In an interview about his novel The Corrections, author Jonathan Franzen once said, “Writing novels is useless. That’s the wonderful thing about it.” While it may seem blasphemous as a writer to say that sort of thing, but he’s right. It may seem even more blasphemous as a music critic to say, the same thing is true of music. While music scratches a more primal itch than reading a massive novel may, at the end of the day, it’s just there to entertain us. Even the songs that grow to mean so much to us are essentially just fluff in this great human existence we lead. Sometimes, the songs with a catchy phrase and a great beat can be the most powerful in a moment of pure ecstasy. This is Jixi’s debut single “Psycho Daydream,” a pop song devoid of a huge societal commentary or bare emotion. It’s an infectious song that blurs the line between indie-pop and late 2000’s dark electronica.
Where Jixi thrives most, is the way she blends a guitar driven indie-pop sound with an explosive chorus that’s reminiscent of a song that you’d set as your song on Myspace. “Psycho Daydream” is somewhat reminiscent of Kesha’s first album (when she was still Ke$ha) with a dash of the rock-pop that artists like Kelly Clarkson or P!nk built their careers on. The song that relishes into playing into the “crazy girlfriend” persona is just a pure piece of nihilistic pop. There’s not some grand comment the way that a song like “Blank Space” tried to parody the media’s portrayal of it’s author or the heartfelt outpouring of emotion that “You Oughta Know” had. This being Jixi’s debut single, she doesn’t need to tell a story or play into a narrative. She can find a string of words that form together really well and play a character over the instrumental.
The charm of “Psycho Daydream” mainly comes in the form of how impossible it is to decipher the meaning of the lyrics, despite them being incredibly fun to sing along to. The chorus is the perfect encapsulation:
Psycho daydream Fuck you, pay me I’m so crazy Make you hate me
It’s apparent Jixi isn’t aiming for poetic, grand narratives a la Lana Del Rey or reputation. She is aiming for a party song with lyrics that can fit easily into a cheeky Instagram caption. Before launching into the first chorus, she sings, “You’re gonna wish we never met, so call me.” It’s tongue in cheek enough to be clever, but she isn’t famous enough for this to be some narrative-shifting single that creates a meta-commentary on her as artist, as this song would be perceived for a larger pop star. It’s almost as if an AI designed this song to create the best lyrics to scream along to when you’re drunk on cheap booze at four in the morning, right down to the cheerleader chant of “Don’t Call Me” at the end of the bridge.
Vapid is a word that gets thrown a lot when dismissing pop music, but sometimes vacuous pop music is fun. Plenty of the best and most interesting pop songs of the past decade have been meaningless. Jixi’s debut single “Psycho Daydream” is a strong song in the way that it commands attention as a straightforward feelgood track. If that doesn’t make it sound appealing to you, it’s a literary track that channels Jonathan Franzen.
James is a New York-based writer and comedian. Besides Atwood, he's also written for Sensations Press and his own blog Burgeraday.com. He hosts the comedy/music podcast James Crowley's Infinite Playlist. He also co-hosts the Burger-a-Day Podcast.