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Jay-Jay Johanson – What if (Hidden Track)

Jay Jay Johanson

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After taking a 30 minute nap on my couch, being awaken by Homer, and feeding, I realized I need to listen to some music. With things being the way they are right now (stressful as fuck), I shuffled through my G1’s folders and played Jay-Jay Johanson’s experimental electroclash album – Antenna.

A lot of people who love Johanson’s first two albums hate this album because instead the vinyl hiss and piano riffs, he uses drum machine and synthesizers to create up tempo beats (which is sort of the antithesis of trip-hop) to accompany his moody lyrics. It is basically what Kanye did with 808’s and Heartbreak but five years earlier and a lot better (no Auto-tune). The stand out of this album for me is actually the hidden track, What if.

Imagine if you will a song about continuing your life only because you fail so much at suicide over a dance beat. This song gives me everything I’ve ever wanted in music and more. Like almost every song he’s ever written (with the exception of most of the songs on Rush, which felt like their namesake), What if forces the listener to listen harder to what he’s saying rather than just enjoy the song. Maybe that is why his music appeals so much to me regardless of the genre. It is complex and a reflective of his personal struggles. I think I also feel drawn to the notion that he can’t produce good music when he’s happy. It is the “Morrissey” factor. I am attracted to his own personal sadness because he presents it in such a way that it is “charming”.

Johanson’s quintessentially “This Charming Man”.  The man who let all those who are willing to hear just how bad his life is. I guess that was my major problem with Kanye’s 808’s and Heartbreak. ‘Ye claimed he was heartbroken but is the listener suppose to believe that when you are comparing spoiled, little LA girls to Robocops and singing about how amazin’ you are? This is the complete opposite of what Johanson brings to Antenna and What if.  Regardless this song always fills me with optimism because if someone so determined to kill himself decides “he might as well continue” than I shouldn’t get so distraught over things like finding a new apartment or other people’s bigotry towards me.

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