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Correct Opinions

We Don’t Always Have to Be Listening to the Same Frictionless R&B Everywhere

Update your playlists, they're making me feel bad.

(Dmitry G, via Wikimedia Commons)

"Losing You" is a great song—Solange and Dev Hynes snapped. I see why bars like to play it so much. But, enough: Brooklyn, Downtown, Uptown, it's everywhere. It's getting to the point that whenever I hear that little shriek sample, I want to leave my Topo mezcal half-finished and head elsewhere. I'm not proposing a ban—I'm just suggesting we don't need to be playing "Losing You" at every bar, all the time, always. 

One of the feelings that makes this dumb, dumb, dumb life worth living is that spark you feel when you're out on the town and you hear a song so good it becomes the most important thing in the world, when catching it in Shazam or asking someone working there what song it is becomes more important than your date, your friends, or your phone.

But that hasn't been happening lately; instead, what's been happening is "Losing You." It wasn't on Eater's 2019 "This is Every Cool Restaurant's Playlist" with other Brooklyn bar mainstays like LCD Soundsystem and M83, but it should've been. "Losing You" is essentially the connective tissue between the Brooklyn "indie" pop that certain of those among us look back on as "the glory days," and the era that came after: frictionless Spotify R&B. Steve Lacy, Daniel Caesar, and yes, Frank Ocean and Solange. If the following playlist makes you feel like you're at any Brooklyn bar on a Thursday evening, you know what I mean.

In the years since Eater clocked the creative director-core that was in our ears (at a time when natural wine was only just beginning to fill our mouths), bars have moved to this new "Bar&B" stage. But the assignment is the same—to fill the air with an atmosphere of wistful nostalgia that urges you to try your best to have a good time that evening. That impulse is understandable, and at times, even admirable. And some of my favorite artists are in the above playlist—I have a Frank Ocean poster and a signed copy of Solange's "A Seat at the Table." Their ongoing transformation into sonic wallpaper just rankles me; it seems to highlight the worst qualities of music that gives me a lot of joy, an alienation I imagine people felt when the same happened to LCD Soundsystem, or The XX or whatever.

I'm merely saying it doesn't have to be the same songs, all the time, forever. It's not right to live in an era where every song ever is algorithmically available to us, but the individual aural flavor of New York's establishments is being ceded to a blob of generalized synth R&B. Bars should be places where individual taste thrives! So, bar staff of the world, rise up! Seize the playlists, expropriate the aux cords. Give us a slice of your own little musical world. 

Or, how about "Lovers in the Parking Lot" instead? 

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