Yesterday afternoon, The Verge's Emily Yoshida — my editor, your friend, Game of Game of Thrones commissioner, Skrillex enthusiast — came into the entertainment section's Slack room and asked a simple, innocent question: what's the deal with triangles? (OK, her inquiry was a little more sophisticated — "has anyone ever investigated the rise of the triangle, especially in pop music logos and stylizations" — but I have no problem boiling it down to the question above.)
It sounds like fodder for an interesting report on the reoccurring of a single shape in pop iconography, right? I don't even know anymore, because I've spent the last 60 minutes drowning in the veritable shitstorm of triangles (the shape), triangles (the instrument), weird Google images, ancient YouTube videos, and thinking face emoji her question inspired. One of my co-workers Photoshopped a bunch of crude red Illuminati triangles onto my tank-topped body as captured in a dirty bathroom mirror selfie several months ago, and now I have to go crawl into a nearby hole and live there forever. Before I do so, I'm taking a minute to answer just a few of the many questions we all seem to have regarding this stupid shape and its musical prevalence.
Who's carrying the torch for triangles as we speak?
God, who isn't? There's D∆WN, electro-R&B goddess and favorite of The Verge; there's B∆STILLE, aka the dudes who wrote "Pompeii" a few years ago; there's Alt-J, which, like, just put that into your keyboard and see what happens; there's Y∆CHT, the art-pop theorists who waded into hot water a few weeks ago with a sex tape "hoax" gone wrong.
Are any of those people really that popular? WE DEMAND MORE TRIANGLES.
OK! Fine! Allow me to give you an abridged history of various triangles and their appearance in popular music:
Are you happy now?
We're... content. Are triangles dope?
I mean... I don't know, how do you want to evaluate this? I asked The Verge's esteemed Ross Miller to make the case for triangles in a geometric sense:
Ah, triangles. The simplest polygon (at least if we're talking about the Euclidean plane) and one of the strongest shapes in our reality because of its ability to distribute weight equally. Think about it: a square or rectangle can easily be pressured into a parallelogram without changing the length of its sides. That's not true of a triangle. Want to make something more structurally sound? Divide it into triangles, silly! It's why triangles are used to build bridges, pyramids, and our most important structure in the world, Spaceship Earth at Epcot.
Sure! And when it comes to musical merit, look at the timeline above: what more could you want? This is neither the time nor the place for a defense of witch house, but I think triangles have their bases covered: classical music, two of the greatest rock records ever, one of the greatest rappers ever, one of the most influential electronic acts ever, and two fine contemporary pop stars. That's pretty solid! I'd like to see squares, rectangles, and circles make cases that solid. (I know what you're thinking: jewel cases, cassettes, and vinyl records and CDs, respectively. Your physical media has no power here!)
How much longer will there be triangles? (This was a real question.)
I see no reason triangles can't stay popular forever. They worked for everyone above, right? They're an easy way to make people think you're linked to the Illuminati or some other secretive, occult force. Like Ross said above, they're the strongest shape because force is equally distributed across each of their sides. They make fun sounds when you plonk them with wands. They make for great bridges, and they're probably underrated in that respect — how would you get across water otherwise? I'm comfortable concluding triangles are going to be around until the heat death of the universe, or until the higher life form conducting the simulation within which we all exist decides to terminate its experience.
Our thirst for triangle-related knowledge has been sated.
And not a moment too soon. Have a nice weekend. Eat some triangle-shaped food. I never want to think about this again.