Hotline Bling

As I wrote in my review of Courtney Barnett for The Rumpus last summer, I’m not really up on the new music, the hip things the kids are listening to these days. They ought, quite honestly, get off my lawn, if I had a lawn, which I don’t, as I’m part of a dying middle class that will likely never own a home or land. Anyways, to be fair, I wasn’t up on what was new when I was 16 either (and still became a Radiohead fan somehow) so it’s not like I’m doing anything new here in my early 30s. For the record, Matchbox 20 still seems lame to me, though some artists I used to dislike are better than others. When I was 16, it should be said, I was getting into Dylan and whatever stuff was already old at that point so really I’ve always been behind, always uninterested in what is being produced at the moment. This is not the case for poetry for some reason, where I do gravitate towards “new,” probably out of some concern for generally falling behind in an industry where I have never been the hippest guy around and probably won’t be as my career moves, dare I say it, “forward.”
I was behind, speaking of, on the fairly recent…whatever…about Drake’s Hotline Bling video. I don’t know Drake. I mean, I know of Drake, in that I had heard of him before, but I don’t know his music. I’m not against Drake, you understand, or even against whatever genre of music he’s making (maybe we don’t even need to define it beyond saying it’s what’s happening—or maybe it’s not what’s happening now and I really have no idea what’s going on in contemporary music), I just don’t know anything about it or him. I don’t know what he was famous for before I heard Hotline Bling, for example, and until someone tells me, I’ll live in ignorance. In fact, when someone does tell me, I’ll likely react with a “huh.” Regardless, Jenn sent me whatever cut up thing people do wherein it looks like President Obama is singing Drake’s song (well more like Sprechgesang with autotune):
This led me down the inevitable path of watching Drake’s video for Hotline Bling. It’s kind of an interesting video, though I did hear that some people were kind of upset about the video, specifically Drake’s dancing and the usage of lights and spaces.
Falling asleep the other night (where this blog post idea came from and was promised to Jenn), I felt that the song was about the singer feeling boxed in and the video represents that. But it’s more than that: the video represents the modern relationship, something simultaneously attempting to exist without definition but also suffering from a lack of boundaries thanks to modern technology. Space that would have previous defined a less serious relationship is now replaced with the ability to text and call quickly. There is no “space,” per say, while at the same time the lack of a definition has led to the seemingly ubiquitous term “hooking up.”
The singer here is trapped between these two understandings, a paradox of sorts: their relationship is not a real thing because there is no true intimacy but their relationship is real because they are able to contact one another and be in rapid touch regardless of distance or time, things that traditionally did keep relationships defined by certain parameters.
I don’t really know much about dance but I almost feel like Drake is moving around like a marionette, guided by strings to do the things he is supposed to do within the confines of the boxes he must remain inside of. I am still perplexed by the stairs, but I might come back to them at some point.
The song has marginally grown on me though not in the same other things have in 2015. Indeed, I am more bothered by other’s feeling Drake has been in a bad video than I am intrigued by the song itself. I think there’s a lot more going on in the video than immediately catches one. Or maybe I’m just reading into it too much but I hope not.

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