First off, sorry that I haven’t been active in a while. I got an actual job with actual working hours, and while that doesn’t destroy my writing time, it does make it the last thing on my mind after a day’s work. I was also a bit embarrassed that I didn’t dig into 2013 music as nicely as my peers. This bummed me out for a little bit, as when I don’t write on a regular basis, I tend to feel like I’m sort of wasting away all the stuff I did when I was younger. It’s silly, but I attach so much to writing and to chronicling my thoughts on music. It’s the old fashioned paradox of burnout, namely that you feel too numb to care about what you love until something suddenly forces it back to you in a big way.
With that said, I don’t know if I’ve felt so pumped by a single in a long time. I mean, I guess 2013 had its fair share of fascinating singles, but none of them really took to feeling like a true motivational anthem or really even something filled with joy. I guess we could argue Pharrell’s single “Happy,” which was damn good and quite fun. Yet I’m almost convinced that song is trying very hard to seem happy and not really getting what it means to actually be happy. More importantly, there was a void of awesome songs about bragging. “Blurred Lines” is a terrible example of bragging, by the way, and since it was the most successful song of the year, I’m using it as this terrible example. Because while all these traits seem so disparate from one another, there’s an earnest kitsch to a song that does bragging right.
And for that, I guess I never should’ve doubted Aloe Blacc.
Above is the link to a commercial from the suddenly absurdly popular Beats by Dre. It frames NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick in a mostly generic situation, namely if he can handle the pressure of playoffs. Don’t worry about any of that. What I enjoy about this ad comes about a minute in the video, when Aloe Blacc’s song “The Man” plays in the background while Kaepernick slowly walks through a sort of absurdist football fan hellscape. There’s people that seconds ago caused property damage and the like (and somehow aren’t creating a savage mob around the rival QB they’re throwing stuff at) and all of them are silent, only the proclamations that Aloe Blacc is, in fact, the man.
This all has a way of sneaking into your head. And I didn’t even know I was susceptible to this anymore. I credit it all to Aloe Blacc himself as to why the following sounds like the greatest thing I’ve ever heard right now:
“Girl you can tell everybody
Yeah you can tell everybody
Go ahead and tell everybody
I’m the man I’m the man I’m the man
I believe every lie that I ever told
Paid for every heart that I ever stole
I played my cards and I didn’t fold
Well it ain’t that hard when you got soul
(This is my world)
Somewhere I heard that life is a test
I been though the worst but still I give my best
God made my mold different from the rest
Then he broke that mold so I know I’m blessed
(This is my world)”
This is all pure bragging taken to absurd Kanye levels. And it completely works. Aloe Blacc is best known for singing the hook on Avicii’s worldwide hit “Wake Me Up,” which is also known as a song exclusively loved by 16 year old younger sisters across America. And yet he’s almost hidden in a sense. This is so silly to imagine Aloe Blacc really being “the man.” But holy shit does he sell it. He’s not being abrasive. He’s not so vain to mention rich people things. He’s just earnest. I guess that makes you “the man.” And for that, I thank Aloe Blacc for the earworm that brings me back in like a coke dealer with a fresh line or something less illicit.