The other day, I stumbled upon a most brilliant piece of satire: The Chainsmokers’ new single “#SELFIE (out now on typically straight-faced Dim Mak Records). Every single element of the track scoffs at what we’ve taken to be the norm nowadays in the #PLUR region of the musical map, and it does so exquisitely. The satire is so prevalent, in fact, that you’d be hard-pressed to find a single part of “#SELFIE” which doesn’t poke fun at something. The vocal sample is clearly the focal point of this satire – an extended cut from the voice of a woman, most likely drunk and wearing a shirt that says “EAT SLEEP EDM” or “KEEP CALM AND RAVE ON,” as she lauds the hedonistic life of sleazy guys, Instagram filters, Internet stars/models, and clubbin’ in America in the year 2014 (sample anti-poetic gem: “Did you see her? She’s so short, and her dress is so tacky. Who wears cheetah?). And, of course, at the song’s climax, she delivers the clincher, everything The Chainsmokers take to be wrong with today’s scene distilled into five beautiful words: “Let me take a selfie.”
Beyond that wonderful verbal commentary, though, lies an ocean of mouthwatering deceit. Take the song itself, for example: it’s as generic as they come, with two low-register notes repeated over and over again pre-drop and the exact same synth texture post-drop, the standard snare/clap doubling over and over again until a drop that can only be described as “#EPIC,” and repetitive, grating 4×4 kicks and air-raid sirens to match. It’s so characteristic of the whole despicable lack of creativity in the EDM mass market, and for that it’s the perfect production job for such a dazzlingly satirical song. The music video adds greatly to the effect: live-concert footage, one of the DJs (I assume) in The Chainsmokers (wearing a pointedly ironic “GO FUCK YOUR #SELFIE” T-shirt) asking the uncultured, unassuming crowd to participate in the video, and oodles of the eponymous photographic style featuring culpable producers and fans alike.
What’s amazing about the whole thing is how lost people across the world have become in the song. “We were LOLing when we saw the…video,” raves Los Angeles radio station Amp 97.1. “One of the biggest festival anthems for this upcoming season,” exclaims perpetually misguided EDM blog ThisSongisSick.com. “A-list” DJs all over are rejoicing in the song, unable to see The Chainsmokers wryly hiding their grins behind their MacBooks. The unironic dissemination of the song demonstrates Jonathan Swift’s words from hundreds of years before Instagram even existed (imagine that!): “Satire is a sort of glass wherein beholders do generally discover everybody’s face but their own; which is the chief reason for that kind reception it meets with in the world, and that so very few are offended with it.” The Chainsmokers fully embody this mantra, and they’ve impressively managed to monetize their ostensible disgust with the world of watered-down pop house.
Unless, of course, #SELFIE is ignorantly and imprudently honest, but given how over-the-top the song goes that situation doesn’t seem very likely.
You can marvel at the brilliant piece of art below: