need to seem like a disruption? Who benefits from–where’s the profit or surplus value in–the perception that girl selfies are disruptive?
So, that’s the song. I want to think more about the video, which I will probably do later this week. Briefly, I think the video, insofar as it is “about” pop music as social practice (in the art historical sense of ‘social practice’), is also about, both in its content and its form, the role of virality in the contemporary music industry. Might ‘virality’ be a way of framing or understanding the music industry as producing a type of posthuman capital? In other words, is “virality” something analogous to “human capital”? I dunno. Gotta think more about that. Watch this space.