Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Track Tales Tuesday: New Year's Day and Negative Pop Punk

Most people probably haven't heard of the short-lived pop punk band 5 Days Ahead. Hailing from Pennsylvania, they released one EP and one album, in 2001 and 2002 respectively. Those years were the first in my college days, which weren't exactly easy for me, and near the beginning of the mainstream success of the genre. 5 Days Ahead fit nicely in that niche. Their music was aggressive and energetic, and their lyrics and vocalist channeled the emo influence that was huge at the time. They were honest, passionate...and negative.

In my younger years, negativity wasn't a big deal to me. It was something I lived with. I'm not sure if it was due to the culture I grew up in, my upbringing, my experiences, or the ideas I held. Likely it's a combination of all of those factors. Still, the older I get, the less I'm able to deal with negativity, especially in the arts. 

5 Days Ahead are a memory of a time where I couldn't find a way around the obstacles in front of me or any hope that I'd ever find that way. The songs I remember by them all fit that theme. Some are linked with holidays. One is titled "Valentine" and features the lyrics:
It makes no sense to tell someone you love them
just because it's Valentine's Day.
I'd rather hang out with my friends
and bomb couples with chiclets till they run away.
Not exactly the model of happiness or a well-adjust psyche. Other songs such as "Another Wasted Year" show other manifestations of their perspective. I turn to this song on New Year's Eve because it's about the holiday and the pain of looking back, two things I am dealing with very immediately. However, I don't agree with the band's conclusion in their lyrical culmination: "It's just not worth it/It was all just a waste of time."

As is often the case in pop punk, this track is about heartbreak and dealing with the pain that accompanies it. After starting by setting the scene with "Toast your glass up high to the new year/I'll pray for better days," the singer pours his heart out, almost quite literally:
12 months, a crush I couldn't kill
I said one thing now I'm wiping tears from my eyes
You're damn right I feel stupid
Retarded schoolboy crush
Dreaming about you every night
Though unrequited love is admittedly painful, spending any amount of time loving or admiring someone is not a waste. By doing so you are admitting, whether intentionally or not, that you identify good in that person. That identification is a celebration of life, as it is, as you see it, as you want it to be. That positivity is impossible to escape in pop punk. The problem occurs, in this song, in the genre, and in life, when it is coupled with a focus on the feeling of hopelessness.
What should i say?
It doesn't matter anymore it all faded away
I'll tape up my heart
One minute, you didn't care and ripped it all apart
 I know it's been said a billion times before. I'm still going to say it again. Never let one person (other than yourself) affect your sense of self worth so greatly, no matter how well you think of him or her. It can take less than a minute for things to get, let's say, wacky and him or her to reveal a new side you haven't seen. More importantly, if the person isn't going to show you the same reverence back, why do you want him or her to be a part of your life, even if just as a motivating idea?

I'm going to stop for a minute here to clarify something. I'm not writing only about romantic love or love in general. What I'm discussing applies to any situation where you deal with other people--family, work, school, in the store, performers you enjoy. Each of us decides who we let become a part of our life, from a thought in our head to a spot in our bed. It's just as important to make that choice responsibly as any other.

Over the coming year, but especially the next month of Track Tale Tuesdays, you're going to see a focus on positivity become a theme in The Midside. I understand the focus on a feeling of hopelessness. It's why I've been able to stomach that side of my favorite genre for so long. I just can't dwell on it any longer. Those bands and songs bore me now, bringing a sluggishness to my brain and a soreness to my brawn.  Those pains are no longer ones I care to suffer.

As long as I'm breathing, nothing is a waste of time as long as I know why I chose it.

Happy New Year!

Upcoming Track Tales
A Perfect Storm of Self-Satisfaction by The Good Fight
So Positive by Down With Webster
Dreamcatcher by Set It Off

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