In which we apply human-like scenarios to popular songs, which may or may not have been written with said philosophical intentions in mind.
Rebellious analysis at its most ludicrous.
Thanks to Daft Punk’s comeback hit, ‘Get Lucky’, many of us can now be accused of quasi-sexual dance-moves and over-emphasised articulation as we sing along to Pharrell’s sweet coos about being “up all night to get some”. Only Daft Punk (and Pharrell) (and Niles Rodgers) could pull off this kind of sonic heist, I imagine them sitting them around a Philippe Starck kitchen, drinking high oxygen mineral water as they discuss world domination in their helmets, only before using Spielberg-friendly technology to mastermind their next musical collaboration. Moving into reality (and outside of said imaginary kitchen), and ‘Get Lucky’ has been on the charts (and lips of people) the world over. It even managed to engage a supermarket-shopping, soccer mum I recently spotted, who was mouthing the lyrics whilst simultaneously trying to lure her son away from the shelf he’d just climbed upon (making him appear to be detergent on sale for $4.95) – I couldn’t help but wonder if she was giving any thought to the words she was pseudo-singing whilst reaching for her mini-male.
When I hear phrases like ‘getting lucky’ or ‘picking up’, I picture loud groups of college football teams, aggressively slapping each other on the back for ‘scoring’, ‘closing’, or some other such affectionate term for achieving sexual success, and with Pharrell singing about it (who we would all assume has little difficulty ‘getting lucky’), I’ve been wondering just how much ‘luck’ comes into play with regard to successfully ‘picking up’.
Cue Alex, owner of The Art of Suave: a company specialising in coaching men seeking to improve their confidence and social skills, specifically with women. If you’re starting to visualise Will Smith in ‘Hitch’, please allow me to take you back a step to when the rock star of journalists, Neil Strauss, penned his book ‘The Game’, which was a detailed journey into the world of professional pickup artists (PUAs), where ‘negging’ and ‘sarging’ was coded jargon for men who would systematically pickup women using considered techniques instead of unplanned social banter.
Alex read ‘The Game’ and test-drove some of the techniques whilst at university, but thought there was a better way. “Their focus was solely of women and the goal being seduction… In the process, I had seen that many ‘pickup artists’ soon become obsessed with getting phone numbers of women and having sex. No effort seemed to be on that of overcoming anxieties.” Alex is quick to separate himself from the sleuth-like sex “artists”, and he doesn’t believe in pre-rehearsed scripts or gimmicks to meet and attract women. So what does a man whose expertise lies in social dynamics think of luck’s role in romance?
“Chance is a factor but not luck… the two of you being in the same place at the same time giving you the opportunity to meet, this is chance.” Granted, I don’t think Daft Punk and Pharrell would’ve been nearly as successful if their song’s hook was a philosophical question of chance (the theme song to 80s film ‘Chances Are’ springs to mind but seems wrong on a multitude of levels), but the sheer nature of the song’s success suggests that its content (and implied actions) is common and acceptable. “It’s a reflection on how girls go to nightclubs with the goal of having fun and they call that a successful night. Guys don’t just do that. A successful night for a man is when they ‘get lucky’ ”, says Alex.
So what then of the proud dad wishing his son ‘good luck’ prior to his math’s exam, or that well-heeled lady with a giant upside-down-horseshoe necklace, or that sleepy man at the pub whose four-leaf clover tattoo creeps frighteningly north (near his waistband if you know what I’m saying) when he sits a little too far forward on the bar stool? Do these symbols mean nothing at all if luck is not in fact luck, but instead chance?
Surely, gambling will solve this query – lady luck must be hiding somewhere in a poker den! “You don’t have to be lucky to win a game of poker, you don’t even need to have a good hand” says mild-mannered (but cashed-up-due-to-poker), Larry*. “I don’t see it as different from any other profession – in order to be good, you need to study the subject and study people – it’s not unlike a salesman trying to sell product by reading the person he’s targeting in order to get the desired result.”
Even though Larry’s demeanor is gentle and unassuming (or is he), I imagine him engaging in some sort of ritual to get into the best headspace for being ‘lucky’ – ‘American Psycho’-style masochistic exercise regime anyone? “I think the only way to feel lucky is to be in a certain mood, and when I dress a particular way, that can definitely be code for putting myself into the right frame of mind,” says Larry. Ok, so not quite the idiosyncrasy I was looking for but he does have insight into the song; “when they sing ‘we’ve come too far, to give up who we are’, that speaks to perseverance – keep going until they get lucky.”
Rest assured you can now go back to listening to the peachy, sensual masterpiece without being any closer to the certainty of luck however, Pharrell is a mystical creature who has said the song also refers to the fortune of meeting with and immediately connecting to someone. I do wish he hadn’t used the word fortune because Baby John Burgess just immediately appeared in my mind’s eye, but the word fortune does imply an unknown element… call it a fluke, fate, or luck.
*Not his real name
Natalie Reiss is a London-by-way-of-Sydney writer who blames all of her neuroses creativity on being an only child. When she isn’t writing songs and stories, she can be found empathising with small creatures and practicing the dark arts of publicity. Communication makes her feel safe so do get in touch: @natreiss.