If pop music doesn’t succeed, it gets stomped. An artist can be killed after one unsuccessful single or forced to switch direction to find an audience. But success can be just as problematic. Success can also destroy.
I was late coming to I Love It. Everyone was late coming to I Love It. The can’t-miss summer smash of 2012 took a full year to get its shit together and became the summer smash of 2013. I didn’t see the episode of Girls it was on. I caught it during the build-up for its second release, when the smouldering was being carefully stoked, and it was the “feat. Charli XCX” bit that made me pay attention. Which is a little ridiculous, like that time I was one of the first people to buy the Dido album because I liked her stuff from Faithless, early to a party it turned out to be uncool to attend.
It’s an undeniable song. That monumental buzz of bass opening it, the brash shouts of the vocal, the simplicity. It doesn’t even pretend to be anything other than one idea, repeated to fade, finishing before it’s worn out. Who needs complexity; who needs anything other than half-drunk rebellion hollered along to a single musical hook?
The problem is, of course, that music does wear out. Rock claims superiority based on longevity, that it’ll still be just as good in 20 years or 40 years. Which is obviously bullshit. Listen to anything too much and it becomes too familiar to hear any more. But pop music, because of its ubiquity, fades faster. Buy your special Arcade Fire album, serious music fan, and you’ll hear it when you choose to. Icona Pop is on the radio, on the telly, all over the fucking place, whether you want to hear it or not. It gets worn out for you.
It got worn out for me. It’s on this compilation because I liked it – I loved it – when I was first putting it all together, it found its way to the middle of a sequence that worked, and because it’s short and I wanted to have 20+ tracks on a poppy compilation. By the time the tracklist was finalised it had worn out its welcome. It wasn’t a track I looked forward to hearing anymore. Unlike Charli XCX, who’s just as pop but hasn’t broken big yet and so hasn’t been overplayed for me by others, it was kind of over. But I kept faith because I listen to these mixes for years, I still listen to one from 1995 that was originally on a C90, and in time the appeal of Icona Pop might return. That’s happened before. Or it might remain a husk, squeezed empty, nothing but a placeholder that says 2013, summer, montage track. That’s happened before too.
Artist: Icona Pop feat. Charli XCX
Title: I Love It
Compilation: Coyote Summer