Music opinion

What really happens when you listen to Happy for 24 Hours

Once I reached the eight-hour mark, there was no beginning or end to the song anymore.

There comes a time in every music fan’s when they get tired of a song. It’s the most tragic situation in the world. Ever. When you love a song so much, you listen to it on repeat to the point that the song has rented out space in your hippocampus. Then, as a blessing and a curse, the song that you love so much begins to turn on you as you get sick of the same beats and lyrics that you loved before. In an instant, you can’t listen to your favorite song with getting nauseous or disgusted at the sound of it.

This has been an epidemic that has sprung up in the past 10 years due to the uptick of the use of streaming sites. The explosion of Spotify, Apple Music, and Tidal have allowed unlimited usage and playbacks of our favorite songs. We make the choice to bludgeon our eardrums with our favorite records. We are given the power of music gods with the ability to play whatever we want, whenever we want, and in turn we become sick of the most popular songs. Everyone has a story about hating a particular track. My best friend used to freak out whenever “Bodak Yellow” would come on. Now, if she hears the introduction to the Cardi B joint, she will close the entire app to cleanse her system. She ran the track into the ground and now she can no longer listen to it recreationally. My teammate from high school is unable to hear “Hotline Bling” without wanting to rip out the subwoofers in his car (subsequently, I will periodically send him the song to drive him crazy). It’s the price we pay for unlimited plays.

Maybe, I’m being a tad disingenuous about this topic, because I’ve never actually gotten tired of a song. There’s never been a point to where I said, “NO MORE! I CAN’T LISTEN TO HOOKED ON A FEELING ONE MORE TIME!” That just hasn’t been me. I’ve been able to endlessly listen to my favorite songs on repeat without fatigue, basically turning me into an all-powerful musical being. I wanted to see if I could understand what you mere mortals feel when you listen to a song over and over again. So, I decided to see if I could grow tired of one of the most polarizing and repetitive songs in recent history, “Happy” by Pharrell Williams.

To me, “Happy” should rank up there with the end of every Rocky movie and getting a girl’s number in terms of positivity. For four minutes, Pharrell and a chorus of heavenly voices describe the feeling of happiness in wondrous elation. For about half of the people in the world, it signals a time to get up and dance and celebrate one of the best feelings of in the world. For the other half, it spells the beginning on Judgement Day, with the repetitive chorus and positivity ushering in the Apocalypse. Detractors of the song point to its overplaying and oversimplification as its biggest problems. They believe that it has been run into the ground and will instantly the lament the day they were blessed with hearing the moment it switches on. I didn’t really know what side of this spectrum I fell on. So, naturally, I listened to “Happy” for 24 straight hours to fully understand the effect that overplaying the song would have on me.

From the offset, I remembered what I loved most about the song. It contains the classic Pharrell 4-count, the signature beat entrance that announces a Pharrell produced track. As the count ends, quick, constantly-paced drums set the song off and gets it running. The drums, backed with a lovely chorus of background singers, remind me of an old Schoolhouse Rock song, giving me a sense of nostalgia that I didn’t know that I could reach. The song could have been made acapella, with just the background vocals to bolster it like a southern Baptist choir. All of these elements allow Pharrell to go in and deliver a four-minute dedication to the feeling of happiness. He’s happy, it’s as simple as that. I never understood why this song got so much flack. Maybe it’s the rampant cynicism that has plagued our society. Maybe people just don’t like Pharrell. I just know that it’s a fun, innocent song about the joys of just being happy.

But anyway, I’m an hour into my happiness barrage and I’m nowhere near tired of it. I continue to dance to it and hum along as fresh as I did in the beginning (side note: I was listening to it by watching the 24 hours of Happy music video). It continued to be a refreshing break from the negativity that usually pollutes the atmosphere. As I move through the video, I get lost in the pure euphoria that is displayed through the video. I begin to see the words of Pharrell represented by free form elation that is shown on screen. This extra motivation pushes me past the four-hour mark.

Once I reached the eight-hour mark, there was no beginning or end to the song anymore. The only way that I would know the time was by shifting my senses towards the digital clock on my computer screen. Every hour began to feel like an entire song, a stitched together blanket of rhythmic claps and drum beats. By hour 15, I began to disconnect from reality. I soon rose above the mundane, negative lifestyle all of you mortals were living. I joined Pharrell on his ageless reality plane, where he obviously operates because he’s looked exactly the same since 1996. It was clear that the song was more powerful than could be imagined, as my entire thought process operated more like a Care Bears episode than a real human brain. But in an instant, it was gone. My 24 hours of Happy had ended.

Basically, the feeling that I felt was just pure immersion. In order to never get tired of a song, you have to fully throw yourself into it. I bought into the idea of Happy, and therefore never got tired of it. Due to our augmented attention spans, we can no longer pay attention to a song for long periods of time, so we quickly grow tired and annoyed of it. But if you really try, it’s not at all impossible to never tire of a track. So, embrace the happiness and just try to really involve yourself into the track. Then you can grow old with the track without it ever growing old to you.

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