Call me cray cray

- Nicola M. Sebastian -

MANILA, Philippines - Once upon a time, basically yesterday, there was a little song that could. Like the Ridiculously Photogenic Guy (why ask when you can Google?), this particular song about the similar probability of telephone conversations and insanity defied all sense, common or otherwise. A catchy track, the song was, fulfilling all the requirements of easy-to-remember lyrics and instant, empty-calorie fun needed in the perfect pop song. Just one more in a million, you might have said. And then the Bieber happened, uploading a YouTube home video of him and his Millennial Bratpack buddies lip-syncing along to the song, which most of you know by now is Call Me Maybe.

A slew of celebrity lip-dub videos ensued, swinging as slick as James Franco all the way to Katy Perry’s ombre-haired, Coachella-crazed cheek. Before long there were collegiate dance-offs featuring Harvard fists and some school’s women’s rowing team’s feet. The coolest of Manila’s cool jumped on board, too, with all of our city’s It Girls (Anne Curtis, Georgina Wilson, Solenn Heusaff, Liz Uy, but wait there’s more) and a few brave boys mouthing sweet music at a webcam, a video (edited by my good friend and gellow Rogue officemate Miguel Lugtu) that one YouTube commenter described as “like an orgy, but with catchy music.” And the song became a meme. And the meme became a calling card. (That turned out to be a pick-up line.)

Call me Katy.

Pretty soon the song’s incessant upper-register melody was attacking you from all fronts, from your officemate’s too-loud headphones to an iPhone someone “forgot” to mute. Before you know it, you’ve found out that the singer’s name is Carly Rae Jepsen, that she was a finalist on Canadian Idol, is currently touring the world with Hanson, and describes this viral success as “pretty rad,” and you’ve spent the last three hours trying to think up words that rhyme with “-aby.”

This is crazy

Of course, all LSS escapes reason, anyway. It’s mind-boggling, but just as inexplicably soothing, like the drone of white noise or the bounce of a bobble head on a taxi’s dashboard. You find yourself humming a tune you didn’t realize you heard a few moments before, eyes widening in surprise; and widening even more at your co-worker, your faces twin expressions of annoyed delight that, OMG, you both started singing to the same song at the same time! And daresay the song should play on the radio right at that moment as well — just like you predicted.

LSS-primed songs like Call Me Maybe don’t speak to your better self, the self-possessed individual whose tastes are as honed as her wit. No, they tap something deeper, or perhaps subliminal is a better word for it, sneaking through your defenses like a virus. Like any good pop song, Call Me Maybe has a chorus that is as repetitive and infectious as the song’s countless parodies and lip-dub videos stretching on into Internet infinity. And hearing the chorus, once or even partially, is enough to give you the gist of the song and have you dancing to your own home video in no time. LSS plays into our subconscious need for repetition, like the comforting pat-pat of your yaya as she lured a hyperactive little-you into sleep. Repetition is catching, and it turns out catchy and annoying work for the same boss.

The power of Beliebing

So Ludicrously Sing-along Songs are nothing new. But the crowd sharing them has definitely gotten bigger, or the room smaller, depending on which way you look at it. Watching Selena Gomez lip-sync in her living room is as shareable as your friends’ own version, equal in quality if not in exposure; clicking “Like” on a Call Me Maybe meme on 9gag becomes the digital version of chuckling at an inside joke; and the #CallMeMaybe hashtag — not to mention that Supercut by Popdust of the song’s most viral covers — rounds up an online community that feels as in tune as a group of people all singing along to the same song—albeit some more in tune than others.

Like any crazed hype or three-minute dance-pop track, this too shall pass. But while it’s still on repeat and driving us crazy, why miss all the fun of reacting violently and trying not to sing along—at least when you have company? I won’t give in to the ridiculously easy urge to end this piece with some pun-y permutation of that infamous chorus. But you have to admit that the silence makes it ring in your ears all the louder…











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