Thursday, December 16, 2021

Ray Bull - '2am'

The first time I heard this song it felt like walking in the apartment of someone I never met before, throwing away my coffee cup without having to ask where they hid the trash in the kitchen, using their bathroom after intuitively guess which door it was behind, and plugging in my phone to the charger I know they keep plugged in by the TV. The music flowed so naturally. Every new section kicked in exactly when needed. I felt like I heard heard it a million times, but it didn’t sound like anything I had heard before. It was perfect in exactly the way I want things to be, but it was somehow entirely new. The song has this great climax that dips at the exactly right time. It is, inarguably, my favorite song of 2021.

"2am" is a crystalline example of what I want: hyper specificity in a way that resonates as universally as possible. In this case, it is about being drunk, missing your ex, texting them too much at a time that is too late, and then jerking off to an old picture you have of them. Maybe you have literally done this. Definitely you have figuratively done this.

Historically, I think we lack good faith depictions of male sexuality in a way that reflects an underlying sexist mentality. By and large, men are sexual subjects and women are sexual objects. Sexualizing a heterosexual man implies otherwise. More recently, I feel that the lack of earnest portrayals of straight male sexuality stems from a fear on behalf of men that being publicly sexual will provoke a public reconciling of their past sexual activity.

There is an element of this that is innocent and natural. Our first adolescent relationship to our sexuality is often that is the source of potential humiliation, and this fear is validated over time on account that sex IS (of course) humiliating. However, there is another element to the new aversion of male sexuality that, like our historical aversion to it, feels sexist. If public sexuality will lead to public adjudication of past behavior then we can optimistically assume this stems from an acknowledgement that you can never truly understand someone else’s experience, or we can pessimistically assume that this comes from a belief that to the extent that men’s sexuality is public it is only to be used for women to gain power.

still blowing up your phone
waiting for your call
it’s 2am I’m dumb

old pictures on my phone
I’m looking at your tongue
and comin’ on my own

hey hey baby
can we see things through
do you love me?
you know you left me blue

I don’t think this song is sexist. I think it’s gross, but it is gross in the same way I am gross, and that probably you are also. In that grossness, I think it is beautiful. It is a song about being neurotic that itself lacks neurosis. What more could you want?

PS - I hate this music video. It undercuts the entire song.