“… Baby, One More Time” is not a good song. You could make a convincing argument, in fact, that it is an actively terrible song: devoid of musical merit, underdeveloped, overproduced, eroding our collective IQs one oh, baby, baby at a time—a notable roadblock, basically, on humanity’s long march toward the hazy destination of Progress.
And yet: I love “… Baby, One More Time” with the kind of mindless devotion I normally reserve for family, friends, and late-night Taco Bell. “… Baby, One More Time” was released when I was a teenager, which means that it is, for better and very much for worse, an indelible part of my past, the soundtrack of breezy road trips and awkward dance parties and even awkward-er karaoke sessions. Which in turn means that, while I definitely do not like “… Baby, One More Time,” I definitely do love it. In the same way I love “Billie Jean” and “Gin and Juice” and pretty much any entry, from “Like a” to “Livin’ on a,” in the late-80s Prayer genre.
Music-specific nostalgia is well-documented, scientifically and anecdotally. It is, among other things, the reason that Spotify recommends songs based on your age and that “Bye, Bye, Bye” and “Rapper’s Delight” will forever be part of wedding DJs’ repertoires. But musical nostalgia isn’t determined by age alone: “Twist and Shout” and “Love Shack,” after all, also continue to summon people to dance floors. Musical nostalgia, it seems, is instead a kind of cultural inheritance. And maybe even a familial one.
Read the whole story: The AtlanticMore of our Members in the Media >