Turn up the lights in here, baby / extra bright, I want y’all to see this / turn up the lights in here, baby / you know what I need, want you to see everything / want you to see all of the lights – Kanye West, “All of the Lights”
This year Taylor Swift and Usher flooded the nation in fluorescence. She spoke now, well after the deafening sounds of Swiftgate settled to a dull roar. He saturated the market in music, void of a message, but with a ubiquitous mask so clean it bordered translucence. They were so bright, so white, so everywhere, so endlessly empty, and yet so inescapably enveloping. Mainstream music’s absence of creativity opened the doors for an influx of sheer commerce, and this year panoramic sterility sold.
This is America, we love our flood lights – so bright and unyielding, so integral to the world of endless recreation of the most mind-numbing, so fundamental to the 24/7 push of profitable play – night games. These aren’t streetlights that keep stickball games going past the dusk on a Brooklyn block… these are those overhead satellites keeping NASCAR motorcades roving around in circles ad naseum at primetime for ad revenue. Swift and Raymond are those forces bleaching the scene, sweetening the mean, and softening the screams of midnight melody makers whose cathartic cries were held at bay during the day.