“#SELFIE-LYRICS” by The Chainsmokers and Coralee

Screen capture from "#SELFIE-LYRICS" by Coralee and The Chainsmokers. Image of a youtube video displaying large white text against a black background. Text: "ratchet"
Open “#SELFIE-LYRICS” by Coralee and The Chainsmokers (video embedded below)

After the release of the viral EDM hit “#SELFIE”, internet commenters were swift and brutal in their typically over-dramatic detraction of the song, citing it as yet another argument for “the death of music” due to it’s purportedly vapid, idiotic lyrics and “cookie-cutter” beats. In spite of this, the single topped several worldwide dance charts and the official music video stands at 90 million views at the time of writing. After its meteoric rise, YouTube user Coralee created a minimalist video which displayed the lyrics in perfect synchronization with the song itself, one word at a time. While the concept itself is hardly novel–  lyric videos on YouTube are extremely common– the execution is a stimulating piece of kinetic typography which offers a charming microcosm of the nexus between Generation Y(.O.L.O.)’s party culture and the proliferation of social networking.

Combining the rapid-fire exhilaration of Star Wars: One Letter At A Time with the rhythmic synergy of Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries,  this kinetic typography piece is perhaps the most efficient medium through which to experience the vibrant spoken word poem enveloped within the song, as 1.5 million viewers can attest.  The appeal of the piece seems to center on its idiosyncratic lyrics, which chronicle an evening of partying from the perspective of a licentious young woman as she navigates the perils of such contemporary social phenomena as “fake models” and “booty calls.”

The speed with which the lyrics must be read match the vocalist’s hectic yet seemingly effortless tone,  invoking a juxtaposition of the speed of modern information transfers with the increasing accessibility and convenience of our communicative methods. Futhermore, if they are able, more perceptive readers will undoubtedly also note that the lyrics are not strictly grammatically correct, adopting instead traditional text-message abbreviations, such as “nvm” for “never mind” and “becos” for “because.” In light of this, we can surmise that in Coralee’s poetic space, the conversation is occurring via text. This revelation in turn highlights the semantic sophistication behind the grammatical conventions which have evolved from electronic text-based communication; why are we who use these methods so adept, so intuitive at streamlining, encoding and extrapolating our meanings?

The trend that has brought us from George Michael’s “Praying For Time” to Zedd’s “I Will Find You”, indicates that the lyric video has, rather paradoxically, developed an affinity towards EDM, despite being a genre that has traditionally not relied very heavily on lyrics. Listeners such as Coralee and DubstepLyrics have chosen to capitalize on this cultural quirk, and we who enjoy a good piece of kinetic typography are all the better off for it.

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