BAD DAY


For me, discovering a trend or phenonmenon in popular culture within a year of its development is an achievment (to the extent such things can be considered achievments). I always like to myself, “You were not cool before it was not cool to be not cool!” I’ve always been behind the times, out of the times, and so on.

Of course, today, to be with it, you have to be up on the drivelish sludge that passes for what music Americans listen to. I’m not up on this. I couldn’t be even if I wanted to be. How good a song is is determined, by today’s standards, how cool the “artist” is – this standard is even more ridiculous than the standard people my age use for “evaluating” movies. How “cool” the artist is, in turn, has little or nothing (preferably nothing) to do with the artist’s talent. Some days, the artist is cool because he molested a child. Some days he’s not cool for the same reason. Some days he’s cool because he shot someone; some days he’s not cool because he shot someone who was another artist who was a child molester that was thus cool for that day. You see how it goes. Also, people get their songs from many more different sources than people get films from – they thus have less experiences to share them communally, and when friends hear them together for the first time, therefore, it’s easier to criticize a song, out of fear of not looking cool, than it is to praise it. Blah.

There’s a song that came out some time last year by some guy named Daniel Powter called “Bad Day.” I’m sure everyone knows of this song already. After all, I’m only writing aout it now…. Mr. Powter is from the British Isles, but the song has become enormously popular in the U.S. In fact, as I just found out, it was played (I think) during the last season of American Idol each time a contestant was eliminated (yes, I don’t watch American Idol, either. I’m hitting all the high notes tonight!)

I’ve been hearing this song on lite fm radio over the past few months (and I figured it was called “Bad Day,” which turned out to be correct), and have gotten a copy of it. It’s quite good. Here are the lyrics (they are enunciated so as to be heard, which gives the song an automatic non-F, and some of them actually construct cognizable sentences. The grade thus is at a D):

“Where is the moment when we need it the most
You kick up the leaves and the magic is lost
They tell me your blue sky’s faded to grey
They tell me your passion’s gone away
And I don’t need no carrying on
You stand in the line just to hit a new low
You’re faking a smile with the coffee to go
You tell me your life’s been way off line
You’re falling to pieces every time
And I don’t need no carrying on

(refrain)
Cause you had a bad day
You’re taking one down
You sing a sad song just to turn it around
You say you don’t know
You tell me don’t lie
You work at a smile and you go for a ride
You had a bad day
The camera don’t lie
You’re coming back down and you really don’t mind
You had a bad day
You had a bad day

Well you need a blue sky holiday
The point is they laugh at what you say
And I don’t need no carrying on

You had a bad day
You’re taking one down
You sing a sad song just to turn it around
You say you don’t know
You tell me don’t lie
You work at a smile and you go for a ride
You had a bad day
The camera don’t lie
You’re coming back down and you really don’t mind
You had a bad day
You had a bad day

Sometimes the system goes on the blink and the whole thing it turns out
Wrong
You might not make it back and you know that you could be well oh that
Strong
Well I’m not wrong
So where is the passion when you need it the most
Oh you and I
You kick up the leaves and the magic is lost

Cause you had a bad day
You’re taking one down
You sing a sad song just to turn it around
You say you don’t know
You tell me don’t lie
You work at a smile and you go for a ride
You had a bad day
You see what you like
And how does it feel, one more time
You had a bad day
You had a bad day
You had a bad day.”

Not terribly profound, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense (don’t know what, exactly? Don’t lie about what? Who gets “turned around” by singing a bad song? Whatever happened to just fucking? What exactly is “taking one down?” What does “you’re coming back down and you really don’t mind” mean, in the context of the rest of the refrain? Who knows?

What the song seems to be conveying, though, is at least this much: people have bad days (more than once), from which they cannot automatically recover. The song’s mere acknowledgment of this is refreshing, especially when one realizes that the lyrics are not necessarily being uttered by some pouty diva who wouldn’t know what it meant to have a bad day if it crushed him in the rectum.

Can a depressed person listen to this song to cheer up? Or to just remind himself that every day is a bad day? I don’t know, but I suppose that listening to this song constitutes a more “socially acceptable” way of doing either than most other things (even though the song is officially “out” now, and now that I have mentioned it, “outed,” as some might say).

Why am I really writing about this song, though? Surely, other songs exist, even ones I’ve heard of, that acknowledge life sucks. And since they’re not cool (if for no other reason than I listen to them), what’s so special (not cool, mind you – special) about this one?

It’s very catchy. Bouncy. Peppy. It’s the kind of song I can listen to with the radio blasting (which, for me, means on with the volume at about 5 on the Spinal Tap scale). Listening to the song – like listening to any great song – makes me feel just a little better, because the song was well-made.

Am I saying that by listening to “Bad Day,” I am ensuring that I have less of a “Bad Day?” Well, I’ll put it this way. I wish more people would keep constructing more theme songs for me. If more songs reflected what the world were really like, and what people really felt about each other, we’d have, among other things, lots of blank discs, lots of discs on permanent feedback, and lots of one-word refrains. But we’d also have some stuff worth listening to. And if that stuff were as catchy as “Bad Day” is, who knows? Maybe (in fact, probably), listening to music would become uncool. Thus, I could have my great songs without creating the proverbial vergence in the force, and all will be good with the universe. Well, not really. But the day the music became uncool would definitely would be a “Bad Day” – just not, for once, mine.


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