Having been a bit preoccupied with settling into my year abroad for the last few weeks, I was looking forward to catching up with the charts and finding a wonderfully original, new number-one single waiting to be reviewed. Silly me, I forgot that nowadays, any song that makes it to the top ain’t ever getting older.
That being said, The Chainsmokers and Halsey’s Closer is far more deserving of four weeks at the number one spot than any of its recent predecessors. It fulfils so many supposed prerequisites of current pop music - it is catchy (the refrain was stuck in my head for hours after one listen), it has a feel-good vibe with an electronic dance instrumental segment, it has a line everyone can scream along with, over and over again. Somehow all of these factors seem to come together a little more cohesively in this track than in Cold Water or One Dance. However, what I found more interesting about Closer was, as highlighted by Josh Jewell last week, the lyrics. Certain lines like, “play that Blink-182 song” and “that mattress that you stole from your roommate back in Boulder” are wonderful in their details, and give the song some actual substance, and even hope that there was some thought given to the story behind the track, that there was a reason behind writing it other than commercial success.
Unfortunately, while there was definitely more effort put into this song, I’d say the lyrics still leave a lot to be desired. Because of course, to become a chart-topper, the lyrics can’t just be about something unusual like, as Josh put it, “the sentiment of the millions of unemployed young Americans”, or even be entirely original with specifics, like the examples mentioned above. No, number one singles need cheesy, clichéd lines, they need to be about sex and desire, they need to make the listener feel young and free. The numerous lyricists of this song sadly complied to all of the above criteria with phrases like “baby pull me closer”, not to mention the sugary, overused “we ain’t ever getting older”. What they ended up with was a just-above-average chart-topper, which is not nearly as good as it could have been with a little less effort to conform to the stereotype of pop music.
Every time I have written this column, without fail, I have grumbled about the song on the second position in the charts not being at the top, and this week is no exception. James Arthur’s Say You Won’t Let Go, much like Closer, also conveys a love story, but in my opinion, with its innovative storytelling lyrics and simple acoustic performance, does it a little better. Bieber’s Let Me Love You in third place is bland and not too memorable. In the bottom half, Sia’s The Greatest is an enjoyable listen, but Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj’s Side By Side, and Calvin Harris’s My Way are both incredibly weak performances.
If I try and be optimistic about the future of pop music, I can probably say that Closer is an improvement, and we can look forward to even better quality chart-toppers in the near future. But that doesn’t sound quite right. So for now, I’ll just hope that their reign at the top is almost over, so we have a new, characterless track to criticise next week.