Portland pop duo courtship. sit down with Atwood Magazine to discuss their recent stint on ‘American Song Contest,’ the fresh blended “Million Dollar Smoothies” single that came of it, and leaning into consumerism when we have no other choice.
Stream: ‘”Million Dollar Smoothies” – courtship.
Why does it seem to taste better when it costs more? And what is activated charcoal? All this and more, in our new single ‘Million Dollar Smoothies.’
It’s easy to look at the world around us and sink into a black depression.
Inflation, war, the impending climate apocalypse – it’s enough to drive anyone under a weighted blanket to binge hours and hours of Shark Tank. Especially for Millennials and Gen Z who seem to have known nothing but gradually declining prospects, the constant bombardment is numbing. What can you do between seemingly ineffectual activism and doom scrolling on TikTok, except give yourself a little break? Self-care in the form of expensive skin care products, activated charcoal, and mocha latte green tea juice to soak up the good life while it lasts.
Far from detachment, these breaks from reality are sometimes necessary to avoid burnout. There’s a reason that it tastes better if it costs more, even if that difference is all psychosomatic. These little vacations keep our minds from breaking under the crushing weight of reality. Slurp it up so you don’t go insane.
Anyone who has mainlined the sequin-adorned sugar pop of courtship. probably knows the value of taking a step back from the edge. The Portland duo comprised of Micah Gordon and Eli Hirsch traffic in the fine art of escapism, serving up sun-kissed hits like “Sunroof,” “Tell Me Tell Me,” and “Nice Guy.” As the world grows steadily darker though, they keep the glitter blasting from a cannon. Their first track of 2022 takes the persistent anxiety decorating our waking life and blends it up with a little kale, protein powder, gold flake, and caviar. Sure, you may not want to take a literal sip, but your ears will soak up every drop of “Million Dollar Smoothies.”
Na, na-na, na-na, na-na
Livin’ bad and bougie, million dollar smoothies
Na, na-na, na-na, na-na
When my money blows up, hope it fill the hole up
Maybe wealth can’t buy happiness, but it sure can buy comfort.
“We wish we wrote a song criticizing others for buying expensive health drinks and skin care products,” note Micah and Eli. “But that would be hypocritical because we do it too.” It sounds like a grim reality, but the band don’t plunge into the abyss. Like everything else they do, the song is tinged with a wink and a nod. It is a light and fun diversion that pumps helium into the existential gravity of 21st century life.
The band unleashed “Million Dollar Smoothies” on the world back in March via NBC’s American Song Contest. The show, a US export of Eurovision, featured representatives from all 50 states, five territories, and Washington, DC competing for the title of Best Original Song. Representing their home state of Oregon, courtship. battled industry heavyweights like Macy Gray, Michael Bolton, The Crystal Method, and Jewel with “Million Dollar Smoothies” as their weapon. “We had written [the song] prior,” they explain. “But it felt like the perfect song because it was fun, satirical, and didn’t take itself too seriously… just like Eurovision!”
I was good, I was fine, thought I made it out
Found some new things to do to distract myself
I was unaware, you could take me here now, now, now
The band’s performance embraces the camp of the original contest, featuring vibrant kinetic set pieces and plenty of rambunctious dancing. Micah and Eli start under the covers of a standing bed before bursting forth like jack-in-the-boxes, bounding across the stage with all the joy the song would suggest.
Although they were ultimately eliminated, their cheeky commentary on modern consumerism and chasing a life of opulence remains an ever-relevant mirror to our consumerist obsessions and an undeniable earworm.
Tell me, girl, what you want, what you want
The whole damn world or a spot on the Sun
courtship. was born of a chance meeting between Eli – a Portland native – and Micah – an Angeleno born and raised – at a gig in LA. They started jamming together in their off time and soon realized they had a great creative spark between them. And it came from an unorthodox combination. “I played in jazz bands my whole life with heavy influences of soul, R&B, and funk,” notes Micah. “Eli grew up playing in indie and pop punk bands. I think in the beginning of collaborating, this is the stuff that we felt most comfortable with respectively.”
The result was their first single “Stop for Nothing,” a hip-swaying piece of indie pop glistening with Motown sheen and infectious, squealing guitar. Their first inclination though was to give it away. “We got together one day with no agenda in mind and wrote [“Stop for Nothing”],” they recall. “We both come from the writer/producer world so when we first wrote it, we were like, ‘Who’s gonna sing this? Which artist will take this song?’” But after a while, we just decided to release it ourselves.”
With their newfound partnership in tow, they released their 2016 debut album Denial in Paradise, which has since amassed over 50 million streams on Spotify and raves across the industry. They are currently poised to follow that success with their sophomore effort in, which features the diamond encrusted “Million Dollar Smoothie” among other teases in their singles “Prom,” “Fuzzy” “80s in the friend zone,” and a cover of “I Try” by Macy Gray, whom they coincidentally competed against in American Song Contest.
Micah and Eli of courtship. sat down with us to talk all about their next chapter, their television performance, and remaining uncynical in a spiral of consumerism. Check out the full chat below.
Stream: “Million Dollar Smoothies” – courtship.
A CONVERSATION WITH COURTSHIP.
Atwood Magazine: I’m sure you get this question all the time, but I want to go back to the beginning. I know you two met on SoundCloud when you're both in high school, but what led you to decide to make music together?
courtship.: We got together one day, with no agenda in mind, and wrote our first song ‘stop for nothing’. We both come from the writer/producer world so when we first wrote it, we were like “Who’s gonna sing this? Which artist will take this song?” But after a while, we just decided to release it ourselves.
You’ve listed influences like Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, and Miles Davis alongside ones like blink-182, Passion Pit, and Weezer. How do you see all these different sounds coalescing into the music of courtship.?
Micah: I played in jazz bands my whole life, with heavy influences of soul, R&B, and funk. Eli grew up playing in indie and pop punk bands. I think in the beginning of collaborating, this is the stuff that we felt most comfortable with, respectively. Naturally, we both brought those influences into the music we were making.
Is there an ethos that you try to stick to in creating music together?
courtship.: It’s gotta bump.
courtship.: Our manager’s submitted us without telling us, then asked if we wanted to do it. We said no. Then they asked us again, and we said still no. No way we’re doing this. Then we just said whatever, lets do it…
In order to represent Oregon, the contest rules say you have to have “an authentic, deep connection” to your home state. Can you talk a little about your connection to Oregon and how it influences you artistically?
Eli: I was born there. It was where I discovered music and gave me the opportunity to take chances being in a million different bands. Portland fostered that community for me, and I wouldn’t be where I am today if not for Portland.
Did you have your song “Million Dollar Smoothies” written prior to trying out or was it composed specifically for the competition? What about it felt like the perfect fit for ASC?
courtship.: We had written it prior, but if felt like the perfect song because it was fun, satirical, and didn’t take itself too seriously. Just like Eurovision.
Can you talk a little about where the concept for your elaborate television performance came from?
courtship.: Yeah, we had the absolute honor and privilege of working with these creative directors Jerry and Paul, who pitched us the idea of the stage design and the overall vibe. As soon as we heard it, we were blown away. It was crazy to hear this insane idea and then watch it come to life. We thank Jerry and Paul for that!!! And the amazing dancers and set builders who made it work!
“Million Dollar Smoothies” seems to fall somewhere between satire and earnest materialism. Is there any escaping modern-day consumerism? Is it even necessarily a bad thing?
courtship.: No escaping it. I just bought a $19 mocha latte green tea charcoal juice. It was so good. Now with inflation, it’s gonna be $25 dollars. This is the world we live in. It’s awful.
More than anything, your new single is just plain fun. How do you maintain that levity even while tackling big societal questions?
courtship.: By watching hours of Shark Tank.
I hear you’re getting ready to drop your sophomore album soon. How did the creative process this time around differ from that of Denial in Paradise?
courtship.: It was kinda the same in many ways. Just slowly came together . I think we experimented way more with this one
Now that the show is over, what’s up next for the band? What can we expect in the back half of 2022 in addition to the album?
courtship.: Touring! Record!
For fans of Atwood Magazine’s Tunes & Tumblers podcast, if you were to describe the sound of courtship. as a drink (alcoholic or not), what would it be?
courtship.: Smooth move tea.
Stream: “Million Dollar Smoothies” – courtship.
— — — —
📸 © Emily Nava
:: Stream courtship. ::