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Date Aired
November 17, 2016
Running Time
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Todd plays "Closer" on the piano.

A pop song review

Todd: [sighs] It's hard for me, given the upheaval of the world right now, to talk about silly things like pop music, but that's where we are, that's my job, and that's, that's what I'm gonna do. [beat] But first, let me take a selfie.

Clip of "#Selfie"

Todd (VO): Yes. The Chainsmokers. Or as they always will be known to me...

Todd: ...the "Selfie" guys.

David Hasselhoff: Let me take a selfie

Todd (VO): I am more shocked about their comeback than I was for [Clip of "I Took a Pill in Ibiza" by...] Mike Posner's. And Posner was gone for three times as long; "Selfie" was just from 2014.

And what makes it so shocking is that "Selfie" is the definition of a novelty hit. It was exactly the kinda song that I should be able to dismiss as a blip from two idiots I would never see again.

Todd: Of course, I've been wrong about the career prospects of a lot of people, like...

Clip of "Party Rock Anthem" by...

Todd (VO): ...say, LMFAO. But they [Clip of "Sexy and I Know It"] had their second song in the same year. [Clip of a live performance by the Chainsmokers] If the Chainsmokers couldn't immediately follow up on their big hit, how on Earth could they return two years later?

Todd: But, here they are.

Clip of "Roses"
Rozes: Say you'll never let me go

Todd (VO): I'm annoyed by a lot of things about their comeback, but most of all, I'm annoyed that I have to start taking them seriously as artists. The "Selfie" guys are, in a quantifiable sense, the biggest act of the year.

Todd: The Chainsmokers.

Todd (VO): If I could go back to 2014 and tell my past self that 2016 was the year of the Chainsmokers, past me would probably say "Wow, 2016 must be the worst year in history!"

Todd: [nervously laughing] And I'd tell him, "Calm down, things aren't that bad. [laughs] Also, start investing in Xanax, and I mean now, not later."

Clip of "Don't Let Me Down"
Daya: I need ya, I need ya, I need ya right now

Todd (VO): The big question is, how do you turn "Selfie" into a sustainable career? Good question. Well, apparently, by switching from making terrible novelty EDM to terrible generic EDM, that's one possible way.

Drop plays

Todd (VO): This was one of the biggest hits of the year, and it is a disaster. It's an incoherent mishmash of the worst sounds in pop music. And it, of course, was everywhere. The Black Eyed Peas may have been banished, but's influence remains.

Todd: But even that was dwarfed by today's song, which is...

Video for "Closer"

Todd (VO): ...A, their attempt at a love song, [gags] and B, one where they actually sing. That's right, the "Selfie" douches are now singing.

Clip of VMAs performance of "Closer"
Andrew Taggart: [very off-key] Now you're lookin' pretty in a hotel bar
And I, I-I, I-I can't stop

Todd stares in disgust

Andrew: Bite that tattoo on your shoulder

Todd (VO): Oh... boy...

Todd: Calvin Harris, I apologize.

Clip of Calvin Harris - "Summer"
Calvin: Act so innocent now

Todd (VO): Your voice is lovely, like the song of a beautiful wood thrush...

Todd: ...wafting on a summer breeze.

Todd (VO): And because nothing in this world makes sense anymore, this song is huge. It is the best charting hit of the year.

Todd: And, not speaking for myself, just taking the temperature of the room here, [Image of Twitter feed] seems like the backlash is kicking in, but hard!

Todd (VO): And goddamn, I'm not surprised. 'Cause, Jesus Christ, who on Earth thought this was a good idea? I daresay there's not a more disliked song in the world right now!

Todd: [He knows he has to say it] Am I really gonna be the guy to stand up for this? Fine, screw it. I like the song.

Todd (VO): Quite a bit, if I'm being honest, but hear me out; I totally get why this song is controversial. There are a lot of problems with it. A lot!

Todd: I mean, first off, Jesus Christ, it's a duet... with Halsey!

Clip of "New Americana"
Halsey: Cigarettes and tiny liquor bottles

Todd (VO): And, speaking of artists who made a terrible first impression! I was introduced to Halsey last year with her first mainstream success, "New Americana," an anthem for the new millennial generation.

Todd: Yeah, listen to that. Feel the creeping dread of the sweeping tide of change!

Halsey: We are the new Americana
High on legal marijuana

Todd: We smoke weed, legally! Watch us, obeying the law!

Halsey: Raised on Biggie and Nirvana

Todd (VO): That's not even your generation's music! If anything, those are two artists whose influences are being felt less and less!

Todd: That has nothing to do with your generation, you're just trying to make the rest of us feel old!

Todd (VO): Yeah, every impression I got was that Halsey was like if Kesha was trying to be Lorde, which is not a combo that works. [Clip of "Colors"] But I gathered that was a fluke, and she's actually much more an anonymous singer than that, like she's not trying to make a statement, she's just another boring singer.

Todd: So yeah, I don't like her, she was another demerit against "Closer". But I do like it anyway. Mostly, I like that it's such a songwriterly song.

Andrew: Moved to the city in a broke down car
And, four years, no calls
Now you're lookin' pretty in a hotel bar

Todd (VO): I don't know the last time we had a hit song packed with this much lyrical detail and intense emotion. It sketches a very full portrait of a very complex relationship between two people. And that level of detail is really remarkable in a day and age where you can have a hit song that just says [Brief clips of Pikotaro - "PPAP (Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen)"...] "Pineapple, pen, apple," or [...and Zay Hilfigerrr & Zayion McCall - "Juju on That Beat"] "You ugly, you ugly."

Todd (VO): And in it, the two of them are playing specific roles in the song. They're two long broken up exes reconnecting despite the years of tension between them.

Todd: I, I should really just play the chorus here, because it is just fantastic!

Andrew and Halsey: So baby pull me closer
In the backseat of your Rover
That I know you can't afford [Todd cringes a little on that line.]
Bite that tattoo on your shoulder
Pull the sheets right off the corner
Of the mattress that you stole
From your roommate back in Boulder [Todd cringes harder.]
We ain't ever getting older

Todd: Okay, not that fantastic. Go back.

Andrew and Halsey: Pull the sheets right off the corner
Of the mattress that you stole
From your roommate back in Boulder [Record scratching noise]

Todd: Sorry. I do keep an actual record player down here [Reaches down to grab it] for uh, for when I need that sound. But um, anyway, yeah. I think it's important to say that lyrical detail is great. It adds a lot. But, not all details help paint the picture you're trying to create. For example...

Clip of Train - "Hey, Soul Sister"

Todd (VO): ...I didn't need to know about Pat Monahan's manscaping habits.

Pat: My heart is bound to beat right out my untrimmed chest

Todd: Not important to the story.

Back to "Closer"
Andrew and Halsey: Bite that tattoo on your shoulder

Todd (VO): Now, for example, the shoulder tattoo, that's an important detail, it adds to the scene.

Andrew and Halsey: Backseat of your Rover

Todd (VO): The Land Rover.

Todd: Well, you know, it's part of the setting.

Andrew and Halsey: That I know you can't afford

Todd (VO): Can she pay for it?

Todd: ...Um?

Todd (VO): I, I guess it adds a level of familiarity with each other?

Todd: ...But the mattress! Oh boy.

Andrew and Halsey: Of the mattress that you stole
From your roommate back in Boulder

Todd (VO): Do I need to know that there's a mattress? Yeah, that's uh, it's pretty important.

Todd: But I don't need to know where she got the mattress, I don't need to know who she got the mattress from, and I certainly don't need to know where the person she got the mattress from is from!

Todd (VO): And it happens right before the most important line!

Andrew and Halsey: We ain't ever gettin' older
We ain't ever gettin' older

Todd (VO): That's what we were building up to! Except right before we hit peak momentum...

Todd: ...mattress?! Boulder?! What?!

Video of a bicycle race

Todd (VO): We're right at what should be the chorus's triumphant climax, and then...

The song plays over a cyclist riding a bike...

Andrew and Halsey: From your roommate back in Boulder

...and he falls off.

Andrew and Halsey: From your roommate back in Boulder

Todd (VO): This is the clumsiest, most useless, most jarringly unnecessary detail I've ever seen a writer use!

Todd: And I've read [Cover of The Da Vinci Code by...] Dan Brown! And the fact that they're both singing the chorus together?

Andrew and Halsey: Baby pull me closer
In the backseat of your Rover

Todd (VO): That also raises some questions. Can they both not afford a Land Rover? Do they both have shoulder tattoos, are they both mattress thieves?

Todd: But, the fact that it's a duet makes some interesting things happen.

Todd (VO): Most especially, I like the fact that despite how they're sharing this moment together...

Todd: ...these two people are having wildly different experiences!

Andrew: Hey, I was doing just fine before I met you
I drink too much, and that's an issue
But I'm okay

Todd (VO): I mean, the first thing the guy sings is basically...

Todd: ..."Go away, I hate you!" [sticks out his tongue]

Andrew: Tell your friends it was nice to meet them
But I hope I never see them again

Todd: Meanwhile, let's see how she feels about this rekindling of that old flame.

Halsey: You look as good as the day I met you
I forget just why I left you
I was insane

Todd (VO): Why did you leave him? Hmm...

Todd: Well, he hates all your friends!

Andrew: But I hope I never see them...

Todd (VO): I'm not saying it's his fault or your fault, I'm just saying it's a huge red flag as far as compatibility goes.

Todd: And of course, there's this.

Andrew: I drink too much, and that's an issue

Todd: Just a guess. But then again, by his own words, it's okay.

Andrew: But I'm okay

Todd (VO): So, I mean, don't worry about that obviously.

Todd: I mean, focus on what's bringing the two of you together again.

Halsey: You look as good as the day I met you

Todd (VO): Ah, yes! The one thing that proves a relationship can work forever: looks!

Todd: It's like they say, "Beauty is bone deep." I, I don't know how to break it to ya...

Todd (VO): ...but I wouldn't count on him calling you the day after.

Andrew: Four years, no calls
Now you're lookin' pretty in a hotel bar

Todd (VO): I mean, you haven't spoken in four years, which is not a good sign on its own. Plus, I get the feeling you might've forgotten some bad memories. I mean, Christ, you've re-met at a bar!

Todd: The two of you only got back together because he's drunk! He drinks too much! It's an issue!

Halsey: I know it breaks your heart
Moved to the city in a broke down car, and

Todd (VO): This girl has completely missed that this guy's carrying more baggage than [picture of...] a Samsonite store. Christ, the couple in [Clip of...] "Somebody That I Used to Know" were more on the same page!

Kimbra: Now and then, I think of all the times you screwed me over

Todd: I think these two crazy kids are gonna work it out! [laughs] Ah, young love.

Andrew: I know it breaks your heart

Todd (VO): And even when they sing "It breaks your heart," one's being completely sincere and the other's completely sarcastic. I mean, I guess it's kind of a dick move that the Chainsmokers wrote the girl as like being, [sarcastic tone] "Wow, you're so hot," and...

Todd: ...he never has to meet her halfway, he's just like "You're a bitch," and she's just like, [sarcastic] "God, sorry I'm crazy!"

Halsey: I was insane

Todd: But, it, it still feels real, you know? The, the willful delusion of it all. See, it is a good song.

Halsey: Stay, and play that Blink-182 song
That we beat to death in Tucson, okay

Todd: [exhales] O-okay, I-I got questions again.

Halsey: In Tucson, okay

Todd (VO): First off, Boulder? Tucson?

Todd: What the hell was the two of you's relationship?!

Todd (VO): Were you traveling around the country like Bonnie and Clyde on a crazy mattress-stealing spree?

Todd: Secondly, "that Blink-182 song"?

Halsey: Play that Blink-182 song

Todd: Which one, the one with the dick jokes?

Clip of Blink-182 - "What's My Age Again?"
Mark Hoppus: The state looks down on sodomy

Todd (VO): I know, I know, I'm sorry, [Clips of "Stay Together for the Kids"...] I know they became a real grown-up band eventually. [...and "All the Small Things"] But to me, they'll always be the [Album cover of Enema of the State] "Haha, that porn star's gonna stick a finger up your butt" band.

Todd: Which, which song are they even talking about? [Looks on his phone] Let's see here. [Headline reading "How Blink-182's 'I Miss You' Inspired The Chainsmokers and Halsey's 'Closer'"]

Clip of "I Miss You"

Todd (VO): Oh yeah, "I Miss You." Yeah that's a good song.

Todd: I like that song.

Tom DeLonge: Don't waste your time on me
You're already the voice inside my head

Todd (VO): Not sure it's all that romantic though. Not sure "Don't waste your time on me" is the lyric you really wanna hear when reconnecting. But yeah it does have some of the same [Back to "Closer"] wistful vibe that this song has, you know, I'll give it that.

Todd: Of course, if anything...

Clip of...

Todd (VO): ...the Blink-182 song she's talking about is still "What's My Age Again?" because that song is indeed about never getting older.

Mark: I never wanna act my age

Todd (VO): And be honest, the situation will probably end up for these two looking like the same way it did for Blink.

Todd: Embarrassing and regrettable in hindsight. This hookup is a mistake, you guys.

Todd (VO): But I do have one other question: [Screenshot from Wikipedia page] Why is this being labelled a millennial anthem? 'Cause I've seen that a lot.

Todd: Well, I've been thinking about it, and...

Todd (VO): I think it's that a lot of the unnecessary jarring details are about...

Todd: major thing.

Andrew: Moved to the city in a broke down car and

Todd (VO): Can't buy a mattress, Daddy bought us a car, this is the new Americana. We're all broke.

Todd: And we're gonna be a lot broker pretty soon, probably! [starts nervously laughing again, but quickly composes himself] Oh no, no, no politics, no politics, no politics. [sighs]

Andrew and Halsey: We ain't ever gettin' older

Todd (VO): Yeah, regardless of all its deep, serious flaws, I like it. I mean she's singing way too hard, and he can't sing at all, but...

Todd: works together, you know?

Clip of performance by...

Todd (VO): Like Sonny & Cher, who are also both terrible singers; don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Andrew and Halsey: We ain't ever gettin' older

Todd (VO): Look, I'm not saying it's a perfect song, I'm not sure it's even a good song. But if there's anything that sums up the mess of anger, optimism, confusion, and the desire to turn back time that I'm feeling right now, it's this one.

Todd: [sighs] Chainsmokers, "Closer," [gives a...] thumbs up.

Andrew and Halsey: No we ain't ever gettin' older

Closing tag song: Nine Inch Nails - "Closer"

"Closer" is owned by Columbia Records
This video is owned by me


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