“Pedestrian At Best” – Courtney Barnett

This young Australian understands aggressively angry, disappointed ennui. She aims to represent all the ins and outs of her life, and in “Pedestrian At Best,” she uncovers the angry and apathetic feelings of most “millennials,” a word she like most millennials probably hates. The song screams with punk-like guitar riffs, pulsating drums, and yell-singing. Her singing evades yelling, yet the chorus sticks in your head. When she sings “I don’t think you’re very funny,” she adds a pseudo-embellishment, going up and down “funny,” though her voice ironically and knowingly sounds stale, as if she can’t be bothered to follow musical conventions enough to tell you how unamused she is.

In the video, she plays a clown, a trope used since Pagliacci, but her sadness does not come from any major tragedy but rather the crushing nothingness of everyday life. She yells, “I’m resentful, I’m having an existential time crisis” though her delivery sounds like she’s bored rather than full of rage as the music implies. She’s indecisive, tired, confused, and yearning to feel something. She’s full of feeling but doesn’t know how to release it, instead attacking the audience with all noise at once. “Pedestrian At Best” gives a voice to the well of conflicting feelings everyone who is trying to start a life has but doesn’t know what to do with. She synthesizes the anger, happiness, depression, and reluctance of those with lots of energy but no way of releasing it.

 

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Johan

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Johan Clarke is the DJ for Classically Modern on WGTB Thursdays from 11AM-noon. He's a senior in the College studying English and hoping to go to med school next year. He usually has his headphones in while walking, so if you see him on campus and he doesn't respond when you call his name, it's because he can't hear you.

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