It’s a phrase we use in mockery of hipsters everywhere. Adopt a sneer and say in your most patronising voice: “I liked it before it was cool.” BINGO! We have a hipster.
I haven’t always sided with the hipsters, but now I am.
I’m just going to jump right in and say, in defence of hipsters everywhere, it is THE SINGLE MOST ANNOYING THING WHEN SOMETHING YOU LOVE BECOMES, LIKE, TOTALLY MAINSTREAM.
I mean, props on you for jumping on that bandwagon before the zeitgeist, but when an entire crowd totally gets your love for this one band / brand / weird anime cartoon, it can kill your soul a little.
When we like something, and I mean really like something, it doesn’t matter if anyone else thinks it’s cool or not. It says something to us, it becomes part of us. Maybe our souls are just made up of an entire collection of things we like and the memories they protect. Suddenly when EVERYBODY likes it, it doesn’t mean as much anymore. It’s protection is gone. It’s like a little helpless kitten that still has its eyes glued shut and keeps bumping into furniture. And what do we do to little helpless kittens? We protect them!
Cue all the “Yeah, but I liked it BEFORE it was big,” statements. You can hear yourself saying the words, knowing how they sound, but dammit, you DID like it before. And people should know that it is a part of you, and not just blip on the outside.
There’s a song that I’ve loved since the second I heard it, so many years ago.
It’s called ‘Hearts a Mess’ by Gotye. Yes, the same Gotye that had so much unimaginable success with ‘Somebody that I used to know’. It’s quite possibly my favourite song of all time, one that I can listen to in the dark over and over again. Have a listen while you read the rest of this post, and maybe you’ll understand why:
Seriously, how good is it? I bought a ticket to Laneway Festival three years ago purely on the basis that he was playing. I don’t even like the rest of his music that much, but I needed to go to see him sing this song and connect the dots between face and man that had gotten inside my brain.
‘Somebody that I used to know’ hit Australia mid 2011. A couple months later, I moved to London. A couple months after that, it started playing on UK radio, and a few months after that, it had saturated the airwaves to such an extent that everyone was sick of it.
They started playing other Gotye songs from way back in the day. I heard ‘Eyes Wide Open’ through a radio for the first time, a song that has never thrilled me much. I wondered why they didn’t play ‘Hearts a Mess’ at all, but was secretly relieved they didn’t. Maybe it was too chilled for the more pop-focused UK airwaves.
Recently I heard that ‘Hearts a Mess’ is in the soundtrack for The Great Gatsby, due out here on May 30th. (Literally, CAN NOT WAIT!) My own heart sank. As proud as I am for Gotye and Australian music making it big (BIG) time, it’s a bittersweet feeling.
If The Great Gatsby is going to be the huge success it’s been hyped up to be, and ‘Hearts a Mess’ is used in the pivotal way I know it can be, then soon every human between the ages of 15 and 35 will know this song. Quite possibly they too will love it. It’s a great song after all.
But I can’t help but feel that it’s being taken away from me. And that’s why I understand the meaning of the phrase ‘I liked it before it was cool’. Sometimes, it’s what we really need to say.