Kaitlyn Tiffany: The Chainsmokers. What do you know about them?
Lizzie Plaugic: They love art.
Kaitlyn: But did you know they’re behind the hit song “Closer,” which was inescapable in America this past year? Or that they’re an electronic pop-duo made up of two men named Drew Taggart and Alex Pall? Or that they’ve claimed their penises are 17.34 inches when put together?
Lizzie: They love math.
Kaitlyn: Did you know that they have a new song? It’s called “Paris,” but it’s not about Paris the city. No, this “paris:”
Lizzie: Ah yes, that paris, the lowercase one, the one that Drew Taggart and Alex Pall, poets both, just made up.
Kaitlyn: Listen, I want to start by saying that I love the song “Closer.” I love the memes it inspired, I love that we all had to spend six months asking “Why would anyone steal their roommate’s mattress?” and “How do you bite a tattoo off a shoulder?” I love the teen who filmed herself dancing to “Closer” while wearing a teddy bear costume that was actually just an enormous teddy bear with the stuffing ripped out. I loved the Chainsmokers’ terrible performance of “Closer” at the Video Music Awards because who among us has not tried and failed? I love “Closer.” I just want to get that out of the way before we talk any more about “Paris,” Paris, or “paris.”
“Paris,” Paris, “paris”
Lizzie: “Closer” is a song. But it’s not this song. According to the Chainsmokers, “paris” is a “condition for fantasy.” According to me, a “condition for fantasy” is this song, because it makes me fantasize about being somewhere else. So the definition checks out.
Kaitlyn: Oh, Lizzie, how nice for you to be able to maintain your fantasy life while at work! Most of the footage in the music video for “Paris” looks like it was shot in Orlando or the Adirondacks. Is that where you hope to go?
To me, the most notable thing about “Paris” is that it purports to be about a human emotion that doesn’t actually exist. The Chainsmokers literally invented the emotion “paris,” for the purpose of this soon-to-be-very-popular song. I find that alarming!
If you were going to write a song about a nostalgic experience, and you also never had an experience to feel nostalgic about, this is the sort of song you would write. An alien, upon watching Casablanca, would describe the human experiences of romance and longing as “paris” (a word it just learned), “cigarette,” “terrace,” and [danger], all things melded into the loose blob that is the song “Paris.”
Lizzie: Speaking of loose blobs, “Paris” (the song) is one, structurally speaking. It barely has a melody. Taggart sings like he keeps his mouth super dry to trick us into thinking his vocals could be described as “gravelly.” “Paris” has no drops and a limp chorus. It’s all bridge: a bridge to nowhere, and then when you get to nowhere, Drew Taggart and the other one are waiting there standing on a terrace talking about a new definition for a word they just made up.
Kaitlyn: Two metaphors… one for each Chainsmoker. Beautiful.
Lizzie, I have to tell you, as much as this is the worst song I’ve ever heard… it’s also stuck in my head. I feel obliged to ask: have we or have we not each listened to it more than one time today at least? (And for me, more than four times?) And is that or is that not the point of a pop song?
Lizzie: I personally already know every word.
Kaitlyn: I have another question, and it’s this lyric from “Paris:”
I thought, “Wow / If I could take this in a shot right now / I don't think that we could work this out.”
Lizzie: Look, if you get drunk, it’s a bad idea to work out right after. Watch one episode of Darren’s Dance Grooves and you will discover this immediately.
Kaitlyn: Okay. I will.