Is this the new “Blurred Lines”?
I’d say it’s a one listen smash, but that’s not an accurate description, IT’S A FIFTEEN SECOND SMASH!
Oh, it’s not much of a song. A groove, that really doesn’t go much of anywhere. But it’s so infectious. It makes you move, it brightens your day.
Yes, there is a bridge two minutes in, but you’re closed long before that.
In an era where it’s all doom and gloom “Broke” rolls right down the alley and scores a strike.
And the track is enough, but when you watch the video, linked above, you’ll crack up.
This guy is not a rock star, at least not by the multi-decade MTV standard…the VMAs are this weekend, are you planning to watch? Funny how you can go from hero to zero so quickly, the VMAs used to be the highlight of the musical year, far eclipsing the Grammys, but then MTV stopped featuring music and the show turned into a self-promotion fest, all selling all the time. For a show that used to make memories the whole enterprise is now missable, forgettable.
And then there’s the video for “Broke.”
The paradigm has changed. To back what it was before MTV. The video is a chance to see the artist, to get to know the artist, where he or she is coming from, it’s not made for everybody but hard core fans who might spread the word. Then again, “Broke” was not made for ten cents on an iPhone, it’s got MTV production roots, but Jaten Dimsdale, aka “Teddy Swims,” is the opposite of camera-ready, anything but eye candy, which is what makes him so intriguing and lovable. Overweight and far from cover beautiful, he’s charismatic, magical. He and his music and the video evidence a sense of humor, irreverence, elements of music before it became so bombastic and serious and lost its hold on the American psyche.
“I’m so used to being broke, but no more”
On first listen, sans video, you get the impression that “Broke” is about just that, living on the wrong side of cash. WRONG! Turns out Teddy Swims now has cash. How? Via covers on YouTube and the merch sold on his website and then his ultimate Warner deal.
“We gonna toast tonight to temporary wealth
Mama told me baby save it, knowing I probably won’t
All this money in my pocket gotta go, I’m so used to being broke”
He’s poking fun at the paradigm. Ignorant entertainers who blow through their cash and wonder where it all went. He’s fully aware of what he’s doing…BUT HE’S GONNA DO IT ANYWAY!
“Remember days, like just last week
There wasn’t nothin’ in the kitchen left to eat”
Teddy Swims wasn’t born yesterday, he doesn’t have stage parents promoting him so he can top the chart as he reaches puberty, rather he’s thirty years old and has paid his dues, he’s got some miles on him.
And after his roommates left he moved in with his dad and started working at Chili’s. This is not an Ivy League graduate, they’d never slum like this, during high school they were saving the planet on excursions to third world countries, during school break they were interning at Goldman Sachs, and when they graduated they got a cushy job paying six figures, they’re winners. Which is why they could never create “Broke.” The artistic avenue is a dark and lonely street with no guarantees but you can only make it in entertainment if you journey down it, unless your goal is to be a flash in the pan.
So Teddy Swims starts releasing cover songs on YouTube, and the astounding thing, assuming all you know is “Broke,” is he can sing! Why don’t you check out his cover of Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me”: bit.ly/3gDPREH It’s got 13 million views. Teddy has 1.38 million YouTube subscribers. Welcome to the modern world where the tools are at your fingertips and you employ them to get notice. In other words, if you’re looking for someone else to push the button, to make you a star, you’ve got it all wrong.
“Girl what you want? Go pick it out
My wallet looking bigger than my belly now
Girl what a shame, they slept on me
They’re coming back and now they crawling on their knees
Ain’t nothing changed, same old me
Came up on some change, but that doesn’t change a thing”
Money is quite an aphrodisiac. You may not be born beautiful, but that’s not the only way to make it in this sexually-charged world, you can create desire with your own creativity, if it connects you can suddenly have bread and be desirable.
“Airbnb up in the hills
It costs as much as little brother’s college bills
Live seven rooms, called all my friends
They on the way across the country in a van
You know I can’t promise that this is going to last forever
But since I got it, we all gonna spend it together”
A step up from the “Beverly Hillbillies,” but not by that much. Furthermore, these lyrics are true. It’s not like Teddy Swims is delusional, he’s not convinced it’s forever, if he’s ultimately back at Chili’s that’s okay. That’s the modern reality TV paradigm, it’s a lark, it’s only temporary, and after you open a few nightclubs and DJ a few parties you go back to Poughkeepsie.
And once you’ve seen the video just dial up Spotify or your music streaming service of choice and pull up “Broke,” you won’t be able to turn it off. I’m forty five minutes in already…I’m making Teddy Swims RICH!
P.S. THIS is the song of the summer, it’s still summer, right? What a failed concept, it’s not about looking for the song that dominates the airwaves, it’s about hoping someone drops a track that encapsulates the essence of the season, and “Broke” does.
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