Tuesday, May 15th, 2018

Jukebox the Ghost – Everybody’s Lonely

More like “Jukebox the Singles” am I right???


Tim de Reuse: I remember when Jukebox the Ghost got their start as a bunch of macabre-obsessed goofballs, writing a couple of albums that were full of apocalyptic narratives, elaborate fever dreams, and meditations on the nature of god, where they kept all their instrumentation simple and revealed themselves to actually be damn good at playing their instruments despite their saccharine indie-pop exterior. They haven’t been interested in working on that level for some time now, but in this song there’s a tiny, tiny spark of the genuine wit they used to have, and it’s just infuriating. Ten years ago they would’ve knocked this subject matter out of the park, and now it’s overproduced, streamlined, seventy percent chorus, and accompanied by a slick video featuring a bunch of dancers staring at their phones. Sure, I’m not judging this fairly on its own merits, but firstly — well, I’m just bitter that they ended up this way — and secondly, there’s so little to this song in isolation that I don’t have much else to write about.

Claire Biddles: I know mid-to-early 00s nostalgia is slowly creeping into pop culture but an album track by The Feeling as a lead single in 2018? I have suffered enough.

Will Rivitz: First impressions are important: though this song finally settles into a satisfying groove around its chorus, the Broadway camp of the piano and the stodgily syrupy falsetto of its beginning is so viscerally upsetting that my stomach literally churned on first listen. 

Rebecca A. Gowns: This has everything I love in a song — the plucky piano, the sing-along chorus, lyrics that have a wink in every line — and yet, it grates. Jukebox the Ghost are trying to be both deep and knowingly “fake deep” here, and the result is muddy; they come across as sneering instead of ironic, and maudlin instead of touching. Hearing it on the radio, it’s like a kid in the back of the class interrupting the teacher to deliver a bon mot: it’s clever and unexpected, but it still makes me wince.

Ian Mathers: There are few things that make my skin crawl more than bogus profundity (NOT the same as pretension, for what it’s worth). This one actually made me go give that dire Foster the People song another point, because I’d forgotten how much worse it could have been. (And by the way, at least half of those songs are because everyone is goddamned terrified, you damp fuck.)

Hannah Jocelyn: The one part that didn’t ring true for me about John Mulaney’s Kid Gorgeous special on Netflix was his joke about pop music: “I can’t listen to any new songs, ’cause every new song is about how ‘tonight is the night’ and how ‘we only have tonight’;  I want to write songs for people in their 30s called, ‘Tonight’s No Good, How About Wednesday?'” One, there’s the National for that, and two, no songs are about how we only have tonight anymore, because no, everything is just SoundCloud rap by horrible people or SoundCloud-inspired mainstream rap that’s just as obnoxious. At least Mulaney’s out-of-touchness was part of the joke; to hear Jukebox the Ghost epiphanize that songs are happy because “everybody’s lonely” bugs me because one of the biggest songs of last year had the chorus “Push me to the edge/all my friends are dead.” (Also, since when in the past few years has pop music portrayed drinking too much as a wholly good thing?) Before “XO Tour Llif3,” “Closer” was about escapism, not necessarily escapism itself. Even the lightest #1 we’ve had in a while, “Nice For What,” can still be interpreted as oblique reaction to America’s ongoing reckoning with its treatment of women. Saying that everybody’s lonely and using that as the basis for this song is not a profound insight, even if the verse lyrics a little bit better (“Are we programmed for broken romance” in particular deserves a better song around it). I’d love a song that asks pop music why everybody on the radio is lonely and self-loathing, even though that arguably has the same answer as the one Jukebox the Ghost have for their question. They’re an earnest band, and they usually make some pretty great piano pop music. But this song is even more overproduced than the ones they criticize, the piano feeling more like an unnecessary flourish than integral to the sound. I want Metro Boomin to sample this out of spite.

Reader average: [9] (2 votes)

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2 Responses to “Jukebox the Ghost – Everybody’s Lonely”

  1. Didn’t get to blurb this one because I have zero sense of time but: JtG are great live performers and I love plinky-plonky piano stuff, but I was so disappointed that the lead single for their newest was “BOO TECHNOLOGY, NOBODY ~CONNECTS~ ANYMORE” (I guess that’s more in the video, but still). Wooooooomp.

  2. really great blurb by joshua