A (Very Nearly) Happy New Year

A moment of truth had arrived, and it was a bit disappointing. According to Spotify, that bastion of free music (for the price of a few adds), my number one played song of 2014 was a little ditty called “Happy,” by Pharrell Williams, from the animated feature film Despicable Me 2.

I would be lying if I said that this revelation was not a blow to my sometimes snobbish musical tastes. I immediately scrambled to create rationalizations and justifications. “Well, I mostly use Spotify the listen to all that pop music that I don’t like enough to actually buy. Look at my iTunes top 25. That much more accurately represents my true musical loves. Almost every item on it falls under the category of folk and/or Celtic. That is as it should be.”

But who am I kidding? Certainly not myself, or my roommates, who will attest to the many times I’ve replied to a question by warbling: “’Cause I’m happy! Clap along…” For good or ill, this song just makes me, well, happy (clap along if you feel like a room without a roof).

Really, if you look at the lyrics to this song, it is about being unabashedly, dizzyingly happy, although I can’t tell you how many friends have quibbled: “Like a room without a roof? What does that even mean?” I don’t really have much of an explanation. Maybe it’s so you can look at the stars, or some poetic nonsense like that. But still, I love this song, this overplayed pop construction.

Spotify, that dear technology, is right. I play music a lot, and, like many people, have certain songs that I play at certain times, and “Happy” has been with me through a lot in the last year.   It’s played at 12 o’clock at night, driving home under the stars after a ditzy night out with my friends. Love is too happy to bring me down. It’s played in the muddy morning before going to school, to remind me that it was beautiful day and beautiful world. Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth. It’s played in the confidence or fear before tests, and in the resilience or despair after tests. Can’t nothing bring me down.

In fact, just two weeks ago I played “Happy” while cleaning up in the kitchen. As usually happens when I listen to that melody, I started doing some sort of awkward modern dancing while putting up the dishes and singing along. But I didn’t care, because I was happy. I certainly know in this instance what happiness is to me, and hopefully that’ll be worth something going into the brand new year.

Excuse me while I go listen to that song just one more time.

Because I’m happy…