Be Your Own TRL

There are a lot of things you can do with your friends, like play board games or make omelettes or go to Old Navy and then put on a fashion show. These are all fine, good things, but one thing is better than everything else: The best thing to do with your friends is to watch music videos.

I’ve been watching music videos with my friends since my shockingly sober high school years, and this activity only gets better when you are a little fucked up. Maybe you’ve forgotten about music videos now that (activate crotchety old man voice) MTV doesn’t play music anymore. But the good news is, in the era of Youtube and smartphones, you can be your own TRL—and you don’t even have to look at Carson Daly’s smarmy face.

Here is how you do it: You sit on a couch facing a TV or a laptop screen, and you play music videos. People take turns choosing what video is next. Don’t bother with rules about who’s up next—just make sure you aren’t hanging out with assholes who refuse to take turns.*

Human beings like to share. Human beings are inherently competitive. Watching music videos combines those two conflicting qualities. You’re showing your friends media you think is cool or funny or beautiful or weird because you think they’ll enjoy it—and you’re also trying to gently one-up them. You want to shock and awe.  You want a collective cheer to rise up when you suggest Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda.” You want them to gasp when you queue up the surreal video for “Rock Lobster.” And you want your friends to come back with something bigger, something better, something you would have never thought of yourself. (Then you want to file that video away to suggest next time, so you can reclaim the glory for yourself.)

Music videos don’t require your entire attention. You can carry on conversations as you half-watch (until someone puts on Kanye’s “Fade” and everyone shuts up to stare at Teyana Taylor’s immaculate bod). If someone picks a dud video, don’t stress out—it’ll be over in three minutes.

I can be fairly predictable. I love My Chemical Romance’s Wes Anderson-inspired “I’m Not Okay.” I love Fiona Apple’s seedy, washed out “Criminal.” I could watch the candy-bright dance video for Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” until my eyes turn to goop in my skull. My friends have their predictable choices, too. We always watch Faith Hill’s “This Kiss,” full of grainy 90’s CGI flowers and butterflies that features Faith literally swinging on a giant cherry. It is something.

*Sometimes we play an alternate version where everyone writes five videos on strips of paper and you draw them out of a hat. The rule is that you play whatever is drawn, even if there are multiples, which is how we ended up watching “Baby One More Time” three times in a row one night.

Megan KirbyComment