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…

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One thought on “A (Very Nearly) Happy New Year

  1. It would appear the words “Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof” would refer to the expansive positive emotion of happiness. A frenetic activity that wears the title dancing often includes a gesture involving the person involved raising his or her hands as if to “raise the roof” of the room in which he dwells presently. The idea is that the person feels happy enough to super-humanly rip off the roof of the building, and other acts which would require a limitless amount of energy which is ostensibly present in the person feeling the sentiment. The song updates this into the person actually being the room. Why does the room need no roof? A roof shelters from storm, excess sunlight, hail, and other inclement weather. But a room with no roof would have been constructed with a complete confidence that no weather would damage the contents inside the room. The room feels no need to hide behind the defense of a roof from the cold unfeeling, freezing sky of winter. It’s tooth is not so keen. It is not so unkind as

    Obviously, music can enhance or diminish the happiness of a spectator of the world. I would think it would ordinarily enhance whatever feeling the spectator wished to hear- be that happiness or some other sentiment. Ordinarily, happiness cannot be achieved, but can only ensue through the pursuit of meaningful goals. This begs the question as to whether happiness can occur without the pursuit of goals. The spectators of individuals who experience happiness can often catch the sentiment. The spectators viewing of others as happy could impel them onto pursuit of goals. Could it be said that happiness can be concomitant with understanding of interconnections of God’s creation and therefore impel our own sub-creation to imitate Him?

    This article seems to imply that the new year would have been happy for the author if she had not received knowledge of her musical tastes that were not pleasing. A question would be:
    “By what standard is one music higher than another?” Complex music may not be the most capable of instilling happiness in all individuals equally. The highest does not stand without the lowest. Happiness is sentimental in the sense that it is a sentiment, but not in the sense that it is necessarily insincere, as the word sentimental connotates. A small animal, such as a cat, might be legitimately happy in the sun, even though it might have no knowledge of coming bitter rain. Whether or not the quality of the sentiment is greater in humans or not, dopamine is released in its brain. Screwtape would say that music is mainly raw material which can draw or repel the listener closer to or farther from God.

    Anyway, the mere passing of a old year never inspires me with happiness. Looking forward to the year being an even millennium was more exciting.

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